“Why not even gold?” Portal said on the eve of the event.
“Taking a top-three result in 2013 is very encouraging for us this year, particularly as time-wise last year we weren’t so far behind the first two,” he said.
“Team time trialling is something Sky have always done well in. It’s a sign of our overall strength here that all of the riders racing for Sky in the team time trial will then be in the rest of the Worlds with their respective national selections.”
Portal believes that the 57-kilometre course in Ponferrada can be divided into two radically differing parts.
“Gauging your effort is even more important than usual,” Portal pointed out. “The first part is fast, and the second part much more technical, making it very difficult to regain any time lost early on. There are also some dangerous corners, particularly if it rains.”
As for Sky’s team time trial line up, Portal believes the participation of Bradley Wiggins is important because “he’s the kind of rider whose knowledge of racing time trials is so great he can even make up for any small errors made by the rest.”
“He, [Vasil] Kiryenka, and Geraint [Thomas] are all immensely experienced in this kind of racing.”
Former Italian time trial champion Dario Cataldo and Salvatore Puccio, who led the Giro when Sky won the team time trial in the 2013 Grand Tour will also take part, along with former Tour of Georgia winner Kanstantsin Siutsou, a three-time national time trial champion in Belarus.
There were no surprises in Portal’s analysis of who the main rivals might be: defending champions Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Orica-GreenEdge and BMC.
Watch our recent video about the top five teams to watch for in the team time trial.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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