The USA riders endured mixed fortunes in the under-23 men's time trial at the UCI Road World Championships on Monday. Brandon McNulty took the silver medal after finishing 1:05 behind Denmark's Mikkel Bjerg. Pre-race favourite Neilson Powless, however, was left disappointed and in pain after crashing during the second lap of the Bergen circuit.
McNulty won the junior world title in 2016, beating Bjerg in Qatar. This time the result was switched, but McNulty was satisfied with his ride and a silver medal.
"They call the time trial the race of truth and he was that strong. I had one of my best rides, so the fact that he was able to put so much time into me, shows he was on another level," McNulty said in the post-race press conference.
McNulty was out of the top five in the first three time checks but explained that he carefully paced his ride.
"With the climb towards the end of the circuit, you couldn't start off too hard," he said.
"I think the time splits showed I was behind most guys in the first 11km. Then on the second circuit, I started moving up and I think I passed everyone but Mikkel by the end. It was about pacing yourself carefully and not having anything left at the end on the final hill. After that it was all-in."
Powless was on track for a medal, clocking the second fastest time at the penultimate checkpoint, but he flew over the bars after losing his chain and hitting the roadside barriers. He had to take his spare bike and eventually finished ninth at 1:37.
McNulty was sat on the hot seat when USA teammate Powless crashed hard.
"It was tough to watch him crash," he said.
"He was right there with me and we could have had a bronze and silver day. I'm super happy but it was a sad moment for him, know he was looking forward to this time trial."
McNulty has enjoyed a successful first season with the Rally Cycling team as an under-23 rider and confirmed he will stay with the team in 2018.
Only pain for Powless
As McNulty was awarded the silver medal on the podium, Powless rolled through the mixed-zone, with a bloody shoulder, knees, and knuckles.
He held back his emotions but was clearly disappointed. Asked by Norwegian television what was going through his mind as he crashed, he said: "That my dreams were crashing to the ground."
He explained what happened.
"My chain dropped between my front chainring and the frame. I tried to reach down and pull it out but then when I looked up the gates (barriers) were changing direction and I hit a foot," he said.
"It was a stupid mistake and I'm super disappointed. It sucks. Luckily I didn't get seriously hurt but the disappointment of not having my goal performance is heavier than my injuries. I'm bummed to have missed out on an opportunity but there's nobody to blame but myself. I'll just try to do better next time."
Powless' next and final race of the 2017 season is Friday's under-23 road race.
"We're going into the road race with a different leader than myself but it's still going to be a super fun race and I'll still be aggressive," Powless promised with a show of pride.