As a five-time winner in the discipline, Tony Martin may have hoped for more than seventh in the UCI Road World Championships time trial on Wednesday. However, given that the course was far from ideal for him and that just two months ago he left the Tour de France with a broken back, it is a result that he can still be happy with.
Martin had to spend three weeks off his bike after his crash and underwent extensive physiotherapy as he made his recovery. He had to miss his home Deutschland Tour and only returned to action at the Tour of Britain at the start of September. Perhaps typical of a professional cyclists perspective, Martin had hoped the forced break from racing – due to a spinal fracture – would help him be fresher for Wednesday's event.
Martin was one of the final riders to roll down the start ramp in Rattenberg and began well by posting the third quickest time at the opening split, with just Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis ahead of him. However, the second split at the top of the climb told a different story as he slipped down to eighth. He was able to make up a place on the descent and run-in but finished the day 2:25 behind the day's winner Dennis.
"First of all, I'm happy that I'm able to stand here. I'm fully recovered without any pain. I was hoping that the break I had to take could maybe give me some freshness here but, I don't know," Martin told the press.
"I felt like I had a good condition, not outstanding but a good condition. I was feeling good on the flat parts and also on the hilly parts that suit me but on the climb I was more suffering than really performing. That can maybe explain the big gaps to the front. In the end, to place seventh is a place that I can live with. I'm not really disappointed but for sure I was hoping for more."
After his opening effort, Martin may have thought that he could have done more if there hadn't been a five-kilometre climb in the latter part of the course. The ascent to Gnadenwald whittled down the number of contenders and saw several riders lose a lot of time as they battled up it. Though he would have preferred a flatter course, Martin said afterwards that climbs did make time trials more exciting to watch.
"From a spectator point of view, I think that it is a good decision because it makes the time trial exciting. Gaps can still change," he said. "If you have a big gap on the flat, it is hard to lose it or to take it back. With the climb, it is another aspect in the race. It's nice for the spectators, I think it is nice for the sport to make some changes from year to year so that every type of rider can have a chance.
"Today, it was more for the time triallists that can climb really well. Next year, from what I heard, it is more flat and more for the rouleurs but Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis are also good rouleurs so I think it would probably be the same favourites."