Tony Martin has won his second consecutive world time trial title after a tense duel with former U23 champion Taylor Phinney.
The 27 year old German was last off but it took until the final straight for his win to be confirmed, coming in just over five seconds up on the young American.
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It was a long way back, one minute 44 seconds, to a surprise third place Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) who joins Team Sky on a three year contract next year.
The race was missing two thirds of last year’s podium in Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara but Martin was nonetheless delighted with his win.
“This year it’s special because after this up and down season, with so much bad luck, there was just one way to make this season good and that was this title today,” Martin said. “I’m super happy for that.
“I heard the time gaps, I was up and then back, always near 15 seconds. I knew every moment it’d be a really close race,” Martin added. “I didn’t panic, though, I just tried to follow my plan. Just at the top of the Cauberg I was full full sprinting. It was the longest 1000 metres of my career!”
The expected challenge for the podium from Vuelta winner Alberto Contador failed to materialise and the Spaniard was caught by Martin midway through his ride before going on to finish ninth.
The same was true for many strong time triallists who struggled with the adverse weather and slippy roads that hit the course midway through the day. Frederik Kessiakoff (Sweden) could only manage fifth while the likes of his compatriot Gustav Larsson, Lieuwe Westra (Ned) and Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) finished well over two minutes down on the winner.
Great Britain’s Alex Dowsett, the sole representative for both his country and his professional team Sky following the withdrawal of Chris Froome, impressed with an eighth place finish while CW columnist Michael Hutchinson was back in 46th riding for Ireland.
Road World Championships 2012: Men’s Individual Time Trial, 45.7km
1. Tony Martin (Ger) 58-38
2. Taylor Phinney (USA) at 5 secs
3. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) at 1-44
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) at 1-49
5. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) at 1-50
6. Dmitriy Grusdev (Kaz) at 1-56
7. Jan Barta (Cze) at 2-12
8. Alex Dowsett (GBr) at 2-26
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) at 2-30
10. Adriano Malori (Ita) at 2-40
46. Michael Hutchinson (Irl) at 5-22