After the euphoria of the velodrome where Scotland took four bronzes, a silver and a gold medal, grim reality dawned on the smooth tarmac of the Port Phillip Bay time trial course where Scot Duncan Urquhart was a distant 5:48:19 off the pace in 19th position behind Australian favourite Nathan O’Neill who won by 24 seconds in 48:37:29 from team mate Ben Day; completing the medallists was Kiwi Gordon McCauley at 1:13:41.
Urquhart’s team mate and 2005 Tour of Britain revelation Alex Coutts was even further back at 7:54:06 in 28th place. Duncan explained; ‘I’m very disappointed with my ride, I was aiming for top five today, my training has been going well, I’ve been here since January and had expected much better. The course was very fast with a slight head wind out and a tail wind back, I was on my time trial bike with a 56 x 11 – 21 cassette, I used the 11 on the way back with the tail wind, my tyres were Vittoria chronos with a rear disc and front tri-spoke. It was very warm maybe 25 – 30 degrees and the crowd were amazing with people lining the road for the entire distance, there were a lot of Scotland flags out there too.’
Duncan wasn’t the only rider for whom the day didn’t go well, multiple British time trial champion Stuart Dangerfield was sixth [at 2:19:71] behind the man who is his big rival on British roads, Michael Hutchinson riding here for Northern Ireland who finished a good fourth, 15 seconds behind McCauley, 1:28:07 behind the flying O’Neill.
Newly-crowned Commonwealth pursuit champion Paul Manning of England wasn’t on a good day either and had to settle for ninth at 3:05:56. David George of the Republic of South Africa was another rider of whom more was expected, his palmares include a bronze in the under-23 world time trial championship, but he could do no better than 10th here at 3:11:45.
Seven times Australian time trial champion O’Neill’s win was no surprise, he was third against the watch at the last Games in Manchester in 2002 and rode very strongly against the watch for his American Health Net squad in the recent Tour of California.
O’Neill blasted a 42 second gap open on Portugal-based Day into the head wind outward 20 kilometre run and despite Day making best use of the tail wind to record the fastest second half of the day O’Neill was a clear winner, having time to give a hands high victory salute at the end of the 40 kilometres.
Bronze medallist McCauley has paid his dues in the school of hard knocks having ridden with the Flanders team in Belgium a couple of seasons ago, the current New Zealand road race and time trial champion he prepared specifically for this race and finished in front of more fancied chrono riders.
So what now for Duncan in Sunday’s road race?
‘I’ll take a bit of time to lick my wounds but we’re having a team meet tomorrow to discuss tactics for the road race; I came here to do my best for my country and on Sunday I’ll turn myself inside out for Scotland.’
PEZ will be talking to Duncan and team mate Evan Oliphant after the road race on Sunday.