Worlds: Quick-Step reclaims TTT crown

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Etixx – Quick-Step, one of the two top favorites for the TTT Sunday, did not disappoint. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) — Etixx – Quick-Step overhauled two-time defending champion BMC Racing in the team time trial at worlds in Doha, Qatar on Sunday to take the gold medal for the third time in the team’s history.

The two pre-race favorites were evenly matched on intermediate times over the first half of the 40-kilometer course, but Etixx began to pull away ever-so-slightly in the final kilometers, hitting the 35km mark four seconds faster. The Belgian squad jumped into the provisional race lead upon crossing the line and held on as BMC, the last team out on the road, arrived at the finish just under 12 seconds slower for silver. Orica – BikeExchange took home the bronze medal behind second-placed BMC.

Top 10

  • 1. Etixx – Quick Step, in 42:32.39
  • 2. Bmc Racing Team, at :11.69
  • 3. Orica-Bikeexchange, at :37.12
  • 4. Team Sky, at :54.28
  • 5. Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo, at :54.79
  • 6. Movistar Team, at 1:11.02
  • 7. Team Giant – Alpecin, at 1:26.30
  • 8. Team Katusha, at 2:01.35
  • 9. Astana Pro Team, at 2:21.46
  • 10. Veranda’s Willems Cycling Team, at 3:39.46

Stradalli – Bike Aid was the first team to leave the start ramp in the intense Doha heat, one of several Continental squads in the race, with the more heavily favored WorldTour teams closing out the day — though only 10 of the 18 WorldTour teams were in attendance. The top-division squads had threatened a boycott of the event over disagreements regarding the financials of the race, but just over half of the squads ultimately made the start after an agreement was reached with the UCI, though the future of the expensive event remains in question.

The provisional lead changed hands several times in the early goings as one Continental team after another rounded the course, with Veranda’s Willems as the lone third-division team to ultimately find its way into the final top 10.

After LottoNL – Jumbo took control of the hot seat with a strong time of 43:27, Sky led home the final quintet of top contenders, briefly taking the top spot in the provisional standings before Orica wrestled the lead away. The Australian squad survived the challenge of an underwhelming Movistar team, but the most important battle was underway out on the road.

Etixx — whose previous incarnation Omega Pharma – Quick-Step won world titles in 2012 and 2013 — and BMC, the last team out on the road, were virtually deadlocked through the first half of the race. Etixx was forced to work particularly hard after Julien Vermote fell off the pace in the desert heat. Etixx took a slight advantage around kilometer 30, however, extending the provisional gap to several seconds by the time the team rolled into the final kilometer. Upon crossing the line, the Belgian team snatched the lead from Orica, and then awaited the arrival of BMC.

Tackling the last few kilometers with the minimum of four riders, the defending champions couldn’t make up the time gap, crossing the finish 11 seconds down to officially give Etixx – Quick-Step the win.

“It’s really very emotional for me,” said Etixx’s Tony Martin, a three-time world champion in the individual time trial and now a three-time champ in the TTT as well, set to join Katusha in 2017.

“It was the last race for the team, they have been a family for me in the last five years and I knew it was a last chance to lead the team to a great victory.”

Results

  • 1. Etixx – Quick Step, in 42:32.39
  • 2. Bmc Racing Team, at 11.69
  • 3. Orica-Bikeexchange, at 37.12
  • 4. Team Sky, at :54.28
  • 5. Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo, at 54.79
  • 6. Movistar Team, at 1:11.02
  • 7. Team Giant – Alpecin, at 1:26.30
  • 8. Team Katusha, at 2:01.35
  • 9. Astana Pro Team, at 2:21.46
  • 10. Veranda’s Willems Cycling Team, at 3:39.46
  • 11. Ag2r La Mondiale, at 3:43.40
  • 12. Cycling Academy Team, at 4:24.83
  • 13. Ccc Sprandi Polkowice, at 4:26.17
  • 14. Kolss-Bdc Team, at 5:04.45
  • 15. Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team – Al Ahli Club, at 5:44.05
  • 16. Vino 4-Ever Skokaz, at 6:31.21
  • 17. Stradalli – Bike Aid, at 7:23.87