World Championship Preview – Elite Men’s Time Trial

2010 Vuelta a Espana - Cancellara in Stage 17

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Here’s a run-down of our top favorites for Thursday’s World Championship time trail from Melbourne, Australia.  Share your comments and picks below.

5-Stone Favorites

Fabian Cancellara

The last few weeks haven’t exactly gone as planned for Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara He failed to finish the year’s Vuelta a Espana—much to the disappointment of team management—and was uncharacteristically defeated in the race’s one and only ITT by not one, but two men.  All signs point to a poor performance Thursday is Australia for the reigning World Champion, right?  Think again, this is Fabian Cancellara we’re talking about.  Do you have the courage to doubt him?

Tony Martin

Of the men who stand to benefit from Cancellara’s reported struggle for fitness, Germany’s Tony Martin stands the most to gain.  Martin’s proven over the past two years that he’s the world’s second-best best time trialist—a title he’s ready to abandon with a storming ride Thursday.  Martin only finished third in Mendrisio after skipping last year’s Vuelta—an ominous sign considering he made the same decision (skipping the Spanish grand tour) this season.  But for a young rider with seemingly limitless potential, anything seems possible.

4-Stone Favorites

2010 Vuelta a Espana - P. Velits in Stage 17

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Peter Velits

Peter Velits pulled-off a bit of a surprise when he won Stage 17’s ITT at the Vuelta two weeks ago—beating Cancellara, Denis Menchov, and several noted time trialists in the process.  For the young Slovakian, his stage win and subsequent 3rd-place finish overall confirms the potential he showed when he won the 2007 U23 World Championship.  If he manages to hold-on to the form he displayed in Spain, his only obstacle on the way to a podium spot Thursday might be his ambitions for Sunday’s road race.  Look out Spartacus, you have some pretty serious competition in your quest to become a double world champion.

2010 Vuelta a Espana - Larsson in Stage 17

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Gustav Erik Larsson

Sweden’s Gustav Erik Larsson’s the guy everyone forgets about each year—until the World Championship ITT.  Last year Larsson was the only person able to stay within two minutes of Cancellara in Mendrisio—this year he hopes to have the form necessary to topple his soon to be former teammate.  He won an ITT in this year’s Giro as well as a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics.  Does the Swede have what it takes to trade silver for gold?

3-Stone Favorites

Bert Grabsch

Grabsch won the World Championship ITT in 2008—the last time Cancellara didn’t race.  A veteran with a knack for finding his form just when he needs it—especially in time for a time trial—the German might be asked to use his ride as a gauge for Martin, his German teammate.  Regardless, Grabsch is a solid podium candidate.

Svein Tuft

Like Grabsch, Tuft’s best performance at Worlds came in 2008—he finished second.  This year, the Canadian rode impressively at the Tour of Denmark and Benelux Tour, perhaps earning him his new contract with Pegasus Racing/Fly V.  Without the Vuelta in his legs though, I wonder if Tuft can really challenge for the podium—he deserves mention nonetheless.

David Zabriskie

Talk about a riddle wrapped in an enigma!  DZ is one of the hardest nuts to crack in the professional peloton.  When he wants to be, he’s one of the 3-5 best time trialists in the world.  On other days though, he’s pack fodder.  Zabriskie’s last high finish at Worlds came in 2008 when he finished third.  I have a hunch he might put in a good ride Thursday—he rode an aggressive Vuelta (by his standards), and needs a good result to justify his spot on a team that has few seats left on the bus.

2-Stone Favorites

Edvald Boassen Hagen, Luis Leon Sanchez, Michael Rogers, and Richie Porte deserve mention as outside contenders for top placings Thursday.  Boasson Hagen ‘s a proven performer who’s underwhelmed thus far this season.  Sanchez has placed well as Worlds in the past, but is better bet to save himself for the road race Sunday.  As for Rogers and Porte, Rogers is a former World Champion while Porte’s been one this year’s biggest surprises.  Both could make their home fans proud.

And my prediction?

1. Fabian Cancellara

2. Tony Martin

3. Gustav Erik Larsson

Share your comments and picks below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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4 Responses to World Championship Preview – Elite Men’s Time Trial

  1. michael says:

    I think Svein will do better than many people may anticipate. He was strong as a horse at the Quebec Pro tour race. People forget to notice that he dragged Hesjedal back up that entire finish straight for the sprint. A lot of folks never would have thought that with his build he would still be in the picture at the end of that race.

    He’s been silently motor-pacing and training back home since. Word through the local grapevine is that he is currently stronger than he was the year he finished 2nd. A friend who ran into him out on the roads a couple of times recently said he looked to be absolutely flying!

    Where will that leave him this time remains to be seen, but I for one have learned never to underestimate his capacities.

  2. michael says:

    What a ride by Millar! Fantastic stuff, and Cancellara is just on an entirely different level. One has to wonder if he gives up on the world’s TT after this 4th win and changes his focus solely to the road race (assuming he doesn’t win that one too!).

    I also wonder if the thought of losing a few kilos and giving a GT a solid go ever floats around in his head in any serious fashion. He has nothing left to accomplish in TT’s now.

    Next stop – the Ardennes!

    Sveiner – rough ride today.

    Martin – left wondering what might have been. Don’t think he would have gotten silver but he wouldhave sure given Millar a run for his money.

    Porte – scary talent. what can’t this boy do as a neo pro? WOW.

  3. Mattio says:

    Cancellara! What a hero. Whit put it well – do you have the courage to doubt him?

    Let’s find a way to convince that monster to challenge the Hour Record!

  4. cthulhu says:

    Argh I’m a bit late….Race is already over.

    1. Cancellara was impressive as ever…
    2. Millar surprised me quite a bit. I expected him for a top 10 finish but no podium.
    3. Larsson was a bit disappointing.
    4. I had bet Porte for a top 5 finish because it’s home soil, he didn’t let me down.
    5. Martin rode well, but Cancellara is still too strong.
    6. Bert Grabsch, I personally have counted him out before race because the course was too hilly for him, he has too much muscle mass. Same I’d say of Tuft.

    That said Geelong didn’t look to shabby, those parts through the park/forest over the bridge looked quite nice. Bring on the road race!
    Bets anyone?

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