The UCI Gran Fondo World Championships took on a lighter note on Friday as countries banded together to race against each other in a Teams Relay event.
The relay, which is raced for gold medals and not an official UCI world title, saw teams from Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Slovenia and South Africa line up to race the 21.2km hot-dog circuit adjacent to Perth’s Swan River.
Slovenia 1 put in a tactical performance to win the gold while Australia 1 fought their way into the silver medal position, just ahead of Australia 5 who rounded out the podium winning bronze.
In teams of four and consisting of at least one male and one female, each rider took it in turns to race two laps of the 2.65km course before handing a figurative baton to the next rider.
After a fast start, it was the two teams from Slovenia who worked together to build a 30 second gap and looked set to take out first and second place heading in to the final leg.
Despite a strong lap from Australia 1’s last rider Tom Leaper, which saw him move from third into second position, Slovenia 1 had built up an unstoppable lead and cruised home to take the gold.
In second position heading into the final leg, Slovenia 2 slipped from second to eighth, making way for Australia 5 to power home for the bronze.
“The teams are only 4 riders and of course the more teams you have the more chance you have to do something,” said Slovenia 2’s Borja Jelic.
“It was great teamwork, I believe the most crucial part was team assembly, so who rides in which position, who starts and who finishes for both teams.
“We planned to put two very strong riders on the second start and they managed to do a breakaway and gain time over the other riders. The other riders who started after them just needed to sustain that gap and luckily it all went well,” he said.
“We have high expectations for Sunday but still we don’t know all the riders, here in Australia there will be many strong riders who couldn’t make it to Europe last year so I think it will be full of surprises, we are quite well prepared and I hope for all the best.”
A full list of results can be found at http://sportservicestechnology.com/online-results
The event is the culmination of 15 UCI Gran Fondo World Series events held around the world, with 25% of riders in each age group qualifying for the championships.
The championships are being held in Australia for the first time, with cyclists aged between 19 and 77 years of age set to battle for the coveted rainbow world champion jersey across the time trial and road race disciplines.
The event has been made possible by the Western Australian Government through Tourism WA.
Friday evening will see the event official Opening Ceremony and Individual Time Trial and Team Relay Presentations from 7pm at Elizabeth Quay, The Esplanade.