Chris Froome’s brief visit to the Florence World Championships went well this weekend. He returns to Monaco with a bronze medal, something he hopes to improve upon in Sunday’s road race.

“It’s a good opener ahead of next weekend,” team Sky’s captain told media, including Cycling Weekly. “It was a big effort.”

Omega Pharma-Quick Step won in a one-second battle with Orica-GreenEDGE. Sky was the only other team to be within seconds, 22 of them; the other teams arrived minutes behind. It clocked one hour, 4.39 minutes over the 57.2 kilometres from Montecatini Terme to Florence.

“We possibly started off a little fast. Personally, I think that I spent too much early,” Froome added. “I was suffering in the middle section of the race. I started feeling better towards the end again.”

“He put himself in the red too fast,” performance manager, Rod Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly. “He did well to miss a few turns, which he did coming out of Pistoia. That was brave of him. And then he was solid all the way in.”

Froome crossed with Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Geraint Thomas pulled off in the last kilometre and Kanstantsin Siutsou earlier.

Sky briefly held the fastest time. Froome talked with Kiryienka and coughed on his way to the holding area. Just as he and his team-mates became comfortable in the seats, Orica topped their time. Then Omega won the day.

World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin led Omega Pharma to the win. He will defend his individual title on Wednesday against riders like Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara, who raced to fifth with RadioShack-Leopard.

“I don’t think Bradley [Wiggins] would’ve watched,” Ellingworth explained. “He is racing the Tour of Britain, ready to win. What’s the result?”

Wiggins won the Tour of Britain overall, his first classification win since the Tour de France last year. He used it as his last race warm up before travelling to Florence for the individual time trial.

The Worlds shifts gears tomorrow. National teams replace trade teams. Wiggins arrives, Froome departs.

“I’ll be watching from home,” Froome explained. “It’ll be an exciting one to watch. Brad, Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara… All three of those riders are going well at the moment. Brad just won the Tour of Britain, and Fabian and Tony finished the Vuelta well. The parcours suits all three of them.”

Froome returns on Friday and teams with Bradley for the first time since the Tour of Oman in February. His aim is to win and to add a gold medal to his bronze medal. The course, with a four-kilometre climb and two shorter bursts, suits him.

“I’ll do all I can to be up there,” Froome said. “A lot of different riders could win: a pure climber, a breakaway specialist, a punchier rider like [Philippe] Gilbert or [Peter] Sagan. It’s a very open race.”