2010 World Time Trial Championship podium - Expect to see two of these faces on the podium again
Copenhagen, Denmark is playing host to the UCI World Road Championships this week, and the Elite Men’s Time Trial takes place on Wednesday September 21, 2011.
This event has been dominated in recent years by Fabian Cancellara, who will be looking for his fifth World Time Trial Championship.
His major competition will be Germany’s Tony Martin who has taken marquee time trial wins at both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
The time trial is called the Race of Truth, because it pits a rider against the clock absent any team assistance, with riders capable of averaging over 50 kilometers per hour (approximately 31 miles per hour).
The riders will face 46.4 kilometers of racing at their limit, and here are five riders who will be the protagonists on Wednesday.
Taylor Phinney winning the 2010 Under 23 World Time Trial Championships
Taylor Phinney can time trial with the best in the world, as exhibited by six top 10 places in his rookie season at ProTour level time trials, including a win in the prologue of the Eneco Tour and a 5th place at the Vuelta a España time trial.
The 2010 U.S. National Time Trial Champion and 2010 Under 23 World Time Trial Champion may not be at the same level as Fabian Cancellara or Tony Martin when it comes to the time trial, but on a good day he is close.
Phinney is 21 years old and will have no pressure to produce results in this year’s World Time Trial Championships.
He is capable of reaching a medal, and depending on how the race plays out, a win is not out of the realm of possible.
You can always pick out Gustav Larsson in his Swedish time trial kit
Gustav Larsson may not be as well-known as some of the other riders on this list, but he can time trial just as well as any of them.
Larsson is a four time Swedish National Time Trial Champion, and a silver medalist at both the 2008 Bejing Olympics and 2009 World Time Trial Championships.
His advantage over the other contenders is that he is able to focus 100% of his time on his time trial, because he never has pressure to perform in any other discipline.
His results this year have not been stellar, but he consistently performs well in big races, and the World Time Trial Championships is his major objective in the second half of the season.
A medal is within reach for the Swede, but winning the gold is most likely not possible.
Brad Wiggins may be the only rider capable of stopping Cancellara or Martin
Bradley Wiggins is most likely the only rider capable of spoiling Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara going 1st and 2nd in some order.
The British rider has placed well in time trials this year, taking second at the Critérium du Dauphiné and third at the Vuelta a España time trials.
Wiggins will have the benefit of having worked with his national team extensively prior to the World Championships.
Much of the Great Britain team management works for his pro team, Team Sky, therefore his coach will already know Wiggin's limits and be able to effectively manage him through the course.
Wiggins is an odds-on favorite to finish in the top 3 in the World Time Trial Championships, and it will be surprising if he is unable to fulfill those expectations.
Tony Martin in route to a Tour de France stage win
Tony Martin’s 2011 time trial season has been defined by domination.
Martin has capture wins at time trials in the Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Tour of the Basque Country, Criterium du Dauphine, Tour de France, and the recent Vuelta a España.
Martin thoroughly dominated Fabian Cancellara at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España time trials, and appears to have the edge heading into the event.
Martin has made time trial wins the focal point of his season, and as a result he has taken an incredible leap by learning how to parse his power more efficiently over the course.
The 26 year old, who is entering his prime, will undoubtedly win many World Time Trial Championships, and it is quite likely 2011 will be his first.
Cancellara winning his fourth World Time Trial Championship in 2010
Fabian Cancellara has won a record four World Time Trial Championships, and is considered the finest time trialist of his generation.
With wins in time trials at the Tour de Suisse, Tour de Luxembourg, and Tirreno-Adriatico, as well as powering the Leopard-Trek team to a respectable fourth in the team time trial at the Tour de France and a win in the team time trial at the Vuelta a España, Cancellara has shown the form necessary to capture a fifth title.
The lack of a big time trial win at one of the Grand Tours is somewhat concerning, but it would take a horrific ride for Cancellara to not finish in the top three.
The World Time Trial Championships is widely considered a two man race between Cancellara and Germany’s Tony Martin, and if Cancellara performs like he is capable of, there is no reason he will not wear the Rainbow Jersey for a fifth year.
My prediction: Tony Martin will be raising his hands in victory again on Wednesday
Other notable riders:
Richie Porte had a magical 2010 campaign which was topped off with a fourth place at the World Time Trial Championships.
Much of his 2011 was spent acting as a domestique for Alberto Contador, and Porte will be looking for a quality performance.
A medal is a possibility, but he lacks the power necessary to win.
Jakob Fuglsang is an adept time trialist, and represents Denmark’s best chance at a medal at the Elite Men’s level.
He has clocked some decent time trials this year and was crucial to Leopard-Trek’s team time trial success, but he has never been able to take his time trial from competitive to dominant.
The best case scenario is a bronze medal, but that is unlikely given the quality of riders he is competing against.
How the race will play out:
Tony Martin's power is too much for Fabian Cancellara. Martin put 1'42" into Cancellara at the Tour de France and 1'27" at the Vuelta a España time trials.
Martin has been unstoppable against the clock this year, and his impressive 2011 season will continue when he wins his first World Time Trial Championship. Bradley Wiggins will put in a solid ride and be rewarded with the bronze medal.