Alex Dowsett put in his best ever Road World Championships time trial performance in Yorkshire to take fifth place and also secure Great Britain a second time trial spot at the Olympic Games next year.
The 30-year-old finished just over six seconds off the podium, with Filippo Ganna (Italy) taking third, Remco Evenpoel (Belgium) second and defending champion Rohan Dennis (Australia) first by over a minute.
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Dowsett only briefly led the 54km time trial from Northallerton to Harrogate before Ganna beat his time. And while he was over two minutes down on eventual winner Dennis, Dowsett said he was pleased with his performance on home roads.
“Before a TT I don’t like putting a target on where I want to finish because I want to win,” Dowsett said. “Everyone on that start line should want to win, but looking at what’s realistic I’d have said top 10 is a very good day, so I’m happy with that. It’s just nice for it all to come together.
“This is a brilliant course,” he added.
“It’s a tale of three sections; flat to start where you kind of settle in and try not to burn all your matches and overcook yourself. Then the middle section was really on and off, more so than I had anticipated. I made a good job of that and I think that middle section is why I was good.”
Along with his best ever finish at the Worlds, Dowsett’s performance was enough to hand Team GB a second spot in the Olympic time trial in Tokyo 2020.
Spots are handed to the top 30 UCI ranked nations as of October 22, 2019, with another 10 spots given to the nations that finish top 10 in this year’s World Championships time trial.
Despite some climbing along the route the 44.2km time trial should be good for Dowsett, though he remained unsure whether he would get the nod by British Cycling with one of the road race team spots having to be filled by those competing in the time trial.
The Olympic road race course does not suit Dowsett, with the 234km route taking in 4,865 metres of climbing around Mount Fuji.
“I guess [the Worlds finish] throws the Olympics in as a possibility,” Dowsett said.
“Olympics have this ridiculous rule where you have to be a part of the road race team as well. And we have some quite strong road racers in the UK. So it makes life more difficult.
“I think it’s a ridiculous rule because it’s like saying to Usain Bolt, if you want to do the 200 metres, you’ve go to do the 800 and 1500 hundred as well. Because [time trialling is] a different sport.
“I just have to have a sit down with British Cycling and work out what we can do. It’s still a two minute gap to Rohan and it’s a minute to Remco – who’s probably not going to get any slower – but I’ve moved forward.”