The Antipodean dominance of the UCI World Championships may have been interrupted in the junior men's time trial on Tuesday, but there was still a strong southern hemisphere presence on the podium thanks to the efforts of James Oram (New Zealand) and David Edwards (Australia).
Oram was the early pace-setter after he set out among the first wave of riders, and he spent the bulk of the morning in the hot seat waiting to see if the later starters could better his time. Ultimately, he was pipped by local rider Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Denmark) by a scant four seconds, but in spite of that narrow margin of defeat, Oram refused to be downcast afterwards.
"I'm over the moon actually," Oram said. "I came to the Worlds with the expectation that I would be extremely happy to finish in the top five. To be in the hot seat pretty much all day and still end up on the podium is amazing, I couldn't have asked for more."
While the 17-year-old Wurtz Schmidt's victory was a surprise even to the home crowds in Copenhagen, Oram touched upon one of the beauties of the junior world championships – the bulk of the riders are competing against one another for the first time.
"To be honest, I've only raced in America and Australia, so any European rider for me is a bit of an unknown," he said. "It's always a question of who is going to be the one on the day. Obviously the strongest rider won, so big ups to him."
Part of the Pure Black Racing set-up in 2011, Oram was among the pre-race favourites following his assured victory at the prestigious Tour de l'Abitibi in Canada in July. "At Abitibi, I got fourth in the time trial there so it was sort of a mental thing trying to find those extra seconds," he told Cyclingnews.
Although Oram will be the star attraction in a solid New Zealand line-up in Saturday's road race, he explained that his pre-Worlds preparation was tailored for the time trial as the event offered greater guarantees of a medal.
"I've spent the last month or so doing time trial-specific training. It's the one race where it's all on you to win. It's not a gamble like the road race," Oram said. "Obviously, if you're strong in the road race, you should be top-10, but in the time trial, to be in the top-10 you have to do everything perfectly."
Nonetheless, Oram is not daunted by the road race circuit following a lengthy spell of training over similar terrain in Belgium ahead of the Worlds. "There are no big climbs, but little rollers which will suit us. I don't find it a scary course or anything. I'm not bothered by it. It should be a good test of everyone's abilities."
Whatever the outcome, the next step in Oram's career will be to test himself more regularly in the northern hemisphere, "hopefully in Europe or America, it depends on where I go. We'll have to see."
Radio problems for Edwards
Australia added to its medal haul at these world championships after a solid performance from David Edwards in which he took third place in the junior time trial, 21 seconds down on Wurtz Schmidt.
"I could only hear the radio for the first three-quarters of the first lap, so I didn't really know how I was going, which I guess is a shame," he said afterwards. "But I gave it everything today. I can't complain at all with third."