Ireland’s Ryan Mullen set the most significant early benchmark, and his impressive time of 46.04.74 proved difficult to beat for some time.
Birkenhead-born Mullen, a former world championship silver medallist in the under-23 time trial, nearly caught his 90-second-man Andriy Grivko, who had only moments earlier posted the time to beat.
Dutchman Jos van Emden set a similar pace over the early part of the course, but ultimately paid for his fast start as he fell short.
For the Brits, Steve Cummings was the first to head out onto the course but – even with the CamelBak hydration system, as used by many of the riders in the race – looked to be suffering in the stifling heat.
Cummings was well down at the first time check, and – with the sweat pouring off him on the run-in to the finish line – eventually stopped the clock in 47.31.52.
Alex Dowsett also started off the pace, but pulled it back well on the technical final part of the course as he finished in 46.54.07.
Though good enough for fifth at the time he finished, it never looked like being enough to better his career-best eighth at the Worlds – though he did claim a small victory over Poland’s Marcin Bialoblocki, just weeks after the ONE Pro Cycling man broke Dowsett’s 10-mile and 25-mile time trial records.
With the favourites out the course, Mullen’s time continued to be the one to beat – Yves Lampaert of Belgium coming closest when he set a time of 46.28.10, just 0.3 seconds faster than van Emden.