Daryl Impey's Mitchelton-Scott had to settle for fifth in the UCI World Championships Team Time Trial in Innsbruck on Sunday -- falling short of their podium ambitions.
The Australian outfit started strong and raced through the first immediate time check as the fastest team but ended the 62.4-kilometre course 57 seconds down on winners Quick-Step Floors. Defending champions Team Sunweb and BMC Racing Team rounded off the podium.
The race result meant that the South African won't be adding to his personal two medal haul (silver at Florence 2013 and bronze two years in Doha) in the discipline as this year's event is the last for trade teams. Impey, South Africa's double national champion, also won't be in action for the rest of the world championships either after withdrawing due to the personal costs Team SA riders had to incur to race in Innsbruck.
As Sunday's race unfolded, the 33-year-old would have felt confident of his chances of adding more silverware to arguably his most successful season; not least when he and his Mitchelton-Scott teammates reached the first intermediate check point after 22.8km averaging 61.5kmph, to be 27.61seconds faster than Team Katusha-Alpecin with five strong teams still to pass.
They even maintained the top position after all the teams passed this mark, with almost eight seconds' advantage on BMC Racing Team.
The second segment of the course saw the road profile head upwards, presenting teams with the challenge of measuring their efforts in order to maintain their full complement of six riders into the final third. Mitchelton-Scott -- with Australians Luke Durbridge, Michel Hepburn and Cameron Meyer as well as Italy's Matteo Trentin as 'pure' time trialists -- decided to pace their efforts and as a result dropped down to fifth in the rankings by the second time check at 44.8km, 30 seconds down on Team Sunweb.
In the closing stages, Impey and Kiwi team leader Jack Bauer weren't able to guide their teammates closer to the trio who claimed the medals (and were separated by less than 20 seconds) or Team Sky in 4th.
Impey was the only African in action on the opening day of the championships as Ashleigh Moolman Pasio's Cervelo-Bigla did not enter the women's team time trial, despite claiming bronze in 2016 and 2017.