Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Mens Time Trial World Championship: The Contenders

Tomorrows 45.7km hilly time trial looks to have a depleted field lining up at the start in Heerlen as Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara fail to reach the start-ramp. Far from being a TT specialist style course, the route features three categorised climbs and this race could well suit the climbers as much as the specialists. Christopher Froome could have looked good here though he has now withdrawn to 'focus on the road race' which is slang for 'because he's knackered.' So who's left in the race, and are we going to get a surprise winner?...

Tony Martin
The bookies favourite, Martin is back to defend his rainbow stripes without having to face the likes of Wiggins and Cancellara who have beaten him consistently this year as Martin struggled for form with illness and injury throughout the season. He's certainly looking in better shape, bagging a silver medal at the Olympics and the mere absence of his closest rivals makes him the favourite. A super strong pedal turner, Martin is also a decent climber so can easily hold his own on this type of course. Inconsistency has been Tony Martins enemy this year, will it ruin is Worlds too?

Fredrik Kessiakoff
The ex-mountain bike riding Swede took the honours in the hilly Vuelta a Espana time trial this year ahead of Froome and Alberto Contador which makes him a positive favourite for this race. If his form has carried through from the Spanish stage race then he should be able to put in a decent shift here.

Taylor Phinney
The 22 year old American is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in Time Trials. Already this year he has taken victory in individual time trials in the Giro d'Italia and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as well as finishing 4th in the Olympic event. From the same cut of cloth as Tony Martin, Phinney is a strong time trialist with an abuility to climb. I envisage a top 3 at least.

Teejay Van Garderen
Another young American in with a shout Teejay has a long recent history of Time Trial Success including 4 Junior National Time Trial victories. He has been there or there abouts this year but his TT'ing may have taken a back seat to his rise in Stage Race and Grand Tour contension. Finishing 5th in the Tour de France and Paris-Nice this year (and 1st in both young rider classifications) though makes you a great alrounder and with a little extra skill in the TT then Teejay could show his class and steal a victory here.

Alberto Contador
Being the single greatest Grand Tour rider of a generation means that Contadors TT ability is often overlooked. The Spaniard though is far more than just a competent Time Trial rider - in fact a quick glance at his palmares will tell you he has consistently won TT's in the toughest of competitions. He put time into just about everyone in the Vuelta TT and it was his first major race since his suspension. If Alberto Contador was building form during the Vuelta and still managed to win - then the likelihood is that he's going to start this race in even better shape. Anything with a hill in it suits the Spaniard, though after riding the Course yesterday Contador said it was easier than expected and so didn't suit him as much as he thought. He said the climbs could all be ridden comfortably enough in the saddle.

Sylvain Chavanel
He's an outsider - but a good outside bet. A consistent performer this year in both TT's and on the Road the Frenchman looks in good shape. He is of course the French National Time Trial champion (his Fourth such title) and took victory in the Three Days of De Panne individual time trial. He's not quite on a par with most of the above when it comes to a flat out Time Trial, but on a good day he really can beat anyone especially when the best in the world (baring Martin) are not even in the event, and he might even pull out of the Road Race to focus purely on the Time Trial - so he means business.

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