Rohan Dennis has retained the rainbow bands of the world time trial champion after a dominant comeback ride at the Yorkshire World Championships 2019, his first race since stage 12 of this year’s Tour de France.
The Australian beat Belgian 19-year-old Remco Evenepoel by 1-09, with Italy’s Filippo Ganna picking up the bronze medal.
Brits Alex Dowsett and John Archibald both had brief tenures in the hot seat before their times were bested, with Dowsett eventually finishing in a respectable fifth place while Archibald took 14th.
Primož Roglič was clearly paying the price for his exploits in winning the Vuelta a España last month, finished alongside Dennis who had bridged a start-time gap of two minutes to the Slovenian.
Aside from Evenepoel’s fantastic ride to pick up the silver medal, it wasn’t a great day for the other Belgians, as Victor Campenaerts crashed and was overtaken by Dennis, while Yves Lampaert also crashed and finished more than 10 minutes down.
How it happened
After the apocalyptic conditions that dogged the men’s U23 time trial yesterday, the elite men’s race against the clock would be contested under sunnier skies.
John Archibald was one of the early riders, and eventually came through to set an early benchmark of 1-08-16 over the 54km course, averaging 47.5km/h.
After the Scot had taken his spot in the hot seat, Remco Evenepoel set the new fastest time at the first check point, with reigning champion Rohan Dennis rolling out of the start hut behind.
The Australasian contingent of Luke Durbridge (Australia) and Patrick Bevin (New Zealand) were also putting in strong rides, setting new fastest times at the intermediate check points.
Alex Dowsett had looked to be getting off to a slow start, but then came through the second check point 14 seconds faster than Durbridge, before Italian Filippo Ganna put 16 seconds into Dowsett’s time.
Roglič was the third to last rider to set off, and soon found himself 16 seconds behind Archibald’s time after 16km.
Durbridge finally displaced Archibald from the hot seat, knocking 10 seconds off his time, as Evenepoel and Dennis set imperious times at the checkpoints out on the course, with the reigning champion looking likely to pip the 19-year-old to the title.
Television pictures then flicked to footage of Yves Lampaert rolling across the finish line, his 10-minute deficit explained by visible injuries telling of a crash that had occurred 8km from the finish.
Dowsett then came storming through, smashing Durbridge’s time by exactly 59 seconds. But his delight was soon curtailed by Ganna coming in seven seconds quicker, leaving the Brit hoping to hang on to a top five finish.
Evenepoel aside, it was looking to be a bad day for the Belgians, as Campenaerts also crashed and suffered a mechanical, with Dennis soon overtaking him.
The 19-year-old Belgian then set the new fastest time of 46-50 at the second check point, with only Dennis likely to best this, which he soon did, coming through more than a minute faster.
Evenepoel finished with a new fastest time of 1-06-14, a remarkable ride for the youngest competitor in the field, with Bevin also posting a strong time to knock Dowsett off the podium.
Campenaerts then needed another bike change, while Dennis ploughed on and caught Roglič, overturning a two-minute start-time deficit, with the Slovenian refusing to suffer the indignity of being dropped, stamping on the pedals up the incline.
Tony Martin (Germany) and Nelson Oliveira (Portugal) rode across the line having captured top 10 finishes, with Dennis now closing in on Harrogate town centre behind.
The Australian soon soared across the line, Roglič in tow, tapping his head with his finger, a clear message to those who had doubted his mental strength. The Australian rushed over to greet his tearful family, in what has been a testing few months since he abandoned the Tour de France under mysterious circumstances on stage 12.
The now two-time TT world champion had beaten Evenepoel by 1-05 across the line, with Ganna picking up a surprise bronze medal.
UCI Road World Championships 2019, elite men’s individual time trial: Northallerton to Harrogate (54km)
1. Rohan Dennis (Australia), in 1-05-05
2. Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), at 1-09
3. Filippo Ganna (Italy), at 1-55
4. Patrick Bevin (New Zealand), at 1-58
5. Alex Dowsett (Great Britain), at 2-02
6. Lawson Craddock (USA), at 2-08
7. Tanel Kangert (Estonia), at same time
8. Nelson Oliveira (Portugal), at 2-10
9. Tony Martin (Germany), at 2-27
10. Stefan Küng (Switzerland), at 2-47
11. Victor Campenaerts (Belgium), at 2-50
12. Primož Roglič (Slovenia), at 3-00
14. John Archibald (Great Britain), at 3-11