For the briefest of moments, Team Sky may have thought that they had done enough to take their second consecutive bronze medal at the World Team Time Trial in Ponferrada on Sunday. However, that was dashed when defending champions Omega Pharma-QuickStep came home and nudged them off the podium by two seconds.
“It’s a massive shame they missed out on the podium by such a small margin,” team directeur sportif Nicolas Portal told Teamsky.com.
Sky went off at a blistering pace, setting the third fastest time at the first check and second quickest in the subsequent two time checks. At the midway point, they were a second up on the eventual winners BMC. The speed had an impact though as they lost both Salvatore Puccio and Geraint Thomas before the halfway point, finishing with the minimum four riders.
“Our plan was to ride hard from the start and we averaged 60km/h during the first 11km,” explained Portal. “The four guys who remained did an amazing job over the rest of the course. Kiry (Vasil Kiryienka) and Brad (Wiggins) were absolutely incredible and Kosta (Kanstantsin Siutsou) and Dario (Cataldo) held on brilliantly. You have to remember Dario suffered a really bad crash at the Vuelta a few weeks ago, so I was really happy with the determination he showed.”
After finishing third in 2013, Sky was one of the last teams to roll down the start ramp. The late start time meant that they were one of the few teams to get caught up in the rain that began while they were still out on course. The initial pace they had set trailed off, as they tried to negotiate the technical finish in Ponferrada.
“The rain at the end wasn’t hard, but it was just enough to make the roads slippery and that probably cost us some seconds on BMC. GreenEdge and Quick-Step had the same conditions as us though so we have no complaints about the overall result.”
Portal believes that the riders can use the disappointment to find success in their national colours in the individual time trial on Wednesday.
“They were flying out there and that should give them a lot of confidence for Wednesday. Bradley was so, so strong and he’ll be looking to push Tony [Martin] all the way for the rainbow jersey. Kiry just missed out on a medal last year so he’ll be motivated to put that right, and if he rides on Wednesday like he did today, he’ll have a good chance of doing that.”