For two hours and 57 minutes, Hamish McKenzie occupied the 2022 UCI Road World Championships hot seat as the virtual world champion of the junior men’s individual time trial.
It was an unlikely dream that tantalisingly continued to grow further and further into reality with every junior male that crossed the finish on a crisp afternoon in Wollongong.
However, it was not to be in the end, with the 18-year-old’s rainbow dream unravelled by the legs of final starter of the day Josh Tarling, who entered as the hot favourite.
The young Briton lived up to expectations for the 28.8km time trial, claiming the rainbow jersey by 19 seconds over Australian Cycling Team’s new Road World Championship junior men’s time trial silver medallist.
The Tasmanian remained upbeat on the podium despite coming so close to a world championship on home soil, stating what he had been able to produce earlier in the day exceeded his own expectations.
“At the start of the day, if someone said I’d be second, I really wouldn’t believe them,” McKenzie said.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to be where I am, I was hoping for on a good day maybe a top-10.
“It was so close … but I knew he was the big favourite – he’s (Tarling) been smashing everyone all year.
“To be honest, I’m happy to be this close to him and I think he’s been everyone’s goal all year.
“To sit (on the hot seat) until the very last person is always heartbreaking but I’m very happy, nonetheless.”
McKenzie’s time trial performance, which averaged a cool 48.941km/h over the undulating Wollongong course, was made more impressive when he revealed he did so without the aid of power data to gauge his effort.
“From the start, my power meter wasn’t working, so it was just all by feel today,” McKenzie said.
“I think on a course like this with so many corners, you really don’t look at your power meter that much anyway.
“So, I think it probably suited me a little bit more to not think about the power and to just get my best performance out with how the legs were feeling.”
McKenzie’s teammates Cameron Rogers and Will Eaves both raced to credible top-20 rides to close out the day.
Rogers finished 14th, 1:58.31 behind Tarling, while Eaves’ final position was 18th, 2:11.41 behind the Brit.
“I’ve been looking forward to this from probably five years ago when I first heard it was being held here, just hoping that I’d actually get to race here, so it’s pretty insane that I'm actually here,” Rogers said.
“It’s an amazing experience. It was insane racing today and hearing all the people.
“I think nerves and excitement cost me today.
“My heart rate was absolutely booming on the start line, and I probably started a bit too fast, didn’t settle in as well as I probably should’ve - it could have been done better but that’s alright.”
A fast start was also a blip on Eaves’ performance but said the sensations were good ahead of Friday’s road race.
“I feel I went out a little bit too hard in the start,” Eaves said.
“All that adrenaline of being at the World Championships kicked in and I think I might have blown (up) a bit on the last lap.”
To learn more about the green-and-gold campaign at Wollongong 2022, read the Australian guide to the 2022 UCI Road World Championships.
Photos: Getty Sport