Tony Martin (Germany) came into the men’s individual time trial at the Worlds as one of the clear favourites but he was left stunned after a lacklustre performance left him seventh on the day, 1:16 down on winner Vasil Kiryienka (Balarus).
Martin, a three-time winner of this event went off last over the 53.5 kilometre course and was second at the first time check. However he steadily lost ground over the course and continued to fade throughout. It was his worst performance in the event since Varese in 2008, when he also finished seventh.
"I don’t have the right answers," he said as he ground to a halt at the finish, with the press just as stunned as he was.
"From the start and in the first eight kilometres I felt okay and that I had the power but when I entered the tailwind section I quickly lost my rhythm. It was too fast for me and I couldn’t handle the RPM and I didn’t expect this. Then on the uphill sections I couldn’t find my rhythm and I lost morale. I couldn’t get it back and it wasn’t my day. For the second half of the race it was more of a mental problem than a physical one."
While Martin struggled Kiryienka excelled. He was like a locomotive, never letting up and was quickest through every time check. Adriano Malori claimed second and Jerome Coppel third but Martin was simply outclassed in a discipline he has dominated for a number of seasons. He refused to blame his ride on the injury problems from the Tour de France, however, admitting he was as surprised as everyone else in Richmond.
"I had a really good preparation and I wanted to go for gold, and I was sure that I would go for gold but it was totally different to what I expected. Once you’re in a hole it’s really hard to come back."
Martin wasn’t the only pre-race favourite to struggle. Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis also missed out on the podium. Martin added that he wasn’t completely surprised by the podium placers.
"No, not really. Dumoulin had a hard Vuelta so that’s an explanation. I heard that Dennis had a mechanical but I don’t know so maybe that’s the reason. It was a special time trial today. It was super fast."
"I was surprised [with my ride] and I was ready to go for gold. It was a really good test in the team time trial but I couldn’t do what I expected and I really have no explanation."