Jack Bobridge crowned U23 world time trial champion

Australian success on day one in Mendrisio

Australia's Jack Bobridge won the gold medal in the under-23 men's time trial in Mendrisio at the world road race championships on Wednesday.

Bobridge, 20, clocked a winning time of 40min 44sec to beat Portuguese rider Nelson Oliveira into second place with German Patrick Gretsch, the silver medal winner last year, winning the bronze.

Despite his young age Bobridge is considered one of the future stars of cycling and impressed none other than Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, with some gutsy performances at last January's Tour Down Under.

A former track specialist who earlier this year added the men's under-23 national road and time trial titles to his individual pursuit crown, Bobridge has recently signed a two-year deal with top professional team Garmin.

Having just missed out on Olympic bronze in the team pursuit last year in Beijing, an emotional Bobridge admitted that claiming his first world title at this level for Australia had topped his "awesome" year of racing.

"I don't know what to say really, this has topped an awesome year for me. I couldn't have asked for much more," said Bobridge, who on the road this year won two stages on the Tour of Japan and stages at top under-23 races in Germany.

"I had a good look at the course earlier this year and thought it would suit a bigger, more powerful rider but it's harder than it looks."

Jack Bobridge in action

Oliveira had a strong ride in the second half of the race to come over the finish line and push 22-year-old Gretsch off provisional top spot. The 20-year-old Portuguese then suffered the same fate when Bobridge crossed the line over 18secs faster than Oliveira, with Gretsch at 27sec off the winning pace.

"I came here hopeful of a top ten place so get a medal is a bonus," said Oliveira.

Bobridge's gold medal was secured when defending champion Adriano Malori of Italy struggled to finish on the podium, eventually finishing in fifth place at 36sec.

Gretsch admitted the pressure of starting as one of the big favourites left him with a handicap.

"I'm happy with the bronze medal," said the German. "I was one of the big favourites and when you've got that label sometimes it's hard to come through and win."

© AFP 2009

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

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