For the third year in a row, world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished his season in style when he won the traditional end-of-season time trial Chrono des Nations. The German narrowly beat Gustav Erik Larsson (IAM) by 14 seconds while Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) denied Marco Pinotti (BMC) a podium spot in the final race of the Italian's career.
When Tony Martin took his first two world championship titles in 2011 and 2012, he maintained his form all the way to the end of the season and won the Chrono des Nations, the traditional time trial that brings down the curtain on the European cycling season. Almost a month after taking his third consecutive rainbow jersey, the German kept his string alive in the French race when he took another win in the prestigious time trial this afternoon.
However, the battle for the win was much closer than anticipated. During the last few months, Gustav Erik Larsson has shown indications that he is getting back to his former level and the Swede continued his strong run of form when he gave Martin a run for his money by finishing in a time that was only 14 seconds slower than Martin's on the 57km course in Herbiers. The Swede beat previous leader Johan Le Bon (FDJ) when he crossed the finish line as the fifth last rider and faced a nervous waiting time in the hot seat until finally being disposed by world champion Martin.
Marco Pinotti rode his last race as a professional, fittingly clad in the Italian champion's jersey which he has worn for six seasons during his long and storied career. The Italian hoped to finish his career with a podium performance and was on track when he crossed the finish line in a provisional 2nd place.
At that point, only Martin and the German's trade teammate Sylvain Chavanel - riding his final race as an Omega Pharma-Quick Step - still had to finish their ride and while there was never any doubt that Martin would beat Pinotti and exciting battle for 3rd place ensued. In the end, Chavanel took the spoils when his time was 15 seconds faster than Pinotti's, thus earning the French champion the final spot on the podium.
As usual, the elite men's event came at the end of a long day of time trialing that offered events for both elite men, elite women, U23 men, junior men and junior women. Hanna Solovey was the strongest woman, Ryan Mullen took the U23 title, world champion Igor Decraene won the junior men's race and world champion Severine Eraud won her first race in the rainbow jersey in the junior women's race.
With the Chrono des Nations done and dusted, the European cycling season has come to a close. Racing resumes in late January with the GP la Marseillaise.
A prestigious time trial
As usual, the 57km Chrono des Nations time trial was set to bring down the curtain on the European cycling season. Being a successor to the famous GP des Nations time trial, it still carries a certain prestige and was held on its usual course around the French city of Les Herbiers.
The first rider down the ramp was Europcar stagiaire Bryan Nauleau but he didn't even get the chance to enter the hot seat. Along the way he was passed by Nicolas Baldo (Atlas Personal) whose time of 1.13.14 was the time to beat for a long time.
Best time by Kaisen
Cameron Wurf (Cannondale), Tony Hurel (Europcar), Evaldas Siskevicius (Sojasun), Romain Bacon (BigMat), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) were all far off the mark and the first rider to finish within 30 seconds of the time set by Baldo was Loic Desriac (Roubaix) who was 26 seconds slower than the leading Swiss. Moments later, Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol) powered across the line and set a time that was 16 seconds faster than Baldo's and so the Belgian disposed the Atlas rider from the hot seat.
Paul Poux (Sojasun), Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Bryan Coquard (Europcar), Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) were all far off the mark set by Kaisen but the next rider to cross the line showed the strength that had earned him a spell at Movistar a few seasons ago. Carlos Oyarzun (Louletano) was 5 seconds faster than Kaisen and moved into the hot seat with just 7 riders still left on the course.
Le Bon takes the lead
Oyarzun didn't get much time to enjoy his lead as Le Bon was the next rider to cross the line, the Frenchman lowering the mark by a minute. Lieuwe Westra had a disappointing ride in the final race for Vacansoleil but the next rider to finish was on fire. Larsson set a time that was 51 seconds faster than Le Bon's and now faced a nervous time in the hot seat.
Jeremy Roy (FDJ) failed to make an impact on the race and the race now shaped up as a close battle for the win between Martin and Larsson while Pinotti and Chavanel would decide the 3rd place. Pinotti was the first to cross the line in a time that was good enough for a provisional 2nd place but he was quickly relegated into third by Chavanel. He fell down to fourth when Martin powered across the line to earn his third consecutive win in the race.
1. Tony Martin 1.10.48
2. Gustav Erik Larsson +0.14
3. Sylvain Chavanel +0.45
4. Marco Pinotti +1.00
5. Johan Le Bon +1.05
6. Carlos Oyarzun +2.05
7. Olivier Kaisen +2.10
8. Jeremy Roy +2.24
9. Nicolas Baldo +2.26
10. Anthony Delaplace +2.48
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