Contenders for the time trial at the 2013 World Championships

It ain’t much of a spectator sport, but the world time trial promises great drama this year. This is because there are three major contenders, whereas time trials often seem to be more about whether Tony Martin will get a puncture or not.

Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins is known for winning stage races off the back of his strength in the time trial, but he’s never been world champion. He took silver in 2011 but is very much targeting gold this year. He won a 16km time trial in the Tour of Britain, but this race takes place over 58km and features a far better field. All the same, he seems to be less in excuse-making mode and more in the frame of mind where he leaves himself no excuses.

Tony Martin

Tony Martin has been world time trial champion for the last two years. He can also boast of having won the last two world team time trials. (Note that I say that he won them, not that he was in the winning team. This year, he has won the flat time trial in the Tour de France and produced probably the most astonishing ride of the season.

This week Wiggins remembered what Martin was like when he started as a pro in 2008:

“He was fat, he didn’t know about cycling, he told Lance Armstrong to get fucked once in the Tour in 2010. Lance couldn’t believe it.”

He seems a decent chap. I won’t be too sad if he beats Wiggins.

Fabian Cancellara

Not the dominant force he once was in time trials, but largely because he got a bit bored of them and had nothing left to achieve. Four times world champion and 2008 Olympic champion, he now focuses more on the spring classics. He won both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this year, despite pretty much everyone else ganging up on him.

If you only really pay attention to the Tour de France, all you need to know about these races is that they are incredibly hard and to win them you have to be the most relentlessly powerful cyclist going. They’re not for the frail birds who soar up Alpine passes in the Grand Tours. They require brawn.

Time trial wise, Cancellara did actually manage to beat Tony Martin for the first time in years during the Vuelta, but it was a hilly course. The worlds one isn’t.