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WORLDS’22 Men’s TT: Tobias Foss Beats the Favourites

Time trail upset

Worlds Race Report: Not Filippo Ganna, Remco Evenepoel or Stefan Küng, but Tobias Foss is the new time trial World champion. The Norwegian surprised everyone by beating all the top favourites; Stefan Küng, Remco Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna in Wollongong.

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The new World time trial champion – Tobias Foss

In the men’s race most eyes were on defending champion and top favourite Filippo Ganna, the Vuelta winner Remco Evenepoel and the Swiss riders, Stefan Küng and Stefan Bissegger on a course of 34.2 kilometres. But it was Norway’s Tobias Foss who turned the tables on everyone.

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Map and profile

The individual time trial for the elite men was kicked off by the Maltese rider Daniel Joseph Bonello. The second rider on the course was home top talent Luke Plapp. The 21-year-old Australian was encouraged by the local public and managed to set the first real target time at the finish of 41:26, an average speed of 49.5kph.

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First target time from Luke Plapp

Plapp’s time looked to be wiped off the board by Edoardo Affini. The Italian got off to a good start and set the fastest time at the first intermediate point, but lost some of his speed in the second part of the race. At the finish the difference was 4 seconds in favour of Plapp. The Australian had the ‘Hot Seat’ for a while, but had to fear for his lead as Magnus Cort, Yves Lampaert (the winner of the opening time trial in the Tour) and especially Stefan Bissegger (the reigning European TT champion) were now out on the course.

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Top ride from Bissegger – 5th

Cort was unable to make any difference to the result, but Lampaert and Bissegger managed to live up to their status as favourites. Both men were slower than Affini at the first intermediate point, but were at ‘full gas’ after that. That was also apparent at the third intermediate point: Lampaert (30:06) and Bissegger (29:59), well below the intermediate times of Plapp and Affini. The French time trial champion Bruno Armirail (30:07), also came close to the times of the Swiss and Belgian.

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Not a good day for Tadej Pogačar but still 6th

Armirail was the first to cross the line of those three riders and the Frenchman took the provisional fastest time with 41:12. Lampaert had to pull out all the stops in the last kilometres to go under the time of the Frenchman. He succeeded, but only by four hundredths of a second, which was certainly not enough for a medal, let alone the world title. Lampaert’s time was quickly improved by Bissegger, who managed to raise the bar even higher with 40:50.

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The winning ride from Tobias Foss

With the Swiss rider in the hot seat, things were quiet for a while. In the third wave, several time trial specialists started; Mikkel Bjerg, Tobias Foss and Magnus Sheffield, but the biggest attackers of Bissegger only followed in the fourth and final wave, or so we expected. Stefan Küng, Tadej Pogačar, Remco Evenepoel and last man off, Filippo Ganna. Küng, the European champion of 2021, was the first big favourite to set a time at the first timing point after 7.1 kilometres.

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A disappointed Remco Evenepoel had to settle for 3rd place

The Swiss rider set an excellent time with 8:51, although Pogačar, Evenepoel and Ganna were still to come. The Slovenian didn’t appear to pose a threat to Küng, as Pogačar had lost 16 seconds after just over 7 kilometres. Evenepoel was in good shape and was within the second of his Swiss rival. Ganna, the two-time champion was only good for 5th place, although he remained close to Küng and Evenepoel on 8:53.

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Bad birthday present for Ethan Hayter as his chain came off while he was setting a good time

A threesome for the World title seemed in the making, although it was also looking good youngsters Magnus Sheffield and Tobias Foss, who were also riding good times in the shadow of the big favourites. Küng continued to ride hard and after a while had Bauke Mollema in his sights. This was a major setback for the Dutch champion, but for Küng a sign that he was heading towards a good finish. At the finish; Sheffield had a time of 41:47 minutes after a crash, but Foss set a new top time with 40:02.

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Top ride from Tobias Foss

The Norwegian was 47 seconds faster than Bissegger and was looking good for a medal. However, Foss still had to wait for the finish of the last starters. Küng, Pogačar, Evenepoel and Ganna had yet to pass at the second intermediate point. Küng calmly continued his momentum, clocked 29:06 and was 11 seconds faster than the surprisingly strong Foss. Küng’s time remained too much for his competitors. Evenepoel conceded 15 seconds, a disappointing Ganna followed at almost 40 seconds and Pogačar was 45 seconds slower.

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Bronze medal for Stefan Küng

Küng seemed on his way to his first time trial World title. All seemed to be going well for the Swiss rider in the final kilometres, but he hadn’t calculated for Foss. The Norwegian had a strong final section, Küng lost more and more ground in the remaining kilometres to the finish and turned out to be 3 seconds slower than the amazing Foss at the finish. The Norwegian was now in pole position for the title, although he had to wait for Evenepoel to finish. The Belgian was a little faster in the final, but was still 9 seconds short and had to settle for the bronze medal.

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Only 7th for Ganna

World time trial champion, Tobias Foss (Norway): “It couldn’t have gone better. It feels like a dream. I don’t believe it yet. The legs were good. I knew I was coming here from Canada in good shape, but I wasn’t expecting this. I’m not the most confident person. So I didn’t believe it until it was over. I got everything out of it today. It couldn’t have gone better. I’m very satisfied, it’s unbelievable. There was hardly time to relax or slow down. It goes up and down. It was very technical, I had to accelerate in the corners and on the steeper parts. On the parts down, I could take a breath. We prepared it well and executed it perfectly. Beforehand, I thought about the top ten or top five. It will be very special to wear the rainbow jersey. I will honour it as best I can.”

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Tobias Foss (Norway), Stefan Küng (Switzerland) and Remco Evenepoel

World Championship Men’s Time Trial Result:
1. Tobias Foss (Norway) in 40:02
2. Stefan Küng (Switzerland) at 0:03
3. Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) at 0:09
4. Ethan Hayter (Great Britain) at 0:40
5. Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) at 0:47
6. Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) at 0:48
7. Filippo Ganna (Italy) at 0:56
8. Nelson Oliveira (Portugal) at 0:59
9. Yves Lampaert (Belgium) at 1:09
10. Bruno Armirail (France) at 1:10.

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