2023 World Championships – Elite Men ITT Preview

Stirling > Stirling 47.9km ITT

After the excitement of the road race, it’s time to focus on the time trial. It’s the longest route since 2019, one that is mainly flat, but with a sting in the tail. The riders start and finish in the city of Stirling, the finish is a beautiful one, the riders go up to the entrance to Stirling Castle. Stirling is a city with a rich history, the battle of Stirling Bridge was a significant moment in the First War of Scottish Independence back in 1297. If you’ve seen the film Braveheart, you’ll know that William Wallace was present that day, but unfortunately, there won’t be a Scottish hero this time round, luckily an Englishman won’t win either! Enough history, time for the preview. 


Heavy rain overnight, it was very humid today and that means the skies are going to open in the small hours of the morning. It looks like the rain will linger, making it hard for the roads to dry in time for the riders starting at 1420, there might even be another shower at that time. Then things will hopefully settle a bit, but there’s still a threat of more rain before the last man crosses the finishing line. It’s not a great forecast for the world ITT championship.

The wind looks like being constant throughout the day, around 20km/h coming from the south-west. This means a lot of headwind or cross/headwind for the opening 27km, with the rest of the route being tailwind or cross/tailwind.


349m of climbing over 47.9km isn’t a lot, especially when you consider 65m of that comes in the final kilometre. There are not too many corners for the riders to deal with, lots of opportunities to get the head down and power on. The final kilometre is tough, it averages 6% and the final 400m is on cobbles. Now, it’s not the Arenberg Forest, but they are fairly rough when you are on a TT bike. Riders need to ensure that enough energy is saved during their effort, the final kilometre is very important in sorting out the medals.


Tobias Foss – it’s only fair to start with the defending champion. His win last year was a huge surprise, probably even for him. Foss won the Tour de l’Avenir back in 2019, but he’s struggled to match the expectations that win put on his shoulders, apart from that glorious day in Wollongong. This year has followed a similar pattern to previous ones, he’s huffed and puffed, but failed to deliver a consistent run of results. Next year, he’ll be riding for Ineos (this hasn’t been announced yet as I hear there’s been a slight disagreement about wages), and I don’t think Jumbo-Visma are overly concerned about losing him. Repeating his success of last year would be even more of a surprise this year. 

Remco Evenepoel – no longer the road race champion, can he deliver in the TT? He’s up against a group of riders who have come from the Tour, that could be a slight issue, but not as much in the road race. This year we’ve seen Remco put in a couple of brilliant performances on his TT bike, the opening stage of the Giro is one of the most stunning rides I’ve seen for a long time. This is his third crack at the title, he’s finished third in both 2021 and 2022, he would love to be able to take home the rainbow jersey. Despite what I thought, the road race didn’t suit him, but this should be right up his street. I think the long distance should suit him, he’ll take a lot of seconds on his rivals by being so aero.

Wout Van Aert – he’s got one TT win to his name this year, that came in the Belgian championships, but Remco did take a tumble into a ditch. He was second in this race in both 2020 and 2021, Ganna got the better of him on both occasions. In the road race, he looked very strong, but again, lacked something at the end of a long race. That won’t be a problem in the time trial, he’ll be dreaming of taking his first road rainbow jersey., and praying to not finish in second place. 

Filippo Ganna – incredibly, the bookies have him as the fourth favourite to win the race, they have Remco, Wout and Küng ahead of him. Maybe it’s because he comes here from the track, switching to such a long race will be a challenge for him, but if there’s anyone who can do it then it’s him. This year he won the TT in Tirreno, the Italian championship and Tour de Wallonie, he was second to Remco in the opening stage in the Giro and a disappointing third in the Algarve. I think people will look at the final kilometre and write him off, that would be a mistake, but he does need an advantage over his rivals as he will lose ground in the closing metres.  

Stefan Küng – can he eventually land a big one? Küng is a magnificent TT rider, this year he won the TT in the Algarve and Tour de Suisse, but a grand tour win just evaded him for another year. In 2022, he came within 3 seconds of taking the rainbow jersey, that would have been very hard to take, especially after beating Remco and Ganna. I think everyone would be delighted to see him winning the title, he would be the people’s champion.  

Tadej Pogačar – the road race showed that he’s held his form after the Tour de France, but I think the distance will be the biggest issue for him. He can hold his own against the bigger riders in a short TT, but I think they’ll take too much time out of him in this race before he gets to the final climb. 

Geraint Thomas – I doubt his form is there to compete against the riders already mentioned.  

Josh Tarling – he’s just 19 years old, it’s quite incredible that he’s even here, let alone with a real chance of the podium. Tarling took the decision to not ride the under 23 event, he wants to test himself against the best in the world. I love his attitude, hopefully that translates into a fine performance. Just a couple of weeks ago, he was only 8 seconds behind Ganna in the Tour de Wallonie TT, it was a monstrous ride by the Welshman. He comes here with hope, but he’s probably too young.

Mikkel Bjerg – would you be surprised if he won this race? I wouldn’t. After many years, he finally won his first professional TT, that was in the Dauphiné, where he beat Vingegaard. Back in his under 23 days, Bjerg won three consecutive rainbow jerseys, he should be challenging for the elite title by now. Foss surprised last year, could Bjerg? 

Mattia Cattaneo – he’s got the form, his win in Poland was amazing. Normally, he’s a steady top 10 contender, but he now has a genuine chance of challenging for the podium. 

Rémi Cavagna – he’s another strong contender for the podium. He looked strong in the mixed race; he’ll be hoping for another medal. 

Stefan Bissegger – not had a good year on his TT bike, I don’t see it changing here. 

Rohan Dennis – this will be his last world championships; the Aussie retires at the end of the season. He’s won this race on two occasions, back in 2018 and 2019, where he looked unbeatable. He’ll go down as one of the best TT riders in the history of the sport, bad luck had a role in him not winning even more races. He’s unlikely to challenge in Stirling, but I wanted to take a moment to praise his contribution to the sport. 

Prediction Time

It’s long time to spend on your time trial bike, some might even get bored out there.  

Embed from Getty Images

I thought he’d win the road race, so I’ve got to keep faith in my man. It’s a win for Remco Evenepoel.