Florence - Germany's Tony Martin came close to matching the speed of his six-man Omega-Pharma team on his way to a third consecutive time trial title at the world road race cycling championships Wednesday.
Britain's reigning Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins finished second, with Swiss former champion Fabian Cancellara taking the bronze.
Martin clocked a winning time of 1hr 05min 36sec on the mainly flat 57.8km course from Montecatini Terme to Florence to beat Wiggins by 46sec, with Cancellara finishing 48sec off the German's pace.
At an average speed of 52.91 km/h, Martin came close to matching the 53.4 km/h set by him and Omega-Pharma on their way to victory in the team event on an almost identical course at the weekend.
Martin led at every time check bar one and by the halfway point the 28-year-old from Cottbus looked well on his way to his third straight gold in the race against the clock.
"To win a world championship is always special. To win it a third time in a row is even more special," said Martin.
"To win it this way - I can't imagine a better race for me. I always knew I was able to win but to know, and to do it, is different."
Wiggins, who had hoped to add a maiden world title in the event to a list of honours which includes the 2012 Olympic time trial crown, was sitting in bronze medal position for most of the race but finished strongly to push Cancellara down a place.
Wiggins began trailing Cancellara by 15secs near the halfway point, but came fighting back in the final 20 minutes and pipped the Swiss for second place by just 2secs.
"I had no idea until I finished and collapsed in the tent as to where I was," said Wiggins.
"In the final 20 minutes I was pretty oblivious to everything and you are just trying to get home. I love the sport and it is nice and an honour to be on the podium with those two guys.
"It will be something to show the kids when I'm older."
Cancellara had shown promise early on, but once Martin got into his stride on the long, straight roads leading into the city he was able to comfortably distance his rivals.
Despite losing the silver medal, Cancellara said: "I'm happy with my performance."
American Taylor Phinney, expected to be in the hunt for a possible podium finish, finished fifth 2:08 adrift, with Belarusian Vasil Kiryienka fourth at 1:26.
The championships finish on Sunday when the main event, the men's road race, is held with Belgium's defending champion Philippe Gilbert putting his title on the line.
No races are held on Thursday, when the candidates for the presidency of the International Cycling Union (UCI), incumbent Pat McQuaid and Britain's Brian Cookson, are likely to be engaging in last-minute lobbying ahead of Friday's vote.
Results from the world road race cycling championships on Wednesday:
Men's elite time trial (57.8 km):
Tony Martin (GER) 1hr 05min 36sec, 2. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) at 46sec,
3. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 48, 4. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) 1min 26sec, 5.
Taylor Phinney (USA) 2:08, 6. Rasmus Quaade (DEN) 2:36, 7. Marco Pinotti
(ITA) 2:41, 8. Adriano Malori (ITA) 2:51, 9. Gustav Larsson (SWE) 2:58,
10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR) 2:59, 11. Jan Barta (CZE) 3:07, 12. Rohan
Dennis (AUS) 3:09, 13. Nicolas Roche (IRL) 3:13, 14. Jonathan
Castroviejo (ESP) 3:13, 15. Nelson Oliveira (POR) 3:14, 16. Kristof
Vandewalle (BEL) 3:17, 17. Richie Porte (AUS) 3:22, 18. Vladimir Gusev
(RUS) 3:28, 19. Dmitriy Gruzdev (KAZ) 3:35, 20. Bert Grabsch (GER) 3:41