The Etixx-QuickStep professional returned to his traditional time trial position recently and seems to have rediscovered the speed that gave him three world titles between 2011 and 2013. Martin handled the heat and humidity well, staying in his aerodynamic tuck and pushing through the hot air at an average speed of 53.651 km/h.
He set a time of 44:42 for the 40km course, beating 2015 world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) by 45 seconds. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain) was third at 1:10. Maciej Bodnar (Poland) finished a surprising fourth after being ignored by the television cameras with a time of 45:59, 1:16 slower than Martin.
Ireland's Ryan Mullen occupied the hot seat for a long time after setting a time 46:06. He suffered nervously as many of his rivals failed to beat his excellent time but had to be content with fifth place.
Several big name time trialists and predicted contenders performed below expectations, with the heat and the fatigue of a long season clearly impacting some riders' performances.
Rohan Dennis (Australia) set a time of 46:10 to finish sixth after struggling to push a big gear in the final part of the time trial. He finished 1:27 slower than Martin. Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) finished a more distant 11th at 2:01, Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) was 12th at 2:11 and Taylor Phinney (USA) was 15th at 2:21.
A fourth individual world title
Martin started steady at the isolated Lusail arena in the desert and was fastest at both time checks on the road towards the finish area in the Pearl residential complex. He pushed his usual huge gear with his mouth open sucking in as much air as possible.
He sat on a curb and waited for Kiryienka to finish his ride before celebrating victory with a loud "Yes!" and an emotional hug with Etixx-QuickStep teammate Yves Lampaert of Belgium, who finished seventh.
Like long-time rival Fabian Cancellara, Martin has now won four individual time trial world titles. He will wear the rainbow jersey for the Katusha-Alpecin team in 2017 after deciding to leave Etixx-QuickStep.
"It's amazing. I can't believe it. Everyone knows I hadn't had a good year so far, until Sunday [TTT world title], so becoming world champion is incredible – it makes everything that happened this year forgotten," Martin said.
"The course was really made for me. The only thing I was scared of was the heat but I had good preparation at home, then coming here having a good week with the team, getting a lot of knowledge about what I had to do. I was also strong in the head, I was not the favourite, I had no pressure, I just had fun on the road, I have to say.”
According to calculations by French newspaper L'Equipe, 44 of Martin's 60 career victories have come in time trials. He added his individual victory in Qatar to the team time trial title won with Etixx-QuickStep on Sunday.
"I always said I don't count the victories," Martin said. "I look forward from year to year, and I want to be world champion every year. I'm so proud I am able to wear the world champion's suit next year – I've missed it a lot. Now I'm looking forward to riding with the rainbow jersey next season."
Before then Martin will be part of the German team in Sunday's elite men road race, where he will support Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tony Martin (Germany)||0:44:42.99|
|2||Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)||0:00:45.05|
|3||Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spain)||0:01:10.91|
|4||Maciej Bodnar (Poland)||0:01:16.77|
|5||Ryan Mullen (Ireland)||0:01:21.75|
|6||Rohan Dennis (Australia)||0:01:27.12|
|7||Yves Lampaert (Belgium)||0:01:45.11|
|8||Jos Van Emden (Netherlands)||0:01:45.41|
|9||Reto Hollenstein (Switzerland)||0:01:51.51|
|10||Bob Jungels (Luxembourg)||0:01:56.59|
|11||Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)||0:02:01.51|
|12||Alex Dowsett (Great Britain)||0:02:11.08|
|13||Martin Toft Madsen (Denmark)||0:02:11.42|
|14||Marcin Bialoblocki (Poland)||0:02:15.30|
|15||Taylor Phinney (United States Of America)||0:02:21.68|
|16||Anton Vorobyev (Russian Federation)||0:02:22.67|
|17||Stefan Küng (Switzerland)||0:02:25.04|
|18||Luke Durbridge (Australia)||0:02:28.34|
|19||Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)||0:02:34.95|
|20||Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)||0:02:35.60|
|21||Gatis Smukulis (Latvia)||0:02:37.85|
|22||Manuel Quinziato (Italy)||0:02:39.35|
|23||Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)||0:02:44.01|
|24||Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)||0:02:46.06|
|25||Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)||0:02:48.53|
|26||Victor Campenaerts (Belgium)||0:02:51.00|
|27||Jack Bauer (New Zealand)||0:03:04.37|
|28||Alexey Vermeulen (United States Of America)||0:03:15.00|
|29||Hugo Houle (Canada)||0:03:17.24|
|30||Nicolas Roche (Ireland)||0:03:17.57|
|31||Ryan Roth (Canada)||0:03:21.44|
|32||Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus)||0:03:25.59|
|33||Jasha Sutterlin (Germany)||0:03:26.51|
|34||Jeremy Roy (France)||0:03:28.52|
|35||Johan Le Bon (France)||0:03:29.21|
|36||Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)||0:03:43.97|
|37||Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spain)||0:03:45.96|
|38||Gediminas Bagdonas (Lithuania)||0:03:47.13|
|39||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)||0:03:50.03|
|40||Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kazakhstan)||0:04:04.39|
|41||Walter Alejandro Vargas Alzate (Colombia)||0:04:32.37|
|42||Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)||0:04:43.94|
|43||Maxim Belkov (Russian Federation)||0:05:01.51|
|44||Daniel Turek (Czech Republic)||0:05:05.81|
|45||Branislau Samoilau (Belarus)||0:05:08.39|
|46||Mekseb Debesay (Eritrea)||0:05:09.99|
|47||Andriy Vasylyuk (Ukraine)||0:05:28.88|
|48||Muradjan Halmuratov (Uzbekistan)||0:05:46.52|
|49||Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan)||0:05:49.44|
|50||Eugert Zhupa (Albania)||0:05:52.91|
|51||Maksym Averin (Azerbaijan)||0:06:49.11|
|52||Redi Halilaj (Albania)||0:06:55.30|
|53||Polychronis Tzortzakis (Greece)||0:07:08.86|
|54||Soufiane Haddi (Morocco)||0:07:39.18|
|55||Naveen John (India)||0:07:48.15|
|56||Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kazakhstan)||0:07:49.65|
|57||Meron Teshome Hagos (Eritrea)||0:07:59.40|
|58||Burr Ho (Hong Kong, China)||0:08:23.62|
|59||Bonaventure Uwizeyimana (Rwanda)||0:10:22.54|
|60||Afif Abdullah (Qatar)||0:12:53.79|
|61||Arvind Panwar (India)||0:13:30.99|
|62||Alban Nuha (Kosovo)||0:13:42.35|
|63||Sultan Asiri (Saudi Arabia)||0:15:22.97|
|64||Mohsin Khan (Pakistan)||0:15:50.70|
|65||Hafiz Tahir Mahmood (Pakistan)||0:16:23.03|
|66||Saied Jafer Alali (Kuwait)||0:16:32.52|
|DNS||Matti Manninen (Finland)|
|DNS||Mansoor Jawad (Bahrain)|
|DNS||Salman Hasan Alsaffar (Kuwait)|
|DNS||Sayed Ahmed Alawi (Bahrain)|