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Wales’ Josh Tarling tipped for the top after world time trial bronze

11 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Joshua Tarling celebrates with the bronze medal at the UCI Cycling World Championships. Photo Tim Goode PA Images

Josh Tarling delivered a statement ride as the 19-year-old won bronze in the men’s time trial at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Stirling.

Tarling took his place on the podium alongside Belgian Remco Evenepoel – who lost his road world title this week but has replaced it with the time trial crown – and Tarling’s Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Filippo Ganna, who had already won gold and silver on the track at these championships.

Geraint Thomas could only manage 10th on the day as the 37-year-old gears up for the Vuelta a Espana, but there was the dawn of a new era as his young team-mate and fellow Welshman announced his talent on the world stage.

“He’s a big boy,” Thomas said of Tarling. “He’s got power and this is his forte. It’s unbelievable to see him riding so well so early in his career and he’s got a bright future.”

Last year Tarling, who virtually grew up on a time trial bike, took the junior world title, then in June stormed his way to the British national title.

Elite level

As he did then, Tarling opted to ride at the elite level in Stirling, believing it would be unfair to remain in the under-23 category given the backing he receives from Ineos, with whom he began a three-year contract this season, a view justified by the result.

“I just tried to do my ride and if I get a medal, I get a medal,” said Tarling. “I feel like if I think about the medals I’d get too stressed and mess it up so it’s just a good bonus.”

Evenepoel powered his way up the final climb to Stirling Castle, bouncing over the cobbles, to edge out Ganna by 12 seconds, winning in a time of 55 minutes 19.23 seconds over the 47.8km distance.

Tarling was 48 seconds off Evenepoel’s pace but more than 30 seconds clear of fourth-placed Brandon McNulty.

Evenepoel, the first Belgian to win the time trial since it was introduced to the championships in 1994, was the last teenager to stand on the podium when he took silver in 2019. Tarling would love to follow the career development of the 2022 Vuelta champion.

“There are some big names I got to sit next to on the stage today and I wouldn’t mind being like one of them some day,” he said. “Remco winning is not a surprise. He’s just an animal. I hope to progress in the way he has from such a young age.”

No place to hide

Thomas admitted he had an off day and was left with “no place to hide” on the roads of central Scotland, with Evenepoel quickly making up the 80-second gap between their start times to overtake him.

“I tried to start a bit conservatively,” Thomas said. “I didn’t think I started that slow and when Remco came past I thought, ‘Holy s***, this is not the best’.

“It was a combo of not having the best day, holding back a bit and Remco flying and then it kind of cracked me. I thought ‘I’m not in the running here’ which is hard. I kind of kept going, it is what it is. It’s a shame, I would have liked to have gone well in a home worlds but that’s bike racing.”

But Thomas, second in the Giro d’Italia in May after losing pink on the mountainous penultimate day time trial, said his ride in a one-off time trial did not reflect his preparations for the Vuelta, which starts in Barcelona on August 26.

“When you get into the thick of a stage race it’s slightly different,” he said. “Obviously it would have been nice to have a better ride, a boost for the confidence, but I’m used to having a few ups and downs. So stay positive, focused. I won’t read too much into it.”

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