For Belgium’s Alec Segaert, it was a case of déjà vu at the U23 men’s time trial at the UCI Road World Championships. The location may have been different – from the sun of Wollongong in Australia, to the overcast skies of Stirling in Scotland – but the result was the same.
For the second year in a row, the 20-year-old Lotto-Dstny rider came away from the time trial with a silver medal in his hand, this time having started the day as the favourite to win the rainbow jersey.
Segaert had started the 36.2km out-and-back run in Stirling well, posting the quickest times at the first two checkpoints, but his Italian rival Lorenzo Milesi rode a negative split to go quicker on the hillier, latter part of the course.
In the end, at the top of the cobbled road to Stirling Castle, Segaert had missed out on the win by 11 seconds, ending on the second step of the podium once again.
“It’s a bit of mixed feelings, of course,” Segaert said in the post-race press conference. “Last year I also had silver and it was more of a victory than today. Before the race started, I said that if I gave it my all and there was one man stronger, then I have to be happy with my performance. That’s what I feel right now.
“Immediately after the race I felt that there was nothing much more I could give – there were no places where I lost it really. I started ambitious and fell back a little bit in the end on the last climb, I was a little bit too empty.”
Segaert was disappointed but felt that he couldn’t have realistically raced any better on the day, then. He couldn’t point out any points along the course where things had gone awry, instead just crediting Milesi with a great ride.
“You see I have 39 seconds between me and the third guy. So, I actually rode a really good TT and if I won this race with the same time I would say everything went perfectly. There was just one man stronger, so he deserves it.”
While Milesi turned pro with Team dsm-firmenich at the start of the season and has already taken on several WorldTour races, Segaert took the step up with Lotto in February, though so far has raced a largely-U23 calendar, including the Giro Next Gen and Paris-Roubaix Espoirs.
Segaert raced alongside Milesi a lot prior to 2023, though, including during the final stage of last year’s Tour de l’Avenir over the Col d’Iseran – Milesi won the stage with Segaert in second. He did admit to being surprised that Milesi, who wasn’t a favourite for the win, came out on top again here.