Rohan Dennis (Australia) proved his time trialing talents were stronger than any dispute with his Bahrain-Merida team – and stronger than any absence from road racing – by winning his second consecutive world title in Yorkshire with a dominant performance in the UCI Road World Championships elite men's individual time trial.
Dennis started last as defending champion, and despite not racing since the Tour de France was clearly on form, even catching three-minute man Primoz Roglic. He was always faster than his rivals at the time checks, finishing the testing 54km course in a time of 1:05:05, with an average speed of 49.778km/h.
While Belgian teammates Yves Lampaert and Victor Campenaerts crashed and lost time, Remco Evenepoel lived up to the hype and expectations to take second and the silver medal. He finished 1:08 down on Dennis but again produced a stunning performance beyond his years. Italy's Filippo Ganna was third at 1:55 and so took the bronze medal and the final place on the podium.
Dennis pointed to his head three times and then punched the air as he crossed the finish line before going over to the finish area to kiss his wife and baby son.
"Maybe today, but it didn't go without a lot of preparation," Dennis said in the post-race interview when described as the 'fastest man in the world'.
"I spent a lot of time at home, did a lot of work in my head to get mentally prepared for today," he said. "It's been a lot tougher than it looked out there, so there's a lot of people to thank and it's good to repay them on the day when it really matters."
Dennis was happy with his performance as well as his world title, his problems with Bahrain-Merida momentarily forgotten.
"I knew the pace I went out with last year (in Innsbruck) and just stuck on that. I got into my rhythm and I knew I was 20 seconds up at the first time check. Then I knew I still had more to give and that I wasn't going to die on the climbs. I had [Australia national coach] Brad McGee and my coach in my ear from the car, talking me through it, and it was perfect today," he said.
"It's been a tough year. Obviously, there's been a lot of talk since the Tour de France about what I'm doing, but it was really special to back up this year. It means a lot to come here in the best possible shape and really defend this title and to show that I haven't hung the bike up. I'm here to race and still here to win. I've still got more to give in this sport."
How it unfolded
As the big-name medal contenders raced the final part of the course, some drops of rain changed the conditions, and with the road still wet in parts after the downpour on Wednesday, crashes were bound to happen.
Lampaert finished over 10 minutes down, with holes in the rear of his skinsuit indicating he had gone down. Campenaerts seemed to crash on a corner and needed a push to get going again. A hole in his right thigh was a clear sign of his spill. Later a chain problem totally derailed his ride. He needed a bike change, but just like at the Giro d'Italia, his staff made a real hash of it all, costing him even more time. Campenaerts went on to finish 11th, in a time of 1:07:54, 2:49 slower than Dennis.
Evenepoel started 20 minutes before Dennis and finished just after Craddock. He stunned the crowd by setting a time of 1:06:14. That was 46 seconds faster than Ganna, 52 seconds faster than Dowsett and a massive 1:51 faster than Durbridge. And he is still only 19.
Experienced time trialist such as Tony Martin (Germany), Stefan Kung (Switzerland) and Nelson Oliviera (Portugal) had to accept places in the top 10 as a new generation of riders also dominated the podium.
True to character, Roglic avoided speaking before the start and focused on his warm-up. His performance proved to be equally subdued.
Roglic did not ride the mixed relay team time trial on Sunday despite initially being named in the Slovenian team. That made the time trial his first race since winning the Vuelta a Espana, and it perhaps showed. He was off the pace right from the start, only 22nd fastest at the first intermediate time split, a whole minute slower than Dennis.
In the final 15 kilometres, Dennis caught and passed Roglic on a climb, staying tucked on his aero bars as Roglic was forced to dance on the pedals. In a show of pride, Roglic refused to be distanced and even caught Dennis in the streets of Harrogate.
The Australian and the Slovenian finished together, Dennis celebrating his victory by pointing at his head and punching the air, Roglic by finishing 12th at three minutes and spoiling the photograph. However, it seems nothing can stop Dennis in time trials when he is on form, happy and focused.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rohan Dennis (Australia)||1:05:05|
|2||Remco Evenepoel (Belgium)||0:01:08|
|3||Filippo Ganna (Italy)||0:01:55|
|4||Patrick Bevin (New Zealand)||0:01:57|
|5||Alex Dowsett (Great Britain)||0:02:01|
|6||Lawson Craddock (United States)||0:02:07|
|7||Tanel Kangert (Estonia)|
|8||Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)||0:02:09|
|9||Tony Martin (Germany)||0:02:27|
|10||Stefan Kung (Switzerland)||0:02:46|
|11||Victor Campenaerts (Belgium)||0:02:49|
|12||Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)||0:03:00|
|13||Luke Durbridge (Australia)|
|14||John Archibald (Great Britain)||0:03:10|
|15||Dylan Van Baarle (Netherlands)||0:03:36|
|16||Edoardo Affini (Italy)||0:03:37|
|17||Kasper Asgreen (Denmark)|
|18||Pierre Latour (France)||0:03:44|
|19||Chad Haga (United States)||0:03:57|
|20||Maciej Bodnar (Poland)||0:04:00|
|21||Jos Van Emden (Netherlands)||0:04:01|
|22||Nils Politt (Germany)||0:04:10|
|23||Kamil Gradek (Poland)||0:04:12|
|24||Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain)||0:04:18|
|25||Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)||0:04:29|
|26||Edward Dunbar (Ireland)||0:04:46|
|27||Hugo Houle (Canada)||0:04:57|
|28||Benjamin Thomas (France)|
|29||Martin Toft Madsen (Denmark)||0:04:58|
|30||Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Colombia)||0:05:04|
|31||Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)||0:05:15|
|32||Ryan Mullen (Ireland)||0:05:16|
|33||Jan Barta (Czech Republic)||0:05:21|
|34||Bob Jungels (Luxembourg)||0:05:36|
|35||Claudio Imhof (Switzerland)||0:06:11|
|36||Jan Tratnik (Slovenia)||0:06:14|
|37||Daniil Fominykh (Kazakhstan)||0:06:50|
|38||Josef Josef Černý (Czech Republic)||0:06:55|
|39||Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spain)||0:07:01|
|40||Matthias Brandle (Austria)||0:07:22|
|41||Stefan De Bod (South Africa)||0:07:25|
|42||Alexander Evtushenko (Russian Federation)||0:08:14|
|43||Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)||0:08:44|
|44||Chun Kai Feng (Chinese Taipei)||0:09:22|
|45||Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)||0:10:35|
|46||Jan Andrej Cully (Slovakia)||0:10:54|
|47||Muradjan Khalmuratov (Uzbekistan)||0:12:13|
|48||Yves Lampaert (Belgium)||0:13:16|
|49||Rúnar Örn Ágústsson (Iceland)||0:14:44|
|50||Ahmad Badreddin Wais (Syrian Arab Republic)||0:14:45|
|51||Eduard-Michael Grosu (Romania)||0:14:54|
|52||Gustavo Adolfo Miño Baez (Paraguay)||0:15:30|
|53||Khaled Alkhalaifah (Kuweit)||0:15:32|
|54||Saied Jafer Alali (Kuweit)||0:15:51|
|55||Dirk Coetzee (Namibia)||0:15:54|
|56||Nazir Jaser (Syrian Arab Republic)||0:24:57|
|57||Christopher Sysmonds (Ghana)||0:28:15|
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