Hamish Bond has had his first experience of World Championship cycling, taking on the elite men’s individual time trial. Bond’s debut saw him place middle-of-the-pack with a puncture setting him back as Tom Dumoulin produced a sublime display to take gold ahead of Primoz Roglic and Chris Froome.
Unlike the time trials earlier this week, the 31km course around Bergen culminated with the tough switchback climb of Mount Floyen. The 3.4km ascent was expected to throw the rulebook more or less out of the window, with riders having to choose between TT bike and road bike for the climb which hit sections of over 10% on its way to the summit. The numerous switchbacks would add a further dimension and drew masses of fans to welcome the riders at the end of what would surely be one of the more memorable time trials in recent UCI World Road Championship history.
65 riders were listed to take on the time trial course, with Hamish Bond being number 29. He would be going just after half way, and when he left the start house – after a hurried mount of his bike which saw him just manage to clip in on time – it was the Slovenian Jan Tratnik who had the provisional lead. Many riders had opted to change bikes for the climb but several had also decided to stay with their TT rig for the climb. Interestingly Tratnik was one who had decided not to change and for now at least it appeared to have paid off.
At 3.2km Bond was looking relatively comfortable, rocking slightly from side to side but completely focussed and looking strong. 36 riders had already come and gone, with Alexey Lutsenko of Kazakhstan being the first to leave the start house. Impressively though of the 36 riders to have left the start house – a list that included Rui Costa, Gorka Izaguirre, Jasha Sutterlin, Lasse Norman Hansen and more, Bond went through the first time check 4th fastest; just 12.23 seconds adrift of the provisional fastest time at 3.2km. Overall Bond’s time at the first check would be good enough for 16th fastest, but there was still much to take on.
Sadly though lady luck did not smile on Bond from there as a puncture put paid to his effort and took its toll over the mid section, with the New Zealander slowing to just outside of the top 40. But from there Bond proceeded to put in another massive effort for the climb. Bond made the decision not to change bikes, instead remaining on his TT machine and not breaking his rhythm. How costly that would be or how beneficial would be revealed, but he dug deep; going into that zone of suffering he is very familiar with over his career as a rower.
Bond worked his way through the wall of noise that were the fans to finally stop the clock in 48.14.92mins; an average speed of 38.55kph. At the line Bond’s time was provisionally good enough for 15th fastest of the 36 riders so far; a highly respectable time especially given that Bond had never taken on a time trial course like it, or a major championship in cycling outside of the Oceania Championship.
Wilco Kelderman was the first rider to beat Tratnik, with the Dutchman putting in a time of 46.15mins just as former world champion Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus left the start house. He would be one of the key riders to watch and it was clear to see why as he went through the first check provisionally 5th fastest, and he proceeded to ride a consistent race to finally finish 5th fastest overall. Also riding strongly was Nelson Oliveira of Portugal, who’d started slowly but was gathering momentum and would eventually do enough to take 4th place overall.
The final riders to start would be Bob Jungels of Luxembourg, Maciej Bodnar of Poland, Rohan Dennis of Australia, Jonathan Castroviejo of Spain, Chris Froome of Great Britain, Tom Dumoulin of Holland and the defending champion of Tony Martin. Sadly for Bodnar though his time trial got off to the worst possible start with an early crash. Bodnar would remount to continue but his rhythm was broken and he would eventually finish 2.29mins behind Hamish Bond. He would not be the only one to run into problems, with Alexis Gougeard riding so strongly up the climb until he was brought to a halt with a gear issue.
As Gougeard crossed the line Britain’s Chris Froome left the start house to try and complete what would be a historic feat of Tour, Vuelta and World Championship titles. Immediately after him came Tom Dumoulin though, whose season had been completely devoted to building for the World Championship since victory in the Giro d’Italia. Then finally Tony Martin rolled down the start ramp to try and defend his crown.
The approaches of the various riders was interesting to note at the end of the day. Tony Martin began the ride quickly but not too quickly; 9th fastest at the first check. Primoz Roglic went through very quickly in the early stages, while so too did Tom Dumoulin, but Chris Froome was very different, with his first time check slower than Hamish Bond’s and 19th fastest initially.
Roglic went through the first lap very quickly, catching Maciej Bodnar who was clearly having a day to forget. Meanwhile Chris Froome was appearing to have gathered momentum and moved up the leaderboard to a provisional 8th fastest at the second time check. Tom Dumoulin though was blasting his way forward, fastest at the second time check, while Tony Martin was moving up the leaderboard to 5th fastest at check number 2.
The rain came down for the final riders before the bottom of the big finishing climb, but that appeared to do nothing to dampen their enthusiasm and pace. Roglic was the sixth last rider to go up the climb and it was interesting that he had opted to change bikes; and for him it appeared to pay off handsomely as he began to eat into the time of those before. But Tom Dumoulin was the rider to beat, with a 40 second buffer to his nearest rival. He, like Chris Froome, opted not to take the bike change. Tony Martin began the climb with a deficit of 50 seconds to Dumoulin, starting the climb 6th fastest, but still faster than Froome.
Primoz Roglic stopped the clock having produced a brilliant climb, his time of 45.38mins was the first sub-46 minute time and put him 30 seconds ahead of Nelson Oliveira. But Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin were making their moves; although Dumoulin’s was seemingly the most significant. Froome had a deficit to make up, but Dumoulin was on cloud nine. Froome danced on the pedals as the metres closed in but he wasn’t going to take the gold medal. Froome stopped the clock 23 seconds slower than Roglic to slot into silver, but that quickly became bronze as just a few seconds later Dumoulin crossed the line to take the title in truly emphatic fashion. Dumoulin stopped the clock in 44.41mins.
Tony Martin was the last remaining rider but he was losing ground on the podium, finally crossing the line in 46.20mins; a 9th placed finish for the defending champion. Hamish Bond’s time was finally good enough for 39th overall of the 64 riders to start.