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UCI Road World Championships 2021: Elite men's time trial – Live Coverage


The UCI World Championships get underway with the elite men's individual time trial, which shifts to the opening event for the first time. This new schedule was supposed to come into effect last year - at one point during the mid-pandemic revisions to the UCI calendar, the event was set to clash with the final stage of the Tour de France - but the Worlds were ultimately pared down to just the elite events in Imola. This time out, there is a full week of events in Flanders and the action begins with a most elite contest as Filippo Ganna (Italy) puts his title on the line against European champion Stefan Küng (Switzerland), home favourites Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), and Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia), who appears to be capable of just about anything. 

66 riders are taking part today, setting out at 90-second intervals. Christofer Jurado Lopez (Panama) is the first man down the start ramp at 14:40 CET, with Ganna the last man off at 16:05:30 CET. The full start order is here, and the last wave of starters are listed below: 

Elite Men's ITT course 2021 UCI Road World Championships

(Image credit: Flanders 2021/UCI)

These World Championships begin on a very sombre note following the tragic death of Chris Anker Sørensen on Saturday. The former professional was in Belgium to commentate on the Worlds for Danish television station TV 2. He was killed when he was struck by a van while riding near Zeebrugge. His former teammate Andy Schleck was among those to pay tribute to a rider who excelled as a domestique but who also showcased his ability with a memorable stage win at Terminillo on the 2010 Giro d'Italia. “It was only at the Tour that we were having a coffee together in Andorra. He was living life, riding a lot and cycling was his religion," Scheck said. "You won’t find anyone in the sport with a bad word to say about him. He was just a great man and a great friend. This is a huge loss for all of cycling. He started as a fan, he lived his dream as a rider and the stayed in the sport because he wanted to give something back. As I said, he was a role model. My heart goes out to his family, his children and everyone who was lucky enough to be influenced by him.”

Another poignant tribute was paid to Chris Anker Sørensen by the Danish journalist Lars Bach Jørgensen, who wrote this obituary for TV2. "In a sport that often pays homage to toughness, cynicism and a winning mentality as core points, he stood out as having a profile with other qualities," Jørgensen writes. "Chris Anker was more human than machine. And that led him into his job as a commentator, where his empathy and compassion were noticeable."

Earlier today, Tony Martin announced his retirement after these World Championships. He lines out in the individual time trial today and mixed relay on Wednesday before hanging up his wheels. It is perhaps a measure of the man that Martin has used his retirement announcement to lobby for improved safety conditions in professional cycling, acknowledging that his crashes - including on this year's Tour de France - had influenced his decision not to continue in 2022. "The bad crashes this year have also caused me to question whether I am ready to continue to face the risks that our sport involve," Martin said. "I have decided that I do not want to, especially since race safety has not improved despite the many discussions about courses and barriers. Hopefully the cycling world will listen to the plans presented by my team and other teams.”

Christofer Jurado Lopez (Panama) rolls down the start ramp and the 2021 World Championships are formally underway. The second man off will be Matteo Sobrero (Italy), who hails from rather hillier terrain than this. The Astana rider is a native of Alba, in the heart of the Langhe. The 24-year-old was part of the Italian team that won the mixed relay at last week's European Championships and he is also the reigning national champion in the individual time trial, having divested Ganna of the title in June.

The early starters are as follows: 

It's worth noting that Remco Evenepoel sets off an hour ahead of the remainder of the top favourites. The Belgian will expect a stint in the hot seat, and it will be fascinating, too, to see if wind conditions change across the afternoon.

There are two intermediate checks on the route today, after 13.8km and 33.3km. The television motorbikes are following Sobrero through these early kilometres and the Italian should set the quickest marks among the very earliest handful of starters. 

Max Walscheid (Germany) rolls down the start ramp and begins his effort. He rode to a strong 5th place at the European Championships and is clearly a man on form in this closing phase of the season.

Brandon McNulty (USA) is another early starter who will set times worth noting, even if the pan flat parcours might not be entirely to his liking. That said, he did win the junior title on a similarly flat course in Doha five years ago...

Meanwhile, Remco Evenpoel readies himself behind the start house. The Belgian gets underway in a little over five minutes...

Three-time under-23 champion Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) rolls down the start ramp, doubtless eager to make amends for a low-key showing in Trento at the European Championships.

Bjerg will be chased by a man Ganna has identified as a real contender for the title today. Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) was 4th in Trento and he also won the individual time trial at the Benelux Tour.

All eyes - and, presumably, the TV motorbike - will be on Remco Evenepoel, who rolls down the start ramp to thunderous local applause. In theory, this flat route is better suited to the more powerful Wout van Aert, but it seems nothing is ever out of reach for Evenepoel.

Matteo Sobrero (Italy) has the best time so far at the 13.8km mark, clocking 16:25.

Max Walscheid has beaten Sobrero's mark by 26 seconds at the first checkpoint, clocking 15:59, while Dan Bigham is just 6 seconds slower than the German. McNulty is 23 seconds down in third. 

Evenepoel, meanwhile, is pedalling smoothly through the opening portion of his effort. The Belgian is 7km into his time trial and it will be very interesting indeed to see what time he posts at the first check. He took third behind Ganna and Küng at the European Championships, before taking second in the road race. 

Neither Bissegger nor Bjerg can beat Walscheid's time at the first checkpoint, but they've come close, just 1.5 and 1.6 seconds down, respectively. The next man through will be one R. Evenepoel...

Quickest time at the first checkpoint for Evenepoel. His time of 15:47 is 11 seconds up on Walscheid...

Edoardo Affini (Italy) has also started strongly, and he has the second best time at the first check, 7 seconds down on Evenepoel, who is being heartily roared around the course by the home crowds...

Evenepoel loses his water bottle on a corner. He still has 23km to race without it, though at least he managed to avoid getting the bottle caught up in his wheels...

Matteo Sobrero is the first rider to complete his time trial, but he shakes his head at his time of 50:53. He will be in the hot seat for now, but not for long, with Bigham, Walscheid etc approaching the finish. Indeed Bigham is through the second intermediate check some 46 seconds up on Sobrero.

Walscheid comes through the same point just under a second down on Bigham.

Evenepoel, meanwhile, has 18km still to go. His pedalling is still fluid, but who knows if he will pay a small price for riding the remainder of this time trial without a bottle. 

Ryan Mullen (Ireland) is out on the course. The Irishman's best display in the elite Worlds came on the flat course in Doha five years ago when he was fifth. He'll ride for Bora-Hansgrohe next season alongside fellow countryman Sam Bennett.

Brandon McNulty is not enjoying his effort. The American is 52 seconds down on Bigham at the second intermediate check.

A solid time, meanwhile, from Jan Tratnik, who is just 0.46 of a second down on Bigham at the second check.

Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) has built up a head of steam en route to the second check. He comes through 16 seconds up on Bigham for the next best time. But Evenepoel is steadily approaching the same point...

Evenepoel blasts through the second check some 37 seconds up on Bissegger. The Belgian is set for a lengthy spell in the hot seat this afternoon...

For the time being, Dan Bigham (Great Britain) has the best time. His 49:48 is 54 seconds quicker than Matteo Sobrero (Italy).

Max Walscheid beats that time by 17 seconds. A solid display from the German, but Bissegger and Evenepoel will soon eclipse his mark.

A little under 5km to go for Evenepoel, who shows no sign of relenting. The Belgian looks to have judged his effort well to the distance, though the clock will provide the final verdict.

Tony Martin, meanwhile, gets his effort underway, while Tadej Pogacar readies himself for the start. As Evenepoel approaches the finish, the other big favourites are preparing for their starts.

A reminder of the late starters:

A next best time at the finish of 49:13 for Stefan Biggesser but it won't last long... Evenepoel is already in the final kilometre...

Evenepoel cruises through the finish line in 48:31, some 42 seconds up on Bissegger. There are still a lot of big names to come, but that time will take considerable beating.

Time at finish

Edoardo Affini reaches the finish with the third best time, albeit 1:05 down on Evenepoel.

Tadej Pogačar has started his effort and it will be fascinating to see what the Slovenian can produce here. The first time check will tell us an awful lot. 

Remi Cavagna (France) is also underway, and this flat course for strongmen could to his liking. His Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) is next up, and the Tour of Flanders winner could also shine on a course like this. Van Aert, meanwhile, bides his time behind the start house. 

European champion Stefan Kung is the third last man off. Only Van Aert and Filippo Ganna have yet to start, and these three men are the riders most likely to deny Evenepoel the rainbow jersey...

