World Championships: Mixed fortunes for Australians

Australian rider Anna-Leeza Hull finished third in the women’s junior time trial at the UCI Road World Championships, while U23 rider Miles Scotson was a disappointing seventh on the line at the U23 men's time trial after a mid-race mechanical. Despite the end result, both were optimistic about their performances and confident for future opportunities.

The junior women were first to race Monday morning as American Chloe Dygert blasted the competition, finishing the 15km course in 20:18, a full 1:06 ahead of her compatriot Emma White in second. Hull, meanwhile, had not started off as she had hoped due to a headwind that had developed, finishing in third.

The current Australian national time trial champion recorded the seventh-fastest time at the first time check but was able to rally herself back in the second half of the course to solidify the final spot on the podium, four seconds ahead of last year’s runner-up, Pernille Mathiesen of Denmark.

“Back-to-back bronze medals, two years in a row, I’m pretty happy with that,” Hull said. “It was definitely a hard race. The back half was always going to suit me much better. It’s the tougher half, and for me, the tougher the course, the better.

“I didn’t think the wind was that strong before I started. It was a little bit of a shock. It was buffeting me a lot,” the 18-year-old said. “I had a lot of time to make up, but I was confident that I could do that in the technical section and into the uphill.”

With the time trial over, Hull shifts her focus to the junior women's road race on Friday with teammate Jessica Pratt."The road race course suits me," Hull said. "Particularly the finish with the steep hill and false flat. I hope to do another solid effort up there into the finish."

The U23 men were up next Monday afternoon as rain clouds began to hover overhead. Danish rider Mads Würtz Schmidt earned gold with a time of 37:10 ahead of the German duo of Maximilian Schachmann and Lennard Kamna. The riders were split into four waves with Schmidt and Schachmann being among the second wave to race, Kamna and Scotson were in the third when the rain began.

“Coming over the finish line for the first time to start my second lap, I heard that I was the third fastest,” said Scotson. The Australian was only seven seconds down on Schmidt when he suffered a mechanical close to 10km to go. “Unfortunately, the chain got jammed around five kilometres into the second lap.

“I didn’t want to stop but when I wasn’t able to get the chain unlocked on my own, I didn’t really have a choice,” Scotson said. “I pulled over for help. The mechanic was super fast. He knew exactly what had happened and how to address it. I was back on the bike within 15 seconds.”

Scotson had aimed for the rainbow jersey this week after a gold medal in the team pursuit on the track at the Australian track nationals this spring. The lead up to Richmond was instead filled with injury and illness.

“Two months ago, there was only a 50-50 chance that he would even make the team,” said U23 Australian national road coach James Victor. “He had some fairly heavy knocks this season – the ACL tear, a concussion and the stomach bug just this week.”

The 21-year-old was able to make up some time in the second lap, sitting in third after the second time check until the mechanical. “I think he would have come very close to bronze,” Victor said. “He’s learned a lot about himself, and he’ll use that to target the top step of the podium at World’s next year.”

Scotson finished 41 seconds down from Schmidt. Brushing it off, his eyes are now set on 2016. “I’m already thinking about my chances for next year.”

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