Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka Wins Time Trial World Championship

(Road Bike Action & AFP; Photo: Bettini)

Vasil Kiryienka, the European Games time-trial champion from Belarus, captured the men’s individual time-trial crown Wednesday at the World Road Cycling Championships. Kiryienka completed the 53.5km (33.5 miles) course in 1hr 2mins 29.45secs at 51.368 k/hr to capture his first world title by 9.08 seconds over Italy’s Adriano Malori with Frenchman Jerome Coppel third in 1:02:56.07.

“I think today was really my day. I was feeling very well,” Kiryienka said. “The course was exactly the kind I like and suits me. All the great time trialers were here. It feels great to win.”

It was a shock podium as favorites faltered, with Australian Rohan Dennis suffering a flat tire and finishing sixth, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin slowed to fifth by a hip injury and three-time world champion Tony Martin of Germany a distant seventh.

“And that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Dennis said on Twitter. “Congratulations to Kiryienka that was an impressive ride! On a different level to everyone else today.”

Kiryienka was the third-to-last starter in a field of 70 but the fastest  rider at every checkpoint, adding to a season that saw him win the individual time-trial at this year’s Giro d’Italia.

“The most important thing was it was a race against myself,” Kiryienka said. “I knew the time references, but they weren’t so important. I knew I was doing very well.”

The course began at a suburban amusement park and wound through the countryside before reaching the Virginia capital and concluded with a steep 300-meter climb leading to the closing straight. Kiryienka, third in the event at the 2012 worlds, started fast and seized command to grab the rainbow jersey symbolic of global cycling supremacy at age 34.

“I don’t know how long I can be at the top level,” Kiryienka said. “But we’ll see.”

Malori, 27, is a 3-time Italian time-trial champion who captured the 2008 under-23 world championship and has improved his placing for five consecutive years.

“I hope next year Vasil will let me have first place,” Malori said. “Vasil was the strongest guy today.”

Coppel, 29, took the first medal for France in the event since Laurent Jalabert’s 1997 triumph.

“Before the start, it was not in my mind to be on the podium. I hoped maybe to make a top 10,” Coppel said. “In cycling, you always need to be lucky and I think that was the case for me today.”

Rohan Dennis suffered a flat tire just past the halfway point and had to switch bikes, dooming his title bid. The 25-year-old from Adelaide, who led BMC Racing to a second consecutive victory in the world team time-trial, set a Tour de France individual time-trial record speed average of 55.446 k/hr (34.5 mph) in this year’s first stage. Martin missed the podium for the first time after a six-year medal run and failed in his bid for a fourth title to match Swiss star Fabian Cancellara’s all-time record.

Martin, 30, was third behind winner Cancellara in 2009 and 2010, took the title himself from 2011-13 and was second last year behind Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, who has retired from road racing. Dumoulin, 24, was third last year but has a sore left hip. He won a time-trial stage in this year’s Vuelta a Espana on his way to a six-place finish overall.

1. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) 1hr 2mins 29.45secs
2. Adriano Malori (ITA) 1:02:38.53
3. Jerome Coppel (FRA) 1:02:56.07
4. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) 1:02:58.81
5. Tom Dumoulin (NED) 1:03:30.96
6. Rohan Dennis (AUS) 1:03:37.41
7. Tony Martin (GER) 1:03:46.18
8. Maciej Bodnar (POL) 1:03:46.78
9. Marcin Bialoblocki (POL) 1:03:51.87
10. Moreno Moser (ITA) 1:04:01.06

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