Niamh Fisher-Black crowns herself as first U23 world champion in history

Niamh Fisher-Black crowns herself as first U23 world champion in history

"Memory to cherish"


During the women's world championships there was a race in the race. There was also a world U23 title to be won. Niamh Fisher-Black finished twelfth in the elite results, as best U23, making her the first-ever U23 world champion. "It feels a bit bittersweet. On the one hand, I have the feeling that there might have been more in it in the elite. On the other hand, I did get to put on a world champion's jersey. With my family and friends around, that is a memory to cherish," said the 22-year-old New Zealand rider.

Linked cyclists Niamh Fisher-Black

Niamh Fisher-Black helped colour the final. On the final passage of Mount Pleasant, she narrowly failed to catch on when a five-woman group including Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Elisa Longo-Borghini, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Liane Lippert and Kasia Niewiadoma accelerated. In the end, she did more than her turns in the chasing group with her Team SD Worx teammates Lotte Kopecky and Marlen Reusser also there to bring everything back together. 

Fisher-Black: "It was important that we kept spinning. It briefly crossed my mind that my Team SD Worx teammates were also there. I looked around and saw that there were no other U23 riders present, so I knew it was a good thing if I went full steam ahead. It was a win-win situation." 

The eight chasers were able to rejoin the five attackers a kilometre before the line. The New Zealand rider would eventually finish 12th. "My focus was primarily on the elite race," Fisher-Black indicated. "I wanted to get the best possible result there and not squander any chances because I would be too focused on a possible U23 world title. I can be happy with my race, but it still feels bittersweet. My sprint was not that good. I only finished 12th among the elites, but still win a rainbow jersey. That again makes it special."

Fisher-Black is referring to the moment in the last kilometre when she connected with Annemiek van Vleuten and Juliette Labous at the head of the race. "I saw Annemiek go and hesitated for a second. I was in the right position but never expected her move. I had seen her working all day. I never thought she would still be riding for the win. I even think she never expected it herself. However, she saw an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. I should have jumped in, but of course that's easy to say in hindsight. It's a split second decision, but that's racing. The opportunities are always there. You just have to see them and try to grab them at the right moment."

"Being crowned the first-ever U 23 World champion is a memory to cherish," Fisher-Black continued. "Especially as this is the closest World championships to home I will ever have in my career. The culture and customs of Australia feel very familiar. Then to be encouraged so hard by all my family, friends and kiwis along the way... It felt a bit like a home race. So this is both a relief and a surprise. Just six weeks ago I broke my collarbone. In the Vuelta, I really suffered and it didn't run like clockwork. I was hesitant to travel to this World championships and didn't know at all what to expect from this race. I'm glad I did it anyway," concludes the brand-new U23 World champion with a smile.

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