Taylor Phinney whipped up the crowd at the start and BMC Racing gave them something to cheer about at the finish, too
BMC Racing Team thundered to victory in Sunday’s team time trial at the UCI World Road Cycling Championships.
The defending champions beat runner-up Etixx-Quick-Step by 12 seconds with Movistar rounding out the podium in third at 31 seconds.
“It’s kind of hard to process. It’s been kind of a roller-coaster the past couple years,” said Phinney, who said teammate Rohan Dennis “really pulled us today.”
“To win with the team is fantastic,” he added. “We did it. I’m a little bit at a loss for words.”
Added Rohan Dennis: “To win again and really put our mark on the team time trial is really big.”
Though all other world-championship events pit national teams against one another, the TTT — revived in 2012 for elite men and women — is contested by trade teams, starting every three minutes.
The 38.6km course in Richmond, Virginia, took riders from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden through Richmond’s historic Northside neighborhoods, then continued east of town down rural Route 5 before returning to the city for a 300-meter climb to the finishing straight.
The women raced under sunny skies, with temperatures in the mid-70s, but the men saw temps in the 80s.
Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, now Etixx-Quick-Step, won the event in 2012 and 2013 before slipping to third in 2014, behind BMC Racing Team and Orica-GreenEdge.
- 1. BMC Racing Team, in 42:07
- 2. Etixx-Quick-Step, at :12
- 3. Movistar, at :31
- 4. Orica-GreenEdge, at :54
- 5. Giant-Alpecin, at 1:04
- 6. Lotto Nl-Jumbo, at 1:18
- 7. Lotto Soudal, at 1:27
- 8. Astana, at 1:38
- 9. Team Sky, at 1:42
- 10. Trek Factory Racing, at 1:47
Trek Factory Racing found itself on the wrong side of the road early on, but finally got itself settled in. Sky, meanwhile, was the rolling wounded, with Danny Pate, Luke Rowe, and Elia Viviani all having hit the deck during reconnaissance. And LottoNL-Jumbo lost Jos Van Emden early on to a mechanical that required a bike swap.
Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes, as the first starter, set the time to beat: 47:22.48. Jelly Belly-Maxxis made short work of that, turning a 45:49.60.
Hincapie Racing Team nearly pushed Jelly Belly off the hot seat, but fell just short, slotting into second for the moment. And then Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies did the job, taking over the lead with a 44:31, only to see Topsport Vlaanderen knock them off with a time four seconds better.
Then the WorldTour teams started clocking in. IAM Cycling zoomed to the finish in 44:05.64. Cannondale-Garmin displaced them in 43:57:77, the first team to break the 44-minute mark.
Tinkoff-Saxo saw its race slip away when they lost Michael Rogers and Michael Valgren to a touch of wheels that sent them skidding into the roadside grass.
FDJ briefly took the lead with a 43:56.39 before LottoNL-Jumbo, despite losing Van Emden, crushed them in 43.25 flat. Giant-Alpecin went better still, crossing in 43:11.66.
The defending champions, BMC, were last to leave the start house, and Taylor Phinney encouraged the crowd to give them a raucous sendoff. It must have worked — BMC set the best time at the first checkpoint by nearly four seconds, and went 12 seconds better at the second, the only team to go under 19 minutes there.
“It’s surprising we lost the time at the start because we felt good there,” Martin said. “We started to gain a few seconds back. We knew it was a fight.”
Movistar, Etixx and Orica were conceding nothing. Movistar drove in to take the lead and stake its claim for a medal in 42:38.08, the first squad to go under 43 minutes. Etixx had all six men as they started the final climb, but Yves Lampaert quickly shot out the back as Tony Martin set the pace — and they took the hot seat in 42:19.32.
Orica was down to four as they raced to the line, and would miss a medal for the first time since the TTT was resurrected in 2012.
Meanwhile, BMC took the hat trick, once again setting the best time at the third and final check, but they were a man short heading for the finish, Stefan Kueng having lost the wheel. At the base of the climb they were down to four.
No matter. The champs repeated their 2014 victory, winning the gold in 42:07.97.
Phinney said that given his long comeback from a career-threatening crash in 2014, he felt honored to even make the team, much less collect a gold medal.
“I feel fortunate I could make this team,” Phinney said. “It’s surreal. It has been great. Just honored to be part of this experience.”
Martin was predictably disappointed in Etixx’s runner-up finish.
“We were happy with the performance but not the result,” Martin said. “The goal was to get gold.”
Editor’s note: Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.