Fabian Cancellara?s decision to miss the World Championship time trial has thrown the race wide open.

The Swiss rider, who has won the rainbow jersey in each of the past two years, took the Olympic title in style last month but says he is tired after a long season. It?s a fair point, he has been racing strongly since the spring.

Five of the top ten in the Olympic Games time trial are in Varese, though, including three-time world champion Michael Rogers of Australia.

Andrey Zeits of Kazakhstan is the first rider to start, at 12noon (UK time). Britain?s Steve Cummings, who will be aiming for the top ten, goes at 1.18pm. David Millar is fifth from last at 1.46pm.

Here, CW predicts how the top ten will pan out later today.

1 Levi Leipheimer

USA
Trade team Astana
Start time 1.54pm (UK time) ? last man off
Olympic TT Third
Recent Worlds
13th in 2003. Hasn?t ridden since then

Form The best on show today. Second overall in the Vuelta, second in both time trials. Surely the man to beat

2 Michael Rogers

Australia
Trade team Team Columbia
Start time 1.50pm (UK time)
Olympics 8th
Recent Worlds
2007 ? DNS
2006 ? 8th
2005 ? 1st
2004 ? 1st
2003 ? 1st
(Rogers finished second behind David Millar on the day but was awarded the title after the British rider was stripped of it for admitting doping)

Form Improving after a strange year. Didn?t race until May because of the virus Epstein Barr syndrome but has looked decent since. Could spring a surprise

3 Gustav Erik Larsson

Sweden
Trade team CSC
Start time 1.52pm (UK time)
Olympic TT Second
Recent Worlds
2007 ? 15th
2006 ? 25th
2005 ? 27th
2004 ? 4th
2003 ? 17th

Form Was beaten by Tony Martin and Bert Grabsch in the Tour of Germany?s final time trial three weeks ago, but we fancy Larsson to do better here.

4 David Zabriskie

USA
Trade team Garmin-Chipotle
Start time 1.40pm (UK time)
Olympic TT 12th
Recent Worlds
2007 ? 12th
2006 ? 2nd
2005 ? DNS
2004 ? 5th
2003 ? DNS

Form Won the national time trial title a month ago ? although he probably wouldn?t have beaten Levi.

5 Tony Martin

Germany
Trade team Team Columbia
Start time 1.16pm (UK time)
Olympic TT DNS
Recent Worlds
This wil be his debut at a senior Worlds

Form Won the time trial at the Tour of Germany and before that at the Tour de l?Ain. May be a surprise here. Was hit by a car on a roundabout in training yesterday but is not injured. His bike was wrecked though, so he will ride his under-23 team-mate Patrick Gretsch?s bike instead. Gretsch won silver in his race, so the bike?s obviously okay.

6 David Millar

Great Britain
Trade team Garmin-Chipotle
Start time 1.46pm (UK time)
Olympic TT DNS
Recent Worlds
2007 ? 18th
2006 ? 15th
2005 ? suspended
2004 ? suspended
2003 ? won on the day but stripped of the title after admitting doping

Form Hasn?t had a good Worlds since returning from his ban, so is due a ride. Could do it today. Third at Cholet and fifth at Saint-Amand-Montrond show he can turn in a fine performance.

7 Bert Grabsch

Germany
Trade team Team Columbia
Start time 1.30pm (UK time)
Olympic TT 14th
Recent Worlds
2007 ? 4th
2006 ? DNS
2005 ? DNS
2004 ? DNS
2003 ? DNS

Form German national time trial champion isn?t the most glamorous of riders, but he?s more than capable of riding into the top ten without anyone paying too much attention.

8 Marco Pinotti

Italy
Trade team Team Columbia
Start time 1.36pm (UK time)
Olympic TT DNS
Recent Worlds
2007 ? 14th
2006 ? 20th
2005 ? 17th
2004 ? DNS
2003 ? DNS

Form The Italian national champion recently won the Tour of Ireland so he?s race fit. Victory in the final time trial at the Giro d?Italia earlier this year shows he can operate at this level even if his previous Worlds performances do not. Pinotti is also the fourth Columbia rider in our list.

9 Sylvain Chavanel

France
Trade team Cofidis
Start time 1.38pm (UK time)
Olympic TT DNS
Recent Worlds
2007 ? DNS
2006 ? DNS
2005 ? 30th
2004 ? DNS
2003 ? 20th

Form Chavanel is a bit of a wild card here ? selected purely on the basis of his second place behind Leipheimer in the first Vuelta time trial. Potential egg on face for tipsters here, don?t let us down Sylvain.

10 Stef Clement

Netherlands
Trade team Bouygues Telecom
Start time 1.48pm (UK time)
Olympic TT 9th
Recent Worlds
2007 ? 3rd
2006 ? 24th
2005 ? DNS
2004 ? DNS
2003 ? DNS

Form Of all the top ten, he has the least demonstrable current form. In our top ten on the basis of a good ride in Beijing and the memory of last year?s bronze medal. However, he could be challenged by any of our list of serious contenders?

DARK HORSES
Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spain) ? perhaps the biggest surprise omission from our top ten considering his silver medal in 2005. Won the ENECO Tour with second place in the time trial but has only done a few days of the Tour of Poland since. Unknown quantity right now

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) ? possibly too long for him

Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia) ? could be in or around the top ten if he turns it on

Svein Tuft (Canada) ? did an excellent ride to finish seventh at the Olympics

Stijn Devolder (Belgium) ? could get a medal or be awful, he?s that inconsistent

Steve Cummings (Great Britain) ? will knock on the door of the top ten

Raivis Belohvosciks (Latvia) ? well past his best

Vladimir Gusev (Russia) ? no trade team after being sacked by Astana but could get a result

ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2008

NEWS
Millar and Cummings ready for Elite men’s time trial
World Champs men’s time trial course notes
Pooley and Laws talk before Worlds time trial
Pooley to use special time trial bars again
British under-23 TT riders finish out of the top 30
Daniel Martin selected for Irish under-23 worlds team
British team heads to Varese with genuine medal hopes
Cancellara to miss World Championships
Swift a close second in final race before Worlds
Rob Hayles on why he’s not riding the Worlds
GB Women’s Worlds team confirmed
British Worlds team starts to take shape
Geraint Thomas called up to Worlds team to replace Cavendish
Mark Cavendish pulls out of Worlds team

RACE REPORTS
Women’s time trial: America’s Amber Neben takes title
Under-23 time trial: report, results, photos

PHOTOS
Women’s time trial, by Graham Watson
Under-23 men’s time trial
2007 World Champs: Men’s road race
2007 World Champs: Women’s road race

2008 WORLD CHAMPS GUIDE
Preview>>
TV coverage guide>>
Brits in the men’s world road race 1998-2007>>
Brits in the women’s world road race 1998-2007>>
Brits in the under-23 world road race 1998-2007>>
Britain’s road world championships medal winners>>