- UCI World Championships
Time trial silver for Wiggins in Florence
Sir Bradley Wiggins arrived at the UCI World Championships in Florence targeting a title that could rescue a season blighted by infighting, illness and injury. The Olympic time trial champion could not add the world time trial title to his list of accolades but accepted the consolation of a well-earned silver medal, his time of 1hr 6min 22.74sec only good enough for second as Tony Martin completed the 58km course in 1hr 5min 35.65sec, with Fabian Cancellara finishing third.
The 2012 Tour de France champion has endured a torrid time in 2013, with questions over his status as the Team Sky leader answered by his retirement from the Giro d'Italia with a knee injury that forced his withdrawal from the Tour de France, which was won by his heir apparent at Sky, Chris Froome.
Wiggins bounced back with victory at the Tour of Britain but made no secret of his desire to secure the rainbow jersey at the UCI World Championships with victory in the individual time trial, where he came up against Cancellara and defending champion Martin - the trio were introduced as "the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of time trialling" - and American Taylor Phinney, who finished second in last year's world championships.
With all four men setting off late in the running order, Wiggins ceded ground to his rivals over the hilly first half of the course, reaching the 24.1km checkpoint 37sec down on Martin and 24sec down on Cancellara.
By then, Phinney's hopes of a medal were fading fast. He was beaten out of a top-four finish by Team Sky's Belarusian rider Vasil Kiryienka, who captalised on a strong first half to the stage to finish fourth in 1hr 7min 2sec.
With Cancellara flagging in the second half of the ride, Wiggins soon began eating into the Swiss' lead, closing to within a matter of seconds in the final 10km. A strong finish through the final bends over the cobbled streets of historic Florence saw Wiggins do enough to edge out Cancellara by just 1.5sec to settle the minor medals.
"I just aimed to be the quickest from A to B," Wiggins said. "[Performance manager] Rod Ellingworth was telling me the checkpoints, but, with all the noise in the last 20 minutes I was oblivious to everything, just trying to get home."
Behind them, however, Martin gritted his teeth and maintained his early advantage to secure his second gold medal of the week after success in the team time trial with Omega Pharma-Quick Step. The German has now claimed three successive time trial world titles, with the podium in Florence matching the result of his first victory in 2011.
"To win a world championship is always special - to win the third time in a row is even more special," Martin told BBC Sport. "I can't imagine a better race. I always had a good feeling, I always knew I was able to win but to know it and to do it is the difference. Now I did it and it's just nice."
"Sure you need power, but on this course you need the best material, the best position, the best aerodynamics, you need to be very clear in the head as the straights here are endless. I have to thank my team who prepared me perfectly."
Wiggins was quick to pay tribute to Martin, whose remarkable time would have been good enough to finish sixth in the team time trial, saying it was a privilege to ride against the three-time champion.
"I knew it would be close but Tony was just on a different level today. When he is like that, he is on another level. He has had a great season and finished it off with another world title. It is an honour to be on the podium with those two guys - it will be something to show the grandkids."
UCI World Championships individual time trial results:
1. Tony Martin (GER) 1hr 05min 36sec 2. Bradley Wiggins (GB) +46sec 3. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) +48sec 4. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) +1min 26sec 5. Taylor Phinney (USA) +2min 08sec 6. Rasmus Quaade (DEN) +2min 36sec 7. Marco Pinotti (ITA) +2min 41sec 8. Adriano Malori (ITA) +2min 51sec 9. Gustav Larsson (SWE) +2min 58sec 10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR) +2min 59sec
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