Wollongong, Australia (CT) – Magnus Sheffield couldn’t hold it back. After completing the men’s World Championship time trial, he crossed the line with a fist-sized hole torn in the chest of his skinsuit, a gash on his finger, and a shell-shocked aura. In the press marquee, the first question came and he turned away and walked to a white canvas wall where he stood, crying and then composing himself, for a couple of minutes.
Then he turned back to the waiting media, seemingly processing in real time how his race had gone wrong.
On a fast, tight left-hander, the young American had misjudged his pace, sending him into the barriers with such velocity that he flipped over them onto the other side. By the time he’d picked himself up from the road and gotten going again, his hope of a strong result had evaporated. He finished 17th, 1.44 behind Tobias Foss.
“I got a bit greedy in one of the corners,” he explained, still choked up. “It’s this balance of not coming in too hot, but also trying to carry the momentum out of the corner. I came out of that exit a bit too wide and I wasn’t able to right myself, in the end.”
The 20-year-old had arrived in Wollongong with little external pressure, but it was clear that he’d set higher expectations for himself than he was able to deliver on. Speaking slowly, deliberately, he talked it through. How he really wanted to come away with a result. How he would use this as a learning experience. How he still had the road race to look forward to.
Sheffield, a first-year WorldTour pro with Ineos Grenadiers, has had a remarkable season, winning the time trial at the Tour of Denmark on the way to 2nd on the GC, finishing 6th at the Tour of Norway, and winning the De Brabantse Pijl one-day race. “I put in a lot of work into this season. I’ve had a lot of success, so I think as a whole I feel like I can be super happy with it,” Sheffield reflected, a bit of a quiver in his voice.
“I have a long career ahead of myself,” he continued, talking his way through his disappointment and, maybe, out the other side. ”This won’t be the last time… I just have to not be too down on myself from today.”