Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) completed a hat-trick of rainbow jerseys by winning the under-23 men's individual time trial at the World Championships for the third successive year, while the American pairing of Ian Garrison and Brandon McNulty claimed the silver and bronze medals.
A wretchedly wet morning in Harrogate left pools of standing water on the 30.3km course, but Bjerg mastered the treacherous conditions to claim victory by 26 seconds from Garrison, with McNulty rounding out the podium a further second behind.
McNulty beat Bjerg to the silver medal in the junior time trial in Doha three years ago, but the Dane has proven dominant at under-23 level. He began his current streak with a crushing victory in Bergen in 2017 and then doubled up in Innsbruck twelve months ago. The pair will ride together at WorldTour level at UAE Team Emirates next season.
Bjerg had to settle for second behind fellow countryman Johan Price-Pejtersen at both the national championships in June and the European Championships in Alkmaar last month, but he remained the favourite for the global title on the longer, more undulating parcours in Yorkshire.
The last man down the start ramp, Bjerg laid down an early marker by recording the quickest time at the checkpoint, covering the first 14.2km some 24 seconds quicker than Iver Johan Knotten (Norway), who lost considerable momentum when he narrowly avoided crashing shortly afterwards.
Come the latter part of the course, Bjerg's target was the finishing time of Garrison, who had gauged his effort well to improve markedly from the checkpoint. By the time Bjerg entered the finishing straight, it was already clear that he would not be denied another title. He stopped the clock some 26 seconds quicker than Garrison, and he was the only rider whose average speed exceeded 45kph on the rolling and rain-soaked course.
"Today was really, really crazy," Bjerg said afterwards. "The weather conditions were absolutely terrible, but I managed to pull it off.
"I was told 5 minutes before the start that there were some big puddles on the road and my coach tried to navigate me through the easiest line. He said, 'Just hold onto your bars and pedal full gas.'"
Those tenets have now carried Bjerg to three rainbow jerseys as an under-23 rider, and the Hagens Berman Axeon rider described Tuesday's win as the most hard-fought in the sequence, both because of the pressure to retain his title and the conditions on the day itself.
"There was so much pressure, and I would say mostly from myself," Bjerg said. "It would almost have been not good if I didn't win, so I'm really happy to take a third title. To be honest, I feel really bad now, I'm really dizzy actually."
The depth of time trialling talent in Denmark is such that there were expectations beforehand that Bjerg might be joined on the podium by two of his fellow countrymen. Morten Hulgaard (Denmark) was the first man down the start ramp and the early pace setter. He would spend much of the morning in the hot seat before being displaced by Garrison. He ultimately finished in 6th place, 55 seconds off Bjerg.
Price-Pejtersen set out with considerable ambition after beating Bjerg to both the national and European titles this year, but his challenge collapsed when he crashed heavily early on, and he came home more than 11 minutes down. The same fate befell Attila Valter (Hungary) and a number of other riders only narrowly avoided calamity on the treacherous parcours. "There were some big puddles on the road. I also heard that Price crashed and that's shit," Bjerg said.
In the end, the challenge came not from within, despite Matthias Jorgensen's 4th place finish, nor from an illustrious WorldTour name – Marc Hirschi (Switzerland) had to settle for 13th – but from the American duo of Garrison and McNulty.
Garrison is a teammate of Bjerg's at Hagens Berman Axeon, and was bronze medallist behind McNulty and Bjerg in the junior race in Qatar three years ago. The Decatur native has enjoyed a striking 2019 season, winning the American under-23 and elite time trial titles, and he delivered a fine display to take the silver medal.
McNulty – second to Bjerg in Bergen – was in the final wave of starters, and although he was 3 seconds quicker than his teammate at the checkpoint, he was unable to dislodge Garrison from the hotseat at the finish, coming home a second down.
