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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — San Francisco’s Zeke Mostov took the biggest step of his sporting life across the world in Florence, Italy, on Tuesday. He zipped around the Arno River, set the early best time, and held on for a bronze medal in the junior men’s time trial world championship.
“This win is huge,” USA Cycling junior program manager William Innes told VeloNews. “With a bronze medal as a first-year junior, he’s shown that he has a bright future.”
Mostov was sixth off the blocks out of 85 participants in the 21.8-kilometer time trial. He emerged from the city center and arrived at the sports stadium in 30:16 — a time that nearly stood all day. Two hours later, Dane Mathias Krigbaum and Belgian Igor Decraene went faster. Decraene won the gold medal, Mostov bronze at 20 seconds back.
“It was a bit of a surprise, I was just hoping for a top 10,” Mostov said. “I’ve done three stage races, I’ve had some good placings, but I didn’t think I’d be the third best in the world.”
Mostov spoke with VeloNews one-on-one while the Belgian journalists surrounded their star. “He looks like LeMond,” one said of Decraene.
“I’ve competed against Igor,” Mostov explained. “But I didn’t really notice him before today.”
The 17-year-old American declined a handshake, his right palm still carrying an open wound from his crash in training. Back home in San Francisco’s Sunset District, he needs it to complete his senior year finals and university applications. His father is a professor at U.C. San Francisco, but Mostov is unsure where he will study.
Cycling is also part of his future. Mostov wondered what it would be like when he started going every-other weekend to the Hellyer County Park Welodrome near San Jose as a 12-year-old. He now imagines what it would be like to race in the professional ranks. It will be a balancing act.
“Being a pro cyclist would be awesome, but I also want to do well in school,” he said. “I don’t have to make a choice next year; I’ve seen cyclists balance school work and training at a high level.”
Innes, who was having a hard time masking his satisfaction, agreed. “When you start winning junior stage races and start collecting a lot of points, you can start to think about being pro,” Innes said. “It’s better to stick to school than to end up a dumb bike racer.”
It does not mean that cycling is taking a backseat. Innes is already thinking about a bigger international program for Mostov next year. He placed second at the national time trial championship and raced the Peace Race this year, but needs more experience to progress.
“His weakness is experience,” explained Innes. “He’s young. He’s only come over on one race block so far.”
Next on Mostov’s program is the junior men’s road race on Saturday morning. Another early morning will bring what team USA hopes will be another medal. Mostov said, “Having a medal already is encouraging for the road race.”