Quick-Step Floors convincingly won the men’s world championship team time trial, beating Sunweb and BMC into second and third, 18 and 20 seconds back respectively. It was a fitting end for a team with such a strong history in the discipline to take the final world championships TTT ridden by trade teams.
“We are so happy and the feeling is incredible,” said Yves Lampaert of Quick-Step Floors. “We were not the top favorites but we have a very strong team. There were a lot of young riders but very talented young riders. I was confident we would do a great performance but to win is different, and with that time gap also.”
The 62.8-kilometer route saw teams racing from Ötzal and into Innsbruck. Like the women’s race, the route was largely downhill for the first 40km. However, in a deviation from the women’s parcours, the men’s teams were taken around the outskirts of Innsbruck over a 4.6km climb averaging 5.7 percent, before descending to a flat final 10km.
Sunweb started the race as defending champions and one of the favorites, though BMC, runners-up in the prior two championships, could never be ruled out.
At the first time check on 22.8km, Mitchelton-Scott had posted the best time, leading BMC by seven seconds and Quick-Step Floors by 12 seconds. Sunweb posted the fifth-fastest time at this point, 22 seconds back.
The climb caused issues for all, with several big teams suffering. By the summit in Axams, LottoNL-Jumbo, Katusha, and Movistar had all been reduced to four of their six riders.
CCC-Sprandi set a strong initial benchmark finish time of 1:10:03, a better result than Katusha could manage despite boasting strong time trialists such as Tony Martin and Alex Dowsett. However, as more of the WorldTour teams came in, the Polish outfit soon tumbled down the rankings.
At the time check in Axams at the top of the climb, Quick-Step Floors proved their background as the most successful TTT outfit in the history of the event, posting the fastest time with only Sunweb yet to pass through. The Belgian team bettered BMC’s time by three seconds.
Sunweb came through the Axams time check faster than Quick-Step floors by less than a second, putting them as the fastest team to the top of the climb. At this point, only four seconds separated the top three teams, all of whom had five riders remaining for the final 20km.
At their arrival at the finish line in Innsbruck, Quick-Step Floors shattered the then-fastest finish time set by Mitchelton-Scott, posting a time of 1:07:25, in an average of 55.5kph. This was 57 seconds faster than Mitchelton-Scott’s; however, BMC and Sunweb were yet to finish.
BMC came home as a cohesive unit of five, but they were not able to match the experience and power of Quick-Step Floors, finishing 20 seconds behind the Belgian team, second in the virtual standings, with only Sunweb remaining on course.
As Sunweb entered the final kilometers, they too were also nearly 20 seconds behind Quick-Step Floors’ splits, but held on to shade into second place, beating BMC’s time by one second.
“It was a special parcours with a lot of fast and flat parts but a hard climb in the middle,” said Quick-Step Floors’ Niki Terpstra. “We really trained the downhill very well, we had the video and I played it 100 times yesterday on my phone to watch every corner. It was a bit scary but we knew the route and it worked pretty well. After eight years in the team, it’s the best present I can get from and give to the team.”