Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara rode into the history books Thursday by winning a fourth world title in the discipline at the world road championships in Australia.
The Swiss time trial specialist clocked a winning time of 58:09 over a tough 45.8km course to beat Britain’s David Millar by more than a minute.
Millar clocked 59:11 to take the silver medal with Germany’s Tony Martin finishing third to take his second consecutive bronze at 59:21. Cancellara, who had shared a record three time trial world championship victories with Australian Michael Rogers, becomes the first ever rider to win the title four times.
“I’m really happy to have done this a fourth time. It’s amazing. It’s maybe the hardest of all my wins because leading up to this I wasn’t sure of my condition,” said Cancellara, who left the Vuelta a España early two weeks ago after expressing concerns over his form.
“The other guys went really well but I just tried to do what I can,” Cancellara said. “I think today I employed the perfect tactic.”
Rogers had been one of the early pacesetters, the Canberran setting 1:00:34 to sit in the hot seat, although with most of the bigger favorites still to race he was eventually pushed down into fifth.
It was Millar, a silver medal winner in 2001 and who won the 2003 title only to be stripped of it after admitting to doping, who emerged as Cancellara’s biggest threat.
The big Scot, who spent some of his childhood years in Hong Kong, was fastest out the blocks, leading the field over the first two time checks to boost his chances of a podium place.
Once Cancellara got into his stride, however, the Swiss looked unbeatable.
At the third time check, three-quarters of the way into the race, Cancellara had turned his slight into a 24-second advantage.
Despite a scare when he almost crashed into the barriers on a tight S-bend, the 29-year-old Cancellara remained focused and continued to increase his lead over the final half of the 22.9km circuit.
“I didn’t touch it (barriers), that’s the last thing I wanted to do,” Cancellara said. “But you know, you have to take those risks because every second counts.”
Martin had started the race as Cancellara’s biggest challenger, but the 25-year-old German’s victory bid suffered a blow when he punctured his front wheel and lost precious time waiting for a change and getting back into his rhythm.
Australia was left without a medal, however the hosts were buoyed by the surprisingly strong performance by first year professional Richie Porte.
Porte, a former triathlete who has made a big impression during his first year in the European peloton with the Saxo Bank team, finished fourth at 1:19 behind Cancellara to miss out on the bronze by just seven seconds.