Men’s Olympic Time Trial: who will win?

Bradley Wiggins starts tomorrow’s Olympic men’s time-trial as the favourite. He could be the man to deliver Great Britain’s first gold medal of the 2012 Games on the roads of Surrey.

The 44-kilometre course, which starts and finishes in Hampton Court Palace, is predominantly flat, though several nagging drags will take it out of the riders.

In the absence of a significant hill, it will favour power merchants who judge their efforts perfectly.

The first rider off is at 2.15pm, with each man separated by 90-second intervals.

>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

Here are the big contenders:

Bradley Wiggins, 32, Great Britain

With his straight

back, unshifting body and a power produced that belies his fragile body type, Wiggins in a time trial is a thing of beauty.

The momentum is all with him. Alongside confidence and flying form, he’ll have one marginal gain: thousands of fans cheering his name and waving Union Jack flags around the Surrey course.

Even the uncontrollables are coming up Wiggo, as his anticipated two biggest rivals, Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin, have had seasons rocked by injury (see below).

Ten days after his Tour de France win, can Wiggins make a very special year extraordinary with time trial gold at his home Olympics?

Last three time trial performances
Tour de France, stage 19 – 1st. 1-16 ahead of Chris Froome (July)
Tour de France, stage 9 – 1st. 35secs ahead of Froome (July)
Tour de France, prologue – 2nd. 7secs behind Fabian Cancellara (June)

Fabian Cancellara, 31, Switzerland

Tanned king of testing Cancellara is usually the first line in any time trial preview.

But it remains to be seen how the heavy crash that took him out of contention in Saturday’s road race will affect his riding and confidence.

However, the Swiss takes a gladitorial frame of mind into his big races, and won’t give up hisOlympic title without a fight.

Last time trial performances
Tour de France, stage 9 – 3rd. 57secs behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, prologue – 1st. 7secs ahead of Wiggins (June)
Swiss national championship – 1st. 1-54 ahead of Alexander Frei (June)

Tony Martin, 27, Germany

Martin looked set to be the Olympic favourite when he rode a fluid, powerful race to his first rainbow jersey in Copenhagen last September, beating Wiggins and Cancellara by over a minute.

But the usurping stuttered. Several crashes this year have left the Omega Pharma-Quick Step man playing catch-up. Given the flattish nature of the course, he’s still a considerable threat.

Last time trial performances
Tour de France, stage 9 – 12th. 2-16 behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, prologue – 45th. 23secs behind Cancellara (June)
German national championship – 1st. 1-25 ahead of Bert Grabsch (June)

Chris Froome, 27, Great Britain

Second in both Tour time-trials, second in the Tour and likely to play second fiddle to Wiggins again at the Olympics.

However, a medal of any colour here would be a big result for Froome – and no surprise given the strength of his showings against the clock earlier this month.

Last time trial performances
Tour de France, stage 19 – 2nd. 1-16 behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, stage 9 – 2nd. 35secs behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, prologue – 11th. 16secs behind Cancellara (June)

Taylor Phinney, 22, USA

They don’t get much more talented or charismatic than Phinney, who started winning as soon as he stepped onto a bicycle as a teenager.

The son of Olympic medallists Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney, the youngster is both in-form and hungry after his fourth place in the road race, the worst place to finish in the Olympics.

Given some of his older rivals’ ills this season, now is the powerful American’s time to challenge and establish himself as a star on sport’s biggest stage.

Last time trial performances
Giro d’Italia, stage 21 – 16th. 1-31 behind Marco Pinotti (May)
Giro d’Italia, prologue – 1st. 9secs ahead of Geraint Thomas (May)
Paris-Nice, stage one – 18th. 19secs behind Gustav Larsson (March)

Michael Rogers, 32, Australia

Having served a key role for Wiggins at the Tour, resurgent Rogers lines up as a rival in the gaudy gold-and-green of Australia.

Though the form of his heyday – Rogers was a three-time world champion in the mid-Noughties – seems to be gone, he won a test at the Bayern Rundfahrt in June, his first time-trial win in three and a half years.

Last time trial performances
Tour de France, stage 19 – 53rd. 5-55 behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, stage 9 – 27th. 3-20  behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, prologue – 61st. 25secs behind Cancellara (June)

Gustav Erik Larsson, 31, Sweden

Perhaps it’s his slender figure, slight inconsistency or simply Fabian Cancellara’s overshadowing dominance, but this Scandinavian is often overlooked as a contender for long time-trials.

The pedigree is there. He took Olympic silver to Cancellara in 2008, finished second in the world championships the following year and narrowly beat Bradley Wiggins in the Paris-Nice prologue this year, exhibiting power on the straights that’ll come in handy on the Surrey roads.

Last time trial performances
Tour de France, stage 9 – 21st. 2-55 behind Wiggins (July)
Tour de France, prologue – 49th. 24secs behind (June)
Swedish national championship – 1st. 1-09 ahead (June)

Related links
Men’s Olympic time-trial: start list

Women’s Olympic time-trial: who will win?