For the majority of the cycling fraternity, the team time trial at the World Championships is little more than the curtain raiser for a week of racing that builds towards the elite road races. Yet, for Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott), it's the highlight of the entire year.
The Australian, who came through the ranks as part of his national track programme, has been a mainstay in Orica-Scott's Worlds TTT set-up since 2013, picking up two silver medals and a bronze for his efforts. But, like his team, Hepburn has yet to taste victory in the most important time trial on the UCI calendar.
Orica have only missed the podium once since the event's inception in 2012, and were brutally cut adrift of the win by under a second in 2013. The team may not have won a TTT since the 2015 Giro d'Italia – when Hepburn was also in the team – but they remain a real threat for Sunday's test. Along with BMC Racing, Team Sky, and defending champions Quick-Step Floors, they are among the favourites.
"In town, it's not too technical but there's a small cobbled section, so it's really well-rounded course. I don't expect there to be huge time gaps. There are some really strong teams here but it's going to come down to just a few seconds.”
As for the favourites, it's too close to call. Quick-Step come in as the defending champions but are without Tony Martin. BMC Racing won the recent TTT in the Vuelta a España, while Team Sky have sent their best squad ever.