GEELONG - It was always going to be a hard road to hoe for Jack Bauer around Geelong yesterday.
A late addition to the New Zealand squad for the road race cycling world championships, he arrived from England at 5.30am (local time) on Wednesday and was up at 4am yesterday as his body clock failed to adjust.
So it was hardly surprising the national road race champion had to settle for 23rd place in the elite men's time trial.
There weren't just blind corners for the 25-year-old to negotiate - he attempted the 45.8km route practically sight unseen.
Bauer was summoned as a replacement for an ill Jeremy Vennell on Monday and he answered the call despite facing a forlorn task against the likes of Swiss Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara, who won a record fourth world time trial title by a massive margin of 1m 02.75s.
Bauer was 4m 17.78s adrift of the winner while compatriot Gordon McCauley, the oldest rider in the field at 38, was 39th in a field of 43 at 7m 46.00s, a time blown out by a 40s delay when his bike chain came off on the second lap.
"By the time my bikes were built (yesterday) they were racing the under-23 riders and women so I couldn't see the course until this morning," Bauer said as he assessed his performance.
At 10am he yawned, stretched and ventured out among the traffic. A couple of hours later he was satisfied.
"I'm tired, I'm jetlagged, I wasn't sure what would happen," he said.
"To come in and ride a course you haven't seen before, you generally need a week to prepare."
So why subject yourself to it, why say yes?
"Opportunity," he replied.
"I was in the running to get a ride this year, there were three of us fighting for two spots and I was disappointed to miss out.
"When they gave me the call up it was a chance to show what I could do, an opportunity to show I can ride."
Bauer's next assignment is the New Delhi Commonwealth Games road race, an event he placed behind the world championships in terms of significance.
"This features way higher on the radar for me.
"The Comm Games has been so up in the air whether we'd go for a start so it's kind of hard to be motivated for it."
Meanwhile, another drugs scandal emerged yesterday when it was revealed three-times Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, of Spain, had tested positive for steroids.
"You could say it's unexpected but you never know," Bauer said.
While positive tests were negative for the sport, there was an upside.
"You've got to whittle them out one by one. After what's happened, maybe people like me will have a chance."
Adopted Kiwi Linda Villumsen won back-to-back world championships time trial bronze medals on Wednesday
The 24-year-old former Danish cyclist, who switched allegiance last December, launched her New Zealand representative career in style to finish third behind Great Britain's Emma Pooley and a wheel rim behind her HTC-Columbia pro tour teammate Judith Arndt.
Pooley blitzed the undulating layout to strike gold by a dominant 15.17s.
- NZPABy Chris Barclay