Dennis defends time trial world title as Dowsett impresses
Australian Rohan Dennis successfully defended his time trial world title at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire as Alex Dowsett took a strong fifth place for Great Britain.
Dennis completed the 54km course from Northallerton to Harrogate in a time of one hour five minutes and five seconds to win by one minute and eight seconds from Belgian wonderkid Remco Evenepoel.
“It’s the biggest win of my career to be honest with you,” Dennis said. “It’s been tough, but all the hard work and all the hard times have been worth it, so I’m very very happy.”
Dowsett, the six-time British national time trial champion, finished two minutes and one second off Dennis’ time, with his top-10 finish earning Great Britain a second time trial place at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Dennis was competing for the first time since he dramatically abandoned the Tour de France on the eve of the stage 13 time trial stage in July.
The 29-year-old was reportedly in a dispute with his Bahrain-Merida team over equipment, and it was notable that he competed on Wednesday on a bike with blacked-out branding.
Whatever he was riding, he rode it fast.
He was able to overhaul Victor Campernaerts, who started 90 seconds ahead of him on the road after the Belgian suffered a spill, but it was a sign of just how well he was going that he also caught Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic, who looked to be carrying his efforts from Spain in his legs.
As impressive as Dennis’ ride was, Evenepoel’s performance was every bit as notable.
The 19-year-old once looked set for stardom as a footballer, coming through the academies of Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven and playing for Belgium at youth level.
Having switched to two wheels because he had “more fun”, he won the junior road race and time trial at last year’s World Championships in Innsbruck and has skipped the under-23 category to compete with the elite this year. Plenty of eyes will now be on him in Sunday’s road race.
“I surprised myself,” Evenepoel said. “This silver feels more like a gold medal for me.
“I’ve changed a lot as a person over the last year. I’ve won five races as a pro and become European champion in time-trial. I’m growing stronger as a person and as an athlete.
“I really didn’t believe I could do this in my first year as a pro.”
Dowsett’s fifth place was his best ever result in a World Championship time trial, and he said it ranked among his best ever days on a bike alongside his Giro d’Italia stage win in 2013 and breaking the hour record in 2015.
“Everyone on the start line should want to win but looking at what is realistic I’d have said a top 10 would be a good day so I’m happy with that,” the Essex rider said. “It’s just nice for it all to come together.”
While Dowsett celebrated, fellow Brit John Archibald could be happy with 14th.
The Scot – competing in his first road World Championships at the age of 28 – was a late call-up for the event following the withdrawal of Geraint Thomas at the weekend, racing just three days after taking bronze in the team time trial mixed relay at the weekend.
“I felt good as far as executing a ride and a plan, and the sensations through the ride,” Archibald said.
“I put in as good a ride as I could do. Looking at the splits I’m not going to fare too highly but I’m not looking back at that ride and thinking there were bits I would have changed dramatically so I’m pretty pleased.”