World Championships Time Trial Preview

Four riders in search of three podium places. No, it’s not a Pirandello play, it’s the world championships and Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins and Taylor Phinney are all aiming for the rainbow jersey.

It’s always a fine test but Wednesday’s race promises one of the best contests in years with several big names stating this is a major goal, all whilst a cast of outsiders are waiting to take their chance too.

The Course

The same as the men’s team time trial course, it’s 57.9km from the spa town of Montecatini Terme to Firenze. The course is flat and fast with exposed sections and long roads to make the Romans proud only broken by a few bridges for elevation. If anything aiming for the motorbike in front matters, a chance to scoop the maximum draft possible before the race comes into Firenze with a few corners.

Montecatini Firenze

The Contenders
What can stop Tony Martin? A puncture, an off-day? He won the worlds in 2011 and 2012 and if he’s technically proficient for a varied course, his main strength is pure power, the ability to turn a huge gear at high speed. The bookmakers have him as the first choice with his odds near even. He’s the riding machine, nicknamed Der Panzerwagen for his ability to crush the competition. He’ll be deploying a 58T chainring today although note this is all about technical efficiency because using, say, 53×11 means the chain runs at a slight diagonal angle and therefore costs watts, use 58×12 and the chain is less bent; also the act of curling the chain over a smaller chainring is again a tiny extra energy cost.

Bradley Wiggins will find the course to his liking. Some were wowing at his skills in the Tour of Britain but look again at the video and you can see the Sojasun ride he passed gain ground on him in the corners and for all the relief at the win, it was only a 2.1 stage race against modest opponents. Now there will be no wet roads, yet alone pesky corners but a rainbow jersey and a gold medal awaits if he can beat the world’s best. Plus Wiggins has been training specifically for the effort and distance, telling L’Equipe he’s been training for 65 minute efforts and that he’s in the form of his life for the time trial. He’s got the better of Tony Martin in the Olympics but that was with the German’s cracked wrist. Still if I had to pick between Martin and Wiggins, maybe I’d go for the latter and Wiggo offers more value to those betting.

Fabian Cancellara used to be the king of time trials but he’s been deposed by Martin in recent years. Yet he’s abdicated the throne by choice too, after all once you’ve won the title four times plus won Olympic gold you look for new goals. He’s reputedly been losing weight to he can win the road race this Sunday. I don’t know what his weight is but visibly he is looking very lean. A lack of brute power might cost him but he got the better of Tony Martin in the Vuelta’s time trial recently – finally breaking a run of losses against Martin that had lasted since 2010 – although this was on a hilly course where his reported leaner build was a greater advantage. When everything is going right he’s superb technically but this course doesn’t give him the chance to put those skills to work.

Taylor Phinney is probably the fourth of the main contenders. He’s local as he’s adopted Tuscany as his European home in the season and the course is a popular motorpacing route. But local knowledge doesn’t count for much on a course like this as it avoids the hills and twisting secondary roads; plus he’s probably not embedded enough to get roared on by the locals. But he’s been knocking on the door for some time and this race has been a major goal. A medal prospect more than a world champion.

Le outsider du jour?

Et al
Now for the outsiders, I think they’d all sign now for the bronze medal. The four above are strong so this could be a race for what some Europeans call the “chocolate medal” for fourth place, a reference to those fake coins and medallions containing chocolate inside. But this is sport and surprises are welcome.

Richie Porte has had a very long season, riding shotgun with Chris Froome for much of the year, go back to his win in Paris-Nice but he’s an expert in the time trials and comes fresh from a strong ride in the team time trial. Sylvain Chavanel is very strong and looked good in the recent GP de Wallonie and the course suits his forceful style although he seems better at shorter efforts when he has to go into the red rather than a steady pacing effort. OPQS team mate Michał Kwiatkowski is here to learn and I think we could see more of him in the road race instead.

Alex Dowsett now rates alongside other big contenders after his Giro stage win but he’s been ill of late and wasn’t riding as well as he wanted in the Tour of Britain, even if he’s better it’s hard to imagine him recovering lost time but then who predicted he’d beat Wiggins in the Giro? Talking of unpredictable results, Vasil Kiriyenka‘s third place last year means he can’t be overlooked. Adriano Malori won the Tour of Bavaria earlier this year thanks to his TT skills but the powerhouse from Parma has not been inform of late, perhaps Italians should watch Marco Pinotti. He was on course for a result last year before he crashed out, this could be his valedictory ride.

Finally a shout to Syria’s Nasir Jaser, because if Wiggins and Martin are the talk of the town, the field contains a Coubertinian range of riders from Andorra to Eritrea and you’ll find the full startsheet online as a PDF.

Weather: mild and sunny with temperatures around the 25°C mark. There will be a breeze blowing from the west-southwest at 15-20km/h but it could gust to 27km/h in the afternoon. It means a three quarters tailwind for much of the way.

TV: racing begins soon after 1.00pm Euro time with Tony Martin last off at 3.12pm and the finish expected for an hour later. Check your host broadcaster, see the UCI channel on Youtube or will serve up a pirate feed.

45 thoughts on “World Championships Time Trial Preview”

  1. Not sure if he’s riding, and probably won’t get a medal, but watch for a powerful ride from Luke Durbridge. Young kid on the up, possibly the next Tony Martin

  2. I think that I have some painting to do tomorrow. PST

    It is a race of truth, but it really is not a crowd pleaser.

