Rasmus Christian Quaade's silver in the under 23 time trial secured Denmark's first medal at the UCI World Championships and raised the nation's spirits after a less than ideal build up.
Heading into the Worlds Denmark had two major realistic medal hopes at senior level with Matti Breschel and Alex Rasmussen targeting the road race and time trial on home soil. However, Breschel was ruled out through injury, while Rasmussen courted controversy after he was removed from his national and trade teams for missing three out-of-competition doping controls.
It left the home nation clutching at straws for serious medal contenders but Quaade's ride has rescued Denmark and set them up for the rest of the Worlds.
"There were so many different journalists asking me about the time trial yesterday and today I wasn't talking at all because I wanted to focus on the race. The crowds were fantastic, and I've never seen anything like this. I could barely hear what the coach was yelling at me from the team car behind," he said.
As Quaade delighted the delegation of Danish press at the post-race press conference, the most relieved man was national coach Morten Bennekou, who sat at the back of the room.
"I'm very happy. Of course we aimed for the gold but we're very happy with the silver. After seeing him race today I know he gave his very best, gave it everything and it's all gone as well as we could have expected. All year he's been focused and his time trial today was very strong and most importantly, very consistent," Bennekou told Cyclingnews.
"First we lost Matti Breschel and then Alex Rasmussen, so of course it's great to start out with the silver medal. The rest of the team will take a lot of encouragement from this. We'll head back to the hotel, and although we can't celebrate because there's another race tomorrow, the rest of the team can be inspired by this result."
Without Breschel in the men's road race, Denmark will lack a genuine medal threat on a course that supposedly favours sprinters. However, in Anders Lund, Chris Anker Sorensen, Lars Bak, Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Morkov and Nicki Sorensen, they possess a team packed with staying power and aggression.
With the Worlds visiting Denmark for the first time since the 1950s the team will be looking to make no less than a major impression on the action, despite Breschel's absence.
"We don't have a real leader now. For the last three years we've brought Matti to the final and we don't have another guy that can fill that gap. We'll be attacking though and we wont wait or hope for a sprint finish. Matti was the fastest guy we had so now we have to be aggressive. It's a strong team but we're lacking that guy who can finish off a race with a sprint. I don't think we have a winner there though."
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