Velo Awards: Tony Martin, Ellen Van Dijk, Time Trialists of Year
Men’s Time Trialist of the Year
German Tony Martin is more than happy to let his legs do the talking, especially if given the choice of talking to the media. You get the sense he’d rather go in for a root canal than speak to a journalist.
In the time trials, his legs do more than talk, they roar, making him all but untouchable against the clock.
Ever since his first of what is now three straight world titles, in 2011 in Denmark, Martin has established himself as a pure time trial specialist. Just one rainbow jersey short of Fabian Cancellara’s record of four world titles, the 28-year-old German more than lives up to his nickname, the “Panzerwagen,” named after a German tank.
When the road is flat and favors power, it’s Martin who inevitably rises to the top. Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) can both beat Martin when they’re at the top of their games, but everything has to go perfectly for them to beat the tank.
Cancellara knocked back Martin in a hilly time trial course in this year’s Vuelta a España, and Wiggins had Martin’s number throughout the knighted cyclist’s dreamlike 2012 season, beating him in three key matchups, including the race for Olympic gold in London.
Martin exacted his revenge in September, however, on a flat, power course in Tuscany, relegating both Cancellara and Wiggins, who both skipped the 2012 world time trial championships, to also-ran status. His third world crown was his most emphatic, and served as confirmation that Martin is, at the moment, without peer in power time trial courses.
Yet Martin is more than a one-trick pony. Behind his quiet facade is an intense fighter, and he’s not afraid to take risks to try and win stages. No slouch in the mountains, he was second up the Mont Ventoux stage in 2009, and has won shorter stage races, such as Paris-Nice and the Tour of Belgium.
And Martin still hasn’t excluded himself from grand-tour success. Wiggins set the bar on how to win a Tour that’s laden with long time trial miles. The German would have to shed some armor to be able to hang in the mountains, but if the Tour delivers the right kind of course, he still has a few seasons to try to widen his net to include a yellow jersey.
If that ever happens, it would certainly be paved by dominance against the clock.
Women’s Time Trialist of the Year
Prior to her demonstrative world time trial championship victory in Florence in September, Ellen Van Dijk’s best result at worlds was fifth. Her world title was a breakout romp. But such was the norm in 2013 for the Specialized-lululemon rider.
The 26-year-old boasts an impressive palmares against the clock, including stage wins at the Holland Ladies Tour and the 2009 under-23 European championship, but in 2013, she reached a new level.
From the Energiewacht Tour in April to her rainbow romp in Tuscany, Van Dijk never finished worse than second in an individual time trial. Meanwhile, she anchored Specialized to four team time trial victories, including its second consecutive world title in the discipline.
The retirements of Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong, Judith Arndt, and Clara Hughes in 2012 opened the door for a new TT powerhouse to emerge, and Van Dijk gladly took up the challenge.
With a move to Boels-Dolmans for three years and eyes on Rio de Janeiro, the Dutch world champion is aimed squarely at gold in the 2016 Olympic Games.