September 25, 2013 (Florence, Italy) – Which king of the road would be the crowned the world’s fastest man on a bike? That question was answered today under a soft Tuscan sun as man and machine were pitted against the clock. When the dust settled it was German Tony Martin, the defending champ, who prevailed against the world’s best that included two top contenders, former champions themselves.
Martin performed a three-pete securing the hat trick as he won his third consecutive Elite Men’s ITT title, dominating the 56.8km km race with a resounding victory over Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) in second at 46.1s, and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) in third at 48.3s. The stalwart German put the hammer down after the first 15km, denying both Wiggins and Cancellara any chance of a comeback, adding a second rainbow jersey today to his team effort in the TTT with Omega Pharma, thus securing back-to-back victories.
Martin, who has won this event like a habit, was not the obvious victor – at least not at the first split. Indeed, this victory must taste sweet to a man who went down hard at the Tour de France only to hold on and win that ITT despite the severity of a stack up due to a team bus. Last year in Valkenberg, he beat American Taylor Phinney by 5 seconds to take his second rainbow jersey and today he showed that at any distance he’s a danger. This year the course was much longer – and from the look of the results – an easier win for Martin.
With the wind a small factor and the newly-paved road unwinding like a birthday gift ribbon stretching to Florence, the only major differences were the technical aspects already well-tested earlier this week in the TTT for most. But this is the WC and somewhere along the line when the differences in splits can be just tenths of a second for a podium, all of the top riders have surely done their homework and rode this course this year earlier to shave off whatever time they could. All except Martin, who admitted that he hadn’t ridden it until last Friday!
His blistering 56.8km-race from Montecatini Terme to Florence in 1:05:36 meant an average speed of 52.9km, and Martin enjoyed the finishing stretch after he knew he had won it. Wiggins took second and Cancellara faded to third. This was the first time all three have raced together at the Worlds since Copenhagen where they ended up in the same podium positions with Martin winning his first of three rainbow jerseys .
At the first intermediate split (7.3km) Cancellara looked like he would steal the show as he blazed past Martin by 36s while Wiggins seemed to fade clocking in sixth at +15.75. But the tables were turned at the second intermediate, when Martin surged ahead with the clock showing 27:27 – a full 13s faster than Cancellara. The German, gained momentum on the field, and simply cushioned his lead though Cancellara was still firmly in second place at +28s until Wiggins began to make his move late in the race as the Swiss champion faded to the third.
Quotes from the Podium:
Tony Martin (GER): “It’s the same podium as in 2011, but this time there was much more pressure on me. Pressure doesn’t scare me though, on the contrary, it motivates me. The course? It was good that I’d already seen it during the Team Time Trial. It was one hour of racing that ran on the limits, luckily I had no problems and once I found out that I was faster by 40s, I just enjoyed the last kilometres.”
Bradley Wiggins (GBR): “I’m quite satisfied with this silver medal: I did the best I could, both while training and today. This season I had to start right from the bottom, it wasn’t easy but I can say I did it. I lost to a rider who deserved to win. It was a very long race, I tried to be consistent and I think I managed to do so. It was a different season this year – I felt like a complete fall from grace, doing it all on my own. It was my road back, missing the Tour and riding solo a lot, stopping by petrol stations to fill up my bottle of water.”
Fabian Cancellara (SUI): “I accepted this battle against the clock, I was serene; this race has been an hour of pleasure, but also an hour of pain. Now I want to spend some time with my family and with my team. This medal is a good result, it will push me to do better on Sunday, but for the moment I’d rather not talk about the road races.”