Azerbaijan’s only entrant into Thursday’s European Games elite men’s time trial didn’t quite deliver for his country in their home games, as he drifted off the course and failed to finish.
Elchin Asadov, who is a three-time national time trial champion of Azerbaijan, was unlikely to be in contention for gold in the inaugural games, with some WorldTour professionals taking to the startline.
But the 28-year-old was probably still hoping to put in a good show for his home crowd, but veered off course onto a press route, claiming that the 51.6km course had been altered since he had trained on the route earlier this week.
Asadov abandoned after he realised he had taken the wrong turn.
“I took the wrong road,” Asadov said after the event.
“Two days ago I was training here and then the track was different. I thought the road would be the same as in training.
“I took a turn that was meant for journalists, not for the riders. But there was someone waving a flag on the road, so I thought this turn was for us. The road was a dead end. It was just bad luck.
“What can I say? Maybe it was something psychological, because we are on home soil. I am sorry for the people who believed in us. It was for the most part my own mistake.”
The race was won by Belarusian Team Sky rider Vasil Kiryienka, who completed the course in a blistering 59-36 to beat IAM Cycling’s Dutch rider Stef Clement into second by 1-10. Spain and Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez rounded off the podium 1-32 off Kiryienka’s time.
“My first impression on the bike was good today,” Kiryienka said about the race. “I divided my strength over the sections. In Belarus we have the same kind of roads, so I could prepare very well for this race.”
The other story from the day was Ireland’s 20-year-old rider Ryan Mullen, who put in storming performance to finish eighth on the day, 2-41 behind the winner but ahead of WorldTour names like Dario Cataldo (Astana) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha).
The Netherland’s Ellen Van Dijk took gold in the women’s event, with women’s road race scheduled for Saturday and the men’s for Sunday.
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