Alex Dowsett was one of two riders along with Geraint Thomas representing Great Britain in the World Championship time trial in Imola on Friday.
The British TT champion finished fifth in last year’s race in Yorkshire and was on the heels of the best solo riders in the world, but was only able to manage ninth place in this year’s race amongst a strong top-10.
This year Dowsett tried to give himself every advantage by hand-picking all his equipment, opting to ride a bike that isn’t the Factor TT machine used by his Israel Start-Up Nation squad during the rest of the season.
Instead Dowsett opted to run an unbranded Specialized Shiv, with the stickers removed.
While riders are under strict contractual rules to ride the kit provided by their team in most races, when competing for their national federations athletes are actually free to choose their own equipment.
Israel Start-Up Nation ride Factor bikes and in time trials compete on the Factor Slick machine.
But to maximise his aero efficiency on the 31.7km-long course in Imola, Dowsett rode Specialized’s rapid disc TT bike, the Shiv.
Dowsett rode in the ubiquitous Poc Tempor aero helmet, which has become hugely popular in recent years thanks to the Huub-Wattbike team on the track.
The wheels kitted to the Shiv are also pretty striking, as Dowsett used the Revolver Troika TMD tri-spoke front wheel, which features a carbon minidisc on the non-disc side of the wheel, which redirects the airflow around the disc rotor.
He has already tested the set-up this year, riding the European Championships time trial on the same kit, taking fourth-place as Stefan Küng (Switzerland) took the win.
Aerodynamics were pivotal throughout the Imola course, a high-speed out and back route with very little climbing, which makes straight-line speed on the flat key. That played into the favour of Italian Filippo Ganna, whose incredible power over shorter courses saw him come out on top ahead of Belgian champion Wout van Aert in second and Stefan Küng in third.
Like fourth place Geraint Thomas, Ganna rode the Ineos Grenadiers issue Pinarello Bolide bike.
The elite women took on the same course on Thursday (September 24), with Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) taking the victory after reigning champion Chloe Dygert crashed out at high-speed while looking certain to take the wine.