Like Judith Arndt, his counterpart on Tuesday, Tony Martin (GER) was in the starring role with Taylor Phinney in cameo riding the best time trail of his life to almost steal the scene from Die Koenig of time trialing. Martin admitted, “Phinney rode a perfect race today and although I knew I was ahead more or less ten seconds for much of the race, he came back very strong at the end.”
All eyes were on Martin, last year’s champion and although the field was lighter than normal with big guns like Bradley Wiggins and Fabien Cancellara not on the start line, he didn’t expect to walk away with the medal. “Everybody was looking at me saying you just have to ride and pick up the gold, but there were a lot of good riders near me today. Taylor had a perfect ride today and the course put the hurt on my body. I gave it all, so it was one of my hardest wins ever in my career. It was the longest 1,000 meters in my career…it was hard to climb the Cauberg at the end, and I just went deeper to pull this off.”
When asked about possible surgery for his hand injury during the first stage of the Tour de France, he shared, “It is possible, but I hope not.”
Phinney came close to snatching the gold from the favourite today, but Martin was too strong. The American chuckled with a bit of chagrin adding, “If I’d known I could come this close to winning gold I would have been turning myself inside out even more. To lose by such a little margin, to be so close to such a champion is painful, but I’ve progressed a lot and gotten better to be more than a prologue specialist and training for the longer distances.”
When asked how he lost the race today, Phinney reflected: “This was the best time trial of my life, better than the Olympics, so I don’t know where I lost the race today – I don’t like to use the radio, as normally I’m slower when hearing it and knowing where the others are on the course freaks me out! The dutch road furniture (the turnabouts) slowed me down a bit… that might have been my undoing?”
The bronze went to Vasil Kiryenka (seeded 28th), who along with another Kazakhstan rider, Dimitry Gruzdev (seeded 40 but came in 6th): “I’m surprised to be on the podium as I turned professional very late. I’m 30 and its my first medal and I hope I can improve in the future. Movistar gave me my first big possibilities but its time to change the air and I’m happy to be with Sky next year.
It became apparent very early that his best was behind him – at least for the time trial – the first climb at Sint Remigiusstraat a short steep climb with an average 7.7% grade already separated Contador from Martin by over 40 seconds. Contador was in trouble early, and by the second climb at Rozekoel he lost just under two minutes as Martin was about to pass him. Contador confessed, “I just didn’t have good sensations, the legs felt slow, I have no excuses, but I’m not disappointed either.” Contador ended up 9th at 2:30 behind Martin.
Quote of the day, another Phinny-ism on being a good time trialist, “I just realized that you have to be in the pain cave for an hour. You don’t like the feeling, but then… it’s over!”
Full results HERE.