Despite heavy rain in Ponferrada, rainbows were visible at the UCI Road World Championships, with Macey Stewart and Campbell Flakemore winning the Women Juniors and Men Under 23 individual time trial titles on Monday.
Macey Stewart’s smile illuminated Ponferrada in the morning as she pulled on the rainbow jersey after dominating the Women Junior individual time trial. It was her third world title and rainbow jersey of the year after also winning the omnium and team pursuit titles at the UCI Juniors Track Cycling World Championships last month.
Stewart set a time of 20:08 for the 13.9km course, beating Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark) by 10 seconds. Anna-Leeza Hull (Australia) was third at 13 seconds, placing two green and gold jerseys on the podium, with Australia’s strength in depth underlined by Alexandra Manly’s fourth place.
“I didn’t expect this at all. It’s a very surreal feeling,” Stewart said. “I was excited to see how flat the course was when I got here because I’ve just come from the track Worlds in Korea and I didn’t really have the road training in my legs.”
“The weather wasn’t the greatest but to be honest, I love racing in the rain so when I saw the weather this morning, I got a little bit excited. I knew it would be good for me. I just tried to touch the brakes as little as possible and hammer it through the corners.”
Flakemore gives Australia a second world title
The rain continued to fall in the afternoon and so did Australia’s success. Campbell Flakemore gave Australia its second world title of the day, snatching victory from Ryan Mullen (Ireland) by just 0.48 of a second after a close battle against the clock.
The powerful Australian finished fourth last year and fought all the way to the finish line to stop the clock in 43:49 for the 36.15km course. Mullen, who had been in the race leader’s hot seat and confident of winning, had to accept defeat and the silver medal. Stefan Kueng of Switzerland, the current European Under 23 road race and time trial champion, finished third, nine seconds slower.
“I was thinking about last year, getting fourth and coming so close to the medals,” Flakemore said. “This is my last year as an Under 23 and I really wanted it today, my exhaustion at the finished really showed that.”
“I knew in the first two time checks that I was down on Ryan, I knew I had to leave a lot in the tank for the last five kilometres and I think I got a lot back. But I took it really easy on the last descent, I didn’t want to crash, I had seen the Junior girls go through it and it didn’t look so bad, then after that I hauled it to the finish.”
“Macey won the time trial for the junior girls this morning, so this is a fantastic start for Australia, and Tasmania.”
Australia naturally dominates the medal table after day one of racing by winning both two world titles. The individual time trials continue on Tuesday with the Men Juniors and Elite Women races. Both races cover a 29.5km course around Ponferrada.