    Taylor will have some work to do, not his year yet.

  3. From a numbers perspective, this is a horserace between Phinney and Martin, with Fabian an outsider due to his focus on the road title this year. Long, straight and with a touch of tailwind, this world champs course is a drag race that benefit big guys with the ability to churn out gobs of sustained wattage. Wiggins could go well, but given the corse profile and his size, the larger body types should prevail. Phinney may suffer a bit due to a relative lack of inexperience at this length of test, but I don’t expect many surprises from such a straightforward course. The only thing that could dramatically change the outcome is a change in weather or one of the top four picks crashing close to the finish.

  4. would love to see Chava in the mix, but I agree with you in that he’ll probably be in it at halfway and then fade.
    Real shame for Dowsett that he’s not in top shape to test himself against the best.
    Pozivivo not going out on his road bike to ‘surprise’ us all this time?

    • A bit too flat for Pozzovivo. And he won’t be riding. 😉

      The course is indeed extremely dull. Don’t they want people to watch this? Luckily we are nearly done with the TTs.

  5. I reckon Wiggins could do it – he has seemed pretty motivated for it and he obliterated the entire (admittedly fairly weak) field at the ToB, albeit over just 16km. Between him and Martin for me, with Phinney at 3.

    That said, my heart wants Spartacus to do a double.

    • At the tour of Poland Wiggins beat Cancellera and Phinney fairly comfortably:
      1) Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) – 46.36
      2) Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) +56″
      3) Taylor Phinney (USA) – BMC Racing +1.14

      For me, a Martin/Wiggins challenge for 1st, with Cancellera/Phinney battling for 3rd.

      • I find it difficult to compare performances at anything but marquee events. Did Cancellera or Phinney (or Wiggins, for that matter) say if they were going flat out, or was that particular TT just a training ride for them? Surely, most riders want to win races, but given the length of a season, unless someone has specifically made a race a goal, it’s hard to judge effort.

  6. It’s a way back now but surely wiggin’s result at the tour of Poland time trial has more relevance than that achieved on the tour of Britain. More weight/power needs to be balanced against aero dynamics, can understand that Martins has more of the former but have often read that Wiggins is better at the latter. Very happy that we will get to see all the best riders are going in on good form, should be a great contest even if TT’s aren’t always the best viewing.

  7. I’m going for a Martin, Wiggins, Phinney 1-2-3, with Cancellara a close 4th. Kiryienka, Malori, Porte, Dennis, Chavanel, Roche could all fill the remaining top 10 spots. Phinney to place in the top 3 is one of my bets at 7/5, think he will just edge Cancellara who has his sights set on Sunday..

    97% of the field on betfair ar 220/1 or bigger, 84% of them are 1000/1 so if you fancy a shock result there are massive odds available!

  8. As we saw Wiggins winning the olympic gold was due to Martin’s injury. On the road, over a great distance Tony is just in a league of his own.
    Still I like Bradley Wiggins but his London win is not something I can cheer him for.

  9. I had picked Martin to repeat, followed by Wiggins with Cancellara 3rd…and I had Phinney finishing 5th, which he did, but the dropped water bottle had to have cost him, no doubt.

    “Up until that point he was really on it, but anyone who knows about hydration – you’re losing 7-10% of your power [when dehydrated]. I was really nervous about those last 10k and it came true.”

    “He had the power, he had the morale, he had the form, but when you don’t drink for an hour in these conditions … it just cut his legs out from under him.” –, 25 Sept, 2013

    Does anyone else question the design of this particular water bottle, given the speed at which these riders are traveling? Being able to easily handle the bottle is critical, while trying to maintain speed, aero position, control of your rig, etc. The hand needs a narrow neck so the bottle can’t slip below, IMO. Real bummer for Taylor, dehydrated and no doubt in even worse pain at the finish.

      • Yes, and we’ll see if they continue to use those same bottles, or if Phinney personally switches to a different design. They can still use a bottle that’s aero, but it should have some kind of neck to give a rider confidence when he reaches for it at high speed.

        I vote for a new design…they can run tests with prototype bottles in wind tunnels 🙂

        • I thought I heard on the commentary of this event that the UCI had imposed a ban on ‘aero’ bidons starting next season, requiring all bottles to have a circular cross section. A cursory Google returns nothing though.

      • I remember reading somewhere in past, that testing was done and 1 bottle (on down tube) was “most aerodynamic”, second best was “no bottle” and last both bottles. No sure if that is applicable to latest TT frames.

  10. No one here mentions Quaade, underlining how big an achievement it was for him to finish 6th. Television didn’t show him either, not on course and not on the superslow roll of honour before the medal ceremony.
    I am a Dane, but not even my fellow countrymen said out loud they considered him capable of top ten.
    Don’t know if it is available with subtitles in different languages, but the film about Quaade, “Moon Rider”, shows just how obsessed he is with time trialling and going as deep as possible through willpower. Excellent insight into a unique bike rider.

  11. I was at about 600m from the finish, and have to say that, unfortunately, that Phinney, though he considers Italy his second home, Italians haven’t returned the feeling yet. When Malori went by, the crowd erupted, but when Phinney went by there were a few cheers, but nothing out of the ordinary

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