Cycling: World Time Trial Championships - Grabsch, Tuft, Zabriskie take Podium Spots
This is a full set of surprising results. The field became wide open when Fabian Cancellara, the two-time reigning world champion and newly-crowned Olympic champion took a pass on the time-trial competition in Varese, Italy, due to fatigue.
The surprise of the day was put in by Canadian Svein Tuft, who impressed with a 7th at the Olympics and a 2nd place recently at the Tour of Missouri. Even on that good form nobody could have predicted that a rider from a Canadian continental squad (a squad with an annual budget is less then Cancellara'syearly salary) could shock the group and take a silver medal at the world championships.
Gold and Bronze also produced minor surprises. German Bert Grabsch came out from under the shadow of countryman Stefan Schumacher, who captured both time trials at the tour de France. Also, this marks a return to form for David Zabriskie, who has nearly fully recovered from a back injury sustained this year at the Giro d'Italia.
Pre-race favorites Levi Leipheimer (USA), Micheal Rogers (AUS), Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) and David Millar (GBR) could not manage to make the podium. Leipheimer, the clear favorite for gold before the race managed fourth.
German workhorse Bert Grabsch won Germany’s first world time-trial title since 2001 on Thursday as Canadian Svein Tuft delivered the surprise ride of the day to claim the silver medal.
American David Zabriskie powered to bronze in Varese, Italy, claiming his second world championship time trial medal in three years, while Levi Leipheimer didn’t quite have the day he expected and finished just off the podium in fourth.
Some 57 starters enjoyed impeccable racing conditions to tackle a mostly flat, 43.7km power course made slightly easier by the absence of two-time world champion Fabian Cancellara, the Olympic gold medalist in the discipline.
With Spartacus citing fatigue, it was Grabsch who boldly stepped into the void to take a solid victory in 52 minutes, 1.6 seconds with an average speed of 50.397kph. His winning ride gave Germany its first world time-trial medal since Jan Ullrich’s second victory in 2001.
“Cancellara wasn’t here, so it was open for all riders, maybe there were 10 riders who could win,” said Grabsch, who turned 33 on Sept. 19. “The last few years when Cancellara starts, only he can win. Today it was for anyone.”
Tuft almost played the David vs. Goliath role, posting the fastest time at the first split at 8.18km and overcoming a flat tire with about 6km to go to hang on for silver, a huge result following his impressive seventh in Beijing and Canada’s first medal at worlds since Steve Bauer won bronze in 1984.
Tuft stopped the clock in 52:44.39 at 42.79 seconds off Grabsch’s time. The North America-based racer — known for his extreme training methods and moonlighting with “Ultimate Boxing” — didn’t want to speculate if changing his bike cost him the gold medal.
“It went really well. I knew this morning I was on a good day. I gave it everything I had, but with about 6km out I flatted a front wheel. I switched out a bike and came in with enough of a scare to finish the last 5km,” said Tuft, whose Symmetrics squad is disbanding and is poised to announce a new team for 2009.
“I was a little surprised at the time, but very happy, happy with the ride. To be up here with these guys is a big thing for me.”
Zabriskie expressed satisfaction with making the podium, stopping the clock in 52:53.87 at 52.27 seconds slower, to add a bronze to the silver medal he won in 2006.
1. Bert Grabsch (GER), 43.7km in 52:01
2. Svein Tuft (CAN), at 0:42
3. David Zabriskie (USA), at 0:52
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA), at 1:05
5. Gustav Larsson (SWE), at 1:05
6. Stijn Devolder (BEL), at 1:15
7. Tony Martin (GER), at 1:16
8. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), at 1:25
9. David Millar (GBR), at 1:25
10. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), at 1:25
11. Vladimir Gusev (RUS), at 1:27
12. Michael Rogers (AUS), at 1:33
13. Marco Pinotti (ITA), at 1:34
14. Manuel Quinziato (ITA), at 1:36
15. Serhiy Honchar (UKR), at 1:38
16. Ivan Gutierrez (ESP), at 1:54
17. Matej Jurco (SVK), at 1:58
18. Vasili Kyrienka (BLR), at 2:11
19. Lars Bak (DEN), at 2:23
20. Fredrik Ericsson (SWE), at 2:27