Australia's best performance in the elite women's time trial came from Canberra's Vicki Whitelaw in 16th at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Varese, Italy.
Whitelaw, 31, posted a time of 35'27.58 minutes for the 25.15km course. She was one minute and 36.23 seconds off the pace of the newly crowned World Champion Amber Neben (United States of America).
"I gave 100 percent, the best I could do for where I'm at so I'm really happy," said Whitelaw after the race. "I couldn't have done any better and it gives me a lot of incentive to be up here with the best girls in the world and see where I can improve and where I can go from here."
Whitelaw, who is an exercise scientist and soft tissue therapist, won the Australian National Road Series in 2006 and 2007 and claimed the Oceania Time Trial title last year as well. She was selected for the Australian team for the 2007 World Championships but had to pull out due to illness. This year racing with the Australian team in Europe she collected a win in the time trial stage of the women's Tour of Italy, the Giro d'Italia Femminile.
"This is my first 'world champs' and my first year riding overseas and consistently performing well and to finish off like this and culminate in the World Championships and finish in the top half (of the field) I'm really happy," Whitelaw said.
The Varese course is literally down the road from the Cycling Australia-AIS High Performance Program's European base and Whitelaw said knowing the course certainly helped her Wednesday.
"For me I broke the course down into four sections so in the hill section I was trying to get under 12 minutes and the ones on the podium were really fastest over that section," she explained. "The descent which is winding and quite technical but not too bad and not wet so we could really dig into that .
"Then the back section with the cobbles and then the home run where yesterday we saw through the tunnels a couple of the boys crashed so I was playing it a bit carefully there and then the final little rise over," she said. "I had it in my head broken down to make it more manageable."
Australian team-mate Bridie O'Donnell, 34, finished 23rd while Alexis Rhodes, 23, finished 24th. On Thursday, Australia's men will get their turn. Michael Rogers and Adam Hansen will start the elite 43.7km time trial.