BERGEN, Norway (Reuters) - Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands crushed his rivals to claim a maiden individual time trial title at the road cycling world championships on Wednesday, crowning a superb season after winning the Giro d‘Italia in May.
Despite the rain that hurt the chances of the late starters, Dumoulin clocked 44 minutes 41 seconds on the 31km course in Bergen, cheered on by massive flag-waving crowds.
He beat second-placed Primoz Roglic of Slovenia by 57.79 seconds, while Briton Chris Froome finished third, 1:21.25 slower.
Dumoulin came close to overtaking Tour de France champion Froome after starting 1:30 behind him.
Germany’s defending champion Tony Martin lost too much ground in two passages of a brutal 3.4km climb at an average gradient of 9.1 percent to have a chance of adding to his four titles.
“I can’t believe it, wow, it’s really amazing. I had such a good day I felt really, really good,” said Dumoulin.
“Then it started raining and I had to take the corners really slow especially in the climb.”
Dumoulin, whose previous best result was third in 2014, also won the team time trial with Sunweb last Sunday.
Some riders switched from their time trial bikes to climbing bikes just before the second passage on the ascent, at the top of which the finish line was drawn, but Dumoulin did not.
“At first I thought I would (change bikes) but then I felt I could do well with my TT bike,” he said.
Froome stayed on his time trial bike as well, but the Briton was never going to beat Dumoulin, possibly too exhausted after winning a brutal Vuelta 10 days ago.
Roglic switched bikes and was the fastest on the last climb, taking almost five seconds off Dumoulin’s lead, but the Dutchman already had the title in the bag.
Froome only managed the ninth best time in that section.
Frenchman Alexis Gougeard lost a podium chance when he suffered a mechanical on the last climb while he was still in the mix and finished 13th.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris