Racing News

Olympic time trials – preview

The weekend’s Olympic road races delivered disappointment and exhilaration in almost equal measure for British fans.

Tomorrow’s individual time trials provide the opportunity for more success with Great Britain fielding riders who will start among the favourites in the men’s and women’s events.

Courses for each start and finish in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace in the London borough of Richmond-Upon-Thames. The women, first away at 12.30pm, will race over 29km, while the men will tackle a 44km course from 2.15pm. Both courses are flat.

Cancellara is determined to defend is Olympic time trial title, despite crashing in Saturday’s road race

The men’s time trial has been identified as Bradley Wiggins’ to lose by no lesser source than reigning world time trial champion, Tony Martin of Germany. Psychological warfare? Perhaps. Martin climbed off his bike after 180km of Saturday’s Olympic road race, and clearly not through injury, suggesting he has not entirely given up hope.

The German has endured a difficult season since being knocked off his bike by a car near his home in Switzerland in April, leaving him with facial injuries and fractures to his left arm and shoulder blade.

He withdrew from an incident-blighted Tour de France after the stage nine individual time trial, a race in which he suffered punctures in both early tests against the clock, and crashed on stage one, braking a small bone between the finger and thumb of his left hand (the scaphoid).

His early exit from the Tour, and from Saturday’s Olympic road race, will certainly leave him more rested than Wiggins. Martin has said momentum and home advantage will drive Wiggins’ to victory but this could be a psychological ploy to remove the weight of expectation from his own shoulders.

He beat the Englishman, and the defending Olympic time trial champion, Fabian Cancellara, to the world time trial title in Copenhagen last year, unusually by riding on clincher tyres (tubular tyres are typically lighter and more supple). Can he do so again tomorrow? The form book says no. We’d be surprised, but not shocked, if he took gold.

Cancellara is of the few riders to have suffered a more difficult season than Martin. ‘Spartacus’ missed many of the spring Classics after crashed again in the feed zone in the Tour of Flanders and breaking his collar bone in four places, and crashing again in Saturday’s Olympic road race.

His determination to defend his Olympic title speaks volumes about Cancellara, but in his current position, Wiggins will be favoured to beat him. Even without his most recent injury, Cancellara would perhaps have been on the back foot. The Londoner exacted revenge for Cancellara’s prologue TT victory at the Tour by putting 57 seconds into the Swiss on the 41.5km stage nine test from Arc et Senans to Besançon.

Wiggins nowadays has little difficulty coping with pressure and will relish the prospect of racing in his home city. He will also be keen to make amends for Saturday’s disappointment, where despite playing a huge role in Team GB’s efforts to control the men’s road race, the team was unable to haul Mark Cavendish into contention for a sprint finish.

His time trialing form this season has been imperious and a central tenet of his victories at Paris-Nice (victory against the clock on the Col d’Èze), the Tour du Romandie (victory over teammate and three-time world time trial champion, Mick Rogers), the Criterium du Dauphine (Martin beaten into second by 34” on the stage four ITT), and the Tour de France (time trial victories on stages nine and nineteen).

The withdrawal of Cadel Evans is not as significant as he might have been in previous years. The Australian has endured miserable form during and since the Tour. His countryman, Team Sky’s Michael Rogers, will now carry Australia’s greatest threat. Rogers has been in great form all year, winning Bayern-Rundfahrt, serving as a key ally to Wiggins in the Londoner’s Tour victory, and showing his strength as recently as Saturday, when he time trialed off the front of the peloton in mock pursuit of a leading group containing teammate, Stuart O’Grady, in an early test for Team GB.

As in the Tour, Wiggins’ greatest challenge may yet come from teammate, Chris Froome. The Kenyan-born Brit has proved as formidable a competitor against the clock as in the mountains, finishing second to Wiggins two of the Tour’s three time trials on his way to finishing second overall.

Young Americans, Taylor Phinney, winner of the Giro d’Italia prologue time trial, and Tejay Van Garderen, who passed his BMC Racing team leader, Cadel Evans, on the road in the stage 19 time trial at the Tour de France, both have an outside chance.

Luis Leon Sanchez, who won the Spanish national time trial championship for a fourth time earlier this year, is clearly in superb form, winning stage 14 of the Tour de France and coming close to winning stage 18. His time in the stage 19 time trial was bettered only by Froome and Wiggins, and he made the selection in Saturday’s road race.

National time trial champions, Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Denis Menchov (Russia), Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang (strong in Saturday’s road race), and Holland’s Lieuwe Westra (a close second to Wiggins in the closing time trial at Paris-Nice), have an outside chance, as does five-time Italian national champion, Marco Pinotti.

Great Britain will field one of the favoured riders in the women’s time trial in the form of Emma Pooley, who, after winner, Marianne Vos, and runner-up, Lizzie Armitstead, was the standout performer in Sunday’s road race. Pooley was world time trial champion in 2010 and is clearly in superb form.

Armitstead will attempt to win a second medal of the Games tomorrow and if confidence and momentum count for anything, will stand a good chance of doing so. A member of Great Britain’s world championship winning women’s team pursuit squad in 2009, Armitstead’s early career was moulded towards success on the track and she clearly carries the speed necessary for success against the clock.

The home riders’ chiefs rivals will be many of those who rode strongly in Sunday’s road race.

Marianne Vos, twice Dutch national time trial champion, and teammate, Ellen Van Dijk, an accomplished time trialist and pursuit rider, as well as one of the strongest in Sunday’s road race, will again represent the biggest threat to British success.

Double world time trial champion, Kristin Armstrong (USA), rode strongly in Sunday’s road race despite the misfortune of crashing, showing she has arrived in London in good form.

Reigning Swedish national road and time trial champion, Emma Johansson, and five time German time trial champion, Judith Ardnt, will carry the hopes of their respective nations.

Discuss in the forum

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.