Germany’s Tony Martin demolished the field to win the joint record fourth men’s individual time trial world title at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships yesterday.
Steady and powerful, the 31-year-old German stopped the clock on a flat, 40km course in 44min 42sec, which was 45 seconds faster than runner-up and defending champion Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus and 1min 10sec ahead of third-placed Jonathan Castroviejo of Spain.
Martin was motivated to make the most out of the strong form he showcased four days ago, when he led Etixx–Quick-Step to victory in the team time trial.
“After taking the gold medal with the team, to win the rainbow jersey in the individual time trial is just the icing on the cake. I was a bit scared by the heat at first, but having a good preparation here in Qatar helped me cope with it,” said Martin.
Martin is leaving Etixx-Quick Step to join Katusha next season.
“I rode without any pressure, was focused only on what I had to do, and not on my rivals, and to come out on top is really incredible. I haven’t had a great year up until this point, but to win two world titles in the space of just four days makes up for everything,” said Martin, who managed an average speed of 53.651km yesterday.
On the course which suited him to a tee, the German put in a monster performance to win the title for the fourth time in his career, following the triumphs of 2011, 2012 and 2013, thus equalling Swiss Fabian Cancellara’s record — 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“I just had fun on the road. I want to be world champion every year, so I am proud I can ride in a world champion suit from next year,” said Martin after selfie-snapping moments with the fans. “I’ve missed it a lot.”
Martin blitzed the Doha course, setting the reference time at both checkpoints, before concluding the race in 44:42, a result better than the one posted by nine of the teams who competed in Sunday’s time trial.
Martin crouched low under an umbrella on a curb and waited for Kiryienka to finish his ride. At the news that he had won the title, he jumped up in delight as his team surrounded him whooping for his fourth world championship title.
On equalling Cancellara’s record, Martin said, “Everybody asks me for the record. I don’t count my medals. For me it’s more important to go from year to year to the title, and wearing the rainbow jersey next year means more to me. The only thing I can say I’m still motivated to go for a fifth and a sixth medal. I’m not at the end of my career. I have two more years.
“For the moment Fabian has the bigger victories in time trials, two gold medals in the Olympic Games. For the moment he is still at the top, but I’m not at the end of my career. I’ve got two more years in cycling. But right now he is the man.”
The two main pre-race favourites, Rohan Dennis of Australia and Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands, both struggled. While Dennis finished 1min 27sec behind the winner in sixth, Dumoulin was 2min 1sec adrift in 11th.
“You can know about a course only by going there. I was thinking whether to come to Doha and I finally decided to do it. It didn’t work out. But the experience was worth it and it’ll help me in future events,” Dumoulin said.
Ireland’s Ryan Mullen, the 13th of 70 riders named on the startlist, was the long-time leader, until the final six starters began finishing. He ended up in fifth place with a time of 46:07.74.
Martin has struggled in time trials for much of the year but struck peerless form in searing heat yesterday. Martin started steady at the isolated Lusail arena in the desert and was fastest at both time checks on the road towards the finish area in The Pearl.
Martin was the fastest man at the first time split but the race was still tight, with Kiryienka just three seconds behind and Dennis only 11 seconds off the pace. However, Martin hit the turbos in the next sector and had pulled 21 seconds ahead of Kiryienka by the second split, before another blistering final sector doubled the margin of victory.
“I am very satisfied with the work I have done and the medal I have won. Now I have the full set of medals from the world championships,” said Kiryienka, who was wearing the colours of Belarus rather than the rainbow jersey.
Qatar’s Abdullah finishes 60th
Qatar’s sole participant in the ITT finished in 60th place. Afif Abdullah concluded the 40-kilometre course on home soil just under the hour barrier, in 57:36.78.
“I am proud to have represented my country at the World Championships. It was a special feeling. It wasn’t easy, but I feel proud all the same,” Abdullah said.
Four riders needed more than an hour to reach the finish line at The Pearl: Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Asiri (1:00:05.96), Pakistani’s Mohsin Kahn (1:00:33.69) and Hafiz Tahir Mahmood (1:01:06.02) and Saied Jafer Alali from Kuwait (1:01:15.51).
The men’s elite road race is on Sunday, with Britain’s Mark Cavendish among the favourites.
MEN’S INDIVIDUAL 40KM TIME-TRIAL
1. Tony Martin (GER) 44:42
2. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) +45
3. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) +1:10
4. Maciej Bodnar (POL) +1:16
5. Ryan Mullen (IRL) +1:21
6. Rohan Dennis (AUS) +1:27
7. Yves Lampaert (BEL) +1:45
8. Jos van Emden (NED) +1:45
9. Reto Hollenstein (SUI) +1:51
10. Bob Jungels (LUX) +1:56
11. Tom Dumoulin (NED) +2:01
12. Alex Dowsett (GBR) +2:11
13. Martin Madsen (DEN) +2:11
14. Marcin Bialoblocki (POL) +2:15
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