UCI Road World Championship Cycling: Tony Martin retains time trial title

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GERMANY’S Tony Martin lived up to expectations when he edged out American Taylor Phinney to retain the time trial world title at the end of a demanding 45.7km individual effort in Limburg, the Netherlands, yesterday.

The win capped a tough season for pre-race favourite Martin, who broke his wrist on the Tour de France and had to settle for silver in the Olympic time trial behind Bradley Wiggins.

Wiggins, who will start Sunday’s road race, skipped the event after an exhausting year that saw him become the first Briton to win the Tour and then took Olympic gold in London.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara, the 2008 Olympic champion and four-times time trial world champion, also did not take part after failing to recover from a shoulder injury. Martin, who won the trade teams world title on Sunday with Omega Pharma-Quick Step, clocked 58 minutes 39 seconds. The 27-year-old beat Phinney by only five seconds after the American had set the best time at the first check point. Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus won the bronze a huge 1:45 off the pace. Heavy rain showers disrupted the early starters but roads were mostly dry for the favourites on a tricky, hilly course. It did not help Marco Pinotti, though, as the Italian suffered a suspected broken collarbone when he crashed out in a left-hand corner while battling for a place in the top three.

Vuelta champion Alberto Contador of Spain started the time trial looking for a place on the podium but was never in the mix, even facing the embarrassment of being overtaken by Martin, who had left the starting ramp two minutes behind. Contador finished a disappointing ninth. Phinney did his best in the final climbs to Rozekoel (800m at 5.4 per cent) and Cauberg (1,200 at 5.8) but Martin had too much power for the American. Alex Dowsett, Great Britain’s sole representative in the absence of Wiggins and Chris Froome, finished eighth.

Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead has withdrawn from the Great Britain team for the UCI Road World Championships road race on Saturday due to illness,