Mikkel Bjerg has won the U23 men’s time trial title at the UCI World Road Championships in Bergen. The Dane overcame defending champion Brandon McNulty in a dominant performance which saw Bjerg win by over a minute, with Corentin Ermenault third. New Zealand’s Regan Gough placed 22nd.
The opening day’s team time trial events emphasised the challenge that the riders would be taking on as they raced against the clock. The climb of the notorious Birkelundsbakken climb, which caused trouble for so many teams, would feature half way through the second lap, with the riders taking on one small lap and then one longer lap of the course.
Bjerg and McNulty were the top two riders in the Doha world championship time trial, and this time the roles were reversed, although Bjerg’s win came after a long wait. He was 19th of the 56 riders to start, and crossed the line with an impressive 47.06mins to slot into the top spot where he would remain for the duration of the day.
McNulty began the race slowly, stopping the clock in the 12th fastest time at the first check point, but gradually he gathered momentum, ramping up to third fastest on the Birkelundsbakken with 13km to go. The American continued to power onwards, but there was nothing he could do to bring back the time of the rampant Bjerg as McNulty crossed the line 1.06mins slower than the Danish rider.
Regan Gough was the solo Kiwi lining up for the U23 men’s time trial. His time of 49.46mins was good enough for the New Zealander to take 22nd place overall with positions 19-24 all separated by just 8 seconds. Gough will be back for the road race where he will line up in the company of Sam Dobbs and Luke Mudgway.
Gough started conservatively, 50th at the first time check and still only 35th fastest at 16kms. But from that point the Rio Olympian on the track turned up the heat, and was one of the fastest for the second half of the course over the final 21kms including the climb.