Currently a lone breakaway in the Vuelta a España, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) told Cyclingnews before today's stage he is more optimistic this year than last about his chances of taking a third straight individual time trial world championship title and his current build-up for Italy in September.
The winner of 10 races so far this season, including the Tour's individual time trial, Martin said, "So far I'm doing really well, I'm operating at the level I want to and I'm here to improve my condition for the Worlds and maybe do a good time trial at Tarazona."
In 2011, Martin won the individual time trial of the Vuelta at Salamanca ahead of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. In 2012, the Vuelta's only individual race against the clock was arguably too hilly for the German. But this time around the 38.8 kilometre test on the flatlands of Aragon is less difficult that the Cambados-Pontevedra roller coaster race against the clock that the Vuelta organisers laid on last year (where Martin placed 11th) and so it might just be within his chances.
Either way, shortly after talking to Cyclingnews Martin was off the front of the bunch and away to test his Worlds form. The 28-year-old German apparently so keen to attack, bicicilismo reports, he actually jumped away in the neutral section before the start flag had dropped.
"I'm in better shape than I was this time last year because I was still recovering from my broken scaphoid [and crash in the Tour de France] and had to rest up a lot to recover from that. I also had the Olympics last year," Martin recalled.
"This time around I did the whole Tour, I could recover well, do some good training after that. I'm more relaxed and in better condition."
He is not sure if he will make a planned abandon from the Vuelta, "we'll take it day by day," but he knows the Worlds TT course "suits me very well for sure. I've seen the route profile and the [team] trainer is out there checking it out completely right now. We will get the information, it looks very good for me and I'm really looking forward to it."
He names Wiggins, Froome [who has actually said he would be focussing on the road race], Fabian Cancellara, and Taylor Phinney as the real challengers, but is clearly determined to bring home a top result himself. "A third world time trial title - that would be nice," he concluded with a big grin before going off and 'training' for it on the roads of Spain.