Michael Hepburn was first of the 70 men on the startsheet, and he immediately set a comparatively competitive time of 1.04.28 at the finish. He continued to hold the lead until dislodged by Steve Cummings by less than half a second. Cummings barely got a moment in the hotseat however, as Marcin Bialoblocki came down the finish straight with his minute (and a half) man Silvan Dillier struggling in his wake, and smashing the Brit's time by 37 seconds. He would be in the hotseat for most of the rest of the race.
His time was next challenged by - stunningly - (Sorry, Will) Jerome Coppel. Coppel did the ride of his life to take the intermediate checks from Bialoblocki by almost a minute, and despite fading in the last sector, beat Bialoblocki's time by 56 seconds with a 1.02.56.
By the time the big favourites were out, Coppel was a good way around the course. Favourites Kiryienka, Martin, Dumoulin and Dennis were the last to start, and they all started reasonably well, Kiryienka first through the first check, and Martin 10" behind. Was he saving his energy for later? No. Martin had a torrid day on the road, steadily losing time through all the checks, eventually finishing seventh.
Rohan Dennis also had a difficult day, going from seventh at the first split to fourth at the second, but his challenge was cut short by a puncture costing him a number of seconds, and he seemed to fade from there.
Jonathan Castroviejo came close to Coppel's time, finishing fourth just three seconds behind the Frenchman.
The battle for the win, however, was between two riders, both of whom were just that little bit ahead of Coppel consistently in the intermediate splits, both of whom looked just that little bit better on their bikes, and neither of whom were big favourites for the win beforehand. Those two riders were Belorussian Vasil Kiryienka and Italian Adriano Malori. The GPS timings had stepped up their game, and showed them very close to one another in time for most of the race, a nip and tuck battle with Kiryienka starting faster but Malori slowly gaining, and by the end of the race, the GPS was showing them them to be within seconds of one another - and Malori was the one making time up. Nine seconds...eight...seven...five, and the Italian was within three seconds of the Italian. He crossed the line, beating Coppel's time by seventeen seconds with a 1.02.38.
All he - and we - could do was wait. The Belorussian came to Governor Street climb as the GPS ticked down to zero. He sprinted up the hill, grimacing, but made it to the line...nine seconds ahead of Malori to become world champion. Martin and Dumoulin limped home seventh and fifth.
When interviewed, the winner said that he "was going really well. I am happy to be in this position today. I'd like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to think about the worlds. The level was very high.
Malori said: "Because of wind we all raced very fast, but conditions were the same for everyone so not important to results, just to average speed. My goal was to have better place than last year, so from 6th to second is a good result for me. Also because it was a very long time trial, i think next year the course is very good for me, I think I can win."
Coppel said that the wind was "less important than we thought it would be. It was tough having headwind in the last km. The difficulty was not the wind but length of the course I was hoping for a top ten, but had good sensations from the beginning, and also the riders like Martin and Dumoulin were not having a good day. In cycling you also need to be lucky."
Terminator jokes go in the comments.
Phinney up close and personal
Not my best work... All for now.