Richmond - Tony Martin is preparing for a
record-equalling tilt at glory as the World Road Cycling Championships get
under way this weekend, two months after he crashed out of the Tour de France
with a broken collarbone.
The 30-year-old Etixx Quick Step rider,
seeks his fourth individual time trial title in five years, which would equal
the all-time mark set by Swiss star Fabian Cancellara, who took four of five
between 2006 and 2010.
Martin's reign began in 2011 and lasted
until he finished second last year to Britain's Bradley Wiggins, who has
retired from road events.
In July, Martin took the yellow jersey in
the Tour de France but crashed out in stage six. But last month, he won the
Tour de Poitou-Charentes, a signal he was back on form.
"I'm happy to be here after my crash
on the Tour de France," Martin said. "I'm looking forward to
racing," the German star added.
Martin must wait until Wednesday for the
individual men's time trial but his first race will come in Sunday's six-rider
team time trials, where the 2012 and 2013 champions - including defending world
road race champion Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland -- will try to reclaim the
title from defending champions BMC Racing, with Australia-backed ORICAGreen
Edge hoping to advance from runner-up efforts the past two years.
"I saw the course on Sunday and I have
to say it will be pretty fast," Quick Step sport director Tom Steels said.
"It will be fast until the last climb,
which is more or less in the last kilometre. It will be a tough finale. It will
be really close among the teams."
BMC boasts Aussie veteran Rohan Dennis and
US standout Taylor Phinney while Green Edge offers Aussies Luke Durbridge and
Michael Hepburn plus Canada's Svein Tuft.
In the individual time trial, Martin faces
a challenge from Movistar riders Adriano Malori of Italy and Jonathan
Castroviejo of Spain - both national champions - plus Dennis and Dutchman Tom
Dumoulin, third last year.
Germany's Lisa Brennauer, the 27-year-old
defending women's individual time trial champion, will lead Velocio SRAM into a
quest for a fourth consecutive women's team time trial crown on Sunday.
The former Specialized lululemon squad also
includes German Trixi Worrack, seeking her fourth team time trial gold in a
row, and Canada's Karol-Ann Canuel.
They will be tested by three-time podium
finisher Orica AIS, an Aussie-powered line up with Amanda Spratt back from the
past two years that also features Sweden's Emma Johansson, second in the 2013
women's road race and third last year, and Oceania time trial champion Katrin
"The group has a great feel about it
and I think they can surprise themselves this weekend with the ride they are
capable of putting together," said sport director Gene Bates.
Johansson and Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk
should challenge Brennauer in Tuesday's women's individual time trials with
Americans Evelyn Stevens and Kristen Armstrong threats as well.
Armstrong, 42, is the two-time reigning
Olympic champion coming back from starting a family to compete. She won the
rainbow jersey in the individual time trials in 2006 and 2009.
The road races will be staged September
26-27 with the men's 259.2km layout offering no tough climbs but some
cobblestones that could be costly for the careless.
Slovakian Peter Sagan, hurt in the Vuelta a
Espana, has a course that could favour if he's healthy. Britain's Mark
Cavendish is another contender with health issues.
Kwiatkowski will be in the hunt to defend
while Norway's Alexander Kristoff, German John Degenkolb and Belgian former winner
Philippe Gilbert and countryman Greg van Avermaet are also drawing attention.
And Spain's Alejandro Valverde, the 2003
and 2005 runner-up who was third in the world road race each of the past three
years, lurks as a threat to break through.
Britain's Lizzie Armitstead is expected to
join Brennauer and Johansson as top challenges to defending champion Pauline
Ferrand-Prevot for the women's road race crown.
It's only the second US staging of the
event, some 29 years after it was held in Colorado Springs. More than 1 000
riders from 70 nations will compete.