COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Tony Martin will take inspiration from his recent beating of world time trial king Fabian Cancellara when he aims to end the Swiss’s reign at the world road championhips. But the German specialist won’t be alone, with Bradley Wiggins, compatriot Bert Grabsch and Cancellara himself all out to triumph in the 46.4 km race against the clock Wednesday.
One-day classics king Cancellara rode into the history books last year when he won a record fourth time trial rainbow jersey at Geelong, Australia. Martin, however, has been knocking on the Swiss star’s door for several years and forced his way in with a sensational victory at the Tour of Spain several weeks ago. On the 10th stage around Salamanca, a 47 km time trial, he beat the man known as ‘Spartacus’ by 1min 27sec. Britain’s Chris Froome was second at 59, with compatriot Wiggins third at 1:22.
Rumor has it that Cancellara is not in his best possible condition for the race, held on two laps of a mainly flat but slightly technical 23.2 km circuit. The Swiss may also fancy his chances in Sunday’s blue riband event of the road race, described — because of its flat profile — as a ‘sprinter’s course’ but which, on closer inspection, leaves the way open for any number of riders.
Although Martin won’t rule out the four-time champion, he believes Wiggins and his teammate, David Millar, will be his biggest obstacles to gold.
“I would say Wiggins and Millar are my biggest rivals,” said Martin. “But I won’t rule Cancellara out.”
Millar, who won the world title at Hamilton, Canada in 2003 — only to hand the gold medal back when he later admitted to doping — came closest to upsetting Cancellara last year when he took the silver behind the Swiss, when Martin won his second consecutive bronze.
However, the Scot believes that this year British hopes of a podium place lie with Wiggins, who rebounded from his crash misery at the Tour de France in July to finish third at the recent Tour of Spain.
“I’m not as good as I’d like to be,” said Millar. “I’ll do my job, but I think Bradley (Wiggins) is going to be flying the flag for us.”
He also refuses to rule out Cancellara, but said: “Obviously Cancellara is always good. But this course is one for the big (powerful) guys, like Grabsch and (Canada’s) Svein Tuft.”
Grabsch, who was Germany’s last time trial world champion, on a relatively flat course in Varese, Italy, in 2008, is considered an outside bet for gold. Squat and with powerful legs, he should excel on the course which features numerous corners and bends which will require the right mix of precision steering and speed.
But, said Wiggins, there will be few opportunities for making up time on rivals meaning the more powerful specialists have a theoretical advantage.
“It’s going to be really close as there’s not much give on the course. There’s not a place where you can lose a lot (of time),” said the triple Olympic pursuit champion. “It’s just real physical, and for whoever can sustain the best (pace) for an hour.”