I really don't know. On the one hand, he's the defending champ. The two best chronomen this year, Cancellara and Wiggins, are not riding. In addition, a couple other riders who could be expected to put in a good time, Froome and Evans, are out. T-Mart was 2nd to Wiggo at the Olympics TT. The field is clear, seemingly.
But. This hasn't been the best of seasons for Martin. He's been competitive, surely, but outside of his National championship, he hasn't won a TT anywhere. There's the broken hand which supposedly is fine now. Then there's the course which to me isn't the ideal track for someone who likes flat and straight in order to build up a head of steam like T-Mart does. Oh-here's the course profile:
What the profile doesn't show is that the course is twisty and turny-4.5 km is the longest straight. Its a little hilly too, though outside of the Cauberg towards the end the climbs are not the most difficult. But if not Martin, then who?
Hey! A home nation favorite!
Why Lieuwe? He threw down a terrific TT in Denmark a little less than a month ago on his way to winning that race.
Why not Lieuwe? Longer courses seem a bit beyond him. He was 11th at the Olympic course, 17th on stage 9 of the Tour, 28th at the Dauphine's long TT.
Tejay van Garderen
Why Tejay? Did you see him power up the Cauberg in the TTT? In addition he's had some decent results in longer TT's this year, especially in the Tour.
Why not Tejay? First, having a good pull in a TTT is quite a bit different than riding by yourself. Hey--the kid is young still so I don't want to pile on him or anything. [commencepilingon] But he hasn't won anything yet on the senior level. Hard to see that this race is where he breaks through. [/commencepilingon]
Why Taylor? Like Westra, Taylor had a terrific winning TT in Colorado last month. A couple weeks before that he was 2nd at Eneco's TT. A week before that, 4th at the longer Olympic TT. This chronokid's been solid all year in the speciality.
Why not Taylor? Dunno. Yeah, he couldn't hold Teejay's wheel up the Cauberg on Sunday and so the money's leaving him for his teammate but outside of that Taylor looks as solid a pick as anyone outside of T-Mart.
Why Fred? Won the Vuelta TT. Also beat Cancellara in the Suisse TT.
Why not Fred? Besides the fact that his TT year has been very hit and miss, those two TT's he won were hillier than this one. The climbs here are much shorter as our next guy explains:
Bert checks out the course:
"It's quite a different circuit than what I expected," Contador said. "I had looked at the profile on the official Worlds website and it looked like a tough course, including several climbs and quite some rhythm changes. It's true that it's twisty with a lot of different corners, but of the three climbs, only the Cauberg - which I already know - is really challenging.
"I had hoped that the first one [Sint Remigiusstraat, 1000m reportedly at 7.7 per cent gradient - ed.] would be hard, but it's actually not that bad. They're not a climber's hills where you'd have to go out of the saddle. They can be ridden remaining seated, which is why they're not so much to my advantage."
The climbs won't be so selective then, with he exception of the Cauberg deciding between riders who are real close on time. Of course Contador could be sandbagging and Bert talking about climbs is not the same as normal riders talking about climbs.
Why Alberto? Hard to count out Bert if he is on form on a course that slows down the power riders.
Why not Alberto? Yeah he won the Vuelta and had a nice TT there but he still wasn't in top form and this course is not nearly so climby as Spain's.
So who's gonna win?
Slap a fin down on Phinney. Martin and Contador round out the podium. Call me frigid, say I have a touch of hypochondria, but I'm just not feeling the love for T-Mart.
Caveat: With several big names not riding, there's room for some outside to score big. Someone like Brajkovic or Velits or either Aussie or...