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Søren Wærenskjold part of Norwegian TT revolution at UCI Road World Championships

The 22-year-old U23 TT champion talks about how a love of ice cream got him interested in cycling.

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WOLLONGONG, Australia (VN) — The 2022 UCI Road World Championships could hardly have got off to a better start for the Norwegian men with two gold medals from two events.

Søren Wærenskjold claimed the second gold medal for the Scandinavian country in as many days with his blistering time of 34:13.40 to beat the Belgian Alec Segaert by 16 seconds in Monday’s U23 time trial. His win followed Tobias Foss’ surprise win ahead of Stefan Küng in the elite men’s competition.

Wærenskjold is only the second Norwegian man to win the U23 time trial title since Thor Hushovd took the title in 1998, while Foss is the first from the country to take the elite ever. Wærenskjold puts the recent turnaround down to extra focus on the discipline by the national federation.

“If you go back two or three years ago, they were always saying that Norwegians were bad at TTs, but now we are good,” Wærenskjold said.

“I think it’s in the preparations and I’ve been in the wind tunnel and testing the bike, suits, helmets, and everything. Of course, also the efforts you do on your TT bike at home. Uno-X also sent some extra staff and they did a really good job of preparing with notes and we went through the course, every corner, and how we should do it. It was just super good from A to B.”

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Like his fellow podium finishers, Wærenskjold looked to his elite counterpart to get the lowdown on the tricky Wollongong course. The twisty and undulating parcours has been difficult to master, but Wærenskjold had the new elite world champion in his corner to help him out.

“Basically [he said] just to put the power down in the harder seconds, like in the climbs, especially on the first half of the course and the steep climb, and dare to save energy on the fast parts and also try to stay aerodynamic. Also, there were a couple of corners that he advised me to take outside of the TT position to be a little safer, because it was superfast corners today,” he explained.

“I started quite hard but now so hard. I was really tired after the first lap but on the second lap I just tried to hold the power because my watts were going a little bit down but then I just focused on the climbs so I went a little bit easier in the downhills and then harder in the climbs. It was a good performance, I dropped a little bit but it was ok.”

Waerenskjold topped Alec Segaert and Leo Hayter in Wollongong.

Now in his final year as a U23, Wærenskjold has been climbing through the ranks of the Norwegian development programs since joining as a junior. This year, he took the U23 national road race title and finished second to Foss in the elite national time trial. More recently, he won the opening road stage of the Tour de l’Avenir.

Wærenskjold’s path into cycling was perhaps stranger than some. He wasn’t an avid fan as a child or a member of a local club. Instead, it was a desire for a sweet treat that resulted in him becoming passionate about cycling.

“It started with me wanting to eat ice cream. My mom told me that if I could ride a bike 10 or 15 kilometers to this store then I could buy ice cream and go back again,” he said. “That was my focus in the start and then after one or two years I had an ok talent for cycling and from there it was natural and I didn’t think of doing any education or anything, it was just cycling all the way.”

Wærenskjold turned professional last season with the Norwegian ProTeam Uno-X and he plans to stick with them for at least another season before considering any step up to WorldTour level.

“I am with Uno-X for one more year and it feels like a really good place. I don’t think there is another team that backs you up as good as Uno-X did on this time trial so I am really happy where I am,” he said.

“We will see for the future. I think that both me and the team will develop, and hopefully, I can do better with some good training in the off-season, we will see. Hopefully, I can do a couple of stage races where there is a TT involved and maybe I can do well in some TTs, that will be really nice.”