Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) won his first ever world time trial title and and put a halt to Tony Martin’s reign in the Elite Men individual time trial after a nail biting race against the clock in Ponferrada on Wednesday.
Martin was hoping to win for a fourth consecutive time but Wiggins had announced this would be his last ever road race world championships and went out on style, pulling on the rainbow jersey.
Wiggins produced a perfect ride, using his experience and ability to carefully pace his effort on the 57.1km course. Wiggins was slower than Martin at the first time split but was saving his strength for the two late climbs that pushed riders to their limits. He stayed tucked in his aero position and put down huge power on the pedals for as long as he could, gaining a significant margin on the rest of the field.
Wiggins lunged at the finish line and stopped the clock in a time of 56:25. Martin suffered on the climb and lost precious time, finishing 26 seconds slower in 56:51. Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) took the bronze medal with an excellent ride, finishing 40 seconds slower than Wiggins in a time of 57:06.
Wiggins collapsed on the floor after his ride as he tried to recover. He did not know that he had become world champion and only smiled when he was given the thumbs up and told the rainbow jersey was his.
“It’s my last world time trial championship and I’ve finished with a gold medal,” he said. “To add the world title to the British title and the Olympic title means I’ve got the set. Along with the pursuit world titles (on the track), it’s fantastic.”
Wiggins was a Junior world champion on the track back in 1998 and learnt from his experience of racing against the clock. He finished second in the 2013 and 2011 world time trial championships behind Martin but won the gold medal in the event at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Wiggins is only the second Briton to win the rainbow jersey in the Elite Men time trial after Chris Boardman claimed the title in its inaugural year in 1994 in Catania, Italy.
“I knew coming into it that I had the legs. I realised once I saw the course that if I was ever going to beat Tony then it would be on a course like this,” Wiggins said.
“I just went through my routine. I’ve been in this situation so many times in the past and when I know that the condition is there I’m quite relaxed, I know what I have to do on the bike. I knew the different would be made in the final, on that final loop. I paced it perfectly and still had gas in the final. Even on that last descent, I heard that I was 10 seconds up and I was just pushing all the way. I didn’t want to take any risks.”
Wiggins waved and celebrated with the Great Britain team staff after pulling on the world champion’s rainbow jersey. He missed the Tour de France when it started in Britain in July but now seems focused on the twilight of his career on the track and a planned goodbye at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
“It’s been an up and down year, I didn’t ride the Tour, so I want to dedicate this to my family because they’ve been there for me all summer and they had to put up with me when I was at home during July,” he said.
Wiggins confirmed that his next major goal will be the UCI Hour Record on the track in the summer recently set by Jens Voigt. His attempt is expected to take place in June 2015.
The Elite Men event ended the time trial world championships for 2014. Racing on Ponferrada resumes on Friday ontv.uci.ch with with the Junior Women and Under 23 Men road race events on Friday. The Junior Men and Elite Women races will be held on Saturday with the Elite Men road race on Sunday.