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Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) finished fourth, just two seconds shy of a bronze medal.
Dane will stay in U23 ranks for another year
The 20-year-old lined-up as an outside podium contender having made a smooth transition from the boards of the Olympic velodrome to the road in recent weeks. He was 10th in the European time trial championships which took place within a matter of days his Games success but backed that up with second place in the Tour de l'Avenir prologue earlier this month.
In Monday’s race Hansen posted the third best times at both time checks at 13.1km and 26.5km but he faded on the ascent of the Cauberg just as Damien Howson (Australia) found enough energy to turn a two second deficit into an advantage.
"That was really hard but I felt better than ever for a time trial. I can’t really describe the feeling. On the one had it’s a great comeback after the Olympics so I’m satisfied," Hansen told Cyclingnews.
"I’m happy with my performance here but it’s still bitter to be pulled down from the podium by two seconds."
Asked if the transition from track to road had taken time to adjust to, he said: "It’s been difficult. This was a big goal for me on the road this season so it hasn’t been a problem to focus on this but the European championships and the Tour de l'Avenir was really difficult."
After the success at the Olympics, where Hansen claimed one of two Danish gold medals from the entire athletic programme, interest in his future greatly intensified. At just 20 he has decided to remain in the U23 ranks for at least one more season. He has a number of offers on the table but has yet to sign a contract.
"I’ve not signed a contract but I have a lot of different teams interested. I’ll stay in the U23s so I can do the Worlds again next year. The goal is to win next year. I will then do the track again. For the road, I think I’ll stay with a Danish Continental team."