PONFERRADA, Spain (AFP) — Campbell Flakemore and Macey Stewart gave Australia a golden double at the world time trial championships in Ponferrada, Spain on Monday.
Flakemore won the men’s under-23 time trial event, beating Ireland’s Ryan Mullan by just half a second, with Switzerland’s Stefan Kueng, the last rider to start, snatching third.
“I was very disappointed with my [fourth place] result in last year’s [worlds] TT,” said Flakemore. “That was what was driving me today to keep pushing hard.”
It was Australia’s fourth win in six years in the event — the two years it didn’t win, it took silver.
Teenager Stewart won the women’s junior 13.9km time trial event ahead of Denmark’s Pernille Mathiesen by almost 11 seconds while another Aussie, Anna-Leeza Hull pipped teammate Alexandra Manly, third last year, by just half a second for the bronze.
It wasn’t just double glory for Australia, though, as both riders come from Tasmania, just like Team Sky’s Richie Porte.
“It’s obviously a cool start for Australia, we’ve always had strong time trialists like (former U23 winners) Jack Bobridge, Damien Howson, and Luke Durbridge,” said Flakemore.
“It’s a tradition I’m happy to continue. Macey won this morning, and she’s from Tasmania like me so it’s pretty cool for Tasmania to get two gold medals.
“I knew I was down in the first checks, but I knew that final climb would be decisive, so I kept a little bit in the tank, and I think that was decisive. The last K, it was so close, it could have gone either way. I am glad it went my way.”
Flakemore, who came fourth a year ago, put in a blistering sprint finish on the 36.15km course to wrench the gold medal out of a clearly disappointed Mullen’s hands.
“I cannot even explain it,” said Mullen. “I thought I would hang on. I took as many risks today as I could. I don’t have any regrets. It’s so disappointing to get so close to the world title. We’ve worked hard to get into the shape I’m in, and I’ve kept progressing, and I thought I would win, but I am also very happy to be on the podium.
“I gave everything out there. I cannot think where I could have gone harder without risking a crash. I’ve progressed over the years, and the best guy won. I hope there is more to come.”
But there was more disappointment for Portugal’s Rafael Reis, who had long been sitting in a podium position but saw his medal hopes go up in smoke as Flakemore and Kueng came home as two of the last three riders.
“I gave everything I had,” said Kueng. “Maybe I went too easy in the beginning, but it’s hard to say. In the [wet] corners I was quite scared. I didn’t want to crash.”