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By John Wilcockson
In what was probably the closest finish in any world time trial championship, only 78 hundredths of a second covered the first three finishers in Wednesday morning’s junior men’s event. The one who came up lucky in the 19.2km time trial was Jurgen Van den Broeck, a pale-faced, crewcut, 18-year-old who bec ame the first Belgian to win any sort of medal at a world’s time trial. He beat runner-up Oleksandr Kvachuk from Ukraine by less than half-a-second, while Dutchman Niels Scheuneman took the bronze medal.
“A place (on the podium) for me was a victory,” said Scheuneman, who said he got three or four time checks around the tough, technical circuit — but the gap “wasn’t many seconds.” In fact, Scheuneman was only fourth, 16 seconds adrift of Van den Broeck with 6.2km remaining, and then finished like a rocket on the mainly downhill run-in, against a brisk breeze blowing off the Tagus River.
While Scheuneman left his challenge too late, second-placed Kvachuk banked on a fast start, and after just 4.5km, midway up the second of two early climbs, he was leading Van den Broeck by eight seconds. The Belgian, who had been told by team coach Carlo Bomans not to start too fast, made a huge effort in the middle section of the course, which contained three stiff uphills, to take the lead at the 13km mark. That effort gave Van den Broeck a cushion of six seconds over Kvachuk — a much taller young man, who beat the Belgian a couple of months ago in a time trial in Italy … by a few hundredths of a second. Van den Broeck also won the prestigious Grand Prix des Nations in France by a similar margin over Scheuneman.
Before the big guns began firing on the hilly course, the U.S. team’s Tyler Farrar, 17, held the fastest time. Starting 29th of the 73 starters, Farrar recorded 28:27 in his first experience racing on European roads. The Mercury team junior finally took 10th place, and then said confidently, “I’ll be better in the road race (on Saturday).” The other American, U.S. junior champion Blake Caldwell, also riding his first world’s, took 18th, just 20 seconds slower than Farrar.
1. Jurgen Van den Broeck (B), 19.2km in 27:28.30 (41.934 kph); 2. Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr), 27:28.74; 3. Niels Scheuneman (Nl), 27:29.08; 4. Thomas Lövkvist (S), 27:34; 5. Nikita Eskov (Rus), 27:46; 6. Vitaliy Kondrut (Ukr), 27:56; 7. Thomas Dekker (Nl), 28:12; 8. Romain Genter (F), 28:16.00; 9. Iñaki Lejarreta (Sp), 28:16.90; 10. Tyler Farrar (USA), 28:27.
Other North Americans:
18. Blake Caldwell (USA), 28:48; 34. Ignacio Sarabia (Mex), 29:42; 68. Jean-Sébastien Maheu (Can), 31:45.