FLORENCE, Italy (AFP) — Tony Martin struck world championship time trial gold for the third consecutive year on Wednesday in Florence, Italy. Martin (Germany) topped Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) in the flat, 56.8-kilometer individual time trial, stopping the clock at 1:05:36.
Wiggins logged a time 46 seconds off the pace for silver. Four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) was third, at 48 seconds.
American Taylor Phinney, second in 2012, finished 2:08 off the mark and was fifth behind last year’s bronze medalist, Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus).
At an average speed of 52.91 km/h, Martin came close to matching the 53.4 km/h set by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team on its way to victory in the team event on an almost identical course on Sunday.
“I think it was a clear victory. It was really nice, I didn’t have to really take risks in the last corners. The last five kilometers were like a celebration for me because I knew I had an advantage of about 40 seconds,” said Martin. “I think it was really a perfect ride, from point A to B. I think it was more or less the same as my first worlds victory in Copenhagen (in 2011). I think I really needed this because when you almost win everything in time trials that you could in the past, you need some pressure so you can go to the limit. This was the right pressure for me going into this race. I could work with it. I think this is really the highlight of the season.”
Martin led at every time check bar one and by the halfway point the 28-year-old from Cottbus looked well on his way to his third straight gold in the race against the clock.
“To win a world championship is always special. To win it a third time in a row is even more special,” said Martin. “To win it this way — I can’t imagine a better race for me. I always knew I was able to win but to know, and to do it, is different.”
Wiggins, who had hoped to add a maiden world title in the event to a list of honors that includes the 2012 Olympic time trial crown, was sitting in bronze medal position for most of the race but finished strongly to push Cancellara down a place. Wiggins began trailing Cancellara by 15 seconds near the halfway point, but came fighting back in the final 20 minutes and pipped the Swiss for second place by just two seconds.
“I had no idea until I finished and collapsed in the tent as to where I was,” said Wiggins. “In the final 20 minutes I was pretty oblivious to everything and you are just trying to get home. I love the sport and it is nice and an honor to be on the podium with those two guys.
“It will be something to show the kids when I’m older.”
Cancellara had shown promise early on, but once Martin got into his stride on the long, straight roads leading into the city he was able to comfortably distance his rivals.
Despite losing the silver medal, Cancellara said, “I’m happy with my performance.”
“I’m not overjoyed, but I’m not overly disappointed, either,” said Phinney, who was forced off the TT bike for two months after the Giro d’Italia due to injury. “I think, for sure, I wanted to be on the podium. I thought I could be on the podium. I’ve done really, really good work over the last four weeks to get ready for this.”