Through the 22.7 kilometre course, over rolling hills in the shadow of Stirling Castle in central Scotland, Canberra cyclist Oscar Chamberlain timed his run to perfection.
After finishing 10th in the road race six days beforehand, Oscar was highly motivated to bounce back in the junior men’s individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships.
“After the road race, I didn’t quite achieve my goal,” he said, “I came 10th, so it wasn’t the end of the world, but that gave me a little more fire in the belly.”
But this was easier said than done. On Friday he was up against the top junior men’s cyclists in the world, including Ben Wiggins, the son of British Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The time trial itself took riders through four rolling hills, finishing with a cobbled climb.
As Oscar mounted his bike, he knew what was required, particularly with Wiggins establishing the fastest time.
Racing against the clock, Oscar was fourth at the first 9.7 km split into the race. This was 12 seconds behind Wiggins.
“I felt good. I was close at the first time check but I don’t think I was winning, which I guess boosted me up a bit. Then on the small rollers I just gave it everything because I knew that’s where someone like me, a bigger guy, would lose a bit of time,” he said.
By the 18.4 km mark, Oscar was now four seconds in front.
With his lungs burning, he pushed himself to the limit in the final climb across the cobblestones towards the finish line.
“The cobbles were just killing me – I felt like I wasn’t moving and then got across the line and got the good news. I’m just stoked it was good enough.”
Oscar had won. He crossed the line 24 seconds ahead of Ben Wiggins.
He collapsed on the ground in agony, emotionally and physically spent.
“This has been my dream since I was a little boy. It was always in the back of my mind that it was possible, and I think if you don’t think about it then it’s not going to happen – but I can’t believe it,” he said.
“Now the dream is to do this in the elites. A ride in the peloton would be a dream come true.”
Oscar joins a number of other Australian medal winners in this year’s UCI Road World Championships.
Tasmanian cyclist Felicity Wilson-Haffenden took home the gold medal in the junior women’s time trial on Thursday, while Hamish McKenzie claimed bronze in the U23 men and Grace Brown took silver in the women’s elite.
“I think the future for Australian cycling is super bright,” Oscar said.
Oscar’s win in the junior men’s time trial is the second by a Canberra cyclist in the history of the event.
Dean Rogers won the inaugural race in 1994, and fellow Canberra cyclist Mathew Hayman finished second in 1996.
Both cyclists went on to have incredible professional cycling careers.
Oscar’s victory follows his continued success in Europe, including a second-place spot in the prestigious Paris-Roubaix juniors riding for the AG2R Citroen team.