Following several top 10 finishes but no medals through the opening two days of the UCI Road World Championships, Great Britain's campaign stepped up a gear on Tuesday courtesy of junior riders Josh Tarling and Zoe Backstedt.
The pair – still just 17 and 16 years old, respectively – took silver medals in the junior time trials, with Backstedt, daughter of ex-pro Magnus, claiming her podium spot in the morning before Tarling replicated the feat in the afternoon.
On a day that provided first introductions to world's media for many of the young medallists, it was no different for Starling, who admitted his nerves as he spoke in the post-race press conference at the biggest event of his career to date.
"For me it's quite nerve-wracking," Tarling said. "I get quite nervous but it's definitely exciting, it feels like a really big event, and a Worlds in Belgium is proper cool, isn't it? So yeah, it's really exciting.”
For those unfamiliar with Tarling, who hails from Wales but has a distinct northern English accent, Worlds silver is just the latest in a long list of medals he has picked up in 2021. At the European Track Championships, he won gold in the Team Pursuit and Omnium, adding that to Points race gold at the British Track Championships, where he also won a silver and two bronzes in other events.
Back in July, he took silver in the time trial the British Championships too, finishing behind Finlay Pickering, who crashed during Wednesday's time trial but recovered to complete his ride in eighth.
Tarling, who was 20 seconds off eventual winner, Denmark's Gustav Wang, said that he wasn't disappointed to miss out on adding another gold medal to his season haul before going on to add a short introduction to himself as a rider.
"I'm definitely not disappointed with silver, I gave it all I had and I'm relieved to be honest, it was a long time sitting on that hot seat thing. It was nervous, but I'm relieved," he said.
"I'm currently riding for FlandersColor Galloo on the road. I think track and road are sort of - I don't have a preference. I think my track work sort of helps a lot with the road stuff.
"In terms of what type of rider, I like to think – I'm definitely not a sprinter but I like it when it's long and hard so hopefully I'll be a Classics rider in the future. I live in Wales, that's about it."
At 17, he's staying for at least another year with his Belgian-based team, he said, having made the switch from Team Backstedt for 2021, and is eyeing up racing on the continent more in 2022.
"It's been quite eye-opening. It's been – I'd say the races and riders are definitely as strong as the ones at home," he said about Belgian racing. "It's not harder, just different. The tactics are different, and everyone wants to win. It's definitely different but I really enjoy it.
"I'm still a first year so I'm still doing another year. I'm staying with FlandersColor Galloo. Lots of road racing, hopefully a bit more trips abroad as Covid relaxes a bit. But more of the same really and hopefully I'll get some good results."
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.
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