VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — Germany’s Tony Martin pulled out all the punches today to beat Taylor Phinney (USA) and win his second world time trial title.
“I had to give it all. I was totally dead at the end,” Martin said after the race. “The final up the Cauberg was one of the hardest I did in my career.”
The Cauberg is the grand finale in the Amstel Gold Race every year, providing explosions and a clear winner on its rise above Valkenburg. This year, the worlds organizer is using it to conclude every one of the 12 title races. Just as in the Amstel Gold, the Cauberg provided an explosion today and lit the gloomy skies. However, it was not as clear as the victory Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) took in April. Martin kept fans guessing until defending champion Martin came through. He won, but only by five seconds. Martin had to pull out the ride of his life.
“I heard the time gaps,” Martin said. As defending champion, he started the day last, four minutes after Phinney and two minutes after Spain’s Alberto Contador. He caught Contador, but Phinney was a tougher customer.
“I was up and then down, always near 15 seconds. I knew that every moment it’d be a close race. I didn’t panic. At the top of the Cauberg, though, I was full, full sprinting. It was the longest 1000 meters of my career.”
Martin logged a time of 58:38 over 45.7km, compared to Phinney’s then-best mark of 58:44. They were light years ahead of their nearest rival, Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) at 1:44 minutes back.
Vuelta a España winner Contador finished 2:30 minutes back and helped motivate Martin.
“I was really surprised to see him early in the race in front of me,” Martin added. “It’s always great to see a rider in front, it does not matter if it is Alberto Contador or someone else. The time trial is a lonely race, so [catching someone] gives you a lot of motivation.”
Martin’s win adds to his recent time trial medal-haul, including the gold he won with trade team Omega Phama-Quick Step on Sunday and the silver he took away from the London Olympics.
Martin now has two world titles in the bag, adding to last year’s TT ride in Copenhagen. His Copenhagen win helped top a golden year in which he won several stage races thanks to his ability against the clock, including Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice. He also won the Tour de France time trial stage in Grenoble. This year, though, has been harder due to a training crash on April 11, which fractured his cheekbone, and a crash in stage 1 of the Tour.
“It was a season of a lot of ups and downs,” said Martin. “The worst thing was the car accident in April and then the broken hand in the first stage of the Tour de France. It was hard to get ready for the Olympics, but even with that, I was able to handle it pretty well. This worlds is really the first time this season where I could go 100 percent without bad luck.”
More titles may be in store for Martin. But with Phinney on his trail and Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara, who has won four world titles, returning to action in 2013, the German will no doubt be up against many more tense finales.