Wout van Aert rolls down the start ramp to a wall of noise. A silver medallist in both the time trial and road race in Imola last year, the Belgian is seeking a brace of rainbow jerseys on home roads here.

Polite applause and cheers for Filippo Ganna as he waves from the start ramp, but the local fans will be quietly hoping the world champion can't replicate his Imola display here.

Evenepoel takes his place on the hot seat just as Ganna rolls down the ramp. So it begins.

Second best time for Ethan Hayter at the first check, 3 seconds down on Evenepoel, while Tony Martin is third at 5 seconds.

Time at finish

A slow start, on the other hand, for Rigoberto Uran, who is some 55 seconds down on Evenepoel at the first time check.

16:06 for Pogacar at the first check after 13.3km. He's some 18 seconds down on Evenepoel, and looks unlikely to challenge for the medals unless he pulls out something remarkable in the back end of the course.

New best time at the first intermediate check for Kasper Asgreen (Denmark). He reaches the 13.3km point at Oostkerke in 15:40, some 7 seconds up on Evenepoel...

Even better from Stefan Küng, whose 15:36 at the first check is 4 seconds up on Asgreen and almost 11 ahead of Evenepoel.

Wout van Aert responds with an even more remarkable time. 15:19 for the Belgian at the first check, 17.6 seconds up on Kung, 21.4 up on Asgreen, 28.44 up on  Evenepoel and 31.86 up on Hayter... Over to Filippo Ganna...

Filippo Ganna is second best at the first check, 6.68 down on Van Aert. This could be a very, very tight battle for the rainbow jersey. Remember that Evenepoel's pace turned supersonic between the first and second checks. Can Ganna and Van Aert follow suit?

Time at first intermediate check (13.8km)

Time at finish

Tony Martin reaches the second intermediate check in 37:42, 24 seconds down on Evenepoel. That's the second best time to date. Martin was 7th at the first time check, and he will be in the mix for a place in the top five but the podium looks to be beyond him on this occasion.

Wout van Aert is pedalling with striking fluidity. After a brace of near misses at the Worlds last year, he knows a rainbow jersey is within his grasp here, but the second time check will reveal much about his duel with Ganna. Küng remains a live threat too, even if he has more ground to recoup.

Ethan Hayter has delivered a fine performance here and he crosses the finish line with the third best time thus far, 42 seconds down on Evenepoel. He faded slightly after a rapid start, but he carried his Tour of Britain form into this Worlds. 

1          Remco Evenepoel (Belgium)   48:31.17

Tadej Pogacar reaches the second intermediate check some 50 seconds down on Evenepoel, for the 6th best time to date. 

Kasper Asgreen was the first man to beat Evenepoel at the first check, but he has lost ground at the second check, where he clocks the second best time, 6.8 seconds down on the Belgian.

Tony Martin completes the final Worlds individual time trial of his fine career with the second best time thus far, 34 seconds down on Evenepoel. He won't make the podium but it was a fine display from the German.

And suddenly Evenepoel looks very much back in the hunt for the podium. Küng is 14 seconds down on the Belgian at the second intermediate check, having been ahead of him at the first...

Wout van Aert scorches through the second intermdiate check in 36:45, some 32.7 seconds up on Evenepoel. Only Ganna can deny Belgium a rainbow jersey here...

This is going down to the wire... Filippo Ganna reaches the second intermediate check just 0.84 seconds on Van Aert...

Time at second intermediate check

Evenepoel looks as though he might get a podium place, but it's just too close to call between Ganna and Van Aert. Ganna has the momentum of picking up a few seconds on Van Aert in the middle part of the course, and the Belgian fans on the roadside are playfully gesturing at him to slow down...

Van Aert's shoulders are rocking slightly as he keeps his gear turning off. Ganna is looking slightly smoother at this late juncture, but it's all about the time at the finish.

Van Aert enters the final 5km between two walls of noise. He surely knows that he's locked in a near dead heat with Ganna ahead of the final push...

6th best time at the finish for Pogacar, 1:09 down on Evenepoel, but this is all about the duel between Ganna and Van Aert now...

Kasper Asgreen hits the finish line with the second best time, just 2.3 seconds down on Evenepoel. The Dane recouped ground in the final section but he will fall just short of the podium...

