The Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts has played down his own chances of becoming the new time trial world champion in Yorkshire, saying his 19-year-old Belgian compatriot Remco Evenepoel is the “absolute favourite”.
Instead, Campenaerts says he wants to at least bag himself a bronze medal and equal his performance last year in Innsbruck at the 2018 Worlds, saying Slovenia’s Primož Roglič and Australia’s Rohan Dennis will provide stiff competition.
“My ambition is to at least match the bronze medal of last year. I think my main rival will be Primož Roglič, who rode a fantastic Vuelta and who will for sure be superb now.
“Rohan Dennis has also been out of competition for a long time, but I estimate his chances are high. I also expect Remco Evenepoel [to perform well], I think he’s the absolute favourite, by the way. Remco is a compatriot but of course also a rival.”
As well as a third at last year’s Worlds, Campenaerts is a two-time European TT champion, but did not compete in this year’s event, where Evenepoel beat Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen to claim the title.
The Lotto-Soudal rider’s pedigree is clear to all, and isn’t quite counting himself out of getting on the top step of the podium in Harrogate.
“Normally, the Yorkshire time trial course suits me better than the one of Innsbruck. It is undulating and similar to that of Glasgow [where Campenaerts conquered his second European time trial title]. It’s constantly twisting and turning, but never really technical. So, I am very pleased with the course, which, in the meantime, I know by heart. The distance, 54km, is quite long but that characterises a world championship. It should definitely suit me.”
Part of the 27-year-old’s training has included riding a simulated time trial course similar to what Yorkshire will offer, and also believes his lack of race days compared to his opponents will give him an advantage.
“During the past weeks, I mainly trained at home and in Overijse, I simulated a time trial course, similar to the one in Yorkshire. For the longer training blocks, I rode along the canal.
“The fact that I will be lining up relatively fresh, could certainly be to my advantage. During this period of the year, a lot of riders are at their limit…something like that is not so strange at the end of a demanding season.”
The men’s elite time trial takes place on Wednesday September 25, with the 54km course set to be complicated by possible inclement weather.