Men face faster-than-expected Worlds time trial course
Tony Martin, London 2012 Olympic Games time trials
The Valkenburg World Championships heads into its fourth day with the men's time trial tomorrow. Already, after five events including Elinor Barker's gold, we have a clearer idea of what to expect from the men.
Germany's Judith Arndt won in a time of 33-26 minutes today, averaging 44.57kph. To get a better idea of the men's winning time, it might be better to look at what Russian Anton Vorobyev averaged over 36 kilometres in the Under 23 event: 48.923kph.
Tony Martin (Germany), or whoever wins the title tomorrow, may average around the same speed given Vorobyev's time and Bradley Wiggins' winning time in the Besançon time trial, 48.44kph.
The Valkenburg course is slightly more undulating than Tour's ninth stage, 41.5km, from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon. It starts in Heerlen and travels 46.3km west to Valkenburg, taking in two climbs before the Cauberg finish.
Wiggins and Chris Froome placed one-two in the Tour's ninth stage. They pulled out of the Worlds TT, but Sky's Alex Dowsett will represent GB. Out of the Besançon top 10, only Peter Velits (Slovakia), Sylvain Chavanel (France) and Tejay Van Garderen (USA) are racing tomorrow.
Chavanel helped Omega Pharma-QuickStep win the team time trial on Sunday. He said, it is "a big motivation" for the individual event.
Alberto Contador (Spain) watched the Tour de France from home due to a doping ban, but he is back and strong, which he underlined with his Vuelta a España win.
"It is quite different from what I expected," Contador told Spain's Biciciclismo after training yesterday. "Of the three climbs, only Cauberg is demanding. I hoped that the first was hard, but it's not. You need to stay seated and that doesn't benefit me."
Given the course and without Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Martin is the favourite to win his second title. After some bad luck, including a crash in the Tour, he says he feels ready. Like Chavanel, he will be motivated from helping Omega Pharma win the team time trial.
The others? Count on Vuelta TT winner Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden), 2010 Under 23 champion Taylor Phinney (USA) and Marco Pinotti (Italy) to fill out the podium.
"Pinotti tells me that his numbers are better than what he saw leading into the Olympics," national coach, Paolo Bettini told Cycling Weekly. "Given the top names are gone and a favourable course, Marco can aim confidently for the podium."
Unlike today, the sun should shine tomorrow and temperatures should climb to 14°C.