Küng looked out of the podium hunt at the second check but perhaps he, too, has managed to outpace Evenepoel over the final leg of the course.

Wout van Aert meanwhile is into the final kilometre and closing in on Küng. But is he closing in on victory?

Third best time at the finish for Küng, 23 seconds behind Evenepoel. He will finish this race in fifth when Van Aert and Ganna finish.

New best time at the finish for Wout van Aert, who clocks 47:53. That's 38 seconds up on Evenepoel. But can Ganna go faster?

Filippo Ganna is into the final kilometre. He was 0.8 of a second down at the final check. Can he turn the tide?

The clock counts down, it's going to be tight....

Filippo Ganna (Italy) is world time trial champion.

Ganna stops the clock 5.37 seconds quicker than Van Aert to retain his world title.

Ganna spreads out his arms in resignation past the finish line, but then walks over immediately to offer his congratulations to Ganna. More Worlds heartbreak for Van Aert, who could hardly have done much more here. 

Remco Evenepoel takes the bronze medal, 43.34 seconds down on Ganna, while Asgreen is edged off the podium into 4th. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Italy) 0:47:48
2Wout van Aert (Belgium) 0:47:53
3Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) 0:48:31
4Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) 0:48:33
5Stefan Kung (Switzerland) 0:48:54
6Tony Martin (Germany) 0:49:05
7Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) 0:49:13
8Ethan Hayter (Great Britain) 0:49:14
9Edoardo Affini (Italy) 0:49:36
10Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) 0:49:40

Filippo Ganna (Italy) on his world title: "I think in one week, my condition grew up really well after the short camp at altitude I did the European Championships but the legs didn't spin very well. I didn't know if I could arrive at the World Championships with good sensations and good shape but today when I woke up, I had a good feeling in my legs and in my head I just dreamed to win again today. For me defending this jersey is very important and I hope to honour it in the next year."

Ganna pays tribute to his Belgian rivals Van Aert and Evenepoel: "We are all good guys and in the end we have good respect. Winning in the host country is amazing but sorry, today I woke up dreaming to win again. Thank you to the guys, they motivated me to improve."

Stefan Küng (Switzerland) on his fifth place: "I feel a bit of frustration right now, I had different goals today, but the other riders were better so congratulations to them. I don’t know what I was missing. I was feeling good and I had the impression I was on pace, but suddenly I was losing time. I finished strongly but the others were better today.”

2021 UCI Road World Championships Flanders Men Elite Time Trial - Knokke - Heist Bruges 43,3 km - 19/09/2021 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - Ineos Grenadiers) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

2021 UCI Road World Championships Flanders Men Elite Time Trial - Knokke - Heist Bruges 43,3 km - 19/09/2021 - Wout Van Aert (BEL - Jumbo - Visma) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

2021 UCI Road World Championships Flanders Men Elite Time Trial - Knokke - Heist Bruges 43,3 km - 19/09/2021 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - Ineos Grenadiers) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Filippo Ganna's average speed on the course was an eyewatering 54.37kph.

Wout van Aert was magnanimous in his congratulations for Ganna but his personal disappointment was evident when he spoke to Sporza after another second place. He took home two silver medals from last year's Worlds in Imola, another from the Tokyo Olympics and one more at the cyclo-cross Worlds. He was also second at last October's delayed Tour of Flanders for good measure. "I don't feel very happy. I rode a good time trial. But this is a silver too many. I have nothing to blame myself for. I was beaten by Ganna, who is a super good time triallist. He's more of a specialist than I am. So rationally I should be happy with the silver, but it still feels different…”

Van Aert remains the favourite for next Sunday’s road race. "I'm going to do a long, quiet training ride tomorrow,” he said. “After that, I’ll rest for two days and put the last touches on Thursday towards Sunday. I have a lot of confidence in the team. The Belgian public was fantastic today, and it was great to race in front of them. Next week we will face the same circumstances.”

BRUGES BELGIUM SEPTEMBER 19 Remco Evenepoel of Belgium sprints during the 94th UCI Road World Championships 2021 Men Elite ITT a 433km Individual Time Trial race from KnokkeHeist to Bruges flanders2021 ITT on September 19 2021 in Bruges Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)


A full report, results and photos from today's time trial are available here.

Filippo Ganna

(Image credit: Getty)

Filippo Ganna

(Image credit: Getty)

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