17-year-old Brit Josh Tarling: not boring, not bad on a bike either, after claiming silver in junior men's time trial

The 17-year-old Brit took silver, GB's second medal of this Worlds, in the junior men's time trial

Josh Tarling
(Image credit: Getty)

The press room in Bruges for the Worlds time trial events is held in the city's cavernous concert hall. There are no windows and it's almost always deathly quiet.

Therefore, as Josh Tarling walks out alongside the GB press officer I'm 99 per cent sure I hear him say "I'm a boring person", remonstrating with his minder after fielding questions in his first press conference of this magnitude, having claimed silver medal in the men's junior time trial at the Flanders World Championships.

Questions such as what are your plans for the future? Tell us more about you as a person? Tricky questions for any 17-year-old, let alone one taking their formative steps towards the top level of sport.

With the third place Belgian Alec Segeart still trying to supply a urine sample to anti-doping, it was left to Tarling and the new world champion, the wonderfully-named Gustav Wang, to absorb the scrutiny of the press between the two of them.

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The whole thing is kind of wretched, really, and contradictory. The passion that exists for bike racing necessitates the devouring of its participants, especially new ones that crop up out of the woodwork displaying obvious talent. Before his silver medal, Pro Cycling Stats didn't even have his date of birth listed, and for every borderline slapdash journalist that means actually having to instead ask very direct questions to children who have the genetic disposition and accompanying work ethic to ride a bike more than 50km/h for 25 minutes.

"For me it's quite nerve-wracking," Tarling said of the whole experience at the Worlds, from the size of the actual race to these procedural duties after climbing off the bike. "I get quite nervous but nah it's definitely exciting, it feels like a really big event, and a Worlds in Belgium is proper cool innit? It's really exciting."

These nerves extend to waiting to get onto the start ramp of a time trial, so Tarling was pleased to get on the course early and quickly set a time with minimal fuss that only one other rider would go on to beat.

"I think [with] starting early I don't get to see anyone's times," Tarling explained of the advantage he takes from being near the top of the start list. "I can just concentrate on my riding and do what I can.

"I'm definitely not disappointed with silver, I gave it all I had. I'm relieved to be honest, it was a long time sitting on that hot seat thing, it was nervous, but I'm relieved."

Josh Tarling

(Image credit: Getty)

Tarling is on the lanky side of things, he speaks with a northern drawl, a laid-back manner in the vein of Hugh Carthy or James Shaw. His barnet has more than a whiff of the Jack Grealish's about it, an observation I hope he doesn't take umbrage with.

He rides for top amateur Belgian outfit FlandersColor Galloo as a first year junior, enjoying an "eye-opening" time competing against opposition of a similar level to what he's used to back in the UK, but sharpening his tactical wit against a field where "everyone wants to win".

He recently finished third in the Grand Prix Bob Jungels and is also being considered by British Cycling for the Team Pursuit Olympic Development programme.

"I'm not really sure, I enjoy time trialling," Tarling says when asked about what sort of rider he is and also hopes to become in the future. "All the detail that goes into it, the marginal gains, whenever it's hard and long I seem to do alright."

"Oof," comes the response after he's asked to tell a room full of mostly stone-faced older white men more about who he is. "Yeah...I'm Josh, I'm currently riding for FlandersColor Galloo on the road...pffttt...I think track and road are sort of...I don't have a preference. I think my track work helps a lot with the road stuff. In terms of what type of rider...hopefully I'll be a Classics rider in the future...I live in Wales...that's about it."

For now, that's enough, but remember the name. It started with a silver medal and nerves in Bruges, but who knows where it could end up.

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.