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Sept 18, 2015 – Tony Martin is preparing for a record-equalling tilt at glory as the World Road Cycling Championships get under way this weekend, two months after he crashed out of the Tour de France with a broken collarbone.
The 30-year-old Etixx Quick Step rider, seeks his fourth individual time trial title in five years, which would equal the all-time mark set by Swiss star Fabian Cancellara, who took four of five between 2006 and 2010. Martin’s reign began in 2011 and lasted until he finished second last year to Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, who has retired from road events.
In July, Martin took the yellow jersey in the Tour de France but crashed out in stage six. But last month, he won the Tour de Poitou-Charentes, a signal he was back on form. “I’m happy to be here after my crash on the Tour de France,” Martin said.
“I’m looking forward to racing,” the German star added. Martin must wait until Wednesday for the individual men’s time trial but his first race will come in Sunday’s six-rider team time trials, where the 2012 and 2013 champions — including defending world road race champion Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland — will try to reclaim the title from defending champions BMC Racing, with Australia-backed ORICA Green Edge hoping to advance from runner-up efforts the past two years.
“I saw the course on Sunday and I have to say it will be pretty fast,” Quick Step sport director Tom Steels said. “It will be fast until the last climb, which is more or less in the last kilometer. It will be a tough finale. It will be really close among the teams.”
BMC boasts Aussie veteran Rohan Dennis and US standout Taylor Phinney while Green Edge offers Aussies Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn plus Canada’s Svein Tuft. In the individual time trial, Martin faces a challenge from Movistar riders Adriano Malori of Italy and Jonathan Castroviejo of Spain — both national champions — plus Dennis and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, third last year.
Brennauer women’s favorite
Germany’s Lisa Brennauer, the 27-year-old defending women’s individual time trial champion, will lead Velocio SRAM into a quest for a fourth consecutive women’s team time trial crown on Sunday. The former Specialized lululemon squad also includes German Trixi Worrack, seeking her fourth team time trial gold in a row, and Canada’s Karol-Ann Canuel.
They will be tested by three-time podium finisher Orica AIS, an Aussie-powered lineup with Amanda Spratt back from the past two years that also features Sweden’s Emma Johansson, second in the 2013 women’s road race and third last year, and Oceania time trial champion Katrin Garfoot.
“The group has a great feel about it and I think they can surprise themselves this weekend with the ride they are capable of putting together,” said sport director Gene Bates. Johansson and Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk should challenge Brennauer in Tuesday’s women’s individual time trials with Americans Evelyn Stevens and Kristen Armstrong threats as well.
Olympic champion back
Armstrong, 42, is the two-time reigning Olympic champion coming back from starting a family to compete. She won the rainbow jersey in the individual time trials in 2006 and 2009. The road races will be staged September 26-27 with the men’s 259.2km layout offering no tough climbs but some cobblestones that could be costly for the careless.
Who to watch in the Road Races
Slovakian Peter Sagan, hurt in the Vuelta a Espana, has a course that could favor if he’s healthy. Britain’s Mark Cavendish is out due to health issues.
Kwiatkowski will be in the hunt to defend while Norway’s Alexander Kristoff, German John Degenkolb and Belgian former winner Philippe Gilbert and countryman Greg van Avermaet are also drawing attention. And Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, the 2003 and 2005 runner-up who was third in the world road race each of the past three years, lurks as a threat to break through.
Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead is expected to join Brennauer and Johansson as top challenges to defending champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot for the women’s road race crown. It’s only the second US staging of the event, some 29 years after it was held in Colorado Springs. More than 1,000 riders from 70 nations will compete.