Despite time trial wins at the Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta a Espana, Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) arrived at this year's time trial Worlds as an outsider for the podium. However the former mountain biker was able to mix it with the pure time trial specialists over the 45.7-kilometre course, taking fifth place on the line.
"I'm happy. I came here saying that top 10 would be my goal. It's my first Worlds time trial. It's a bit different than being at the Vuelta or Switzerland as everyone is very focused and there's no excuse," Kessiakoff said at the finish.
Kessiakoff set off fourth last, sandwiched between two of the sport's most accomplished riders against the clock, Marco Pinotti (Italy) and Taylor Phinney (United States), and when he posted the 19th best time at the first check, he appeared somewhat out of his depth.
However, as the parcours changed and the climbs became a factor, Kessiakoff was able to demonstrate his form, zipping through the next two time checks in ninth and sixth. The final ascent, the Caugberg, almost saw a blisteringly quick Phinney catch the Swede, but Kessiakoff was able to hang on and even move up a place to fifth.
"The fact that Tony Martin was the winner doesn't surprise me at all, and I find him a very worthy winner. In the end I'm very happy with my fifth place.
Asked if he was shocked or surprised to be 19th after 14.3 kilometres, Kessiakoff said, "I just kept on fighting and I knew that the second half of the course suited me better so I kept on working and fighting and then I started getting reports that I was climbing up the results. I'm really happy with fifth."
"I don't see myself as a specialist. Time trialing is just something that I can do when I'm in shape. I can suffer and focus a lot and that's what gives me the capability to ride strongly in the time trial. On the right type of course, I can do really well but on day like today there are still the specialists who can beat me."