Five days after suffering an awful crash in the junior road race, 18-year-old Felicity Wilson-Haffenden claimed gold in the junior women’s time trial at the World Championships, earning herself a first rainbow jersey.
The Australian, who only started cycling in 2021, took to the 13.4km course in Stirling, Scotland on Thursday with cuts scattered across her body - the scars of Saturday's road race, where she slid out on a downhill bend on the opening lap and careered across the tarmac into the metal barriers.
The teenager then picked herself up, both physically and mentally, to claim victory in the time trial. Great Britain’s Izzy Sharp won the silver medal, finishing 16 seconds down.
“It was pretty hard, pretty disappointing to crash on Saturday. I put a lot into that race,” Wilson-Haffenden said. “Personally, I felt like I let a lot of people down, because there was a lot of people who put so much time and money and energy into getting me here.
“It was just about trying to reset, and put that one behind me. [We’ll] debrief that whole race after today, but [it was] just full focus on the TT.”
After the road race on Glasgow’s corner-heavy circuit, Wilson-Haffenden walked through the mixed zone with tears in her eyes. Rips down the left side of her kit revealed bright red grazes, with blood oozing from her knee. She then wheeled a Shimano neutral service bike through the media pens, looking for a place to return it.
In Stirling, the Australian was the eighth of 60 riders to roll down the start ramp. After clocking the best time of 19-31.51, she sat nervously in the hot seat by the city’s castle, where she remained unchallenged until the final rider crossed the line.
“I was just happy just to give my best,” the teenager said, “and whatever that result may be, I was going to be happy. To win today was unbelievable."
Looking to her career ahead, Wilson-Haffenden said her strength lies in time trialling, but she is not "completely terrible in a road race, either".
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have my best day on Saturday," she said. “In the future, the Classics are definitely probably what I’m going to look at. The sort of Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders type race could be where I’d like to go.”
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