Rohan Dennis (Australia) won the UCI World Championships elite men’s time trial, taking a staggering 81 seconds out of defending champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands.
Dennis did away with the testing 52.5 kilometre course in Innsbruck in 1 hour 3 minutes 2 seconds, to earn ownership of the rainbow striped skinsuit for the year ahead.
His average speed of 49.6kph saw him pass two riders over the testing Austrian parcours, which included a 4.4km climb with peaks as steep as 14 per cent.
Dumoulin took the silver medal position, by a painstakingly slim margin of half a second, with european champion Victor Campenaerts completing the podium.
The best British rider was Alex Dowsett, 5-24 down on the new world champion in 29th, with 23-year Tao Geoghegan Hart 6-03 slower, taking 35th place.
How it happened
The course was the antithesis to a traditional test against the clock, its crowning feature a vicious climb with just 20km to go. The testing ascent was 4.4km long, with an average gradient of 7.1 per cent.
What goes up must come down, and the mountain feature of the TT was followed by a technical descent – before a rolling 7km to the finish.
The front runners for were Dutch defending champion, Tom Dumoulin, and Australian Rohan Dennis – the 28-year-old who won the 34.2km time trial stage at the Giro d’Italia ahead of Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) and the world champion.
The checkpoints came at 16.6km, when riders were still on the flat part of the course, and at 35.2km – at the top of the climb.
The fastest of the early starters was Wilco Kelderman, the Dutch rider setting a benchmark of 1-07-23, with an average speed of 46km/h – winning him a place in the hotseat. It was Czech rider Jan Bárta who knocked him off the post, with Martin Toft Madsen (Netherlands) bettering them both at 1-06-25.
However, it became clear that with specialists like Tony Martin (Germany) and Campenaerts joining the course, plus the favourites Dennis and Dumoulin, that times were set to fall.
Once all of the riders were through the first check point, Dennis had the advantage – reaching the marker at 17-58. Dumoulin was 8s slower, with Martin at 14s and Campenaerts at 15s.
Madsen remained in the hotseat – but with his own 16.6km time check having been 18-45, it seemed unlikely that he’d remain in place.
Giro d’Italia general classification winner Dumoulin was expected to make up time on time trial expert Dennis on the climb, but when each had crested the ascent, Dennis had a time of 45-22, with the rainbow skinsuit of the Dutchman a full minute and one second back.
Campenaerts was next, 1-12 back with Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) in fourth, 1-43 slower than the virtual leader.
Madsen was finally shifted out of the hotseat, with Parick Bevan (New Zealand) ousting him, followed by Nelson Oliveira in 1-5-16 whilst Martin later sandwiched between them to place second at the time.
None of them could stay seated for long – Kwiatkowski’s time of 1-050-06 was bettered by that of Campenaerts, who clocked 1-04-14.
Dennis, however, was showing no signs of slowing down – his churning legs powering him to the line in 1-03-02 – well over a minute up on the man he shifted from the centre stage in the waiting area.
Meanwhile Dumoulin’s advantage over Campenaerts was slipping, leaving his silver medal in doubt right up to the line, where he crossed a mere 0.53 seconds ahead of the Belgian.
UCI World Championships elite men’s time trial (52.5km)
1. Rohan Dennis (AUS), in 1-03-02
2. Tom Dumoulin (NED), at 1-21-09
3. Victor Campenaerts (BEL), at 1-21-62
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), at 2-04
5. Nelson Oliveira (POR), at 2-14
6. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), at 2-17
7. Tony Martin (GER), at 2-25
8. Patrick Bevin (NZL), at 2-34
9. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR), at 3-07
10. Martin Toft Madsen (DEN), at 3-23