Three medals arrived to New Zealand riders on day 1 of the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Varese, Italy.  Jeannie Blakemore and Jim McMurray both took gold medals in their respective categories while Sara Harnett claimed silver in her race.

563 riders from 44 countries around the world completed the time trial that kicked off the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Varese.  Riders from 19-34 all the way through to the 70+ category tackled the time trial course of 22km in length.  The fastest time across all categories on the day belonged to 45-49 category rider Raul Portillo Saldamando of Spain, who set a time of 28.15mins to set an average speed of 46.71kph.

Jim McMurray and the world champion’s jersey seem a good match we think you’ll agree, photo Glen Carabine/Strong Brands

Jim McMurray was up against his 55-59 category of 44 other riders and faced a very tough battle with Kevin Tye of the UK for the win.  McMurray went through the first time check time check after 2km in first place and stayed there.  At 12km McMurray stopped the clock in 17.40mins and finally crossed the line in 29.48mins; an average speed of 44.3kph.  

Afterwards we caught up with McMurray and asked him about his day that led to the rainbow jersey.  “The first 3km had 3 tight 90 degree turns, then opened up to long straights,” McMurray said.  “I went straight up to a 176 heart rate and hammered away for 29.48mins!”

“I then had to wait 17 minutes for the last competitor and defending champion to arrive.”

Two world champion’s jerseys went the way of New Zealand courtesy of Jim McMurray and Jeannie Blakemore, photo Glen Carabine/Strong Brands

It was a worthwhile wait as Britain’s Tye went oh so close to denying the win, but fell short by just 0.25 of a second.  Brendan Sullivan of the USA placed third at 24.8 seconds.  Other Kiwis in action included Jeremy Heathfield who finished 15th in 32.17mins with David Roche 19th in 32.30mins.  David Ledger finished 29th in 34.10mins.

Matters were similarly tight in the women’s 40-44 category with a Trans-Tasman battle seeing Amanda Nabi and Jeannie Blakemore separated by just 11 seconds.  At the first time check Blakemore was third fastest in a time of 4.17mins, but from there the Kiwi turned on the speed; going fastest at time check 2 and finally stopping the clock with an average speed of 39.49kph and a time of 33.25mins.  

Kiwi compatriot Joanne Sharpe finished 16th in the category, in a time of 38.18mins.

Jim McMurray and Jeannie Blakemore enjoy time on the podium with their fellow World Granfondo champions, photo Glen Carabine/Strong Brands

In the women’s 55-59 category the win went to Italy’s Olga Cappiello in a time of 34.24mins, but Sara Harnett was well clear of Claudia Carceroni in the battle for silver.  The Kiwi took second place in a time of 34.54mins.

Elsewhere there were strong performances by Elizabeth Jones who took 6th in the 60-64 category in a time of 39.05mins, and also by Jane Moraz who took fourth place in the 50-54 category with a time of 35.34mins.

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