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Italy’s Malori wins U-23 ITT

Host nation Italy started the 2008 world championships in winning fashion on Tuesday as Adriano Malori scored a gold medal for the home team in the under-23 men’s individual time trial. Malori started last but finished first, covering the 33.5km course around Varese in a winning time of 41 minutes, 35.98 seconds (48.389kph). Patrick Gretsch (Germany) stopped the clock in 42:25.65 for silver despite crashing late with Cameron Meyer (Australia) taking bronze in 42:40.34.

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By Andrew Hood

The under-23 time trial podium: Patrick Gretsch (Germany), Adriano Malori (Italy) and Cameron Meyer (Australia)

The under-23 time trial podium: Patrick Gretsch (Germany), Adriano Malori (Italy) and Cameron Meyer (Australia)

Photo: AFP

Host nation Italy started the 2008 world championships in winning fashion on Tuesday as Adriano Malori scored a gold medal for the home team in the under-23 men’s individual time trial.

Malori started last but finished first, covering the 33.5km course around Varese in a winning time of 41 minutes, 35.98 seconds (48.389kph).

Patrick Gretsch (Germany) stopped the clock in 42:25.65 for silver despite crashing late with Cameron Meyer (Australia) taking bronze in 42:40.34.

Peter Stetina rode to sixth at 1:24 back, matching Mike Creed’s 2003 finish, the best American result since Danny Pate won the under-23 world title in 2001. Pate remains the only American to win gold since the U-23 competition began in 1996.

“I had no real expectations. I just wanted to race and have fun on the course and do what I could do,” said Stetina, who came on strong with the fourth-fastest split at the final checkpoint. “I do better when the course is harder. There was some headwind and the downhill was pretty technical.”

Stetina is coming off a superb performance at the Tour de l’Avenir, where he wore the leader’s jersey, and called the top espoirs race ideal preparation for Varese.

“It was the ideal set-up. It gave me the chance to gain a lot of fitness but there was enough time to rest and recover before coming here,” Stetina said. “My coach (Allen Lim) said I could podium during the worlds, so I’m not really surprised I rode so well.”

Tejay Van Garderen (USA) stopped the clock in 44:57.04 at 3:21 off the winning pace in 42nd.

The Italians, meanwhile, were overjoyed with the strapping Malori, who gave the hosts their first gold medal of the Varese worlds.

Italian teammate Marco Coledan didn’t start after crashing into a truck during a training ride Monday, but Malori — fifth last year in Stuttgart — carried the Italian blue to victory, posting the fastest splits at every checkpoint on the challenging course.

“This is like a dream to win the gold medal in your home country at the world championships,” said Malori. “I was quite confident before the race. When I heard that I had the fastest splits, it just made me go faster. It proved I made the right gear selection. Then I heard people crying my name at the finish and I knew that I had won the gold. I am so happy.”

Rain doused the course in the morning, but wind and sun dried it out for the later starters. Roads remained damp in several shaded areas and caused a few crashes.

Gretsch was one of those going down, suffering a nasty crash with 3km to go that scraped away skin and flesh, exposing the bone in his ankle.

The mishap came on a damp right-hander in the same corner that saw Russian rider Dmitry Sokolov hit the deck. A TV motorbike also crashed behind Gretsch and even slid into him, but the German was able to remount and take silver at 49 seconds back.

“I’m a bit disappointed because I crashed 3km from the finish and that cost me a lot of time. I was happy enough otherwise,” Gretsch said. “I found the climb quite easy and I had a good rhythm on the course, so it’s pleasing to take a medal despite the problem I had later.”

Starting 22nd of 60 riders, Aussie bronze medalist Meyer posted an early time and sat in the “hot seat” until Gretsch and Malori came out of the final 10 starters to knock him down to third.

“It was nervous time sitting in the first position. It got down to the final 10 riders and I was still sitting first, I was just hoping that I wouldn’t end up fourth. I was fourth in the past two world championships and fourth at the Olympics (points race), so I was really pleased to hold onto a medal,” he said.

“The road worlds is very hard to get a medal and I was excited about racing and it was a very hard circuit. To get on the podium has made me really happy.”.

Meyer is the first Australian since Michael Rogers in 1999 and 2000 to medal in the time trial in the U-23 ranks and he said he’s hoping to follow in his footsteps.

“Michael is a great role model and I’d love to be professional on the road and produce great results like Michael,” he said. “I’d love to be able to do well in time trials and the tours. I’m not much of a sprinter. I’d like to progress like Michael has. That’s where I’d like to be a couple years time.”

Competition continues Wednesday with the women’s time trial. Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong lines up as favorite alongside Americans Amber Neben and Christine Thorburn.

Photo Gallery

Results

Under-23 men: Top 20
1. Adriano Malori (ITA), 33.5km in 41minutes, 35 seconds
2. Patrick Gretsch (GER), at 0:49
3. Cameron Meyer (AUS), at 1:04
4. Marcel Wyss (SUI), at 1:11
5. Stefano Borchi (ITA), at 1:24
6. Peter Stetina (USA), at 1:24
7. Kritjan Koren (SLO), at 1:24
8. Rui Costa (POR), at 1:26
9. Andreas Henig (GER), at 1:32
10. Artem Ovechkin (RUS), at 1:37
11. Jaime Suaza (COL), at 1:40
12. Tony Gallopin (FRA), at 1:48
13. Mykhaylo Kononenko (UKR), at 1:48
14. Fabio Duarte (COL), at 1:49
15. Johan Lindgren (SWE), at 1:49
16. Daniel Kreutzfeld (DEN), at 1:51
17. Rafael Serrano (ESP), at 1:54
18. Dennis Van Winden (NED), at 1:55
19. Travis Meyer (AUS), at 1:58
20. David Veilleux (CAN), at 2:08