DOHA, Qatar (VN) — With nary a hill or a challenge to make it interesting, America’s U23 riders did what they could to make worlds interesting on their terms.
Gregory Daniel rode in an all-day breakaway that was reeled in with 10km to go, and Colin Joyce sprinted home to 16th as pre-race favorite Kristoff Halverson of Norway delivered the gold in Doha.
“We don’t really have a designated sprinter — we have Colin, who is very good — so we didn’t want to put all of our eggs in one basket, so we wanted to be aggressive,” Daniel said at the line. “I did the best that I could have possibly done. I was aggressive all day. It didn’t turn out, but we were representing in the race.”
In the first day of road race competition following the time trial events, the U23s raced 10 laps on the Pearl-Doha circuit, providing a telling preview of what to expect for the rest of the week. Daniel snuck into an early move, and was reeled in with about 10km to go to set up the mass sprint.
“You can get away in this course, but once the speed goes up, it’s hard to stay away,” said Geoffrey Curran. “Those big pro teams will be able to control it.”
Once again, heat was a talking point, but it was certainly cooler Thursday than when the U23s raced the time trial earlier this week.
“If you’re sitting in all day it doesn’t hit you, until you go to the front and try to pull, then it hits you like a ton of bricks,” Curran said of the heat.
“It was hard, hot, and I was going through so many bottles I lost count,” Daniel said. “I was pouring them over my head to try to keep cool.”
And what about the lack of spectators on the course? Curran said he noticed a few more fans on the road — mainly packed in around the finish line — but he admitted that the U23s are used to racing in a vacuum.
“We’re U23s, so we go to some hole-in-the-wall places,” Curran said. “Maybe the pros are used to racing in that wall of sound. We don’t get that. We just have our thoughts, riding alone for 170km. We’ll be in France, and there will be two people; ‘Hey, it’s a big day!’”
The 2016 world championships continue Friday with junior men’s and women’s road races.