PONFERRADA Spain (Reuters) - Briton Bradley Wiggins added a time trial gold to his impressive set of cycling medals when he caused an upset by beating German powerhouse Tony Martin at the world championships on Wednesday.
The 2012 Tour de France champion, who also beat Martin to claim the time trial Olympic title in London that year, clocked 56 minutes 25.52 seconds on the 47.1-km rolling course in Spain.
“To add the world title to the British title and Olympic title is just fantastic. Now I’ve got the set,” said Wiggins.
Martin, who had won the three previous editions of the event, finished 26.23 seconds behind Wiggins, who finished second to the German in 2011 and 2013 but eventually clinched his maiden world gold medal.
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin finished third 40.64 seconds off the pace.
Four-time champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland skipped the event in order to focus on Sunday’s elite race.
Wiggins, who will concentrate on track cycling next year as he eyes other Olympic medals at Rio 2016 and will also try to break the hour record, already had six world titles, but all came from the track between 2003-08.
Martin got off to a strong start and was leading Wiggins by about four seconds at the first check point.
The Briton, however, was two seconds ahead at the second check point and he continued to gain ground, riding in his elegant yet efficient style while Martin seemed for once to be struggling.
Wiggins fell on his back on the ground in exhaustion, eventually raising his thumb in celebration when Martin crossed the line and victory was confirmed.
“I knew the difference would be on the final loop so I paced it perfectly,” he said in a post-race interview.
“Even on the last descent I heard I was 10 seconds up so I didn’t want to take any risks.” “It’s been an up-and-down year. I didn’t ride the Tour (de France) and I want to dedicate this to my family, my wife and children, who had to put up with me at home in June and July.
“The hour record attempt is the next thing.”
Martin, who has been on the podium every year since 2009, said he was too tired to compete with Wiggins.
“To be honest it’s really hard to get beaten on a day like this,” Martin said.
“I was motivated, I had the goal to get the gold medal again today. Nothing else counted for me. Even the silver medal doesn’t make it better for me to be honest, but I know it is still a good result.
“I’m really disappointed, but that’s cycling, that’s sport. I’m not a machine. I know that almost everyone expected me to win but I always said a few riders, especially Bradley, always have a big chance,” added the German.
“I already felt tired in the team time trial. I was a little tired also today and I think that was the biggest factor.”
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris and Steve Tongue