Denying the German Tony Martin the chance to become the first rider in history to take four consecutive world championship Elite time trial titles, Bradley Wiggins was quickest against the clock in Ponferrada on Wednesday.
The British rider beat Martin two years ago to win the Olympic time trial and pulled out the same kind of performance today, going 26.23 seconds quicker over the 47.1 kilometre distance and grabbing gold. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin was next best, 40.64 seconds back.
Wiggins’ success came on a course which was sufficiently tough to put the heavier Martin under pressure. While Wiggins is no longer as good a climber as he was when he won the 2012 Tour de France, he was able to eke out time on his rival and then to keep riding strongly on the flat and downhill parts.
The success earned him his first road race world title, adding to the six track world championship titles and four Olympic golds he has won previously.
“I knew coming into it that I had the legs, and once I saw the course, I realised that if I was ever going to beat Tony again, it was on a course like this,” he said afterwards.
“It has been an up and down year, obviously, I didn’t ride the Tour [due to non-selection by his Sky team]. I want to dedicate this to my family because my wife and children back home were there for me all summer and they had to put up with me when I was at home during July.
“[It’s] my last world time trial championship and I have finished with a gold medal.”
Wiggins has finished second twice in the past three years, conceding one minute 15.83 seconds in 2011 and 46.09 last year. This time round he was in better form, while Martin appeared some way off his best condition.
“I knew the difference would be made in the final, on that final loop. There were very tough climbs after the course already. So I paced it perfectly and I still had gas in the final,” he said.
“Even on the last descent, I heard I was 10 seconds up and I was just pushing all the way. I didn’t want to take any risks.”
Irish rider Nicolas Roche was hoping to improve on his 13th place of one year ago but instead was some way off that level.
He was 41st, three minutes 50.39 seconds behind Wiggins, and is clearly showing the fatigue of a long season.
He is due to ride the Elite road race on Sunday alongside first cousin Dan Martin and their fellow Irishman Philip Deignan.
Roche will hope that he is feeling better then than he did in today’s race.