Innsbruck, Austria - While competing for his home country of Denmark, Mikkel Bjerg of the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team won his second U23 World Championship title in the individual time trial on Monday. Bjerg is the first rider in history to repeat in the event.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Bjerg. “My whole season has been about preparing for this race. I flew out here 10 days ago and rode the course time and again — I really got it under my skin.”
The defending champion was last to roll down the starting ramp for the 27.8 km race against the clock. At the first checkpoint, Bjerg appeared to be in full control, leading fellow countryman Mathias Norsgaard by 23 seconds. In the end, the 19-year-old crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of second place finisher Brent van Moer. Norsgaard finished third.
“I think riding for the team [Hagens Berman Axeon] suits me really well,” said Bjerg. “We’ve been allowed to do some big WorldTour races like Tour of California and then also some Under 23 races. I think the combination is really good for a young rider like me, being able to win or almost win a stage in a smaller race and then also being able to show yourself in some of the bigger races.”
After winning his first race with the team back in March, Rabobank Dorpenomloop Rucphen, Bjerg’s year was slightly derailed after he broke his hand at Danilith Nokere Koerse. But the young Dane was never deterred and spent the rest of the year focusing on a path to get back on top of the podium in September.
“Mikkel put in a lot of work and dedication in his goal to keep his title,” said sport director Koos Moerenhout. “Even with his determination and effort, there was no guarantee. But he for sure deserved the win today. His build-up to World’s was impressive and his TT in Norway at GP Hafjell with the team was a good test and proof that he was on top of his game. The team takes great pride in helping to shape his future.”
(Header photo of Mikkel Bjerg [pictured at left] by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)