Victor Campenaerts surprises by conquering the bronze medal at the ITT
On the 52.2 kilometres long course in Tirol, the European time trial champion proved to be the third fastest rider of the entire world. Though, the TT specialist wasn’t considered as a top contender, he surprised everyone by riding his best race ever. It was neck-and-neck for silver with previous TT World Champion Tom Dumoulin, but the Dutchman managed to hold off Campenaerts by only 53 hundredths of a second. Campenaerts does write a piece of history as he’s the first Belgian ever to take a medal in an elite TT World Championship.
The Australian Rohan Dennis dominated the time trial from the first intermediate checkpoint onwards. He secured his golden medal and won with an advantage of 1’21” over his nearest rival. The battle for the silver medal between Campenaerts and Dumoulin, however, was thrilling till the very end. Campenaerts was only eleven seconds behind the top contender at the second checkpoint, the summit of the decisive Gnadenwald climb. The Lotto Soudal rider put in a strong effort in the final part and closed the gap to only a few hundredths of a second, which was beyond expectations. Campenaerts secured the bronze with a solid advantage of 43” over Kwiatkowski, who took fourth place.
Victor Campenaerts: “I could never have imagined to round out the podium at these World Championships. I believed to only have a small chance, but to finish in third place with such a big difference with fourth-placed rider, Kwiatkowski, is beyond my expectations. It took me a while but I finally fell asleep yesterday and when I woke up this morning it really hit me that I became third at a World Championship! After having crossed the finish line, I had to recover from my effort and could only feel the burn in my legs for those first couple of minutes. Before the podium ceremony, when I was sitting backstage with Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin - two of the best time trialists in the whole world, I realized what I just achieved. It really was a unique moment.”
Today, I’ll leave for Grenchen, where I will be tested for an attempt to break the hour record.
“I’ve completed my best time trial ever. Hence, I’m really happy with this third place and I know I have a bright future ahead of me. For the moment, I am grateful for this bronze medal, but I hope to be the very best one day. Considering the timing, I hope to achieve my highest level at the Olympic Games in 2020. Yesterday, I knew that a third place was the best result possible, but I even almost took silver! Several journalists had been saying that I was capable of finishing in third place as I already beat many of my rivals in TT’s before. Yet, I wasn’t sure as the climb was steep. In a time trial, you always lose the most minutes, seconds,... in the parts you have to slow down, i.e. when you’re riding uphill - not my speciality.”
“Before the race, I had a clear pacing strategy: pacing my time trial is something I always do well and this result proves that I can achieve great results if I can be at the start line well prepared. I always perform much better in time trials, separated from stage races than I do at TT’s that take place after a few days of racing as was the case in Grand Tours like the Giro and Vuelta. If you take a look at my prologues or time trials, without including those in stage races, I’ve always finished inside the top five this season. And now I even finish third at a World Championship.”
“There are many people who asked me where I could have lost those 53 hundredths of a second, but I’m so happy with this third place that I haven’t given it much thought. Basically, I could have lost such a small difference everywhere. I did win the European time trial with a very small difference as well. I would have been more disappointing missing out on that first place in Glasgow than not taking the silver medal yesterday. I also achieved a Belgian record, but I’m just really happy to better the performance of my good friend Yves Lampaert. He always teased me with the fact I hadn’t proven anything yet at the Worlds, referring to his seventh place in Qatar. Now, I finally proved him wrong.”
“Today, I’ll leave for Grenchen, where I will be tested for an attempt to break the hour record. Those tests were already scheduled ahead of these World Championships, so yesterday I celebrated my bronze medal quite peacefully. I continue till coming Saturday and end my season after those tests. Tomorrow I’ll do some trainings on the track and the day after, I’ll try to go faster than the average pace of the current hour record for half an hour, which is faster than 55 km/h. If I succeed, I really want to try and break the hour record and see, together with the team, when my attempt could be scheduled. But, of course, I’ll keep cherishing my bronze medal in the following days as well!”