One for the specialists, but it contains some minor uphill sections throughout the stage, which look more dramatic on the course profile than they are in reality. The first half of the course is comprised of long, straight sections, where the powerful riders will really be able to get into a good rhythm. The second half becomes more technical, as the riders enter Richmond, but the trickiest turns are 90 degrees on wide roads.
The current world individual time trial champion, Bradley Wiggins, is absent, so the race will be wide open for past and future champions to make their mark. The best credentialed of these is Germany's Tony Martin (above), the three-time world champion against the clock. He hasn’t had the dominant season usually expected of him, with only three wins from six TTs this season. Martin’s most recent TT outing saw him beaten by Adriano Malori (ITA) and Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) in the Poitou Charentes TT. He was very impressive as his Etixx-QuickStep team took silver in the TTT, and he should go one better here.
Rohan Dennis (Australia) is one rider who can say with certainty that he will be arriving in Richmond in top form. He had a very successful second half of the season, and has taken the last month off to fine tune his form. He drove his BMC team to the gold medal in the TTT, pulling long turns on the front, particularly towards the end of the race. Dennis has his sights set on adding to that tally of gold and has the form to do so, beating the other elite TT riders in Stage 1 of the Tour de France. Dennis has proved that he is more than just a flash in the pan, now he needs to show that he really is the best of the best
Tom Dumoulin (NED) is coming off his stunning performance at the Vuelta a España. His starring day was in the TT, where he put significant time into his general classification rivals and time-trial specialists. In interviews after the Vuelta, he has seemed unsure about how his body is recovering and what shape he will be in for the TT. He had a similar scenario just after the Tour de Suisse, where he was in great form. He then went to the Dutch nationals and managed only a fourth place. Dumoulin cited fatigue from the Tour de Suisse as the reason for his sub-par showing and the fatigue will only be worse here after his Vuelta effort. Notably he showed no signs of slowing down as he dragged his Giant-Alpecin team to fifth in the TTT. If Dumoulin is fit, he’s one to beat.
Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) is Mr. Consistent at the world championships, finishing third, fourth and fourth in the last three editions. His recent form has been off his best. He was expected to really test Dumoulin in the Vuelta time trial, but was a disappointing fourth - even beaten by Valverde. He also suffered an unexpected defeat at the Tour of Poland. Although his past performances show he has the quality, he will need to turn around his recent form to be a factor.
The Movistar trio of Adriano Malori (ITA), Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) and Alex Dowsett (GBR), have been the nearly men of the time-trialling ranks in the past few seasons. Each has shown that he can match it with the best, but their performances in the big events have been behind the top riders. Dowsett of course took the world hour record earlier in the year, beating Dennis’s mark, and on that form he should be in the medal mix. Collectively his Movistar team rode a strong TTT for a bronze medal, and individually they will have the ambition of being on the podium again.
The feel-good story of the 2015 season, Taylor Phinney (USA) has returned to the peleton after over a year off recovering from injury. He was on the verge of becoming an elite TT rider before his break, and could return to that level given more time. He was an important part of BMC’s TTT gold medal ride, and on his return from almost career-ending injury, in front of his home crowd he will be swept on by a wave of emotion.