Russia’s Aigul Gareeva and Italy’s Antonio Tiberi became Junior time trial UCI World Champions on the second day of the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire. It was a thrilling finale in the morning’s Junior Women's race as the winner had to make a U-turn after taking the wrong corner in the last kilometre, and yet was still able to cap off the victory with an advantage of three seconds. And it was an incredible recovery in the afternoon as the young Italian had the worst possible start to the Junior Men’s race with a broken crank that required a bike change straight away.
Junior Women: Gareeva’s class
“There was a kind of mess in my head, and I kept going,” said Gareeva afterwards. “People showed me the right way and I went the wrong direction. I don’t really know what happened really. I knew that I was the best, but I won by just a small bit of time.”
The Russian got back on track quickly enough to beat Shirin van Anrooij of the Netherlands by three seconds. Only two riders were left to finish when Gareeva took the lead: Italy’s Camilla Alessio, who had earned the silver medal in the same event one year earlier in Innsbruck-Tirol, and the Briton Elynor Backstedt, who also had a chaotic ride as she narrowly avoided a calamitous crash on a wet corner in the opening section of the course. Alessio ended up in fourth place while Backstedt, who clocked in ten seconds slower than Gareeva, collected the second bronze medal in as many races contested for the home nation following the opening team time trial mixed relay on Sunday.
Junior Men: Tiberi triumphs
Sixty-three young men lined up in Harrogate to succeed Remco Evenepoel. Among the favourites, Dutchman Enzo Leijnse set a time of reference of 38’36’’ over the 27.6km course – some 52’’ better than the previous leading performance of Briton Oscar Nilsson-Julien – and Italy’s Antonio Tiberi was forced into an early bike change after a mechanical. But the rider from Rome didn’t lose his motivation and made up for his deficit at each intermediate checkpoint to beat Leijnse by eight seconds!
The last batch of riders promised fierce competition for the Italian leader. The penultimate starter, American national Junior time trial Champion Quinn Simmons, posted the quickest time at the first intermediate split but Germany’s Marco Brenner remained the number one at the second checkpoint before fizzling out. When a fading Simmons crossed the line with the fourth best time and a deficit of 19’’ from Tiberi, it became certain that the UCI World Champion would be an Italian as only Andrea Piccolo, third last year in the same event, was left to complete the course. But Piccolo, the Italian and European reigning champion, clocked in the sixth best time so the podium united Tiberi, Leinjse and Brenner.
“I’m extremely happy,” said Tiberi before going on stage to receive the rainbow jersey. “What an incredible day! For me it’s a fantastic victory. I broke my crank at the first pedal stroke. At that moment, my light bulb has blown. I thought I was done, however I pushed flat out until the very end. When I saw the times, I realised I made an exceptional recovery. I’m the World Champion but I’m yet to believe what I managed to do. It makes me both enthusiastic and surprised. Honestly, I was betting more on my team-mate Andrea Piccolo. This year, I hadn’t beaten him until today.”