RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) - Nearly man Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus powered his way to
victory in the road cycling world championship time trail on Wednesday as Tony Martin’s run of six consecutive podium finishes ended.
Kiryienka, bronze medalist in 2012 and fourth-place finisher the last two years, surprised the favorites by covering the grueling 53km (32.9 miles) layout that began in an amusement park and ended in downtown Richmond in a blistering 1 hour, 2 minutes, 29.45 seconds.
Italian Adriano Malori came home 9.08 seconds adrift to take silver, while Jerome Coppel, at 26.62 seconds, grabbed the bronze to give France their first medal since 1997 in the race against the clock.
“The most important thing today was to race against myself, a time trial against myself,” Kiryienka told reporters.
”I knew the time, the references but it was not so important but what I knew from the very beginning was I doing really well.
“Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin were favorites today but I think today was my day.”
It certainly was not Martin’s day as his bid to match Swiss Fabian Cancellara’s record of four gold medals in the event went flatter than a punctured tire.
Martin, winner of three straight rainbow jerseys from 2011 before his streak was halted last year by Bradley Wiggins, was widely expected to return to the top of the podium in the United States but the 30-year-old never threatened and struggled home in seventh place, 1:16.73 behind the winner.
Kiryienka, winner of the long time trial at the Giro d‘Italia in May, dominated from the start. The 34-year-old Team Sky rider posted the fastest time at every interval on a course ideally suited to his strengths.
“Today I knew it was a good race for me because the course was exactly the kind I like, that suits me,” said Kiryienka.
“Okay, Cancellara was not here and Wiggins has stopped but all the other great time trial riders were here today so I think the level was very high because everybody was there.”
With Cancellara and Martin having won seven of the last nine rainbow jerseys in the time trial, the podium took on a new look as the favorites faded.
Dutchman Dumoulin, third behind Wiggins and Martin last year, was expected to challenge for top spot but settled for fifth just ahead of Australian Rohan Dennis.
Dumoulin appeared to tire in the latter stages, drained from a punishing Vuelta, where he surrendered the overall lead on the penultimate stage less than two weeks ago.
“While my objective was to have a better place than last year and I was sixth last year, to go from sixth to second place I think is really good result for me,” said Malori.
“It was a very long time trial and I think next year’s course will also be a very good one for me and I hope that next year Vasil will let me have first place.”
Dennis, winner of the opening time trial at the Tour de France in July, had his hopes of claiming the rainbow jersey damaged midway through the race when he ran into mechanical problems and had to change bikes.
Editing by Andrew Both