German inherits the mantle from Cancellara
The stirrings of unrest had been making themselves heard in Fabian Cancellara's time trialling fiefdom in recent months. The first major ripples came with Tony Martin's victory in the final time trial at the Tour de France, and he followed that up by winning the Vuelta a España's sole test, but the German must still have feared that Cancellara would quietly go about the business of crushing the revolution at the UCI World Championships time trial in Copenhagen on Wednesday.
Instead, the form lines held true, and with a devastating display over the 46.4km course, Martin liberated himself from the yoke of Cancellara's dominance. He put all of 1:15 into second-placed Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) while the deposed Cancellara was banished to the third step of the podium a further five seconds back.
Resplendent in his new rainbow attire in Copenhagen's Radhus shortly afterwards, Martin was keen to downplay the idea that the race had been billed as a duel between himself and Cancellara.
"I've said it a lot of times: it's not all about the fight between me and Fabian," Martin said. "There were also a lot of other good guys like Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, so I think today and also last year was an open fight between more than just both of us."
That may well have been the case, but earlier in the afternoon as the main contenders warmed up in downtown Copenhagen ahead of their starts, all eyes were on Cancellara and Martin. As befits his status as quadruple world champion, six-deep crowds thronged the Leopard Trek bus to see Cancellara goes through his paces, while the king-in-waiting Martin spun on his rollers in a rather more clandestine setting, at the side of a café on the other end of the street.
"I feel sorry a little bit for Fabian because I know he had a lot of pressure, also from his home country, I think that third place is still a really good place," Martin said in the post-race press conference, receiving a grateful pat on the shoulder from Cancellara as he spoke.
Martin explained that the Vuelta had been the perfect training ground ahead of the Worlds, but above all, he felt that his impressive string of time trial wins over the past few months had added a significant sheen of confidence to his armoury.
"I've got really strong in the head," Martin acknowledged. "I know how to make a perfect time trial, I know how to find my rhythm, to handle the pressure on the start and come into the race really quick."
Indeed, as soon as he rolled down the start ramp, it was clear that Martin was experiencing a day of grace, and he caught and passed both David Millar and Mikhail Ignatiev en route to his crushing victory.
"After 1 or 2k, I could feel I had perfect legs," he said. "That motivated me so much. After the first split times I was confident that I could keep on pushing. I could feel it was my day and my race and it was just perfect."
In spite of the information being relayed via his radio earpiece, not to mention the respected rouleurs left trailing in his wake, Martin insisted that he realised that victory was his only in the closing kilometres.
"To be honest, I was pretty sure that I would win today on the last maybe 3 or 4 k to go. I heard that I was around 50 seconds in front and I was not getting tired, I could still push so yeah, today I was really confident of being world champion."
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