Southland cyclist happy with worlds performance

Southland cyclist Tom Scully in action for the Vantage New Zealand team in the elite men's time trial at the UCI Road Cycling Championships in Belgium on Sunday. Photo: Casey B Gibson

SOUTHLANDER and World Tour professional cyclist Tom Scully was pleased to finish mid-pack in the individual time trial on the opening day of the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Belgium at the weekend.

Scully, who rides for EF Education-Nippo on the World Tour, finished 23rd in a 55-strong field over a flat 43.3km course that started at Knokke-Heist beside the North Sea to the medieval city of Bruges.

The Vantage New Zealand rider clocked 50:57.387 for the time trial, averaging 51kmh in the event won by superstar Filippo Ganna (Italy) who clocked 47:47.83 to win by 5 seconds from Belgian hope Wout van Aert.

Recently, the Italian ended New Zealand’s hopes for the gold medal in the extraordinary team pursuit race at the Tokyo Olympics where he came from behind on the final lap to pip the Kiwis by 0.07sec where both teams smashed the world record.

Ganna went on to anchor Italy’s gold medal effort in the final, before resetting to defend his rainbow jersey on the road in Belgium.

Scully produced a well-judged performance, 24th fastest through the first time split at 14km and 25th at the 33km mark before a strong finish for 23rd overall.

“I am pretty content with how we approached it and how we executed. It was pancake flat out there and no wind so it was a lot about judging your pace,

“I was bang-on where my team trainers thought I would be. I came home with an empty tank and not much more that I could do.”

Scully said it was an old-fashioned, flat course with few technical challenges.

“You had to get the pacing right not over-reaching too early and blowing up or conversely being too conservative and coming home with something still in the tank. I was happy with our strategy and how we delivered today.

“It’s my first senior elite road worlds so it was special to put your number on the New Zealand jersey. It’s always a special thing to represent your country.”

After top-10 performances at the recent Tour de Suisse and Vuelta a Espana, his professional team was keen to see if the Kiwi could stretch out his time trial prowess over the long distance, he said.

Scully then joined his team for a 200km race in northern France before returning to Belgium to prepare for Sunday’s road race.