Belgium's Remco Evenepoel out training on his time-trial bike at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Glasgow Worlds Men’s ITT preview: a Van Aert-Evenepoel showdown

Can anyone stop Belgium's two favorites?

Remco Evenepoel preparing for the TT at Glasgow Worlds. Photo © Gregory van Gansen/Cor Vos

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 10.08.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos and Kristof Ramon
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The elite men have already battled for rainbow bands in the road race, but now they’ll turn their attention to a race against the clock. Stirling will host the individual time trial showdowns for the elites, with the women racing on Thursday and the men to follow on Friday.

Our local expert Kit Nicholson has already whipped up a closer look at the race routes for all the big road events, and Abby Mickey has your preview of the contenders for the women’s race, so let’s take a closer look at the favorites on the men’s side.

A map and profile of the men's elite time trial at the World Championships. The course starts and finishes in Stirling and has a few tricky turns before a steep, cobbled climb to the finish at Stirling Castle.

Somewhat unusually for a time trial, this one won’t be easy to predict, as the top two favorites seem pretty closely matched and the two riders most likely to challenge them don’t seem far off. Here’s how we see the contenders stacking up on a course that is mostly flat but with a few interesting challenges thrown in, including a cobbled climb to the finish line.

Belgium’s best: Evenepoel and Van Aert

After working as teammates for the road race on Sunday, Belgian compatriots Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert will square off in the time trial with no need to play nice. It’s tough to say which of these two TT heavyweights has the advantage here. On form, Van Aert had the edge back in June for the national title, and he looked stronger than Evenepoel in the road race. What’s more, the final moments of the TT route will take riders up terrain where Van Aert tends to be a force.

Wout van Aert rides to third on the stage 16 time trial at the Tour de France. Van Aert was bested only by Tadej Pogačar, who is at Worlds, and his winning teammate, Jonas Vingegaard, who is not.
Wout van Aert in time trial mode at the Tour de France. Photo © kramon

That said, Evenepoel’s peak performances against the clock have been stellar, as evidenced by his two wins ahead of Filippo Ganna in the TTs at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. It feels like Evenepoel is as likely to run away with it as he is to finish a little ways back, whereas the ever-consistent Van Aert seems like a guaranteed podium performer, which would go nicely with his silver in the elite men’s road race.

In any case, Belgium has two strong favorites for the world title, and if it’s close, the cobbled finale should make for entertaining viewing.

Next up: Küng and Ganna

Will this be the year that Stefan Küng finally gets the proverbial monkey off his back? The Swiss specialist was just three seconds off of the win last year in Wollongong, and he has been in good form since the spring. He rode to a solid fifth in the road race and he’ll get a real opportunity to put his talent on display here.

Then there’s Italy’s Filippo Ganna, who seemed like the clear best TT rider in the world a few years ago. Lately, it seems like other riders have caught up to the two-time world champ, but Ganna looked to be in great form at late July’s Tour de Wallonie – and he’s already picked up a world championship at Glasgow in the individual pursuit on the track a few days ago. Nobody will be all that surprised if he can reclaim the time trial world title two years after he last won in this discipline, but he’s not a big favorite given how well Evenepoel and others have ridden this year and with a course that is good-but-not-great for Ganna’s skillset.

The best of the rest: Foss, Pogačar, Thomas, et al.

It’s a bit unusual in this discipline for the reigning world champ to be so far down the list of favorites, but here we are. Norway’s Tobias Foss was a surprise winner last year and he has done little this season to suggest that we should view him as a strong favorite to repeat. He’s stunned us before, but that seems unlikely to happen again given recent results.

Mattia Cattaneo wins a time trial at the recent Tour of Poland.
Mattia Cattaneo on his way to a win against the clock in Poland. Photo © Szymon Gruchalski/Cor Vos

Italy’s Mattia Cattaneo is coming off of a TT win at the Tour of Poland, and the competition was no slouch there either, with the aforementioned Foss and some of the riders we’re about to mention among those that he defeated in Katowice. Also in attendance there were Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) and João Almeida (Portugal), both of whom are typically excellent against the clock in stage races, though less likely to contend in a one-off battle like this.

That’s also true of Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia), who was nearly a minute and a half faster than Van Aert in the time trial at the Tour de France despite looking like he wasn’t at his best. As ever, he’s the wild card to watch. He has proven capable of delivering a world-beating TT, but he has yet to put in a superstar ride at the Worlds TT thus far in his career.

Rohan Dennis (Australia), Josh Tarling (Great Britain), Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland), Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark), Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Rémi Cavagna (France), and Brandon McNulty (United States) are others to watch in this TT.

The Escape Collective star ratings

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐: Remco Evenepoel, Wout van Aert
⭐⭐⭐⭐: Filippo Ganna, Stefan Küng
⭐⭐⭐: Tadej Pogačar
⭐⭐: Tobias Foss, Mattia Cattaneo, Geraint Thomas
⭐: João Almeida, Rohan Dennis, Josh Tarling, Stefan Bissegger, Mikkel Bjerg, Kasper Asgreen, Brandon McNulty

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