Spare a thought for Pavel Novák, the 17-year-old Czech rider who turned up, ready to go, at the start ramp of the junior world time trial championships – without his bike:
Even after that late start – which couldn’t have helped the youngster's morale ahead of the 28.8km test – Novák still managed a very credible 15th, just over two minutes behind British winner Josh Tarling.
Things were even worse for Belgium’s Jens Verbrugghe, who came into the championships in Wollongong with realistic hopes for a medal after a strong season that included a silver medal in the European time trial championships.
However, Verbrugghe fell foul of the dreaded junior gearing rules, with a last-minute check from the UCI finding that the 17-year-old’s Lapierre was fitted with a 53-tooth chainring, one tooth more than the maximum gearing allowed for U18 riders.
Without a spare bike in Australia, a devastated Verbrugghe was then forced to frantically borrow a Ridley TT bike from the Belgian Cycling Federation – one that he had never ridden before – eventually finishing 2:58 behind Tarling, who passed him on the course.
“There was indeed a 53 instead of 52 sprocket on his bike”, Belgian Cycling’s technical director Frederik Broché told Het Nieuwsblad after the race. “They hadn't seen that at the UCI during the first checks and neither had we in recent days. We unpack bicycles and assemble them, but a new gear has not been set up there. The UCI finally saw that it was 15 centimetres too big, so we had to get another bike.
“They made that bike for his team, but if you’re interested in the technical aspects of cycling, you know that 52 is not made much anymore. It is the UCI that imposes: 52 and 14, or 7m93. Then 52/14 is the most logical combination, but nowadays – with the current gears – that has all become 53.
“There is a good chance that they have imposed a standard gear there. That is the end of the matter and you should already buy a 52. This will all change next year, I would like to add that as a side note.
“But it’s a mistake, he didn't know it himself. You don't do this to anyone, especially for a young guy. The Ridley bike was one of ours, he didn’t have a spare bike with him. This is often the case with juniors. And we also assume that the gears are in order, so that is not always checked.
“It’s a human error on the part of several people: rider, mechanic, the man who put his bike together, our people who didn’t see it… But I'm not going to point the finger at anyone.”