Josh Tarling takes junior time trial title for GB at World Championships with powerful ride

Welshman follows Zoe Bäckstedt into rainbow stripes on same day in Australia

Josh Tarling at the World Championships 2022
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Josh Tarling continued a golden day for Great Britain with gold in the junior men's time trial at the World Championships in Wollongong.

The 18-year-old was the last one on the 28.8km course in New South Wales, Australia, and was the last man who could upset Hamish McKenzie (Australia), and did so, beating him by 19 seconds.

He followed Zoe Bäckstedt as a GB rider, and more specifically a Welsh rider, as junior world champion on a speedy day for the team. It meant for a second time on Tuesday, God Save The King rang out, potentially for the first time on an elite sports podium.

The Welshman's ride, ferocious at times, saw him average 49.395km/h over the course, which meant he finished in 34-59. McKenzie finished 19 seconds behind, to take Australia's second medal of this World Championships, with Emil Herzog of Germany in third, another 14 seconds behind that.

McKenzie spent most of the afternoon in the hot seat in Wollongong, as he was the fourth rider down the start ramp, almost three hours before Tarling began his attempt.

With Herzog and Jan Christen (Switzerland) in fourth also starting late on in the time trial, it was a strangely lopsided race, with McKenzie putting in his competitive time before the action had really begun.

Another favourite, Jens Verbrugghe (Belgium), was off the pace, with Tarling able to use him as a target and then overtake him, despite starting two minutes behind the Belgian.

It was reported that Verbrugghe was forced to used a different bike than his usual for the effort, which would go some way to explain why he did not seem comfortable, or as fast as his rivals.

Tarling was ahead at the first time check, and then the second, although he seemed to lose time to McKenzie over the second half of the course; he explained this post-race by saying he eased off when he saw Verbrugghe, as he assumed he was going a little too hard.

However, this didn't matter in the end, with the Welshman taking full advantage of the final downhill section - with tailwind - during which he broke 70km/h, to break McKenzie's time.

He was the favourite, and did not let the tag weigh him down too heavily. Just like Bäckstedt earlier in the Australian day, the GB rider went last and lived up to the predictions.

Speaking post-race, he made it clear that relief was the biggest emotion. He also paid credit to the coaches which have helped him and Bäckstedt to world glory.

"It definitely hasn't sunk in yet," Tarling said. "It feels like a relief. So much hard work, I was a bit annoyed after last year. I really wanted it, and relief maybe.

"The first lap was important because it felt like it was all uphill, especially with the headwind. I was just trying to sit as hard as I could over that first climb, and then it was pretty much downhill with a tailwind to the finish. Then I think I was hurting anyway, but when I saw Jens Verbrugghe I eased off a bit, cos I thought I was going ok. I think I eased off a bit too much, so I had to kick through the last few sections. It was mainly thinking about the corners."

Asked how this season has been, targeting this race, Tarling said it was "so hard".

"I think I had a bad start to the season with injuries and feeling empty. From halfway through the year it has been all for this," he explained. "I had a bit of food poisoning during the Euros, and I was annoyed I couldn't help my team in the team pursuit, and they deserved it. After that it was flat out to try and bring GB another jersey to make up for it.

"It's awesome, the coaches really deserve it. We're really proud. After the road race, I'm going to try and get another result in that."

The two rainbow jerseys on Tuesday mean it has been a very successful World Championships for GB so far, with Leo Hayter taking a bronze medal in the U23 time trial on Monday.

Tarling has signed a contract with Ineos Grenadiers for next year, and on this evidence could be a handful at WorldTour level. First, there is the small matter of the junior road race on Saturday, which he could be competitive in too.

RESULTS

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2022 - JUNIOR men's INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL (28.8KM)

1. Josh Tarling (GBr), in 34-59
2. Hamish McKenzie (Aus), at 19s
3. Emil Herzog (Deu), at 33s
4. Jan Christen (Sui), at 59s
5. Romet Pajur (Est), at 1-07
6. Artem Shmidt (USA), at 1-37
7. Frank Ragilo (Est), at 1-38
8. Duarte Marivoet (Bel), at 1-40
9. Jørgen Nordhagen (Nor), at 1-41
10. Thibaud Gruel (Fra), at same time

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