Photo copyright – CJ Foto
The Junior Men battled it out over 140kms this morning as the UCI Road World Championships continued in Florence. Starting out in Montecatini Terme, a field of almost 200 riders set off towards Florence in warm conditions knowing that 5 laps of challenging 16.5 km circuit awaited them.
The race was won by Mathieu Van Der Poel from the Netherlands, who covered the distance in 3:33.14 to claim the rainbow jersey, ahead of Dane Mads Pederson and Albanian Itjan Nika who filled the minor placings on the podium.
The Aussie charge was led today by West Australian Robert Power, who battled bravely all morning with Queenslander Daniel Fitter against the world’s best juniors. Power was in the frame to make a late charge for the podium before being swamped in the dying moments and was classified 19th across the line, in a time of 3:33.17. Fitter road well all day and ultimately placed 36th crossing 2.24 behind the winner.
“I tried to go with Van Der Poel on the last 2 climbs, but he was really strong and once he had the gap it was just too big to bring him back in the end.” said Power “but competing at the World’s for the first time has been a great learning experience.”
Of the other Australians Ryan Cavanaugh was classified 61st 6.11 off the winner’s time, whilst Ayden Toovey crossed the line 125th some 15 minutes behind World Champion Van Der Poel.
Coach Dave Sanders said the team rode exactly to plan and were unlucky not to make the podium today.
“Everything very nearly went to plan today.” said Saunders. “The only thing that caught us out was that when Rob pulled the trigger on the final climb, he just needed to be 10 seconds further down the road and clear from the Europeans who were able to work together and chase him down.” Before adding “But Van Der Poel is a superstar and he deserved the win today.”
Racing continues this afternoon with the Elite Women’s Road Race. The Aussie squad of Amy Cure, Tiffany Cromwell, Gracie Elvin, Shara Gillow, Lauren Kitchen, Amanda Spratt and Carlee Taylor will be pitting themselves against the highly fancied Dutch squad over the same 140km course that the boys race over this morning in the race for the coveted World Title.