The 2013 UCI Road World Championships commences tonight with the Elite Men participating in a 57.2 kilometre Team Time Trial from Montecatini Terme to Firenze (Florence).
Unusually for the World Championships, the Team Time Trial does away with the idea of National Teams and involves the existing professional trade teams such as Orica-GreenEDGE.
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step are expected to retain their status as World Champions in the Team Time Trial discipline.
Apart from an ascent near the Serravavalle Pistoisse intermediate time check, the parcours are flat and suited to the time trial specialists and powerhouses of the peloton.
There are several kilometres of straight road suited to powerhouses like Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara, and Luke Durbridge.
However, the final 10 kilometres of the time trial route will be technical, featuring several sharp corners and a railway bridge.
Beginning after the third and final intermediate time check, any mistakes could see a team cede vital seconds to their rivals ahead of the finishing line.
Inaugural defending champions Omega Pharma – Quick-Step are once again bringing a very strong squad to the World Championships for the Team Time Trial event with German powerhouse Tony Martin the shining light of a squad featuring Peter Velits, Sylvain Chavanel, Michal Kwiatkowski, Niki Terpstra, and Kristof Vandewalle.
The Belgian outfit are understandably the overwhelming favourites to claim a repeat victory in the event.
The flatter parcours should suit Orica-GreenEDGE’s squad, who despite an unfavourable parcours for the 2012 Team Time Trial still managed to finish third.
The Australian outfit are expecting to compete for the podium again, and are aiming to repeat their unexpected Tour de France victory over the Belgian team with the time trial experience or track pursuit background of Luke Durbridge, Svein Tuft, Daryl Impey, Jens Mouris, Michael Hepburn, and Brett Lancaster.
BMC will be weaker due to the absence of Marco Pinotti, but the American outfit will still be hopeful of finishing on the podium for a second year with Taylor Phinney, Tejay Van Garderen, and Manuel Quinziato this year joined by Steve Cummings, Daniel Oss, and Michael Schar.
Cummings, Oss, and Schar part of the team which managed to win the Team Time Trial at the Tour of Qatar.
With Fabian Cancellara participating in all three Elite Men’s events there are question marks over just how deep the Swiss cyclist will delve to help carry Radioshack-Leopard to a podium position.
The squad for the Team Time Trial will consist of Jesse Sergent, Fabian Cancellara, Hayden Roulston, Yaroslav Popovych, Markel Iriza and Bob Jungels, giving Radioshack-Leopard an outside chance of claiming the victory should the other teams falter.
A strong time trial squad will also represent British outfit Team Sky.
However, there will be question marks over just how dedicated Chris Froome, Richie Porte, and Edvald Boasson Hagen will be to the cause with the Elite Men’s Road Race the ultimate goal for the week.
As shown by their massive performances in several of the team time trials at their targeted races, Team Sky cannot be discounted for a podium finish if they are focused and dedicated to the task.