Rozemarijn Ammerlaan (Netherlands) claimed the first rainbow jersey of the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in the junior women's individual time trial on Monday in Innsbruck. The 18-year-old said the best thing about her victory was that she won on an old bike that once belonged to her compatriot Anna van der Breggen.
"I raced on an old bike that was Anna van der Breggen's, so that was great," Ammerlaan said in the post-race press conference. "It was her old Giant from a lot of years ago when she raced with the development team at Rabobank. They sold the bikes and so I bought it. Her name is still on it – that's really cool."
Ammerlaan's gold-medal performance is the first in what is expected to be a series of wins by the Dutch national team at this World Championships. Her compatriots in the elite women's category – Van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand – are the favourites for the individual time trial on Tuesday.
Wearing her new rainbow-striped jersey, Ammerlaan took her seat between silver medallist Camilla Alessio (Italy) and bronze medallist Elynor Backstedt (Great Britain) on stage in front of the international press. It was a new experience for all three riders as they smiled and whispered to one another, struggling to figure out how to turn on the microphones.
"I'm very proud of this victory," Ammerlaan told reporters. "I knew I was in good shape and so I'm proud of everything."
Asked about the success of the Dutch riders over the years, and about the support she receives from the national team and her older role models, Ammerlaan said: "It's great to ride as a Dutch rider because I can learn from the elite women such as Annemiek Van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen.
"We came here with the national team in the summer to train on and ride the time trial and road race courses. During the year we have several training camps with the national team, and so we get a lot of great support."
Alessio and Backstedt
Alessio said the Innsbruck time trial was only her second time ever racing in the discipline, and she raced on an old bike that belonged to Team Sky's Sergio Henao. The 17-year-old echoed Ammerlaan's statements, saying that the Italian federation has also put more funding and strategy into the success of their younger riders; junior-level athletes who are soon-to-be moving up the ranks into the elite category.
The Italian federation's shift towards prioritizing the junior women's team over the last few years has been evident given the success of her compatriots Elena Pirrone, who won double gold medals in the junior women's road race and time trial in Bergen last year, along with Letizia Paternoster and Sofia Bertizzolo, also former medallists.
"Our trainers are well-prepared, and they followed us for two months in the summer," she said of the national team coaches. "This team is new because last year the other junior teams didn't do these training camps.
"This year, they helped me a lot. At the start of the season, I wasn't a rider for the top 10, but they decided to introduce me to the track team, and I learned a lot.
"I didn't have to do the time trial here, but they told me to participate to gain experience because they give a lot of priority to experience. I came here, had my mind free, and I was able to achieve this result because I was very calm."
Backstedt, 16, says that Colnago sponsors her and so she raced on the bike manufacturer's newest time trial bike. Well-supported through British Cycling, she said that she also gets advice from her father, Magnus Backstedt, who won the 2004 Paris-Roubaix. Her mother, Megan Hughes, was also a successful professional bike racer who won the bronze medal in the junior sprint at the 1995 Track World Championships and later won the British elite women's road race title in 1998.
"My parents help me in different ways since my dad comes from the elite men's and my mom comes from the elite women's racing," Backstedt said.
"My mom helps me learn from a woman's cycling perspective, and my dad helps me with things that can make me stronger and more powerful. They both help me in different ways."
Backstedt said that of her family's collective success in cycling, she is the one who has earned the most medals at the World Championships.
"My mom has a bronze medal from the track Worlds," she said. "I have a medal from the team pursuit at track Worlds, and now I have a medal in the time trial Worlds – I'm the one with the most, so that's nice and gives me confidence."