Remco Evenepoel claimed the men’s time trial rainbow jersey ahead of Filippo Ganna and young Brit Josh Tarling over a 43km course in Stirling.


– By Kenny Pryde in Stirling (Photos: Stefano Sirotti)

The Bullet, the Beast and a Welshman

If the Glasgow road race circuit was widely viewed as a giant Flemish kermesse, then the Stirling circuit was a proper British time trial course. Essentially flat, with a couple of rollers and then, because it was Scotland, a cobbled hill inside the final kilometre to the line at Stirling Castle.

It was widely assumed that the ‘big guys’ would enjoy the course, but it turned out that the compact and bullet-shaped form of 63kg Remco Evenepoel was best-suited to the course.

“I was on a super day. I was actually riding above my planned power through the first intermediate check, but I was on one of those days when you can do that. I picked a good day for that to happen,” said the thoughtful young Belgian with a grin.

Earlier, Evenepoel had been called “the beast” by bronze medallist Josh Tarling, who, on being told of the young Brit’s description laughed appreciatively. Straight faced he then declared himself happy to be an inspiration to “young guys” like Tarling. Evenepoel is still only 23.

The only hiccup in Evenepoel’s day came when he had to indicate to his team car to calm down. “I know when I’m on a good day and Klaas (Lodewijk) was giving me too much information. He was getting too excited, he knows me by heart and knows when I’m a bit irritated. But he coached me really well through the roads with the wind and the direction, because I was trying to stay as aero as possible, keeping my head down. I just needed him to just be a bit more calm.”

Seventh for Dennis in farewell TT

Australian eyes had been focused – for sentimental reasons if nothing else – on Rohan Dennis. The 33-year-old from Adelaide will retire from racing at the end the year. This was his final world time trial championship, a title he has won twice before.

In March, before the European season had gotten underway, Dennis declared that the time trial title was a major focus in a year where he essentially put himself in the service of his Jumbo-Visma team-mates – most noteably, of course, Primoz Roglic and the Slovenian’s triumphant performance at the Giro d’Italia.

Drafted into the Jumbo-Visma team in the Tour de Suisse, he hadn’t raced since. Had his desire to go out on a high remained intact? Or was he ‘demob happy’ knowing that his racing career was winding down? There were echoes of Dennis’ Harrogate 2019 world time trial championship in his plans and preparation but, deep down, did still have the ability to suffer when retirement cocktail glasses were metaphorically tinkling in the background?

After 35km, going through the second intermediate check in second spot, it seemed like Dennis really had put the work in to enable him to go out on a high note. If he managed to maintain that tempo, he was in with a shout of a medal. Roared on by a vociferous crowd on the final cobbled climb, disaster struck in the shape of a mechanical mishap and he stalled.

The Australian team’s mechanic rushed out with a spare bike, but the impetus required to maintain speed evaporated. Remarkably, Dennis still finished with the second best time for the day… but with Evenepoel, Wout van Aert, Tarling, Stefan Küng and Filippo Ganna yet to finish, Dennis could ill afford those lost seconds and momentum.

Dennis eventually finished seventh, predictably and quite reasonably frustrated that his final ride at a world road championships had ended in such an anti-climactic manner.

In a sense, the fact that Dennis then avoided all media at the finish after he left the hot seat was somehow appropriate. One wag pointed out that there was an Australian themed pub in Stirling “so,” they muttered, “perhaps we should look for him there”.

Jay Vine, the other Australian in the field, was caught and passed by the 2020 and 2021 TT champion and this year’s silver medallist, Ganna, who made up the 1:20 that separated them on the starting ramp after 22km. To be fair to Vine though, he had taken a bit of a detour, by riding into a field. “Yeah, that was not the way you’re supposed to ride a time trial,” mused the Canberra rider later with a rueful smile.

Did he lose focus for an instant? “I was just cooked. I didn’t brake enough, that was it. Apart from that screw up on the course I was happy with how I went.”

Vine stuck to his task and held the flying Italian for a few kilometres, getting a finger-wagging from the commisaires for following too closely.

Tarling, Team GB’s young star

The biggest surprise on the podium was 19-year-old Welshman Josh Tarling who finished third in what he described as “just another time trial.” By which he meant that this was his mental approach to the race. Given that the Ineos Grenadier was still eligible for the under-23 race, there was no pressure on him in his elite debut at the worlds and he had fine-tuned his time trial form by riding three club-level 10 mile time trials.

Relaxed and happy with a bronze medal around his neck, he intended to celebrate by “having a burger afterwards… but don’t tell Dario [Cioni, his coach].”

For those who say young riders are robots who can only ride to numbers, Tarling is a confounding case. He actually rode the title race on feel since his power metre’s head unit didn’t provide him any data because of a pairing issue.

“I’m going to get into trouble here,” he explained later, “but I warmed up on the spare bike on the turbo then it went on the roof rack. But my Garmin paired up with that bike on the roof rack so I had no power meter on the ride.

“It was a pretty easy though, I might have gone out too hard at the start but I got it all out that’s for sure. I was 20 and 40 seconds back, so the power meter wasn’t an issue.”

For the new TT world champion – last year’s road race gold medallist – Remco Evenepoel there will be little rest before he focusses on the next task. His is a full schedule and there’s little time to waste before he prepares to defend his first Grand Tour title.

What’s next for Remco? Fly home the day after racing, have a bit of a party with the Belgian team, take a day off with the family, then fly off to an altitude camp in the same location where he spent time preparing for the worlds for two weeks before starting the Vuelta a España. “It’ll be nice to see the family again.” Briefly. Such is modern cycling.



– By Kenny Pryde