Luke Durbridge and Jessica Allen successfully launched Australia’s gold medals bid at the road cycling world championships on Monday with respective time trial victories.
Durbridge, who finished second in the men’s under-23 event last year in Australia, produced a time trial masterclass to achieve his year’s ambition by completing a flat, but technical 35.2km course in 42 minutes, 47.13 seconds.
First at every intermediate point, the 20-year-old — whose next focus is to cement his place in Australia’s track pursuit team for the London Games next year — left Denmark’s Rasmus Christian Quaade in second by 35 seconds.
Fellow pursuit specialist Michael Hepburn survived a crash three-quarters of the way into his race to go on and take the bronze, giving Australia three medals from the first day of the weeklong event.
“It’s fantastic,” said Durbridge, who admitted that watching Allen win the women’s junior event earlier had given him a boost. “I watched Jess win the gold an hour before my race, that was a special moment for her and I wanted to come out here and get mine [gold].”
Allen, this year’s Oceania junior time trial champion, was last to start the 13.9km race against the clock and went on for a winning time of 19 minutes, 18.63 seconds.
The 18-year-old’s performance ended the brief hopes of Britain’s Elinor Barker, who moments earlier had timed 19:20.47 to push provisional leader Mieke Kroger of Germany down into second place.
Barker, 17, took silver, while 18-year-old Kroger, who had set the early pace in 19:21.43, took bronze.
Allen said she had been given a boost from the information being relayed by her team car.
“It was great to have the race radio with my coach Donna [Rae-Szalinski] in the car behind assisting me through the course, telling me what corners were up ahead, that really helped me maintain a high speed throughout,” she said.
It was on one of the course’s numerous corners that Hepburn’s bid for the gold came unstuck.
The 20-year-old avoided one crash on a tricky corner, but lost it moments later when going round a left-hand bend. Although he got up for a quick bike change, he crucially lost momentum and precious time.
“You don’t plan for these things to happen. It shakes you up a bit, you lose time and in an event like this you can’t afford to do that,” said Hepburn, who along with Durbridge won world team pursuit gold earlier this year.
Quaade had bested Hepburn’s halfway time by three seconds and after the Dane gave it everything in the second, 17.6km lap to come over the line 11 seconds faster than the Australian, he almost fainted when he came off his bike.