Swiss Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara rode into the history books Thursday by winning a record fourth time trial crown at the world road race cycling championships. Cancellara clocked a winning time of 58min 09sec for the tough 45.8km course to beat Britain’s David Millar by just over a minute. Millar clocked 59:11 to take the silver medal with Germany’s Tony Martin finishing third to take his second consecutive bronze in 59:21
Cancellara, who had shared a record three victories in the discipline at the championships with Australian Michael Rogers, becomes the first ever rider to win the title four times. “I’m really happy to have done this a fourth time. It’s amazing. It’s maybe the hardest of all my wins because leading up to this I wasn’t sure of my condition,” said Cancellara, who left the Tour of Spain early two weeks ago after expressing concerns over his form. “The other guys went really well but I just tried to do what I can. I think today I employed the perfect tactic. People always think Cancellara is always going to win, but that is not always true. I had to find another motivation, the motivation was to make history and that is what helped me stay focused. Even if a rider is always winning, he can still have bad days.”
Rogers had been one of the early pacesetters but with most of the bigger favorites still to race he was eventually pushed down into fifth. “I think that’s one of the hardest time trials I’ve ever done,” said Rogers, who won the title three years consecutively from 2003-2005.
It was Millar, a silver medal winner in 2001 and who won the 2003 title only to be stripped of it after admitting to doping, who emerged as Cancellara’s biggest threat. The big Scot was fastest out the blocks, leading the field over the first two time checks to boost his chances of a podium place. Once Cancellara got into his stride, however, the Swiss looked unbeatable. At the third time check, three-quarters of the way into the race, Cancellara had reduced his slight deficit to 33-year-old Millar to take a 24-seconds advantage.
Millar, who since his ban from the sport has been an outspoken advocate of clean cycling, said: “I would like to think I am beyond vindication now. “Congratulations to Fabian, there is no doubt that he is a phenomenon. I came here to get on the podium and I achieved it. I am very happy with my ride. My power was good, but I need to be faster and corner faster to beat Fabian.”
Despite a scare when he almost crashed into the barriers on a tight S-bend, the 29-year-old Swiss just kept hammering away at the pedals to increase his lead over the final half of the 22.9km circuit. “I didn’t touch it (barriers), that’s the last thing I wanted to do,” he added. “But you know, you have to take those risks because every second counts.”
Martin had started the race as Cancellara’s biggest challenger however the 25-year-old’s victory bid suffered a blow when he punctured his front wheel and lost precious time waiting for a change and getting back into his rhythm. “It is hard to keep your motivation when you have a flat tire because you know that it can be over. But, I saw Gustav (Larsson) still ahead of me and
still continued to fight,” said the German.
Australia were left without a medal, however the hosts will be buoyed by the performance of first year professional Richie Porte. Porte, a former triathlete who has made a big impression during his first year in the European peloton with the Saxo Bank team, finished fourth at 1:19 behind Cancellara to miss out on the bronze by just seven seconds.