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by Shane Stokes
September 24, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
He’s been known for his relentless work with Team Sky, plugging along at the front of the peloton for kilometre after kilometre, but on Wednesday Vasil Kiryienka took that diesel engine up a notch to win the Elite world time trial championships in Richmond, Virginia.
The Belarusian rider stunned many when he blitzed to the gold medal in the 53.5 kilometre test, covering the distance in a time of one hour two minutes 29 seconds.
He won a close tussle with Italy’s Adriano Malori, who was nine seconds back. Frenchman Jerome Coppell was third, 26 seconds down, with Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo just three seconds off the podium.
“Today was no surprise for me,” he said, shortly after succeeding former team mate Bradley Wiggins as world champion. “I planned this with the help of my team, and it’s great that I’ve beaten so many talented riders.
“I want to thank Team Sky – they have done an amazing job for me and I couldn’t have done this without their support. I dedicate this win to them.”
The expected favourites each missed out on the battle for the medals. Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) feared he would be tired after the Vuelta a España and that proved to be the case. His fatigue plus a reported saddle sore saw him net fifth, one minute and two seconds off the pace.
Australia’s Rohan Dennis rode well but was forced to change a bike. He was one place and six seconds behind Dumoulin, while triple champion Tony Martin (Germany) wasn’t firing on all cylinders and came home seventh.
Polish duo Maciej Bodnar and Marcin Bialoblocki plus Italy’s Moreno Moser completed the top ten.
American rider Taylor Phinney had hoped to continue his comeback from injury with a medal. However he was off the pace and finished 12th. Still, given that he was out of competition for over a year, he seems on course to be back to a very high level next season.
Kiryienka has spent a substantial part of his career as a domestique but has also notched up important results, although none as significant as his latest.
He took a time trial stage win in this year’s Giro d’Italia, adding to earlier victories in the 2008 and 2011 editions of the race. He also took a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2013, plus the 2011 Route du Sud.
His Giro win this season was followed by success in the individual time trial at the European Games.
He was quickest at each of the three time checks, showing a consistent pace throughout.
“I can’t say how many days I’ve waited for this, and how many hours I’ve put in on the bike,” he said. “There are so many things to consider in time trialling, so much work to do with the bike and the aerodynamics.
“Today it was a matter of finding my balance and setting a tempo, and I am happy I could get this win.”
More to follow soon…