For several years, Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain) has been edging ever closer to a medal at the World Championships. Castroviejo came just three seconds short in the TT in Richmond last season but, at the sixth time of asking, he was able to convert his form into something tangible with a bronze medal in the elite men time trial in Doha.
Castroviejo described the medal as a small gift after enduring an extremely challenging start to the season and a series of new misses. "I had a very difficult start to the season with a big crash but, in the second part, it has been much better. I had fourth place in the Olympic Games, we won the Vuelta with Nairo [Quintana], and then I won the European Championships. For me, it's a small gift," said Castroviejo.
He spent several months on the sidelines over the spring when he fractured a vertebra and his ulna following a collision with a fan while riding to his team bus at the end of a stage of the Volta ao Algarve. After making his comeback in June, he missed out on a medal at the Olympic Games by just four seconds, saying afterwards that the memory of his Algarve crash had made him more cautious on the more treacherous of descents.
A commanding victory at the European Championships last month was his first of the season and a big boost to his morale going into the World Championships. However, at just 62 kilos, the route, with its long, flat roads, was not well suited to Castroviejo. "Before the start, I had a lot of confidence in myself. I knew that the course was really fast after riding it in the team time trial. For me, it was quite challenging but, fortunately, during my ride, the wind wasn't too strong, and that helped me to do this time," he explained.
Given that this year's route was far from ideal for someone of Castroviejo's stature, taking home a bronze medal already has Castroviejo thinking about what he could do in 12 months' time.
"For me, this result gives me a lot of confidence for the future. I have been so consistent all this season, I was second in Poland, I was second in the Vuelta, and I won the European Championships, so I knew that I would be very strong here even though the course wasn't great for somebody like me," he explained. "Luckily, the course next year in Norway will finish with a bit of uphill and that will help me be closer to the rainbow jersey. I hope to have an easier season than this one and get closer to the top. For the time being, I'm super happy with what I got today - it was really hard to get going after my injury in February and the recovery process I had to go through."