FLORENCE, Italy – Tony Martin of Germany won his third consecutive title in the individual time trial at the road cycling world championships with a dominating performance Wednesday, while Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins finished a distant second.
Martin completed the nearly entirely flat 35.5-mile route from Montecatini Terme to Florence in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 36.65 seconds. Wiggins, of Britain, finished second, 46.09 seconds behind, and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland was third, 48.34 behind.
Cancellara won the event a record four times, in 2006, ’07, ’09 and ’10. Martin is the second rider to win three in a row after Michael Rogers of Australia accomplished it from 2003 to 2005.
The only uphill section of the course was a 1.24-mile stretch shortly after the start. That made it ideal for time-trial specialists capable of maintaining their aerodynamic position crouched over their handlebars for more than an hour at full speed.
Conditions were perfect, with the course bathed in Tuscan sunshine, and fans came out in large numbers as the route took riders past Florence’s historic monuments like the Duomo cathedral.
The most technical section came just before the finish, with a series of sharp turns along Florence’s medieval streets.
Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus finished fourth, and Taylor Phinney, the American who finished second last year, was fifth.
After crossing the finish and hugging his team supporters, a joyful Martin dropped to the road on his back and gave a wide smile.
Martin has won nine of 12 individual time trials this year, including one at the Tour de France. He also powered Omega Pharma-Quick Step to victory Sunday in the team time trial at worlds – in another title defense.
For Wiggins, the silver medal capped a somewhat disappointing year.
In 2012, Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, but he missed this year’s race because of injury and illness after also withdrawing from the Giro d’Italia midway through the major.
Wiggins won the Tour of Britain this week in a sign of improved form. But Chris Froome, this year’s Tour de France winner, will lead Britain’s team in Sunday’s road race.
Cancellara entered the worlds with the aim of challenging for gold in three events, but his RadioShack team finished only fifth in the team time trial. Still, Cancellara will be among the favorites for the road race, an event he never has won at worlds.
Dutch cyclist Ellen Van Dijk won the women’s individual time trial Tuesday.
With no races Thursday, the next events are the junior women and under-23 men’s road races Friday.
The worlds will end Sunday with the featured road race over a 169-mile route that starts in Lucca near the coast and will end with 10 laps of a hilly circuit in and around Florence.