The 18-year-old already had a sixth-place finish in the time trial earlier this week and he was at the forefront of the road race from early on along with his teammate Viggo Moore.
Shmidt will leave the junior ranks for 2023, when he is set to join Hagens Berman Axeon, and the world championships in Australia have proved to be the perfect send-off for him.
“I am very happy with my performance. These are the top juniors in the world and to be in the top five and top six in both disciplines is really good,” Shmidt told VeloNews. “I think the form could have been a little better for sure but I’m very happy with my performance and very happy with my form. It can always be better, but it is what it is.”
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After sunshine bathed the opening half of the world championships, the rain arrived with gusto for the road races. With a fast and technical course around Wollongong, there were some big early crashes that hampered some of the favorites.
Team USA avoided the carnage and Shmidt launched an early move off the front at the beginning of the second lap along with Luxembourg’s Mil Morang. They were caught before another trio jumped clear and took a small advantage over the bunch.
Shmidt then went again along with his teammate Moore and three other riders as the group hit the third of eight laps. The gap to the dwindling bunch behind was never too big as the chase reeled in the three leaders to form a large breakaway group.
“It was a very difficult day,” he said. “It made it much easier for me and Viggo having two guys since we didn’t have to work as much as everyone else, we maybe did a little bit less than everyone else.
“Position, position, position, that was the main thing today. It was a very nervous race in the beginning with rain, corners, white lines, so I pretty much tried to stay in the front, get in a couple of early moves, and not overwork in those early moves is what my goal was. I kind of knew since our gap in the breakaway wasn’t increasing to over a minute, I knew we were going to get caught back on the climb. I was reserving as much energy as I could. Once they caught us, I continued to be in the front, but, unfortunately, I ran out of energy.”
Shmidt and Moore helped to keep the pace high in the front group but there was a stern chase from behind that saw the gap cut down. Over the final two laps, the race came together before a series of attacks were launched, with Portuguese rider António Morgado going solo.
The pace was too much for Shmidt and Moore and they were dropped as others sought to bring back Morgado. As Emil Herzog (Germany) successfully reeled back in Morgado and the two duked it out for the title, the U.S. pair managed to claw themselves back into contention for the final podium spot.
Moore led out the chase group into the final stretch, launching Shmidt toward the line. For a moment it looked like Shmidt might have the power to hold on for third, but he was overhauled in the final meters and crossed the line in fifth with Moore riding in to take 11th place.
“I feel like me and Viggo did a very good job out there. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the energy to make it with the top guys in the end, but we caught back on with three k to go, and then we’re fighting for a podium spot,” Shmidt said.
“When we caught them, they were kind of going slow, and me and Viggo moved to the front. Viggo went a little early and he gave me a bit of a lead out. I started my sprint a little early and a couple of guys came around me and I didn’t get the bike through so a couple of guys got around me at the end. I got fifth, which is perfect. A top five at worlds is really good.”