24/09 - Ponferrada - 47.10 km

After the team time trial on Sunday, it’s now time for the individual time trial at the World Championships in Ponferrada.

The route
From the start, the first 15 km are the same as in the team time trial. Upon reaching the first time check in Carracedelo, instead of turning left as they did in the TTT, the riders continue straight-out towards Cacabelos where they get back onto the roads of the team time trial. The second time check comes in Comporanaya after a couple of undulating kilometers, known from the TTT. The majority of the following 10 km also take place on the TTT course. However, instead of turning right to start on the last descent, the riders continue straight-out towards the third time check. From here, they take on the final 12 km of the road race course, including the two climbs.

The first climb is not very demanding. The descent, however, is very steep and narrow. As of Monday, the weather forecast doesn’t predict rain. Hopefully it won’t change. This decent will become very dangerous should the roads get wet. After coming down and crossing the bridge and passing through the tunnel, the riders start climbing immediately. The following 2.2 km are uphill with an average gradient of around 5 %. From the top, there are only 4.7 km to go. The last 3 km are the same as in the TTT.

As you can see on the profile, this time trial is divided into two parts. The first 30 km are relatively flat while the last 15 km are hilly. You will be able to go extremely fast on the first part. However, it’s very important to still have something left in the legs for the two climbs. As the last time check comes before taking on these hills, we could easily see big changes in the classification on the last 12 km.  

World Championships 2014 Time Trial Preview

The favorites
Ever since winning in Copenhagen in 2011, Tony Martin has been close to unbeatable in the long time trials. As triple ITT world champion, naturally, he’s the number one favorite for today. Omega Pharma Quickstep only finished third in the team time trial. Now, Tony Martin has a chance to take revenge and get back on the top of the podium. Within the first 30 km he has to make the difference. Few, if any, in the professional peloton are able to push the same kind of gears as the big German. The two climbs on the final 12 km are not favoring Tony Martin but, as he proved in the Vuelta a España last month, it won’t hold him back either. Everybody knows this is his race to lose. Anything but a win Wednesday afternoon would be a surprise.

The biggest threat to Tony Martin is Bradley Wiggins. The former Tour de France winner is going very strong these days and he claims to be as good as ever. His time on the track this season will benefit Wiggins greatly today. He finished second, behind Martin, at the World Championships in both 2011 and 2013. Now, he hopes to finally get the better of the German. On his best days, Bradley Wiggins isn’t far off Tony Martin on the flat parts. If he can minimize the time loss within the first 30 km, he should be able to take something back on the hilly last 12 km. Then, time will tell if it was enough to take the gold medal.

The outsiders
While the fight for the gold medal seems to be a matter of only two riders, I see handful of strong candidates for the last spot on the podium. First up, and most likely to medal, is Tom Dumoulin. The young Dutchman has been great against the clock this season. Unfortunately for Dumoulin, Tony Martin has been taking part in many of the same races as him. In Belgium Tour, Tour de Suisse and Tour de France, he finished second behind Tony Martin in the time trials. Tom Dumoulin is only 23 years old. If he continues to improve as he has done within the last few years, I have no doubts that he will become world champion against the clock one day. Today, however, it will be very difficult.

My personal outsider today is Rasmus Quaade. Despite a puncture, Quaade still managed to finish 6th in Florence last year. He’s a true time trial specialist and he’s extremely strong at the moment. Usually, the hilly final part of the course would ruin his chances. However, as he proved in Giro della Regione Friuli earlier this month, the young Dane is doing very well on the climbs. He has lost 6 kg and his power outputs are better than ever. He even finished 2nd on the Queen Stage with an uphill finish. Less than two weeks ago, Rasmus Quaade won Chrono Champenois with a significant margin down to Campbell Flakemore (3rd) and Stefan Kung (4th). Both riders finished on the podium in the U23 time trial. If Rasmus Quaade can avoid bad luck this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to make it onto the podium. At least, he shouldn’t be far off.

For other strong candidates for Top5 look to Rohan Dennis, Adriano Malori, Jan Barta and Vasil Kiryienka. Dennis already has a medal after BMC crushed the field in the team time trial last Sunday. Today is an important test for the young Australian to see what he can do alone against the best riders in the world. Malori comes to Ponferrada after winning the last time trial in the Vuelta a España, while Barta proved his big engine by finishing 3rd in the long time trial in the Tour de France this year. Kiryienka did very well in the time trials in the Vuelta and was one of the main reasons why Team Sky finished 4th in the TTT. The course suits the strong Belarusian perfectly. After he finished 4th in Florence last year, I’m sure Kiryienka will be eager to make it on to the podium this time.

You can see the complete starting order by clicking here. For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv.