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UCI Road World Championships 2013: Elite Men time trial

Live coverage of the elite men's time trial at the world championships, 57.9 kilometres from Montecatini Terme to Florence.

The weekend's road racing is and always will be the main attraction at the world championships, but today's elite men's time trial promises to be far more than just another fight on the undercard. Instead, it's a bona fide title bout in its own right, as the Big Three of contemporary time trialling - Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin - square up to one another and to the man who seems set to be a dominant force in the discipline for years to come, Taylor Phinney.

It hasn't always been so. For instance, while Chris Boardman was a very fitting winner of the first individual world time trial title in 1994, neither Miguel Indurain nor Tony Rominger bothered to make the trip to Sicily and his win felt more like a coronation than a contest.

It was a trend that would continue for the bones of two decades. Only very rarely in the event's short history have we seen three (or more) of the world's very best time triallists of the day show up with the same levels of form and motivation, and more often than not, the destination of the rainbow jersey was all too predictable beforehand.

Tony Martin's eclipsing of Fabian Cancellara in 2011 appeared to breathe fresh life into the event, however, and last year's unexpectedly tense finale between Martin and Phinney added to the drama still further.

With Martin seeking a third successive crown, Cancellara fresh from a resounding time trial victory at the Vuelta a Espana, and Wiggins allegedly in the time trialling form of his life, the stage is set for a compelling afternoon of racing in Tuscany.

Phinney, Wiggins, Cancellara and Martin are, of course, the final four starters, with 73 riders setting down the start ramp before them at 90-second intervals. The first man to set off was Paraguay's Gustavo Mino, while Uganda's Herbert Mugwanya and Rogers Balikudembe are non-starters.

A full list of starters and start times is available here. The final twenty starters are as follows:

20 Jan Barta (Czech Republic) 14:43:30
19 Niki Terpstra (Netherlands) 14:45:00
18 Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) 14:46:30
17 Jesse Sergent (New Zealand) 14:48:00
16 Thomas De Gendt (Belgium) 14:49:30
15 Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands) 14:51:00
14 Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) 14:52:30
13 Rasmus Christian Quaade (Denmark) 14:54:00
12 Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) 14:55:30
11 Andrew Talansky (United States of America) 14:57:00
10 Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) 14:58:30
9 Marco Pinotti (Italy) 15:00:00
8 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spain) 15:01:30
7 Sylvain Chavanel (France) 15:03:00
6 Richie Porte (Australia) 15:04:30
5 Adriano Malori (Italy) 15:06:00
4 Taylor Phinney (United States of America) 15:07:30
3 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 15:09:00
2 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 15:10:30
1 Tony Martin (Germany) 15:12:00

Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania) is the first established time triallist to begin his effort. Winner of the final stage of the Giro in 2009 in Rome, Konovalovas has not scaled quite the same heights since, but he remains a solid rouleur and national time trial champion.

Patrick Gretsch is also underway. The German claimed a bronze medal when the Worlds last came to Italy in 2008, finishing third in the under-23 time trial in Varese, a race won by Adriano Malori.

There are clear blue skies over Montecatini Terme as the riders set off and the air also appear to be still. Perfect time trialling conditions.

The first intermediate time check is at Serravalle Pistoiese after 7.3 kilometres, and Tiago Machado (Portugal) has gone through with the best time to date. His 10:07 is 8 seconds up on 2012 under-23 road race champion Alexey Lutsenko.

 

Serravalle Pistoiese is the only climb of any real consequence on the parcours. After a short, uncomplicated descent, it's a long, flat run in to the centre of Florence, by way of Pistoia and Quarrata. The riders enter Florence at the Cascine park, and then ride through the historic centre, past the Duomo and to the finish line at Mandela Forum.

Patrick Gretsch has set the new best time at the 7.3km point, 5 seconds up on Moldova's Sergei Tvetcov and Machado.

The second time check comes at Quarrata after 24.1km, with the third checkpoint coming as the riders enter the outskirts of Florence after 42.3km.

The second time check comes at Quarrata after 24.1km, with the third checkpoint coming as the riders enter the outskirts of Florence after 42.3km.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) had a nightmare start to his time trial at the London 2012 Olympics, breaking his chain in the opening 100 metres, but he's safely away today. He had a troubled start to this season, too, with Blanco (later Belkin) witholding him from racing due to his alleged links to the Operacion Puerto investigation. He was reinstated in May and immediately won a stage of the Tour of Belgium.

Tiago Machado is the first rider to reach the second time check, having caught and passed Syria's Nazir Jaser and Paraguay's Gustavo Mino.

Luis Leon Sanchez is out of the saddle on the climb of Serravalle Pistoiese and getting plenty of vocal encouragement from his following team car. Meanwhile, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa) rolls down the start ramp in Montecatini Terme.

Luis Leon Sanchez has the second best time at the first time check, two seconds down on Patrick Gretsch. At the 24km mark in Quarrata, meanwhile, Nikolay Mihaylov (Bulgaria) has the new best time. His 29:39 is four seconds up on Machado.

Mihaylov won a stage of the Ras in Castleisland in 2011, en route to 4th place overall. Currently with CCC Polsat, the 25-year-old was 13th begin Wiggins at the final time trial of the Tour of Poland last month.

Patrick Gretsch is in full flight now, however. The German has gone through the second time check with the best time, 31 seconds up on Mihaylov, at an average speed approaching 50kph.

 

It will be interesting to see how well Gretsch and the other early starters hold their speed over the second half of their course. Bradley Wiggins reckons that while most riders can sustain power for 40 kilometres, the sheer length of today's 57km test will make the difference between the great and the simply very good.

"It's the race of truth, it's going to be an hour and five minutes of effort, a good 15 minutes longer than most. Not many people often sustain power at that sort of level," Wiggins said yesterday.

"It's a beautiful course, there's no hiding on it, you have to concentrate on effort and that's all, and the mundaneness of it will crack people."

Ilnur Zakarin (Russia) has the new best time at the 7.3km point. The Rusvelo rider was European junior time trial champion in 2007, but then served a two-year ban after testing positive for methandienone in 2009. He beat Vladimit Gusev to claim this year's Russian national time trial title.

Up the road at the 24.1km mark, Luis Leon Sanchez has gone past with the second best time, 15 seconds down on Gretsch.

At the 42km point, meanwhile, the Bulgarian Mihaylov has come through in first place in a time of 50:55, 25 seconds up on Machado.

Ignata Konovalovas comes through the same point with the second best time to date, 14 seconds down on Mihaylov.

Rohan Dennis suffered the disappointment of missing out on the gold medal in the under-23 time trial in Valkenburg twelve months ago, but the Australian enjoyed a fine debut season at WorldTour level and he will be looking to put in a solid showing here. Dennis settles quickly into his aerodynamic position as he leaves Montecatini and heads towards Pistoia.

Nicolas Roche is the next man to set off. The Irishman won't have any unrealistic expectations for today, but will be determined to put in a solid time trialling work-out nonetheless.

Serghei Tvetcov (Moldova) briefly held the best time at the 42km mark, but he has been better by Lativa's Aleksejs Saramotins, who has clocked 50:33.

Bert Grabsch (Germany) has started his effort. The 38-year-old won the rainbow jersey in the time trial in Varese in 2008, but his ambitions won't be quite so lofty as the Worlds returns to Italian roads five years on.

There appear to be some conflicting schools of thought vis a vis pacing strategy for this time trial, with some notable fluctuations in the standings between the three intermediate time checks. At the moment, however, Nelson Oliveira (Portugal) is quickest after 24 kilometre. His 28:55 is 12 seconds up on Gretsch, who appears to have faded over the subsequent part of the course.

Gretsch is now in the streets of Florence and has just swept past the imposing Duomo. The time to beat is the 1:11:05 set by Machado, an average speed of 48.8kph.

The new quickest time at the finish is from Bulgaria's Mihaylov. his 1:10:35 is 29 seconds quicker than Machado. Rohan Dennis, meanwhile, is off to a fine start, and has the best intermediate time after 7.3km, two seconds up on Zakarin.

Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania) is the next man into the hot seat. His time of 1:10:26 is nine seconds quicker than Mihaylov.

Rafael Infantino's time trial almost gets off to a disastrous start when a cat crosses his path, but the Colombian manages to avoid accident and without upsetting his rhythm to boot.

Patrick Gretsch struggled over the middle section of the course and he crosses the finish line with the third best time, 24 seconds down on Konovalovas.

Serghei Tvetcov (Moldova) is the next man to reach the finish, and the Jelly Belly rider sets a new best time. His 1:10:23 is just enough to edge out Konovalovas.

Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia) is the first man to come close to breaking the 50kph mark on the course. He reaches the finish some 51 seconds quicker than the previous best set by Tvetcov.

Rohan Dennis continues to impress out on the course. He sweeps through Quarrata with the new best time after 24.1km, 21 seconds up on Nelson Oliveira. There are still some 32 kilometres to go, mind, but he still looks relatively comfortable.

For his part, Oliveira has been picking off the riders who started just in front of him, and he currently playing the part of aerodynamic Pied Piper, with Kononenko (Urkaine) and Gert Joeaar (Estonia) both lined up on his rear wheel. One imagines the commissaires might start to take an interest.

Correction, it's Matej Jurco (Slovakia) and not Joeaar on Oliveira's wheel. In any case, the makeshift trio is now winding its way through the heart of Florence.

 

Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) is the next man to start, and he has happy memories of his last time trial of a similar length in Italy, when he was an impressive winner of the Giro d'Italia's Saltara time trial in May. Before that victory, he talked Laura Fletcher through his time trial preparations.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) has just begun his effort, while Andrew Talansky (USA) waits in the start gate. After that, it's down to the final ten starters:

10 Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) 14:58:30
9 Marco Pinotti (Italy) 15:00:00
8 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spain) 15:01:30
7 Sylvain Chavanel (France) 15:03:00
6 Richie Porte (Australia) 15:04:30
5 Adriano Malori (Italy) 15:06:00
4 Taylor Phinney (United States of America) 15:07:30
3 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 15:09:00
2 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 15:10:30
1 Tony Martin (Germany)

Nelson Oliveira still has his two disciples on his wheel in the final kilometre. The Portuguese rider finishes with a sprint to record the best time so far - 1:08:51, which translates to an average speed of 50.4kph.

There are loud cheers for Marco Pinotti (Italy) as he rolls down the start ramp to tackle what could be the final time trial of his career. In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport this morning, the veteran admitted that he is unsure whether or not he will continue next season.

After Jonathan Castroviejo and Sylvain Chavanel set out, Richie Porte (Australia) readies himself in the start house. There has been precious little talk of the Tasmanian in the build-up to this time trial, but he is one of the few with the potential to oust one of the four final starters from the top positions.

Adriano Malori (Italy) is the next starter. The Parma native said beforehand that he and Pinotti are aiming to finish in the top ten and get close as possible to Phinney, Cancellara, Wiggins and Martin.

Malori will have Taylor Phinney (USA) chasing him 90 seconds behind. The American lives in Tuscany during the season, and he is very familiar indeed with today's course.

Rohan Dennis has averaged a scorching 51.3kph through the 42.3km mark, which is good enough for the best time, 5 seconds up on Kanstantin Siutsou.

Bradley Wiggins, or Il Baronetto as he is invariably called in these parts, rolls down the start ramp. He'll be hoping for better luck than he had at the Saltara time trial at the Giro, where a puncture upset his progress and ultimately proved very costly indeed.

And after Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) thunders down the start ramp to kick off his effort. Four times a world time trial champion, Cancellara's last victory came three years ago in Geelong. One senses that Sunday's road race is his real goal this week, but if he has the legs here, then his former RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel would doubtless tell him that he might as well win...

Tony Martin (Germany) lost out to Cancellara in the lone individual time trial at the Vuelta, but he draws solace from the fact that the hilly Tarazona course was very different to the pan flat persorsco he faces today.

Sylvain Chavanel (France) has the best time at the 7.3km mark, six seconds up on Dennis, 9 ahead of Porte, 10 ahead of Pinotti and all of 38 ahead of Doswett.

The on-screen graphic based on GPS suggests that Cancellara has started quicker than both Wiggins and Martin, but the time check atop the climb after 7.3km will confirm that one way or another.

Wiggins, incidentally, has said that he will eschew time checks and instead gauge his effort by keeping an eye to his powermeter.

Taylor Phinney has the 3rd best time at the first time check, 2 seconds down on Chavanel, and just behind Rasmus Quaade (Denmark).

Wiggins is through 7.3km with the 4th best time, 4 seconds down on Chavanel.

