Josh Tarling became the youngest rider to ever win the elite men's time trial at the British National Road Championships on Wednesday, after he stormed to victory by over a minute in North Yorkshire. Such is his youth, at 19 years and 126 days, that he was younger than the winner of the under-23 title, too.
On a flat, fast course the Ineos Grenadiers rider was the only man to average in excess of 50km/h over the 41.1km course, setting a time of 48-50, beating Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) by 1-03. Tarling's Ineos teammate Connor Swift came in third, a further seven seconds back.
Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, Lizzie Holden (UAE Team ADQ) was last on the course in the elite women's race, but managed to beat everyone who had come before her, narrowly besting Anna Morris (WardPerformanceUK.com) and Elinor Barker (Uno-X) by 14 and 16 seconds, respectively.
Holden powered round the 27.4km course at an averaged of 44.39km/h to take the first win of her professional career, aged 25.
The day began with the under-23 races for both men and women over 27.4km. Josh Charlton (Saint Piran) won the men's event comfortably by 22 seconds over Max Walker (Trinity Racing), with Joshusa Golliker (Continental Groupama-FDJ) a further 11 seconds back.
Shortly after, Maddie Leech (Lifeplus Wahoo) dominated a small field in the women's equivalent, beating Lucy Gadd (Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime) by a minute, with Flora Perkins (Fenix-Deceuninck Continental) trailing by another 16 seconds.
The first elite woman to spend a significant amount of time in the hot seat following the time trial was Katie Archibald (Ceratizit-WNT) with the Olympic track champion beating former champion Alice Barnes (Human Powered Health) during her time in the lead.
She was unseated by Barker, another Olympic champion, before a surprise rider, Morris, went even faster. This left it all on Holden on the course, with the 25-year-old fighting through the pressure to victory. One surprise was Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), with the former champion appearing to suffer a mechanical during the run.
“It feels really special. I always looked up to those in the national jersey, and I guess now I have one of my own," Holden said post-race. "It doesn't feel real yet. This was something I wanted to aim for because I've been close before, but part of me was like I don't know if I can actually do it. I just did what I could do and thankfully it paid off."
For the men's race, it always felt inevitable that the race would come down to the powerhouses on the second half of the start sheet and so it proved, with John Archibald and Michael Gill (both HUUB Wattshop) and Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ) the only men from the first wave to make it into the top ten.
Swift set the fastest time, in 50 minutes, only to see his time beaten by his teammate, eight years younger, by 70 seconds. Then it was only a case of seeing whether Wright would beat the electric time set by Tarling, which he could not managed, instead taking the fifth second-place of his promising career.
Dan Bigham (HUUB Wattshop), whose full-time job is a performance engineer for Tarling's Ineos team, was last man out on course, but could not challenge the podium, fading on his last lap to finish seventh.
“It's a bit weird to have won," Tarling explained. "Weird, but super happy. Super cool to have won against some big hitters and really nice that I get to wear this in some cool races now. I think it was important not to go too hard at the start. I didn't want to go too easy when I felt good."
Asked why he entered the elite race when he would have comfortably qualified for the U23 version, he told The British Continental: "I get all the help with Ineos... so I think it would be unfair to enter the under-23 because a lot of them don’t get the help I get."
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