Junior riders better for world champ exposure
The testing climbs of the mountains at the ski resort of Innsbruck in the Austrian Alps proved a brutish test for Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club’s junior riders at the UCI Road World Championships in Austria.
Best of the Kiwi trio was Josh Lane (TA Sports) in 62nd spot, 18:54 from the winner, with Theo Gilbertson 72nd over 20 minutes behind, while Sam Cook (TA Sports), like many, did not finish after he was stalled by one of the crashes.
The junior men’s race over 132kms was split after a fast tailwind start and two major crashes with riders left in small groups littered over the two laps of the Olympic circuit, where making the finish line in Innsbruck proved a major achievement in itself.
Belgium’s outstanding prospect Remco Evenepoel won in 3:03.49, 1m25s ahead of Marius Mayhofer (GER) and Alessandro Fancellu (ITA).
A major crash early on caught out many, including Cook who was unable to catch back to the bunch on the super-fast flat tailwind section.
A second significant crash halted the progress of Gilbertson as the first lap of the circuit splintered the race with small groups littered over the course. Evenepoel, who has already been signed by the Quick Step Floors World Tour team as a teenager, bridged up to the leaders and cruised away to an impressive win.
“This is the world championships and the courses are traditionally very tough and it is a longer race than during the year. For young New Zealand riders, it is an eye-opener,” said Cycling New Zealand’s Jacques Landry.
“They all stuck at it and I am sure it has been an education on the strength of the European riders and where they need to get to if they want to have a professional career in this sport.”
The race comprised an initial lumpy tailwind section from Kufstein before the Olympic circuit that featured one massive climb and a spectacular descent down to Innsbruck to the famous Bergisel ski jump, used for the 1964 Winter Olympics, and finished by the Imperial Palace.
World championships road race very much a learning curve for Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club riders Sam Cook and Josh Lane.