The GPS times suggest that Cancellara and Martin are around ten seconds up on Wiggins, but we'll see if that bears true at the first formal check.

Best time for Cancellara at the 7.2km point. He reaches the top of the climb 10 seconds up on Chavanel, 12 ahead of Quaade and Phinney, and 15 up on Wiggins.

It's very, very tight between Martin and Cancellara. Martin goes through the 7.2km mark 0.36 seconds down on Cancellara, a gap RAI's Davide Cassani calculates to be equal to 7 metres.

At the finish line, Kanstantin Siutsou has clocked a new provisional best, but it seems clear that the late starters will carve up the medals between them.

Wiggins has the tendency to start his time trials steadily and make up ground over the closing kilometres. but he faces a tall order here with 15 seconds to make up on Cancellara and Martin.

Rohan Dennis reaches the finish with the provisional second best time, 9 seconds down on Siutsou.

Marco Pinotti's faint hopes of a medal are fading quickly. He reacehs the second time check with the 4th best time, 40 seconds down on the current best, set by Vasil Kiryienka.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Roche crosses the finish line with the third best time to date, 13 seconds down on Siutsou.

Martin, Wiggins and Cancellara are still en route to the second time check at Quarrata. Unofficial information suggests that Cancellara is 6 seconds up, with Wiggins' deficit continuing to rise, but as ever, we await formal confirmation at the 24.09km point.

After his fine start on the climb of Serravalle Pistoiese, Sylvain Chavanel has conceded 32 seconds to Kiryienka by the time he reaches the 24km mark, demonstrating the variety of pacing strategies over the opening part of the course.

The latest GPS information suggests that Martin is in fact 8 seconds ahead of Cancellara. Wiggins is 32 seconds down on Martin, while Phinney is 43 seconds down, but I repeat, these are not official time checks.

Phinney comes through the 24km check with the second best time so far, but he's all of 20 seconds down on Kiryienka, which suggests he is already losing signifant ground to both Cancellara and Martin.

Cancellara, Wiggins and Martin all look smooth and comfortable in their tuck positions, but there are no points for style here - the clock is the only arbiter that counts.

Wiggins comes through 24.1km with the second best time so far, 3 seconds behind Kiryienka, last year's surprise bronze medallist.

At the same point, Cancellara is 20 seconds up on Kiryienka and 24 ahead of Wiggins...

Tony Martin averages 52.6kph through the first 24.1 kilometres. The German is already 13 seconds up on Cancellara, 34 ahead of Kiryienka, 37 ahead of Wiggins and 55 up on Phinney.

2nd time check, 24.1km:

1 Tony Martin (Germany) 00:27:27
2 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 00:00:13
3 Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) 00:00:34
4 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 00:00:37
5 Taylor Phinney (USA) 00:00:55
 

A notable feature of today's time trial is how many riders have been fading over the final 15 kilometres of the test, but neither Cancellara nor Martin are showing any signs of flagging thus far.

The latest GPS check says that Cancellara has cut back his gap on Martin to ten seconds. Wiggins, meanwhile, has put some distance between himself and Kiryienka, but is still 33 seconds down on Martin.

Cancellara almost clips the side of the pavement, but he manages to avoid the danger and continues on his way, almost without skipping a beat.

There aren't many technical sections on this time trial course, but it be interesting to see if Cancellara takes any risks once he enters the streets of Florence, or if he is racing with Sunday in the back of his mind.

At the finish line, Gustav Larsson (Sweden) takes the provisional best time, one second ahead of Siutsou and 10 up on Rohan Dennis.

Jan Barta (Czech Republic) crosses the line with the provisional third best time, and dislodges Rohan Dennis from the podium places.

Martin has stretched out his lead over Cancellara to 22 seconds, according to the GPS. Wiggins, meanwhile, is holding steady at 35 seconds down on Martin.

Vasili Kiryienka (Belarus) has the best time at the 42.3km mark, and is in the streets of Florence on the approach to the finish.

Cancellara is fading, while Wiggins is winding up the pace. Wiggins is just ten seconds off Cancellara now at around the 35km mark, but he is unable to make any real inroads into the flying Tony Martin.

It's not been Taylor Phinney's day. The American hits the 42km point 18 seconds down on Kiryienka and will not be among the medals today.

