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Omega Pharma repeats as world TTT champion

For the second straight year, Omega Pharma-Quick Step finds itself atop the podium at the world championships

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Led by world TT champion Tony Martin, Belgian squad Omega Pharma-Quick Step won its second straight world team time trial on Sunday at the UCI Elite Road World Championships in Florence, Italy.

Coming in a close second was Orica-GreenEdge, just .81 seconds behind Omega Pharma’s time of 1:04:16.81 on the 57.2-kilometer course; Omega’s average speed was 53.402 kph (33.18mph).

Finishing third was Sky, 22.55 seconds behind the victors. Of note: Tour de France champion Chris Froome struggled to keep pace with his teammates during the undulating 57.2 km course around Florence. Last year’s Tour de France champion, Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, was not present, racing at the Tour of Britain, where he secured the overall lead on Sunday.

Orica had set the pace before Omega-Pharma to take the provisional lead, and despite Michal Kwiatkowski and Kristof Vandewalle trailing off in the final kilometers,  Martin, Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra and Peter Velits finished strongly for the defending champions to snatch the win.

It was Martin, Chavanel, Terpstra, Velits and Vandewalle’s second gold in the event, the quintet among the riders to lead Omega-Pharma to victory in the Dutch town of Valkenburg last year.

“It was really one hour a bloc,” Martin said. “Especially in the final 10 kilometers. We took a few risks, sped it up because we knew we were a few seconds behind. We took the risk that we could either blow up or gain some time and we held the speed until the finish. We also took some risks in the corners. We were a second down in the last intermediate and we knew one corner could be the difference. So we just took the risk. We knew the corners perfectly. We made good preparation going into today, so we can also say it’s really a win for the whole team. The sport directors who prepared us for the race today are included in this, especially in the last kilometers.

“The last intermediate time gap killed our morale a little bit, seeing the first gaps and then being down on Orica going into the final kilometers. But we had sport directors in the car who built up our motivation again. Then we just gave everything, full risks in the last 10 kilometers. At the end, it was enough. I think we won it with big morale in the final. I think it is the same for the other riders on the team. In the last few hundred meters [director] Tom Steels said ‘Go, go, go, take everything, you can be world champions’ and I think that gave us the last percentage of motivation to put all our power into the pedals. Sometimes one sentence can make the difference.”

The victory also helped avenge defeat to Orica at the Tour de France team time trial in Nice on July 2.

“For me it was really important to win this race,” Chavanel said. “It doesn’t matter if we won by a second, two seconds, or even half a second. If we didn’t win this race, I would have been disappointed because Orica beat us by less than a second at the Tour de France. It is kind of a revenge, this victory. I think this kind of big fight between teams, like a rivalry, is big for the sport of cycling. It is really amazing and something that makes our sport bigger and better.”

Earlier in the day, Specialized-lululemon also repeated, in the women’s TTT.