Road World Championships: Individual time trial preview

The individual time trials take place over a similar route to that of the trade team time trials. The men’s under-23 and junior girls’ events took place yesterday, the junior boys and elite women today (Tuesday) and the blue-riband men’s race wraps up proceedings on Wednesday.

What kind of races are they?

With the exception of the men’s elite course, which at 57.9 km is largely identical to that of the men’s team time trial, the other events take place on the same pan-flat parcours but start closer to or in Florence. All five events again finish in the Nelson Mandela Sports Forum in Florence.The junior boys and elite women race the same course of 22.05 km around Florence while the junior girls race a truncated 16.27 km version of that route. The under-23 men race 43.49 km from Pistoia to Florence.

The route of the individual time trials

 

Only the elite men face a small obstacle just after the start as they head towards Pistoia, which is where the under-23 race starts, taking a 90-degree turn before riding straight into Florence where there will be a few technical twists and turns on freshly paved roads. The middle part of this route, the long straight road between Pistoia and Florence, looks like it’ll be perfect for the time-trialling powerhouses.

Profile of the individual time trials

Time-Trial Route through Florence

Time trial route through Florence

What happened last year?

Elite women

Last away was defending champion, the legendary Judith Arndt (Germany). Those in the hot seats could only pray  – in vain – as Arndt powered around the 24.1km course to take her fourth crown, over half a minute ahead of Evelyn Stevens (USA), while Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) secured bronze. This was edge-of-the-seat racing, beautifully showcasing the glories of women’s cycling on the biggest stage.

Worlds 2012 ITT winner Judith Arndt

Arndt powering to victory (Image: Valkenburg 2012)

1. Judith Arndt (Germany) 32:26

2. Evelyn Stevens (USA) +0:33

3. Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) +0:49

4. Emma Pooley (GB) +0:49

5. Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) +0:54

Elite men

Germany’s Tony Martin rescued his season when he just managed to retain the rainbow jersey in the individual time trial, having already won gold with Omega Pharma-Quick Step in the team time trial. He mirrored the feat of compatriot Judith Arndt, who had triumphed the day before, making it a German double-double.

Martin powering to victory (image: Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

The first rider rolled out of the start gate in Heerlen in near-perfect conditions but storm clouds soon gathered and rain started to fall. Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) was the only rider from the middle order able to deal with the testing combination of wet and dry conditions and he finished with bronze.

Towards the back end of the race, the rain stopped and the roads started to dry out, favouring the better exponents of the art of time-trialling but in the end it came down to a two-horse race between Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Martin. The two were neck-and-neck with Phinney just unable to claw back enough time on the defending champion.

1. Tony Martin (Germany) 58:38

2. Taylor Phinney (USA) +0:05

3. Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) +1:44

4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) +1:49

5. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) +1:50

Who to watch?

Both races will be contested by a handful of riders although, in the event of rain, there’s always the possibility that someone may profit from the adverse conditions.

With Arndt having retired, the remaining four from last year’s women’s top five should all be in with a shout although the parcours will favour the more powerfully built riders over more lightweight ones. Specialized-Lululemon’s Trixi Worrack may pick up the German mantle thrown down by Arndt. In the recent Chrono Champenois, held over a more undulating course, Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) finished ahead of Carmen Small-McNellis (USA) and  Shara Gillow (Australia) – all names to watch out for.

Tony Martin has won just about every flat time trial he has participated in this year, making him the favourite. Three consecutive world titles would not be unique – Michael Rogers did it between 2003-05. While he lost the hilly Vuelta time trial to arch rival Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), he showed great form in his solo break on stage six of the Vuelta and this flatter course should play more to his characteristics.

Bradley Wiggins may not be the rider he was in 2012 but his time trial form remains strong, including recent wins at the Tour de Pologne and the Tour of Britain. While Sir Bradley is the reigning Olympic time trial champion, the world title is still missing from his palmares. Could this be his year?

Of course, no one can ignore Cancellara who was in incredible form, looking lean and mean in the Vuelta but having already won this discipline four times – 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 – I wonder whether he’s set his cap at the road race rather than the time trial.

Nor should one overlook the young guns such as former under-23 champion and last year’s runner-up Phinney, or much improved Brit Alex Dowsett.

The Road World Championship individual time trial events take place from Monday 23rd until Wednesday 25th September. Coverage of the men’s and women’s events will be shown by the BBC in the UK. For other live coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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