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Adding the rainbow jersey to the Olympic gold medal he took in 2012, Bradley Wiggins improved on his two previous second places in the world championship time trial on Wednesday when he raced to a clear win.
The British rider denied his main rival Tony Martin the chance to become the first-ever rider in history to take four consecutive world championship Elite time trial titles, going faster than the German over the 47.1 kilometre distance.
Wiggins was 26.23 seconds quicker while Dutchman Tom Dumoulin was next best, 40.64 seconds back.
His success came on a course which was sufficiently tough to put the heavier Martin under pressure. Although Wiggins is no longer as good a climber as he was when he won the 2012 Tour de France, he was able to take time out of Martin on those uphill sections and resisted well when the German tried to bounce back on the flat and downhill stretches.
“I knew coming into it that I had the legs, and once I saw the course, I realised that if I was ever going to beat Tony again, it was on a course like this,” Wiggins said prior to receiving his rainbow jersey.
“It has been an up and down year, obviously. I didn’t ride the Tour [due to non-selection by his Sky team – ed.]. I want to dedicate this to my family because my wife and children back home were there for me all summer and they had to put up with me when I was at home during July.
“[It’s] my last world time trial championship, and I have finished with a gold medal.”
Wiggins confirmed afterwards that he would focus on track racing next year and in 2016, giving up his chances to both defend his rainbow jersey and also to try to take a second consecutive Olympic TT gold.
The Ponferrada success will therefore be both his first and his last road race world title. It adds to the six track world championship titles and four Olympic golds he had previously notched up.
After Sky decided not to select him for the Tour de France, Wiggins focussed on trying to end the season strongly. While he was unable to defend his Tour of Britain crown, he was in fine form for Wednesday’s time trial and improved on the second places he took in 2011 and 2013.
On those occasions he was one minute 15.83 seconds and 46.09 seconds back respectively, but this time was able to get the better of Martin.
“I knew the difference would be made in the final, on that final loop,” he said. “There were very tough climbs after the course already. So I paced it perfectly and I still had gas in the final,” he said.
“Even on the last descent, I heard I was ten seconds up and I was just pushing all the way. I didn’t want to take any risks.”
Fourth place went to the Belorussian Vasil Kiryienka, who normally races with Wiggins on the Sky team, while the Australian Rohan Dennis and the Italian Adriano Malori were fifth and sixth.
Asked how he handled the hours before the time trial, Wiggins said that he was focussed rather than nervous. “I just went through the routine I had gone through so many times in the past. When I know the form and the condition is there, I am quite relaxed. I know what I have to do when I get out on the bike.
“It is just a case of waiting all day. The weather turned out good, it has been raining the last few days. I had a good team time trial on Sunday and I knew I was strong there. So job done.”
He confirmed that he will target both Paris-Roubaix and the world hour record in 2015. Right now, though, he wanted to fully focus on his rainbow jersey.
“To add the world title to the British title and the Olympic title…now I have got the set. It is very good,” he said. “And along with the pursuit world titles and everything, it is fantastic.”
The riders at the world championships will have a day without competition on Thursday, but the action will resume with the first of the road races on Friday.
WIGGINS Bradley WIGGINS Bradley Team Sky
MARTIN Tony MARTIN Tony Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
|Omega Pharma - Quick-Step||0:26|
DUMOULIN Tom DUMOULIN Tom Team Giant - Shimano
|Team Giant - Shimano||0:40|