With the background of the city of Wollongong, Stefan Küng, Vittoria Guazzini and Ellen van Dijk took out the first gold medal of the 2022 UCI world championships.
Crowds gathered to watch the countdown to Ricarda Bauernfeind set off, as the first starter of the day. The main attraction though, was Australian Grace Brown, who was looking for more success after a Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this year.
Brown did not disappoint, taking the lead at the time of her finish by almost 3 minutes. Now all she could do was wait as the results of the favourites came in later in the morning.
Annemiek Van Vleuten, another strong contender, had a rapid start to her race, but it was not enough, as she trailed by about a minute coming into the second checkpoint.
That pace continued, and it started to look like nobody would be able to catch Grace.
That was, until the last two starters, Marlen Reusser and reigning world champion Ellen Van Dijk, got to their first checkpoint around 10 seconds ahead of Grace.
On the second climb up Mount Ousley, Ruesser struggled a bit and found herself sitting behind Grace’s time, van Dijk on the other hand, paced herself well and continued out in front, taking that lead all the way until the final moments.
“I think I really rode to my best today – I felt like I paced it well," Brown said after the race.
She also admitted that she’s now eyeing off the next step up on the podium.
“It’s made me hungry to be so close to the rainbow jersey.
“It really gives me a lot of confidence that in the years to come I can be in one of the top names in time trial events."
In the women's under 23 category, raced alongside the elite race, Vittoria Guazzini took the victory, narrowly missing a podium place in the elite classification by ten seconds.
Meanwhile, in the men’s events today, Australia was down to only one rider, as Luke Durbridge withdrew from the event. Luke Plapp, as just the fourth starter of the day, put together a quick time compared to those who started around him, and spent about an hour in the hot seat.
However, unlike his fellow Aussie in Grace Brown, Plapp did not get to stick around longer. Despite still having one of the best times at the first checkpoint, Stefan Bissinger, Yves Lampaert and Bruno Armirail all overtook him for the second checkpoint and finish, ending his medal hopes in Wollongong.
Their leads remained through most of the race, until the heavy favourites began their runs. Magnus Sheffield took a strong lead at the second checkpoint, but with Filippo Ganna and Stefan Küng still to come, he was far from in the clear.
Sheffield’s chances were wiped out in the final sector after he ran into the barriers, setting him back too far to salvage for a win. Next through the finish line was Tobias Foss, finishing 45 seconds ahead of Bissinger, putting him in the hot seat.
Right behind him, Küng set a new lead at the second checkpoint, but could not hold his pace through the final leg, slotting him into second at the finish line, as Foss looked more and more likely the world champion. Ganna crossed the line well behind the required time, and Foss was confirmed as the 2022 world champion.
Küng, was obviously disappointed after coming close, yet missing out on the world championship once again.
“I could cry, but not out of joy," Kung said.
“I know how to beat them, I’ve beat them all in the past, I just to beat them all on the day.
“I think Tobias surprised us all today.”
As for the new world champion, while he was confident in his form coming into the race, even he was surprised with his result.
“I knew my shape was good coming from Canada. It’s unreal, and surprising to me.”