By Gennie Sheer
Tasmanian Wesley Sulzberger claimed Australia's first medal at this year's UCI Road Cycling World Championships with his silver medal ride in the 172 kilometre U23 men's road race. 20 year-old Sulzberger sprinted home second behind Slovakian Peter Velits who won the world title in a time of 4:21:22 with Britain's Jonathan Bellis third.
"It's absolutely unbelievable and I can't quite believe it yet," said an overjoyed Sulzberger. "It hasn't sunk in."
The race ended in a bunch sprint of around 50 riders despite attacks by numerous riders in the last two of the nine laps of the Stuttgart circuit.
"We had Simon Clarke up in the break and he did an excellent job and it looked like he was going to be the man but the break came back," explained Sulzberger.
It then looked as if the Australian hopes of a podium finish were lost but the race came back together with four kilometres remaining.
"I managed to get in reasonable position and Simon (Clarke) then helped me out in the last kilometre leading me up to the couple of guys who were off the front," said Sulzberger. "It was great teamwork by the Aussies and Zak (Dempster) and Johnnie (Walker) did a great job helping us earlier in the day as well."
Sulzberger banged his handlebars after crossing the line seemingly in frustration at being pipped on the line but he says it was more in amazement at his achievement.
"I was more hitting the bars in disbelief because I couldn't believe I was a chance to be up there at the finish," said Sulzberger. "I was a long way back at tenth wheel going into the last corner and came from nowhere and gave it everything and ended up popping up there at the finish."
Reigning Australian U23 road champion Sulzberger, who'd spent the season racing and training in Europe, said he and Clarke went into the race aiming for a top five finish. "We had great hopes we'd finish up there so it's great to finish second."