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With a fantastic finish, Etixx-QuickStep took their third Worlds TTT title by beating BMC by 12 seconds on the flat 40km course in Qatar; Orica-BikeExchange took the final spot on the podium

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09.10.2016 @ 17:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After two disappointing defeats, Etixx-QuickStep returned to the top step of the podium at the World Team Time Trial Championships when they broke the BMC dominance at the 2016 race in Doha. After a thrilling battle, they made the difference in the final section to open a- 12-second advantage over the Americans who had to settle for silver while Orica-BikeExchange returned to the podium after a one-year absence with a solid third place.

 

When the event was introduced in 2012, Etixx-QuickStep took the first Worlds team time trial title after a thrilling battle with BMC in Limburg. One year later they defended their position in Florence and in general the Belgians were the dominant factor in the TTTs during those years.

 

However, BMC took a surprise win in Ponferrada in 2014 and since then the hierarchy has changed. In the last few years, the Americans have won almost every important team time trial and Etixx-QuickStep have had to take a back seat.

 

Last year BMC made it two in a row but in Richmond, Etixx-QuickStep were closer than they had been one year earlier. That was an indication that they are returning to their top level and when they were only beaten narrowly in the Eneco Tour TTT a few weeks ago, it was evident that we were heading for an exciting battle at the Worlds in Qatar.

 

As expected, the race came down to a duel between the two main teams and it ended up as a true thriller. However, when the dust had settled, Etixx-QuickStep were back on the top step of the podium and so have become the first team to win the title three times.

 

The race could hardly have been any closer. At the first time check, Etixx-QuickStep were 3 seconds faster than BMC but when they passed the second check, they only had 0.07 second left of their advantage. That set the scene for a dramatic finale where the Belgians turned out to have most left. After dropping Julien Vermote and Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, Bob Jungels, Niki Terpstra and Marcel Kittel powered to the finish in 32.32 and that turned out to be enough to take the win.

 

The six riders still faced a nervous wait but when Rohan Dennis, Manuel Quinziato, Taylor Phinney and Stefan Küng – Joey Rosskopf and Daniel Oss had already been dropped – passed the flamme rouge, it was clear that the Americans were too late. In the end, they came up short by 12 seconds and had to settle for a second silver medal.

 

The battle for bronze was equally thrilling and turned into a tree-horse battle between Orica-BikeExchange, Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo. At the first time check, the Brits were 6 seconds faster than the Dutchmen and 10 seconds better than the Australians but the latter team had gauged their effort better. At the second check, they were two seconds faster than Sky and seven seconds better than LottoNL-Jumbo and at the finish, they had pushed the advantages out to 17 and 18 seconds respectively. Hence, Luke Durbridge, Svein Tuft, Michael Hepburn, Alexander Edmondson, Daryl Impey and Michael Matthews made sure that they returned to the podium for the fourth time after they had missed out on a medal with a fourth place in Richmond.

 

The big disappointment were last year’s bronze medallists from Movistar. The Spaniards were off the pace right from the start and even though they finished faster, they had to settle for sixth. As opposed to this, continental team Veranda’s Willems were the big surprise as they beat WorldTour team Ag2r and made it into the top 10.

 

With the team time trials done and dusted, the attention turns to the individual time trials. The elite men will be in action again on Wednesday on the exact same course.

 

A flat power course

The fifth edition of the World Team Time Trial Championships was held on a completely flat 40km course in Qatar. After a technical opening section at the Lusial Sports Complex north of the capital, the riders travelled along a flat, straight road to Doha. Here the roads again got a bit more technical as the riders headed to the finish on the manmade island of The Pearl.

 

It was a brutally hot and sunny day when Stradalli – Bike Aid rolled down the ramp as the first team. They got the race off to a disastrous start as Timo Schäfer had a mechanical after just a few hundred metres and they stopped the clock in 49.56 to set an early mark.

 

Stradalli had barely caught their breath before Skydive Dubai powered to the finish in a time of 48.16 that was almost two minutes faster than the Germans. Vino 4-ever were not even close as they had to settle for second with 49.03.

 

Best time for Veranda’s Willems

There were no great expectations for Cycling Academy but they had a surprisingly good ride with 46.57 which allowed them to take a comfortable lead. That was faster than the Ukrainians from Kolss as their time of 47.36 was only good enough for second.

 

Veranda’s Willems were the final continental team and at the time checks, they had proved that they were clearly the best of the third-tier teams. When they reached the finish, the clock showed 46.11 and so they lowered the mark by a massive 46 seconds.

 

Katusha take the lead

CCC were the only pro continental team but surprisingly, they could only manage third with a time of 46.58. However, the big surprise came two minutes later when Ag2r were unable to beat Veranda’s Willems as their time of 46.15 was four seconds off the mark.

 

Veranda’s Willems were finally beaten when Katusha powered to the finish in 44.33 to improve the best time by almost two minutes. That was enough to beat Astana by 20 seconds and so they were in the lead when the first of the pre-race favourites arrived.

 

Sky move into the hot seat

LottoNL-Jumbo had been mentioned as a medal contender and they lived up to the expectationsby posting a time of 43.27 to comfortably move into the lead. Giant-Alpecin were unable to match them as the Germans were 31 seconds off the pace and had to settle for second.

 

Sky had been faster than LottoNL-Jumbo at both time checks but the Brits were fading in the final part. When they appeared on the finishing straight, it was evident that it was going to be close but in the end they just had enough to beat the Dutchmen by less than a second.

 

Etixx-QuickStep take the win

Orica-BikeExchange had been two seconds faster than Sky at the final time check and they maintained their speed to go 17 seconds faster than the Brits. That allowed them to move into the hot seat and they held off the challenge for a disappointing Movistar team that could only manage fourth with 43.43.

 

Everybody was now waiting for the two big favourites who had been clearly the best at both time checks. Etixx-QuickStep lived up to expectation by lowering the mark by 37 seconds and then faced a nervous wait. In the end, their performance turned out to be good enough as BMC crossed the line in 42.44, thus missing out on a third title by just 12 seconds.

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