UCI Road World Championships 2017: time trials – preview

Can Chris Froome continue his stunning season in Bergen? Here are the routes and riders to look out for...

The 90th edition of the UCI Road World Championships sees the battle for the rainbow jersey return to Norway for just the second time, with the 2017 edition kicking off on Sunday (September 17) with the team time trials.

A week of racing action follows, with Chris Froome among the riders in time trial action before Peter Sagan and Amalie Dideriksen bid to defend their world road race titles on the final weekend.

Tony Martin starts as defending champion in the men’s time trial in Bergen (Pic: Sirotti)

But what kind of racing can we expect in Bergen, set against the backdrop of the fjords of Norway and its western coastline?

– UCI Road World Championships 2017: TV schedule –

We’ll take a closer look at the contenders for the elite men and women’s road races soon, but first here’s everything you need to know about the elite time trials, and the riders to look out for…

Team time trials

As ever, the UCI Road World Championships 2017 will kick off with the team time trials – the only time the riders will be racing in trade colours at this year’s event.

Both races follow the same 42.5km island-hopping course, which starts on Askoy and follows the coast to Bergen, with one major climb – the 1.4km Birkelundsbakken ascent – to negotiate.

QuickStep Floors are the defending champions in the team time trial, but not longer have Tony Martin in their ranks (Pic: Sirotti)

QuickStep Floors are the men’s defending champions, having taken their third title in the five years since the even was inaugurated last time out.

Five of the six riders who won gold last year are included, but the only absentee is a notable one – world time trial champion Tony Martin have since moved to Katusha-Alpecin.

BMC Racing, the winners in 2014 and 2015, were QuickStep’s nearest challengers last year, and will be a serious threat again this time out with Rohan Dennis, Silvan Dillier, Stefan Kung, Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato all involved from the 2015 winning team.

BMC Racing have already won the team time trials at both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a Espana this year, with Dennis and Oss involved in both of those triumphs.

Orica-Scott, who were third last time out, boast the engines of Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn and Svein Tuft in their six-man line-up, meanwhile.

BMC Racing, world champions in 2014 and 2015, have already won team time trials at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a Espana this year (Pic: Sirotti)

Other contenders for the podium are likely to include usual suspects like Movistar, with Jonathan Castroviejo and Alex Dowsett on their longlist, while Team Sky have selected their big guns for the event, with Chris Froome joined by former world champion Vasil Kiryienka, Olympic team pursuit gold medallist Owain Doull, and powerhouses Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon and Geraint Thomas.

Team Sunweb, meanwhile, have five of the nine riders who finished third in the team time trial at the Vuelta a Espana on their longlist, which also features Giro d’Italia champion and individual time trial contender Tom Dumoulin.

LottoNL-Jumbo could be among the outsiders for a podium place, meanwhile, given they have European champion Victor Campenaerts and Slovenian time trial ace Primoz Roglic in their line-up.

Lizzie Deignan’s Boels-Dolmans won gold in the women’s team time trial on Qatar last year (Pic: Sirotti)

As for the women, defending champions Boels-Dolmans lead the nine teams involved.

Britain’s Lizzie Deignan is one of four riders who won last year to feature on the team’s longlist this time out, having recovered from having her appendix removed last month.

Boels-Dolmans won the team time trial at the Crescent Vargada Women’s WorldTour event, ahead of Cervelo-Bigla, who were third at the worlds last year.

Last year’s three podium finishers remain among the favourites this time out (Pic: Sirotti)

Hannah Barnes is another British rider hoping for a place on the podium, with Canyon-SRAM looking to go one better than last year’s second place.

The previous iteration of the team, as first Specialized-lululemon and then Velocio-SRAM, won the first four editions of the women’s team time trial between 2012 and 2015.

Trixi Worrack was in all four of those teams, while compatriot Lisa Brennauer and Australian Tiffany Cromwell also boast serious time-trialling pedigree.

Team Veloconcept Women, meanwhile, boast last year’s world time trial champion Amber Neben, who won the American national road race-time trial double aged 42 in June, and former world time trial champion Linda Villumsen.

RCUK prediction

Men’s team time trial: 1) BMC Racing; 2) QuickStep Floors; 3) Team Sky
Women’s team time trial: 1) Boels-Dolmans; 2) Canyon-SRAM; 3) Cervelo-Bigla

Elite men’s time trial

Tony Martin rolls out as defending champion in the men’s individual time trial, but there could be a new rider on the top step of the podium thanks to a difficult course.

The course follows the same Bergen circuit, with the Birkelundsbakken climb to negotiate, as the women’s race but then ends with a testing 3.4km ascent up Mount Floyen.

Tony Martin is the defending champion, but the course is better suited to some of his rivals (Pic: Sirotti)

With gradients in double figures, and several twists and turns to negotiate, it is easy to see why Chris Froome (Great Britain) – winner of the 40.2km time trial at the Vuelta a Espana and third in the punchy 22.5km time trial at the Tour de France – has been tempted to take part.

Froome was third at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the time trial – the same result he achieved at London 2012 – but has not raced in the event at the worlds since 2009.

Nevertheless, if he has something left in the tank after the Tour-Vuelta double, he will be a serious contender thanks to the route.

Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands), who took silver ahead of Froome at Rio 2016, on a course which also featured enough climbing to hamper the likes of Martin, is likely to be Froome’s main rival.

Dumoulin side-stepped the Vuelta a Espana to focus on the World Championships, where he will look to better the bronze he won in 2014.

Chris Froome won the 40.2km individual time trial on his way to victory at the Vuelta a Espana (Pic: Sirotti)

Rohan Dennis (Australia) is another likely contender, but his form is unknown after the Australian left the Vuelta a Espana the day before the individual time trial.

The Australian’s most recent time trial was a 28.6km effort at the Tour de Suisse, which he won ahead of BMC Racing team-mate Stefan Kung (Switzerland) – another who could be in contention.

Tom Dumoulin, the Giro d’Italia champion, could win his first world championship gold medal (Pic: Sirotti)

Martin should not be discounted, but will find it tough on a course not so well suited to him, with former champion Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus), home favourite Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) and European champion Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) among those in the same boat.

Poland will be hopeful of a medal, however, with Tour de France stage winner Maciej Bodnar and compatriot Michal Kwiatkowski, who was second on that Tour stage, both serious contenders.

RCUK prediction

1) Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands); 2) Chris Froome (Great Britain); 3) Maciej Bodnar (Poland)

Elite women’s time trial

In the women’s race, meanwhile, 42-year-old Amber Neben (USA) defends the rainbow jersey she won last year, and comes into the race having won both the national time trial and road race in the summer.

Neben, who also won the time trial in 2008, will face stiff competition in Bergen, however, on a 21.2km circuit, with the 1.4km Birkelundsbakken climb the biggest test.

The Netherlands are spoiled for choice for the event, but in-form Annemiek van Vleuten – who has ten wins to her name this season, including the last four time trials she has competed in – will lead the way.

American 42-year-old Amber Neben is the defending champion in the women’s time trial (Pic: Sirotti)

Van Vleuten won both time trial stages at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour a fortnight ago on her way to overall victory in the race.

Alongside the 34-year-old, the Dutch have European champion Ellen van Dijk – last year’s runner-up, and the 2013 world champion, who was second behind van Vleuten on both the aforementioned TT stages – and Giro d’Italia Femminile winner Anna van der Breggen.

British hopes will be carried by Hannah Barnes, who was second at the national championships, and Elinor Barker, who has based her 2017 season around the world time trial having been crowned junior world champion in 2012.

In-form Annemiek van Vleuten has been in stunning form this season, including winning her last four time trials (Pic: Sirotti)

Other contenders will include the other former world champions on the start line – 2015 winner Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) and 2014 champion Lisa Brennauer (Germany).

Both were in the top five on the stage three time trial at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour to prove their form two weeks ago.

Belgium’s Ann-Sophie Duyck, meanwhile, was second at the European Continental Championships behind Van Dijk having claimed three time trial wins this year – including the Belgian national title.

RCUK’s prediction

1) Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands); 2) Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands); 3) Amber Neben (USA)


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