The American duo sat together and watched the last finishers, shaking hands when penultimate starter Brent Van Moer (Belgium) failed to better their times. That guaranteed each man a medal, but they already knew that denying Bjerg a third world title would be a step too far. The Dane, meanwhile, is already turning his thoughts towards winning an elite title further down the line. "I think for sure that's going to be my goal for the next years," he said.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)||0:40:20.42|
|2||Ian Garrison (United States of America)||0:00:26.45|
|3||Brandon Mcnulty (United States of America)||0:00:27.69|
|4||Mathias Norsgaard Jørgensen (Denmark)||0:00:36.78|
|5||Brent Van Moer (Belgium)||0:00:43.26|
|6||Morten Hulgaard (Denmark)||0:00:56.07|
|7||Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands)||0:01:01.02|
|8||Byron Munton (South Africa)||0:01:26.59|
|9||Markus Wildauer (Austria)||0:01:38.18|
|10||Daan Hoole (Netherlands)||0:01:45.79|
|11||Thibault Guernalec (France)||0:01:50.00|
|12||Tobias S. Foss (Norway)||0:01:51.58|
|13||Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)||0:01:51.65|
|14||Charles Quarterman (Great Britain)||0:01:52.62|
|15||Ben Healy (Ireland)||0:01:57.73|
|16||Kévin Geniets (Luxembourg)||0:02:02.61|
|17||Iñigo Elosegui Momeñe (Spain)||0:02:03.48|
|18||Iver Johan Knotten (Norway)||0:02:04.97|
|19||Alexys Brunel (France)||0:02:06.42|
|20||Patrick Gamper (Austria)||0:02:07.93|
|21||Ethan Vernon (Great Britain)||0:02:12.76|
|22||Antonio Puppio (Italy)||0:02:25.02|
|23||Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland)||0:02:33.60|
|24||Ognjen Ilić (Serbia)||0:02:33.93|
|25||Miguel Heidemann (Germany)||0:02:44.93|
|26||Barnabás Peák (Hungary)||0:02:46.00|
|27||Matteo Sobrero (Italy)||0:02:48.05|
|28||João Almeida (Portugal)||0:02:49.39|
|29||Liam Magennis (Australia)||0:02:50.61|
|30||Filip Maciejuk (Poland)||0:02:54.22|
|31||Biniam Girmay Hailu (Eritrea)||0:02:55.35|
|32||Nickolas Zukowsky (Canada)||0:02:55.36|
|33||Juri Hollmann (Germany)||0:03:00.27|
|34||Jakub Otruba (Czech Republic)||0:03:01.65|
|35||Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan)||0:03:03.45|
|36||Diego Agustin Ferreyra Geldrez (Chile)||0:03:19.37|
|37||Ilan Van Wilder (Belgium)||0:03:23.61|
|38||Shoi Matsuda (Japan)||0:03:28.84|
|39||Vadim Pronskiy (Kazakhstan)||0:03:33.71|
|40||Chih Hao Tu (Chinese Taipei)||0:03:37.79|
|41||Michael O'loughlin (Ireland)||0:03:39.24|
|42||André Carvalho (Portugal)||0:03:40.20|
|43||Ben Katerberg (Canada)||0:03:40.77|
|44||James Fouche (New Zealand)||0:03:51.22|
|45||Shunsuke Imamura (Japan)||0:03:56.59|
|46||Xabier Mikel Azparren Irurzun (Spain)||0:03:59.76|
|47||Petr Rikunov (Russian Federation)||0:04:06.07|
|48||Yahor Shpakouski (Belarus)||0:04:07.51|
|49||Jaka Primožič (Slovenia)||0:04:16.87|
|50||Daniel Habtemichael (Eritrea)||0:04:17.35|
|51||Jason Oosthuizen (South Africa)||0:04:43.51|
|52||Emil Dima (Romania)||0:04:44.03|
|53||Samuel Oros (Slovakia)||0:04:54.97|
|54||Attila Valter (Hungary)||0:05:39.77|
|55||Hasani Hennis (Anguilla)||0:06:41.08|
|56||Tyler Cole (Trinidad and Tobago)||0:07:20.76|
|57||Lorant Balazsi (Romania)||0:07:29.71|
|58||David Alexander Maidana Ortiz (Paraguay)||0:07:37.83|
|59||Johan Price-Pejtersen (Denmark)||0:11:34.46|
|DNF||Vladyslav Soltasiuk (Ukraine)|
|DNS||Mohamed Rayes (Syrian Arab Republic)|
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