Following in the footsteps of Specialized-Lululemon in the women’s event earlier in the day, Omega Pharma-Quick Step successfully defended their status as men’s team time trial world champions, edging Orica-GreenEDGE into silver-medal position by just 0.81 seconds.
- Specialized-Lululemon won the women’s team time trial title for the second year in succession. They completed the 42.8km course in 51:10 to beat Rabobank by 1:11, with last year’s runners-up Orica-AIS a further 22 seconds back.
- The men’s event was run over a largely flat 57.2km course, taking in Florence’s spectacularly garish duomo and racing along the banks of the Arno past the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
- Garmin-Sharp were the first to dip under 67 minutes and yet would be beaten by seven of the nine following teams, finishing over two minutes down.
- The medals were contested by last year’s top four: Sky, Orica-GreenEDGE, BMC and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Sky went fastest, then Orica-GreenEDGE went 22 seconds faster and BMC faded to drop to fourth.
- OPQS held a small advantage heading into the technical closing kilometres, and fourth man Peter Velits broke the line with just 0.81 seconds to spare to give the Belgian team the narrowest of victories.
With little in the way of climbing and the most technical sections only coming in the closing kilometres as the teams wound in and out of the streets of central Florence, this was a relatively straightforward TTT favouring the most powerful and aerodynamically efficient teams. It was no surprise, then, that teams featuring powerhouses such as Tony Martin (OPQS), Svein Tuft (Orica), Taylor Phinney (BMC), Chris Froome (Sky) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) filled out the top five.
The only real complications were the long course – at over 57km and on a warm 26ºC afternoon, teams were visibly losing a lot of form and discipline in the crucial closing minutes – and the use of six rather than the eight or nine-man teams more commonly employed in stage races.
Of course, unlike in stage races, there was no need here to include, say, a climber or a sprinter ill-suited to this specialist discipline, so the fact that four out of six riders had to finish did not overcomplicate tactics excessively. Pick your six top time-trialists, line them up and let them go.
Ultimately, there was little difference in the overall result despite lacking the late climb of the Cauberg from last year. Other than BMC dropping from second to fourth, the top four remained the same.
At the other end of the order, all credit to Rabobank Development Team, Adria Mobil, CCC Polsat Polkowice, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies [snappy name, that – Ed], who took positions 19 to 23 and finished ahead of WorldTour team Ag2r La Mondiale.
Does VIP stand for Very Invisible People? It was a shame to see the VIP boxes overlooking the finish line barely occupied even at the end of the race. This is not uncommon at the Worlds, where typically only the elite men’s road race commands full attendance.
But wouldn’t it be great if genuine fans had the chance to occupy the grandstand seats? As at last year’s London Olympics, why not put a process in place whereby VIP seats not taken up by a particular time are then allocated on a first-come, first-served basis? Real fans get to watch the finish, and full stands look good on TV. Everyone wins.
Men’s trade team time trial result
1. Omega Pharma-Quick Step 1:04:16.81
2. Orica-GreenEDGE +0:00.81
3. Sky +0:22.55
4. BMC +1:02.71
5. RadioShack-Leopard +1:17.53
6. Astana +1:21.14
7. Cannondale +1:28.74
8. Garmin-Sharp +2:01.94
9. Saxo-Tinkoff +2:14.17
10. Movistar +2:31.03