Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka claimed victory for Belarus in the men’s elite individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, as Great Britain were unable to secure a second Olympic Games berth.
Kiryienka became the second consecutive Team Sky rider to ensure he’ll ride in the rainbow skinsuit next season after Sir Bradley Wiggins’ 2014 victory, beating Adriano Malori (Italy) and Jerome Coppel (France).
But after winning gold last year, Great Britain were unable to secure the top-ten spot which would have meant a second rider in the 2016 Olympic time trial – an event which Wiggins and Chris Froome won gold and bronze in respectively in 2012.
Steve Cummings finished 14th, 1’58” down on Kiryienka having come into the race on the back of completing the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, while Alex Dowsett was eight seconds further back in 17th.
Kiryienka started the race as national and European Games champion, and a Giro d’Italia time trial stage winner this year, and the Belarussian was fastest through all three intermediate time checks to clock 1.02.29 on the 53.5km course.
Pre-race favourites including three-time winner Tony Martin (Germany) and last year’s third-place finisher Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) were both off the pace by contrast, while a mechanical hindered Rohan Dennis (Australia).
Dennis recovered from the mid-race bike change to finish sixth, sandwiched by Dumoulin and Martin in fifth and seventh respectively, as Malori and Coppel earned their first senior medals at the World Championships.
Malori paid for a slow start, passing the first time check more than 20 seconds down on Kiryienka but recovered to finish just nine seconds back.
Coppel, too, who had been off the radar to many before the event, recovered from a slow start as the three podium finishers all clocked an average speed of more than 51km/h.
While there were no Brits in the top ten, Poland’s Marcin Bialoblocki – a long-time fixture of the British domestic scene, currently riding for One Pro Cycling – finished ninth to boost his chances of an Olympic Games spot.
The women’s event, meanwhile, took place the previous day on a more circuitous route and saw Kristin Armstrong set a fierce early benchmark as second rider out, earning her a long stay in the hot seat.
Ultimately the American veteran would finish fifth, however, with Commonwealth Games champion Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) beating in-form Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) to gold by just 2.54 seconds.
Defending champion Lisa Brennauer rounded out the podium, with British champion Hayley Simmonds 26th – 2’54” back on Villumsen – on her Worlds debut, later describing the two laps of the 15km course as brutal.
UCI Road World Championships 2015 – elite men’s time trial: result
1) Vasil Kiryienka – Belarus – 1.02.29hrs
2) Adriano Malori – Italy +9”
3) Jerome Coppel – France +26”
4) Jonathan Castroviejo – Spain +29”
5) Tom Dumoulin – Netherlands +1.01
6) Rohan Dennis – Australia +1.07
7) Tony Martin – Germany +1.16
8) Maciej Bodnar – Poland +1.17
9) Marcin Bialoblocki – Poland +1.22
10) Moreno Moser – Italy +1.31
14) Steve Cummings – Great Britain +1.58
17) Alex Dowsett – Great Britain +2.06
Additional Olympic Games 2016 places: Belarus, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, USA
UCI Road World Championships 2015 – elite women’s time trial: result
1) Linda Villumsen – New Zealand – 40.29
2) Anna van der Bregen – Netherlands +2”
3) Lisa Brennauer – Germany +5”
4) Katrin Garfoot – Australia +9”
5) Kristin Armstrong – USA +20”
6) Evelyn Stevens – USA +26”
7) Ellen van Dijk – Netherlands +53”
8) Alena Amialiusik – Belarus +1.06
9) Ann-Sophie Duyck – Belgium +1.19
10) Trixi Worrack – Germany – ST
26) Hayley Simmonds – Great Britain +2.54
Additional Olympic Games 2016 places: New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, USA, Belarus, Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic, Canada