On Monday, Spain's Alberto Contador and Jonathan Castroviejo rode the Worlds time trial course which will be raced on Wednesday. The winner of the 2012 Vuelta a España told Biciciclismo that he thought the parcours was easier than he previously expected - which he didn't rate to his advantage.
"It's quite a different circuit than what I expected," Contador said. "I had looked at the profile on the official Worlds website and it looked like a tough course, including several climbs and quite some rhythm changes. It's true that it's twisty with a lot of different corners, but of the three climbs, only the Cauberg - which I already know - is really challenging.
"I had hoped that the first one [Sint Remigiusstraat, 1000m reportedly at 7.7 per cent gradient - ed.] would be hard, but it's actually not that bad. They're not a climber's hills where you'd have to go out of the saddle. They can be ridden remaining seated, which is why they're not so much to my advantage."
While the famous Cauberg is a 1200m-ramp averaging 5.8 per cent gradient (with peaks up to 12 per cent), the only other main climb of the course is the Bundersberg, 800m long at 5.4 per cent gradient. Contador added that he would try to be at his best especially during the second part of the course.
"The road surface is a bit rough in the first part, so it advantages riders that are a little heavier than me. I quite like the second part, though. We'll see if there's any wind because there are some unprotected stretches," he added.
While he recovered well from the Vuelta, which finished only one week ago, the Spaniard was adamant that the biggest favourite for the gold medal on Wednesday was Germany's Tony Martin, the defending champion. "This last week, I basically rested. I did some motorpacing one day. On a muscular level, I feel tired, but I'm sure that it will only be a matter of turning on the motor again - once you're going, you feel good and you feel the work you've done at the Vuelta during three weeks. I hope I'll be good on Wednesday," Contador said.
"But I know a time trial at the Worlds is quite different to one at a Grand Tour, where it is the strongest guys who battle for the win, independently of whether they're pure specialists. Here, all of the riders are specialists, all of them will be out there at maximum energy as there are no stages on the previous days.
"Still, I'm motivated. I'll go as fast as I can and we'll see the result after the race. For sure, there are very strong rivals and I'd put Tony Martin above them all," Contador concluded.