A new time-trial world champion will be crowned in Richmond on Wednesday, as 70 specialists against the clock go head-to-head in the elite men’s individual time trial World Championships.
Not among them, however, will be last year’s winner, Bradley Wiggins. Having finally sealed a career-long dream of winning the title, his focus has since shifted back towards the track and another stab at Olympic gold in the team pursuit at Rio next year.
In his absence, British hopes lie with Alex Dowsett and Steve Cummings. Dowsett has proven himself to be one of the best time triallists in the peloton with a stage win at the Giro in 2013 and the Commonwealth gold medal last year, but hasn’t quite replicated that form in the Worlds since finishing eighth in 2012.
Cummings, meanwhile, has enjoyed arguably the best season of his career, having won a memorable stage at the Tour de France and populating several breaks at the Vuelta. He also went well against the clock in those races, registering top 10s in the opening Utrecht time trial at the Tour as well as the Burgos time trial at the Vuelta, so will be confident of going well again in Richmond.
Wiggins’ absence means that for the first time since 2008, when Fabian Cancellara opted not to ride, the race will be missing its defending champion. But unlike 2008, when an open race was won by outsider German Bert Grabsch, this year’s race has a clear favourite in Tony Martin (Germany).
Having been beaten by Wiggins last year, Martin will again attempt to win a fourth title that would equal Cancellara’s record haul of four golds. Despite only possessing one WorldTour time trial win to his name this season (stage six at the Tour de Romandie), the German is still considered the fastest rider in the peloton against the clock.
His biggest challenger looks set to be Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. Last year’s bronze medallist looks set to inherit Martin’s status as the world’s best time triallist sometime in the next few seasons, although he might be too tired to do so this year following his exhausting efforts to challenge for overall victory at the Vuelta a España earlier this month.
Both he and Martin will have to be wary of Rohan Dennis (Australia), who beat them both to win the opening stage of the Tour de France. Whereas that event was only 13.8km, the substantially longer 53.5km course in Richmond should suit Dumoulin and Martin more, but Dennis is on a rich vein of form having won the time trial and the overall at the Tour of Colorado, and formed a part of the BMC line-up that won the team time trial World Championship race on Sunday.
Others to look out for are Dennis’ fellow BMC world champions Taylor Phinney (USA), who is already looking in decent shape having returned last month from a year-long injury-related absence, and Stefan Kung (Switzerland), who at 21 is already showing signs of being a future world champion.
Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) tends to save his best form for this race, having finished in the top four for three consecutive years, while Italian Adriano Malori will be hoping to improve upon his fifth place finish last year, having already won five time-trial stages this season.
Elite men’s time trial 2015
Where: Richmond, Virginia, USA
When: Wednesday, September 23
Distance: 53.5 kilometres
Elite men’s time trial 2015: TV guide
British Eurosport will be showing live coverage of the elite men’s time trial:
Wednesday, September 23, 18.00 – LIVE Men’s individual time trial, British Eurosport 2
BBC will be showing live coverage via its red button service:
Wednesday, September 23, 17.50-21.00 – LIVE Men’s individual time trial, BBC Red Button
Elite men’s time trial: Recent winners
2014: Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)
2013: Tony Martin (Germany)
2012: Tony Martin (Germany)
2011: Tony Martin (Germany)
2010: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
2009: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
2008: Bert Grabsch (Germany)
2007: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
2006: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
2005: Michael Rogers (Australia)
Watch: how to beat long time trials
Elite men’s time trial: Last year’s top 10 (2014)
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) in 56-25.52
2. Tony Martin (Ger) +26.23
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) +40.64
4. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) +47.92
5. Rohan Dennis (Aus) +57.74
6. Adriano Malori (Ita) +1:11.62
7. Nelson Oliveira (Po) +1:21.63
8. Anton Vorobyev (Rus) +1:29.66
9. Jan Barta (Cze) +1:43.41
10. Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) +1:44.20
20. Alex Dowsett (GBr) +2:35.10