World Championships individual time trial preview

Including the junior (men’s and women’s) and under-23 (men’s only) versions, the five individual time trial events included within the Road World Championships commence on Monday and conclude with the blue riband event, the elite men’s race on Wednesday afternoon.

The most recent winners of the elite men’s event are:

2007 Stuttgart: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)

2008 Varese: Bert Grabsch (Germany)

2009 Mendrisio: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)

2010 Melbourne: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)

2011 Copenhagen: Tony Martin (Germany)

What happened last year?

Germany’s Tony Martin blitzed the course at an average speed of 46.4kph to take his first gold medal and the World Champion’s rainbow jersey after leading at every split. Throughout the season, he’d been at the top of his game, winning time trials in the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and pretty much any other stage race with a time trial. Defending and four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) looked to have landed silver but he overshot a bend, brushing the barrier in the process, and lost out to Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) who turned in a solid and consistent performance. When 26-year old Martin caught David Millar (Great Britain) –  no mean time-trialler – who’d set-off 90 seconds ahead of him, he must have known it was a gold-winning performance. 2008 champion Bert Grabsch (Germany) finished fourth after pushing his customary huge gear.

World Championships individual time trial podium 2011 (image courtesy of official race website)

Afterwards, a jubilant Martin said:

In the last kilometre I was sure that I was going to win. It’s such a good feeling. It’s a dream come true. It’s amazing for me.

David was one of the favourites and for sure when you pass him and you are 1:30 faster, you must be having a good ride. I gave my all, so I was really happy. I felt under pressure but I’ve learnt to work with the pressure.

1. Tony Martin (Germany) 53:43

2. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) +1:15

3. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) +1:20

4. Bert Grabsch (Germany) +1:31

5. Jack Bobridge (Australia) +2:13

6. Richie Porte (Australia) +2:29

7. David Millar (Great Britain) +2:45

8. Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands) +3:18

9. Alexandr Dyachenko (Kazakhstan) +3:19

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) +3:30

This year’s race

The 2012 edition will be a more testing event than last year’s. It starts in Heerlen – home to the 1967 World Championships – covers 45.7km and features three climbs, the toughest of which is the first in Simpelveld before it finishes just past the summit of the Cauberg.

Who to watch

Last year’s winner Tony Martin will be back to defend his crown, hoping that he’s already had more than his fair quota of bad luck this season with punctures, mechanicals and falls. Although it’s a hilly course, it shouldn’t cause him too many problems. Remember his winning performance in the 2011 Tour de France time-trial in Grenoble?

Sylvain Chavanel record equaling 4-times national time-trial champion (image courtesy of Omega Pharma QuickStep)

Sylvain Chavanel, record equaling 4-time national time trial champion (image courtesy of Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

This time he won’t have to contend with those who stood with him on the  2011 podium [is that Kitty I can hear weeping and wailing? – Ed] but there’s still plenty of stiff opposition from established riders such as France’s Sylvain Chavanel, who will be looking for at least a podium spot, Spain’s Alberto Contador, fresh from his win at the Vuelta, gunning for more victories and Britain’s Chris Froome looking to cement his credentials after his Olympic bronze.

But it’s just as likely that Martin’s strongest opposition will come from that brigade of young Turks who not so long ago were competing and winning in the under-23 category. I’m thinking the all-American Taylor Phinney, Aussie turbo Luke Durbridge, Martin’s compatriot Patrick Gretsch and Kiwi youngster Jesse Sergent. Not forgetting, of course, a pair of Vacansoleil teammates: local boy Lieuwe Westra and Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt, who’ll be hoping their time has come in front of partisan crowds.

However this unfolds, we can be assured that it’ll be a thrilling battle with the outcome much less predictable than it’s been for many a year.

Race details

September 17th: Junior men, Landgraaf to Valkenburg aan de Geul, 26.6km

September 17th: Under-23 men, Landgraaf to Valkenburg aan de Geul, 36km

September 18th: Junior women, Eisjsden Margraten to Valkenburg aan de Geul, 15.6km

September 18th: Elite women, Eisjsden Margraten to Valkenburg aan de Geul, 24.3km

September 19th: Elite men, Heerlen to Valkenburg aan de Geul, 45.7km

Daily live coverage and highlights of the Road World Championships will be shown by Eurosport in the UK. For other live coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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