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“Can I win?” German asks escape partner before taking Junior men’s world title

Portugal earns first ever Junior podium at Wollongong 2022

After new Junior world champion Emil Herzog bridged over to the Portuguese rider leading the race in the last of eight laps Friday at Wollongong 2022 in New South Wales, Australia, he asked his partner, “Can I win?” He could and he did, giving Germany its fourth medal of the UCI Road World Championships. It was Herzog’s second Wollongong 2022 medal after his bronze in the chrono. The top Canadian was Jerome Gauthier.

You can watch the Wollongong 2022 UCI Road World Championships at FloBikes.

The Course

There were 8 laps of the 17-km city circuit for a total 135.6 km. Each circuit contained the 1.1-km, 8.6 percent Mount Pleasant climb. There was rain to complicate things.

The Canadian contingent was Campbell Parrish, Felix Hamel, Jérôme Gauthier and the latest WorldTour Canuck Michael Leonard.

Following the first crash on Lap 1, a Slovakian went clear, and after he was caught, the first climb of Mount Pleasant uncoupled a few riders. The next wreck took down the Junior time trial champion Joshua Tarling and another favourite Jens Verbrugghe. Near the end of the lap an American and a Luxembourger flew away but they came back on Lap 2.

An Estonian, a Czech and a Portuguese were the next to try their luck. They headed into Lap 3 with a 20-second lead. A quintet of chasers formed, and on Mount Pleasant the breakaway grew. The laps were being ticked off at around 23:30.

The breakaway grows on Lap 3.

At the midway point the six escapees were 30 seconds ahead. Lap 5 saw even more reinforcements almost reach the breakaway, but the fugitive group, now down to five, stayed away and went into Lap 6 with 42 seconds. Leonard was in the 15-strong second chase gang but struggled at the back.

Michael Leonard struggles on Lap 6.

With 42 km to ride, the groups came together on Mount Pleasant. Now 25 riders led the race. Immediately attacks launched.

Austrian Benjamin Eckerstorfer, earlier seen zigzagging up Mount Pleasant, led into the penultimate lap. He was returned to the bunch. More thrusts on Mount Pleasant unhitched two Americans.

The Portuguese António Morgado heard the bell 14 seconds ahead of a seven-rider chase.

Portugal’s Morgado shakes loose on the final lap.

France led the pursuit heading towards the final ascent of Mount Pleasant. German Emil Herzog lit out solo after Morgado. Only 11 seconds seperated them with 5 km remaining. With 3 km to race Morgado waited for the German.

With 1.9 km to go Herzog turned to Morgado–the two share an agency–and asked, “Can I win?” Mordago came around the German in the final 400 metres but Herzog prevailed.

Wollongong 2022 Junior Men’s Road Race
Gold) Emil Herzog (Germany) 3:11:07
Silver) António Morgado (Portugal) s.t.
Bronze) Vlad Van Mechelen (Belgium) +0:55
30) Jerome Gauthier (Canada) +11:50
51) Michael Leonard (Canada) s.t.
53) Felix Hamel (Canada) s.t.