A very smooth Wiggins hurtles through the same point with the new best time, 20 seconds up on Kiryienka and 39 ahead of Phinney. The Briton looks on course for a medal, but the rainbow jersey looks destined to return to Tony Martin's shoulders this afternoon.

Cancellara is 12 seconds up on Wiggins at the 42km mark, and has averaged a scorching 53kph thus far.

The world title is Martin's to lose at this point. With 15km to go, he is already 28 seconds up on Cancellara, 40 up on Wiggins, and riding at an average speed of 53.5kph.

Standings after 42km:

1 Tony Martin (Germany) 00:47:24
2 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 00:00:28
3 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 00:00:41
4 Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) 00:01:31
5 Taylor Phinney (USA) 00:01:20
 

Rasmus Quaade has the provisional best time at the finish for now, but the Dane knows that he will be outside the medals, with Martin, Cancellara and Wiggins still to come.

Wiggins cruises through Le Cascine, the park where David Zabriskie won the time trial at the 2005 Giro, and where Mark Cavendish won a bunch sprint during the centenary edition four years later. The Englishman is just six seconds down on Cancellara and closing in on the silver medal.

Vasil Kiryienka was a surprise bronze medallist last year, and while he won't match that this year, he's put in a fine performance this afternoon. The Belarus rider finishes in 1:07:02, which is the best time to date, 1:10 up on Quaade.

Wiggins is now along the northern banks of the Arno, heading towards Ponte Vecchio and drawing ever closer to Cancellara as he approaches the lone technical section of the course.

Martin, meanwhile, passes the Porta al Prato as he enters the city of Florence and rides towards a third consecutive world time trial championship.

Marco Pinotti crosses the finish line with the third best time to date, 1:15 down on Kiryienka.

Cancellara presses on past the Campanile in Piazza Duomo, and he is grimly holding onto previously second place, just ahead of Wiggins.

Martin has no need to take any risks as he sweeps past the Duomo but he is showing no signs of relenting. After his narrow victory over Phinney twelve months ago, this is set to be a rather more emphatic triumph for the German.

Chavanel collapsed in the final part of the course and crosses the line in 16th place, 2:22 down on Kiryienka.

Entering the final kilometres, Wiggins has nudged ahead of Cancellara for the first time, albeit by just one second.

Richie Porte comes home in 12th place, almost two minutes down on Kiryienka. Malori takes provisional 4th place, 1:25 off the pace.

Bradley Wiggins almost catches a flagging Phinney in the finishing straight, and he crosses the line with the new best time. His time of 1:06:22 is 39 seconds ahead of Kiryienka and 1:22 up on Phinney. Can can Cancellara respond?

It's one long sprint for Cancellara as he hurtles into the finishing straight, but he falls just short of Wiggins. He crosses the line two seconds down for provisional second place and - barring something very dramatic indeed - the bronze medal once Martin crosses the line.

Tony Martin (Germany) is the world time trial champion. The German beats Wiggins into second place by 46 seconds, while Cancellara takes third at 48 seconds.

Vasil Kiryienka finishes the day in 4th, 1:26 down, while Taylor Phinney is 5th, 2:08 behind. Ramus Quaade claimed an impressive 6th, while the Italian pair of Marco Pinotti and Adriano Malori come away with 7th and 8th.

Result:

1 Tony Martin (Germany) 1:05:36.65
2 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 0:00:46.09
3 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 0:00:48.34
4 Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) 0:01:26.01
5 Taylor Phinney (United States of America) 0:02:08.00
6 Rasmus Christian Quaade (Denmark) 0:02:36.33
7 Marco Pinotti (Italy) 0:02:41.92
8 Adriano Malori (Italy) 0:02:51.07
9 Gustav Larsson (Sweden) 0:02:58.47
10 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus) 0:02:59.54

Martin knew that the race was won as he entered the final kilometre, yet he didn't ease up until he crossed the finish line, holding up three fingers to the cameras as he did so. Still only 28 years of age, the German has ample time to match Cancellara's record of four world time trial titles.

Thanks for joining us on Cyclingnews for today's live coverage. A full report, pictures and results will follow here, and we'll also have all the news, reaction and intrigue from Florence for the rest of the week, as well as live coverage from the weekend's road races.

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