Denmark’s Mikkel Bjerg emphatically claimed the World Championships men’s under-23 time trial title, setting an early benchmark that proved unbeatable.
Bjerg. who was 19th off the start ramp out of 56 riders, set a time of 47-06.48 over the 37.2km course around Bergen that no-one could come close to. His time eclipsed that of second placed Brandon McNulty (USA), who set off three minutes earlier and had set the best time of 48-12.40.
The 18-year-old Team Giant-Castelli set the fastest time through all but the first intermediate checkpoint and held his strong pace consistently over the hilly course to finish with an average speed of 47.8km/h.
The tough terrain of the course, which included an ascent of the steep Birkelundsbakken climb, saw a number of riders fade after starting out quickly, with the likes of Neilsen Powless (USA) and Britain’s Scott Davies just creeping into the top-10. Meanwhile, new Sky recruit and winner of the Baby Giro Pavel Sivakov (Rus) finished 11th at 1-47 to the leader.
The top-two of Bjerg and former junior world time trial champion McNulty sat untouched after they set their times, while third place was closely fought.
Edoardo Affini (Ita) held the position for much of the race after Bjerg and McNulty had finished their runs, but the seat changed several times with Callum Scotson (Aus) taking it briefly before Tom Wirtgen (Lux) quickly posted a faster time.
He was visibly devastated when the penultimate rider to arrive, Corentin Ermenault (Fra), crossed the line under two seconds faster to claim the bronze medal.
There was no stopping Bjerg though, who claims his first set of rainbow bands having finished second to McNulty in 2016 in Doha in the junior race.
UCI Road World Championships 2017: Men’s under-23 individual time trial (37.2km)
1. Mikkel Bjerg (Den), in 47-06.48
2. Brandon McNulty (USA), at 1-05
3. Corentin Ermenault (Fra), at 1-16
4. Tom Wirtgen (Lux), at 1-18
5. Callum Scotson (Aus), at 1-21
6. Senne Leysen (Bel), at 1-21
7. Kasper Asgreen (Den), at 1-30
8. Edoardo Affini (Ita), at 1-35
9. Neilson Powless (USA), at 1-37
10. Scott Davies (GBr), at 1-43