Brandon McNulty of the USA has won the junior men’s time trial at the UCI World Road Championships. McNulty took gold ahead of Mikkel Bjerg of Denmark, with Ian Garrison third for the USA. Robert Stannard produced a solid ride to place 11th overall after provisionally placing on the podium.
Carter sets early benchmark
Clear skies and hot conditions greeted the men’s junior field contesting the individual time trial over the same 28.9km distance as the U23 men the day before. Robert Stannard would be the first of the Kiwis to leave the start house, with Fouche much later on in the field. However, as the U23 men’s race had showed the day before, the early riders could be more than in with a shot at a quality time and medal winning performance as several of them were eager to show.
The early best time was set by Australia’s Maccie Carter, who caught his minute man Abderahim Amari of Algeria to set the early benchmark of the day. Robert Stannard started off strong and quickly got into his groove for the near 29km ride. At the first intermediate time split Stannard stopped the clock in 9.49.07mins, an average speed of 45.224kph, putting him sixth fastest for now; almost 13 seconds behind Kazakhstan’s Igor Chzhan.
Further back on the course Jaka Primozic of Slovenia had gotten off to a very quick start to blast the first intermediate split out of the water and stake his claim to victory. Elsewhere Alastair Christie-Johnston had set brilliant times to be provisionally 3rd fastest and 2nd fastest at the two intermediate splits but sadly in the run in to the third intermediate split he was brought to a halt with a problem not dissimilar to that suffered by Hayden McCormick in the U23 time trial.
Slow and steady proves great tactic for Stannard
Meanwhile Robert Stannard had appeared to time his effort perfectly. After going through the first intermediate split well off the pace, Stannard lifted the tempo in the second section to go through check 2 in 17.25.64mins; 9th fastest of the first 28 riders. But then Stannard lifted the pace once again to really stake a claim for the top of the leaderboard and it proved an inspired tactical move.
Stannard finally stopped the clock in 36.44.71mins a time that was 13.58 seconds faster than Maccie Carter. Meanwhile behind him Jaka Primozic was flying and looking good to best Stannard’s time; which he did. Primozic quickly knocked the Kiwi down into the silver medal position but there was not much in it between the two; just 8 seconds in all. Christie-Johnston arrived home in 36.50mins and could only wonder what might have been had he not had to stop for a mechanical as he provisionally slotted into third place.
Mikkel Bjerg of Denmark was the next to really challenge for the top of the leaderboard. The Dane was fastest at the first three time checks convincingly, and at the third time check he was almost a minute faster than Primozic. So too Ruben Apers of Belgium, he was another one blitzing the times of Primozic and Stannard to oust them both from the top two spots. While the two of them were convincingly faster than the rest, Bjerg was for now in a class of his own as he almost caught Apers. Apers stopped the clock in 36.06.34mins, but straight behind him was Bjerg who stopped the clock in 35.17.47mins.
Fouche digs deep too late
With Bjerg still in control at the top of the leaderboard, James Fouche headed down the ramp to start his individual time trial. Robert Stannard at this point was still provisionally seventh overall. As with Stannard, Fouche appeared to be playing it slow in the early stages. He had the 29th fastest time at the first time check and the 27th fastest at the second; 1.10mins down on Mikkel Bjerg. Fouche progressively made his way up the standings, 24th at the third time check; but it looked like he might have put his effort in too late. Fouche finally crossed the line in 38.31.75mins, provisionally 27th place for him 3.14.28mins back on Bjerg.
With four riders remaining, including Brandon McNulty of the USA who was the last to start and expected to be one of the favourites, it appeared that taking the earlier starting times was advantageous; with the wind beginning to rise a little too. With all riders out on the course Bastian Flicke of Germany appeared to be going well, providing the toughest challenge to Bjerg’s lead with just 8 seconds separating them at the first time check. McNulty too was presenting a stern challenge, going quicker at the first time check.
McNulty rises under pressure
Another to challenge for the win was Julius Johansen of Denmark who went fastest at the second time check, with his time bettered by McNulty who was off to a flying start. The pair of them were neck and neck through time checks one and two with McNulty marginally ahead. Gradually though the American began to pull ahead with a 31 second lead over Mikkel Bjerg. Berg crossed the line first in a time of 35.17.47mins to sit in the gold medal position, but it didn’t last long. McNulty justified his favourite status by becoming the only rider to go sub-35 minutes. McNulty won gold in 34.42.29mins with Mikkel Bjerg in second and Ian Garrison of the USA in third place.
In the end Robert Stannard finished 11th overall, 2.02.42mins behind McNulty, while James Fouche finished 44th out of the 83 riders to finish the race.