Tony Martin successfully defended his time trial world title on Wednesday at the road cycling world championships, narrowly edging out Taylor Phinney of the US into second place.
Martin became the second German in two days to defend a world title after Judith Arndt achieved the same feat on Tuesday in the women’s time trial.
Martin completed the winding, hilly 45.7km course in 58 minutes, 38.76 seconds, at an average speed of just under 47kph.
“After all the ups and downs this season, it’s a super-nice finish now,” said Martin, the Olympic silver medalist.
The German fell and broke his wrist on the first stage of the Tour de France, forcing him out of cycling’s showcase event.
Phinney was agonizingly close to a medal at the London Olympics, but came away empty handed after finishing fourth in both the time trial and road race.
“This is a season with a lot of near misses. If you had told me this morning I would win the silver medal, I would’ve been excited,” Phinney said. “Tony is a great champion, but I got so close. Then again, this medal gives me a lot of motivation to get through winter and come out full guns blazing.”
Bradley Wiggins, the Tour de France champion who won gold in the London Olympic time trial, did not compete in Wednesday’s race.
Phinney finished 5.37 seconds behind Martin. Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus was third, 1 minute, 44.99 seconds back.
“Taylor was more amazing because everyone knew that I am strong, but not so many people knew about Taylor,” Martin said.
Phinney looked like he might snatch victory on the brutal closing climb up the Cauberg, but Martin had just enough energy left to hold on for his second straight world champion’s rainbow jersey.
“Even the last 200m were so long because we had a full headwind at the top of the Cauberg,” Martin said. “It was really, really hard.”
Alberto Contador of Spain, fresh from winning the Vuelta a Espana after completing a doping suspension, was considered a contender, but never looked a threat, riding cautiously on a course slicked by rain in places.
The Spanish rider started two minutes before Martin, but the German powered past him at about the 30km mark.
“I was really surprised because I really thought that he would be one of the strongest contenders today for the title,” Martin said.
Contador said he had a hard time even finishing the race after being reeled in by Martin.
“Psychologically, it is hard to continue when someone overtakes you, but I knew he was going to be very strong here,” Contador said.
It was the second gold medal of the world championships for Martin, who won the team time trial on Sunday with the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team.
Marco Pinotti of Italy looked like he might challenge for third spot until falling heavily on a sharp left turn and dropping out of the race.