Sir Bradley Wiggins is possibly the most well known cyclist currently competing in the sport. His price of 5/4 to win the time trial in the World Championships on Wednesday could me more based on reputation than form. Tony Martin can be backed at even money which means the combined price of either cyclist winning the event is about 1/2. In the absence of Chris Froome who does not specialise in time trials and will be riding in the road race on Saturday it’s difficult to see any other competitor filling the first two places.
Wiggins could be the most recognisable sportsmen in Great Britain. He has achieved that status by winning the Tour de France and Olympics time trial last year, starting the Opening Ceremony by chiming the huge bell at London 2012 and cheekily addressing Ms. Barker as Susan when interviewed after being voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. His cult status could me mainly based on that impertinence.
The Paul Weller fan was not fit enough to ride in Le Tour this year which meant Froome became the second British rider to win the classic race after Wiggins became the first 12 months earlier. Both Brits still ride for Team Sky so it will be interesting to see who the main rider in France is next July. Froome has said he is happy to assume the role of second rider to Wiggins but at some stage he will want to win a Tour in which Wiggins also competes.
Professional cycling is a fascinating sport in that most team members’ role is to set up the race for the number one man. The ‘domestiques’ work just as hard in following team tactics as the rider that eventually rides into Paris to win the Tour de France . However, by definition each team can only have one principle rider and if Froome is assigned that status by Sky it will be interesting to see if Wiggins is prepared to set up the race for a rival.
Martin has won the last two time trials at the road world championships. He beat Wiggins by 76 seconds in 2011 but Wiggins was 42 seconds faster in the Olympics last year. He arrives on the back of winning the Tour of Britain for the first time, a win built on a dominant ride in the time trial. The world rankings are based on the classic tours in which the time trials are a minor factor so in the context of this week’s time trial they have little relevance. Martin is currently 51st and Wiggins is in 69th place.
There may be some patriotic element written into the relative prices quoted by British bookmakers for Martin and Wiggins to win the time trial. Austrian based sportsbook bwin make Martin a marginally stronger favourite but they also see this as a two cyclist race. It would take a fall or mechanical fault to prevent one of the pair crossing the finishing line after recording the fastest time.