The Men’s Time Trial began today with a stacked group riding this race in 2016. The way the start list works is based on both the standings of your country from the previous Olympics and also from the race organiser’s discretion. So the country that won in 2012 will have a rider go out last, with second place, second last for example. The race organisers can change this however if they feel the favourite would go out too early or someone is in form and deserves a later spot. This can be seen in both the Men’s and Women’s this year, with 2012’s top three being from Great Britain, Germany and Great Britain, but the running order finishing with Belarus, the Netherlands and Great Britain.
We pick up the race with Fabian Cancellara (SWI) looking to end his career on a high, after deciding to retire at the end of this year. In his final Tour de France, he was unable to make any real kind of impact and may thought he was ending his time on a bike before he was forced to, however for this race he was ready to go. One of the best non-specialists to ever race a Time Trial, Cancellara went out from the first bell gunning for the win. First at all the time checks except one on the way round, which meant that at the time of finishing Cancellara was over a minute ahead of his nearest rivals. The marker had been thrown down, could anyone match it.
Next onto the road was Tony Martin (GER), one of the biggest names in Time Trial throughout the cycling world, the former World Champion and Olympic Silver medallist from 2012 is always a threat even after a very disappointing season. He has looked out of sorts recently and it didn’t change here, with him well down on Cancellara from the start and losing time at each time check. Uncharacteristically finishing in a lowly twelfth, more than three minutes in arrears to Cancellara.
Onto the road next was Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) who is the current World Champion in the Time Trial and much the dark horse in this race for the medals. With high expectations, come big disappointments though and he started very slow, somewhat lethargically. Behind from the get go, he never looked to worry the leaders, and once he was passed on the road by Tom Dumoulin (NED), then if he hadn’t known his day was over, this confirmed it. Eventually finishing in seventeenth place, Kiryienka will be nothing short of devastated from what was frankly a bad performance.
The penultimate man onto the road was seen as the huge favourite coming into this event, Tom Dumoulin (NED) is currently the best in the world where Time Trial is concerned and was completely dominant in a very similar race on the Tour de France this year. He was heavy favourite before a crash two weeks before the games gave him a broken wrist, however he was so heavily favoured that even this didn’t slow the hype train. Dumoulin started slowly and seemed out of sorts, but writing him off would be a fatal mistake for anybody. As the race moved on though, he didn’t gain any time back on Cancellara, and it seemed that the wrist coupled with a testing course would mean he was going for a medal as opposed to ‘the’ medal. Eventually finishing second, but still nearly a minute down on the insatiable Cancellara.
Last up was the current Tour de France winner and 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist Chris Froome (GBR), who is himself a decent Time Trialist but saw this as a goal due to the hilly nature of the race. He has proven himself time and again capable of doing what many think he can’t however with his slow start, it seemed the Gold may be too much to ask. Froome pushed himself to his absolute limit, however Cancellara was just too hard to make time back on. With a dominant Tour victory, and a lacklustre road race, it was clear that Froome was slowly dropping out of form. As per usual though Froome proved his class and ability by pushing himself into the Bronze medal position by four seconds.
The Time Trial for the men turned into an extended victory lap for the man known as Spartacus. Fabian Cancellara ended dominating all the time checks, except for one, which actually may have been reported wrong. In the end it wasn’t even slightly close, with Cancellara winning by nearly one whole minute – which is huge. He beat the best Time Trial has to offer in Tom Dumoulin, and the best Cycling has to offer in Chris Froome, into second and third respectively. He has decided to retire after this season, and although we all want our countrymen to win, can anybody seriously not be happy about this result. Pure class from a class athlete, and for one day, We Are All Spartacus.