Martin Wins Third Straight World ITT Championship
Tony Martin (Germany) has won the world time trial championship for the third consecutive year. The man called der Panzerwagen (the tank) dominated today’s event on a flat, 56.8-km course from Montecatini Terme to Florence, Italy, leading at two of the three checkpoints en route to victory in 1:05:36. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) finished second at 0:46, and four-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) took third at 0:48.
Nelson Oliviera (Portugal) set the early standard with a 1:08:51. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus) bettered that time by about 0:15, but the heavy hitters were not yet on the road.
At the first time check (7.3 km), Cancellara led Martin by 0.36 of a second with Wiggins 0:15 in arrears. Martin and Wiggins, however, were rationing their efforts. At the 24.1-km checkpoint, Martin had seized 0:27 from Cancellara, while Wiggins was 0:28 behind the man called Spartacus and appeared to be headed for the bronze medal.
On the run to the third checkpoint (42.3 km), Martin led Cancellara by 0:28 while Wiggins had cut Spartacus’s hold on second to 0:13. Wiggins chipped away at Cancellara’s lead. The Briton overtook the Swiss to take the silver medal. Behind, Martin poured on the coal to pull away from the Swiss star. He held up three fingers to symbolize the number of world championships that he had won.
Martin won by being stronger and by gauging his effort over the distance and the parcours. “I think it was a clear victory," he said. "It was really nice. I didn't have to really take risks in the last corners. The last five kilometers were like a celebration for me because I knew I had an advantage of about 40 seconds. I didn't expect the gap to be that big at all. I expected a battle on the cobbles. I was a little bit afraid of it. I know Cancellara is a specialist on the small corners with the cobbles, so I knew I needed some gaps. I think the gap was high enough, and so I didn't have to go 100 percent and it was good to not take risks. I knew without a puncture or crash I should win. It was just a really nice final for me. I think it was really a perfect ride, from point A to B. I think it was more or less the same as my first worlds victory in Copenhagen. I think I really needed this because when you almost win everything in time trials that you could in the past, you need some pressure so you can go to the limit. This was the right pressure for me going into this race. I could work with it. I think this is really the highlight of the season. To win this highlight is really special, even more special than last year. It gives me a lot of morale also for the next season."
Wiggins could not hear his splits because of the crowd noise. He accepted the fact that Martin was the strongest rider on the course. “I executed it perfectly – A to B as fast as possible,” the Olympic time trial champion said. “I wasn’t really aware of the checks. Rod [Ellingworth, a coach] was telling me on the radio, but with the crowds I couldn’t really hear.
“In the last 20 minutes I was oblivious to everything, other than the effort you are trying to get home. I had no idea until I finished and collapsed in the tent where I was.
“I was still strong in that final 20 minutes and I knew it would be close, but Tony was on a different level today.
“He has had a great season and finished it off with another world title. I love the sport and everything about it and it really is an honour to still be on the podium with those two guys. It will be something to show the kids when I am older."
For his part, Cancellara, who once dominated the time trial, was philosophical about his bronze medal. “I did everything I could,” he declared. “I was relaxed and confident this morning and also in the race. I pushed hard but I missed just a bit. I lost contact with my car early in the race so I had no information about the time gaps. So I was really racing against the clock and not against someone else. I knew Tony and Bradley were very well suited to this course, more than myself. I don’t feel like I lost anything today – I feel like I earned a really nice medal.”
Tomorrow, the riders will rest before taking on other events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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