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The Danes dominated Monday’s under-23 world time trial championships in Innsbruck, Austria with Mikkel Bjerg defending the title he won in 2017 and his teammate Mathias Norsgaard riding to third. Belgium’s Brent van Moer took second to Bjerg in the 27.8km race.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bjerg said. “My whole season has been about preparing for this race. I flew out here 10 days ago and rode the course time and again — I really got it under my skin.”
Van Moer was in the hot seat with the day’s fastest time as Bjerg rolled out of the start gate last in the order.
Bjerg’s title defense never seemed in doubt on the rolling course. At the first checkpoint, he was 24 seconds ahead of Norsgaard.
The second half of the course featured hillier terrain. That’s where Van Moer shined, overhauling Norsgaard to ride five seconds faster.
Unlike his countryman, Bjerg, 19, had plenty left in the tank for the second half of the race, finishing in 32:31.
He ended up 33 seconds ahead of Van Moer with his second rainbow jersey.
“My feeling out there was exceptional,” added Bjerg, who rode for Hagens Berman Axeon throughout the 2018 season.
American Brandon McNulty, who was second in the U23 world time trial championships a year prior in Norway, could only manage seventh place.
Dutch champion Ammerlaan leads the way in junior women’s time trial
Following up her win in the Dutch junior national time trial championships, Rozemarijn Ammerlaan added a rainbow jersey to her collection Monday. Italian Camilla Alessio was second ahead of Elynor Backstedt.
“It’s a big surprise, I didn’t expect this, words fail me,” Ammerlaan said.
Riding eighth in the order on the 19.8-kilometer course, Ammerlaan nearly matched Backstedt’s fastest early time at the first time check.
“It was very tough, especially the second part which was pretty hilly” Ammerlaan said.
Then, the Dutch youngster closed hard on the hilly final half to beat the Italian by seven seconds in a time of 27:02.
“I didn’t want to know any time gaps, because that doesn’t change anything or let me know if I’m riding any better. I just rode,” Ammerlaan added.
Backstedt, who is the daughter of ex-professional Magnus Backstedt, finished 18 seconds behind in third, riding for Great Britain.
Racing continues Tuesday with the men’s junior and women’s elite world time trial championships.