'Junior mistake' costs USA's Vermaerke in Worlds U23 race

Kevin Vermaerke (USA)
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Kevin Vermaerke (USA) came into Friday's U23 men's race at the UCI Road World Championships with a realistic chance of a medal but the young American finished empty-handed after what he called a 'junior mistake'.

Vermaerke finished 41st in the race, over three minutes down on winner Samuele Battistella (Italy) but was out of contention before the race even reached the finishing circuits in Harrogate.

"It was a really tough race," Vermaerke told Cyclingnews after stopping to speak to Cyclingnews in the mix zone.

"A big break went and we missed that. So we had the whole team on the front and they sacrificed themselves for me. We caught the break on the climb and everyone knew at the top that there would be crosswinds but I was out of position and missed the split."

Despite a valiant chase from the American men they were unable to come back on terms, with Vermaerke their best finisher.

"It's really disappointing when the team rides like that and you make a junior mistake and miss the split,"  Vermaerke said.

"When you know it's coming, it's pretty disappointing. I was at the front on the climb and then was a lull in pace, and then a swarm. There's no excuse. I dug myself in a grave at that point."

Despite the result Vermaerke has had a landmark season at under 23 level. 

The 18-year-old won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April and followed that up with a series of impressive rides. 2019 has been built around gaining experience and the American will come back to Europe in 2020 with Axel Merckx's Hagens Berman Axeon's squad before a possible move to WorldTour in 2021.

"I've had a great season and this was a great course for me. The team supported me throughout the day and it's my fault for not being there. It was positioning mistake. Legs don't matter if you're not in the right position. 

"I'll spend one more year at Axeon. This was my first year really focusing on the road so I still need more development. Hopefully I can build on this, come back and win some more races. Overall this has been a really good season for me. I can't complain," he concluded.

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