This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Damien Howson (Australia) blasted to victory in the Under 23 men's time trial at the world championships, adding a rainbow jersey to his green and gold Australian Under-23 national champion's jersey and his Oceania title.
The Adelaide-born rider set a time of 49:49, covering the pan flat 43.5km course from Pistoia to Florence at an average of 52.3km/h. Howson beat Yoann Paillot (France) by a massive 57 seconds, while Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) finished third at 1:10.
Campbell Flakemore (Australia) finished fourth, just off the podium, 1:22 behind his compatriot. The USA's Lawson Craddock finished fifth, 1:41 down after being affected by a mid-race crash. Ireland's Ryan Mullen was seventh at 1:47.
Howson took third place last year but will have little chance to show off his rainbow jersey, as he will ride with Orica-GreenEdge in 2014 after signing a multi-year deal with the Australian WorldTour team. He is widely considered to be a future Grand Tour winner and seems to have the potential to follow in the footsteps of Cadel Evan, Michael Rogers and Richie Porte.
"At the start of the season I won the Australian and Oceania titles and so set myself the goal of taking all three. This has been a major focus of mine all year, so I'm so happy to have done it," Howson said after pulling on his rainbow jersey.
Howson crosses the line in first place
The time trial was all about power, speed and aerodynamics. Howson’s ride was a perfect balance of all three. He is tall and powerful but not muscular, resembling Bradley Wiggins more than Fabian Cancellara.
Howson has the strength to push out the watts needed to ride at over 50km/h and combines it with a near perfect aero position on the bike. He is able to keep a flat back despite his tall build, with his arms tucked in close together to help him penetrate the air as smoothly as possible. He follows the same race strategy for every time trial he rides.
"I always try and maintain a constant pace from start to the finish. I focus on what I can do best. I was told I was doing a good ride and I think this is one of the best rides I've ever done. I'm happy about that."
Howson had a taste of riding with Orica-GreenEdge as a stagiaire at the Tour of Utah. He will make the full step up in 2014, with the dream of developing into a Grand Tour contender.
"I was happy to sign a contract with Orica-GreenEdge 2014," he said. "I rode against some WorldTour teams at the Tour Down Under and got a taste of racing with them in Utah. It was a great. I met the guys and learnt about the differences between Under 23 racing and the top level racing. I'm excited for next year and for the future."
Paillot takes silver for France
Silver medalist Paillot is the current French and European time trial champion and already rides as a professional with the La Pomme Marseille Continental team, which no doubt helped him take on the other Under-23 riders.
"When I saw the course, I knew I was one of favourites and this pushed me to do better. I'm happy with silver," he said, confirming he will stay with La Pomme Marseille next year.
"We've got a good programme of races and we've done well this year. I hope to ride in the WorldTour some time in the future but I'm happy at La Pomme Marseille for now."
Hansen to ride for Garmin-Sharp in 2014
Lasse Norman Hansen completed the podium, taking bronze. Like Howson, he will also ride in the WorldTour in 2014, with Garmin-Sharp. He won Olympic gold in the Omnium on the track but hopes to become a cobbled classics contender during his professional career.
"I was really hoping to be good today. I think I timed my form well and did a perfect ride but Damien was better today," he said sportingly.
I was leading by less than a second at the first split but that was because my plan was to start fast and try to hold my pace. But I died a bit between the splits and just wasn't fast enough."
Howson, Paillot, and Hansen will all ride in Friday's Under 23 road race, as the leading cycling nations clash on the tough circuit around Florence.