It was one of the best time-trials we’ve ever seen, yet also won with ease. That is a testament to the course as well as the competitors at these World Championships in Bergen, Norway. But in the end, Tom Dumoulin was heads and shoulders ahead of the rest. He romped the flat section and flew up the final climb, avoiding the bike change that many had opted for. He is World Champion now, for the first time, and I would suggest, not the last time.
He has also completed his double of winning a Grand Tour and a World title in the same year. The last man to do that was Abraham Olano in 1998. He won the Vuelta followed by the time-trial at the worlds. He also completed a double by winning the individual and team time-trials at the same championships. His Sunweb team continued their remarkable year by beating BMC and Sky for the gold medal.
Indeed it has been a season of doubles. The most famous being Chris Froome’s Tour-Vuelta double. He had been hoping to do a unique treble but had to settle for third behind Dumoulin. That final climb out of Bergen in yesterdays race of truth proved to be a ridge too far for the Briton. He looked tired and while he often starts slow and rides into a time-trial, the gap to Dumoulin only ever went out. Come the finish he had lost 1 minute 21 seconds to the Dutchman. Primoz Roglic was second at 57 seconds. I am sure Froome will settle for the honours he has though. In the past 15 months Froome has won the Tour de France twice, the Vuelta once, and has taken bronze at the Olympics and World Championships.
I hope the Tour de France organisation took note. Not only of this kind of time-trial, but for the potential battle between Froome and Dumoulin in next years Tour. The gap isn’t likely to be that big when both fresh at the Tour. The pair going head to head, against the clock and in the mountains, is a mouth watering prospect.
But forget doubles for a moment. One man still targeting a treble is Peter Sagan and on Sunday he gets his chance in the road race. He will look to become the first man to ever win three world road titles in a row. Indeed, only four men have ever won three world titles at any time in their careers. Those are Alfredo Binda, Rik Van Steenbergen, Eddy Merckx and Óscar Freire.
And the course suits Sagan, though what world title course wouldn’t? Plenty of others will fancy their chances, of course, and if the recent race in Montreal showed us anything, it is that he will be a marked man. As such I’m going to stick my neck on the line and pick Fernando Gaviria to win from a large group sprint.