Before the headline events of the road races at the upcoming Doha 2016 Road World Championships, there’s another elite race where rainbow jerseys will be handed out – the women’s and men’s individual time trials.
Taking place on Tuesday October 11 and Wednesday October 12 respectively, each race will crown the best riders against the clock in both the women’s and men’s peloton.
The men’s U23 World Championship time trial will also feature, taking place on the day before the women’s competition (October 10) with the junior races taking place of the October 10 and 11.
Unlike the road races, there’s not threat of either of these courses being shortened due to the heat. The women’s route is 28.9km, and will take the competitors around the Pearl Qatar, an artificial island built off the country’s eastern coast. The men’s 40km route will also finish here, although has a start located roughly 20km further north at the Lusail Sports Complex.
Like the road races these routes are flat with heat likely to be among the riders’ main concerns, although the threat of fast-blowing winds is reduced by the built-up nature of the surroundings.
The women’s race could be defined more by who isn’t riding than who is. Despite having proven herself still capable of performing at the very highest level by winning gold in the Rio Olympics time trial at the age of 43, Kristin Armstrong has opted not to come to Doha. Similarly, last year’s winner Linda Villumsen has opted not to defend her title.
That leaves the path clear for last year’s runner-up Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) to go one better and claim her first ever world title. The Dutchwoman is on a hot streak of form at the moment, having won the European Championships road race and, most memorably of all, Olympic gold in the Rio road race. Gaining bronze behind Armstrong in the time trial shows she got good legs against the clock too, and winning here would help make a strong case for her to be considered the current best rider in the peloton.
She’ll face stiff competition from within her own team, however. Ellen van Dijk has the roleur’s engine for such a course, and has gone well in Qatar in the past having finished third in the past two editions of the Tour of Qatar. She’ll also be eager to make up for the crash that kept her out of the medals in Rio – as will Annamiek van Vleuten, although the horrific extent of her crash means she’s had less time to recover.
Lisa Brennauer (Germany) is another potential winner having claimed gold in 2014, while her compatriot Trixi Worrack, despite not being considered among the very best of time trialists, deserves consideration given how well she took to the conditions to win the Tour of Qatar earlier this season.
Having produced three different winners in the past three editions, and with no single rider dominating time trials this season, there is no clear favourite for the men’s race. However, Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) looks well poised to finally gain the title he has threatened for the past few years. Despite only ever having claimed one Worlds medal – bronze in the 2014 time trial – Dumoulin has been one of the most dominant riders in time trials throughout 2016, with victories in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.
He hasn’t had things go all his own way recently, however, having narrowly missed out at the Tour’s final time trial to Chris Froome and on Olympic gold to Fabian Cancellara. Neither of those riders will be present in Doha, with the former resting after a long, arduous season and the latter winding down towards his imminent retirement.
Dumoulin could also only manage third at the Tour of Britain time trial, and the two riders that beat him there – Tony Martin (Germany) and Rohan Dennis (Australia). Martin is already a three-time winner of this event, and that result in Britain suggests he may be capable of rediscovering something like his old form following a season of many underwhelming high profile time trials.
Aged 26, Dennis remains a rising star of the discipline and is on great form having won the Eneco Tour’s time trial, however the longer distance of the Worlds course will play into Dumoulin’s favour.
Others to watch include defending champion Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) – who failed to win any time trials during his stint in the rainbow jersey – Britain’s national champion Alex Dowsett, and recently crowned European time trial champion Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain).
Road World Championship time trials
When: October 10, 11 and 12
Where: Doha, Qatar
Distance: 29.9km (U23 and women), 40km (men)
World Championship time trials: TV Guide
Monday October 10
0920-1415 LIVE U23 time-trial on Eurosport 2
2000-2135 U23 time-trial highlights on Eurosport 2
Tuesday October 11
1105-1455 LIVE women’s time-trial on Eurosport 2
1730-1845 Women’s time-trial highlights on Eurosport 1
Wednesday October 12
1135-1430 LIVE men’s time-trial on Eurosport 2
1730-1845 Men’s time-trial highlights on Eurosport 1
Last year’s top 10s (2016)
1. Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) in 40-29.87
2. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) at 2.54 secs
3. Lisa Brennauer (Germany) at 5.26 secs
4. Katrin Garfoot (Australia) at 9.32 secs
5. Kristin Armstrong (USA) at 20.58 secs
6. Evelyn Stevens (USA) at 26.58 secs
7. Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) at 53.98 secs
8. Alena Amialiusik (Belarus) at 1-06.03
9. Ann-Sofie Duyck (Belgium) at 1-19.20
10. Trixi Worrack (Germany) at 1-19.41
1. Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) in 1-02-29
2. Adriano Malori (Italy) at 9 secs
3. Jerome Coppel (France) at 26 secs
4. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain) at 29 secs
5. Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) at 1-01
6. Rohan Dennis (Australia) at 1-07
7. Tony Martin (Germany) at 1-16
8. Maciej Bodnar (Poland) at 1-17
9. Marcin Bialoblocki (Poland) at 1-22
10. Moreno Moser (Italy) at 1-31