UCI Road World Championships: Vittoria Guazzini makes history as first U23 women’s time trial world champion

The Italian came close to making the elite podium, earning herself a U23 rainbow jersey in the process.

Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images

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KIAMA DOWNS, Australia (VN) — Vittoria Guazzini made history Sunday as she became the first U23 women’s world champion in any discipline at the UCI Road World Championships.

The Italian put in a dominant performance to finish fourth within the overall elite field, enough to put her in the U23 rainbow jersey almost two minutes ahead of the next best finisher Shirin van Anrooij (Netherlands).

Following a lot of pressure in recent years, the UCI added a U23 category for women to the worlds program for the first time in its 101-year history.

However, it is not yet its own individual competition — and won’t be until at least 2025 — with the U23 women still going up against the top elite riders.

With selection availability pretty tight, just 11 U23 riders made up the start list in Wollongong on Sunday. For Guazzini and her peers, it was nice to have an opportunity to fight for a rainbow jersey, but the wait is on for it to become its own event.

“I think it’s good that now there is an under 23 category for women because it’s a very big jump going from junior to elite and now if you know that you can compete and win something for yourself it’s a big motivation,” Guazzini said in her post-race press conference, proudly wearing her new rainbow jersey.

“Until 2025, it’s in the middle of the elite race so, for now, we have to be satisfied with this. When it will be two different races, of course, it will be even better. Now, I enjoy my title and we will see what will happen in the future.”

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Van Anrooij was in the hotseat for the world title for much of the event, but Guazzini laid down some blistering time checks as she rolled out as part of the final tranche of riders Sunday morning.

The 21-year-old’s time was quick enough that she was briefly on the elite podium, as well as topping the U23 category, before being ousted in the final moments of the competition.

In the end, her performance saw her finish just over 10 seconds shy of a bronze medal in the elite competition. With two potential goals to go for, Guazzini focused on her own ride rather than considering the possibility of being in contention for the rainbow stripes.

“I was really motivated of course to wear this jersey. When I was on this course, I was just thinking about going as fast as possible and not thinking about anything else, just remembering the corners and push full gas until the end,” she said.

“I was very nervous, I have to say, because time trials always make me nervous. It’s a discipline that I like but it’s a race against myself so in the end, I didn’t think about getting the under 23 or the elite, I just thought about going full gas from the start to the finish. On the radio, I heard that I had a good time also with the elite. I was trying to be on the podium, but the other riders were too strong.

“I’m satisfied with my performance, and I will get to wear this jersey. It is always a dream to wear the rainbow stripes. So, I am proud of myself.”

Guazzini is a rising star on both the road and the track with an elite European title in the Madison from 2020, as well as a string of U23 golds in the velodrome.

She also took the U23 TT title at last year’s European championships and this season has seen her take a number of top results on the road, including the overall title at the Bretagne Ladies Tour back in May.

She now has another rainbow jersey to add to her growing collection and she’s hopeful for more to come as she continues to develop as a rider.

“This has given me a lot of motivation and the time trial is a discipline where you race against yourself. I’m very happy with my performance, not considering the stripes,” she said. “I think I did a really good race, so this gives me hope for the next years that I am going in the right direction. Hopefully, I will be able to wear this jersey in the elite category, who knows.”

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