Boels Dolmans fought through the rain to win the PostNord Vårgårda West Sweden team time trial on Saturday, posting a time of 53:07 minutes for the 42.5 kilometre course, just 28 seconds slower than their victory in the sun in 2017.
Road world champion Chantal Blaak was part of the winning team and explained how trust between the riders was one of the keys to victory.
“It was wet for sure. But everyone had the same conditions and had to deal with the wet circumstances. To be honest, I prefer the rain instead of the wind from Friday, because there we were almost blown off the road," she said.
"It is always hard to ride a team time trial in the rain because you cannot see much, so it is important that you trust each other. The key in a TTT is to keep it smooth all the way, it was hard from the beginning to the end, but we never lost our rhythm. We also did the climb and the corners in the end pretty well.”
Leah Kirchmann was part of the Team Sunweb squad that finished 16 seconds slower than Boels Dolmans. She also did not mind the rain so much.
“We did not win, but we are happy with how we executed our race,” the Canadian said. “The conditions were pretty epic, you could not really see a lot, it was raining so hard. Personally, I was kind of happy to finally not be so hot after this heat wave in Europe. So the rain was a little bit welcome, but you definitely had to be more careful in the corners.”
Kirchmann's teammate Floortje Mackaij explains that the team lost a rider to a puncture in the final part of the race.
“We had a very steady and smooth start and everybody did good pulls. When we came back into Vårgårda, we had the fastest time. In the town, we lost it a bit in the corners and we lost Pernille Mathiesen with a puncture before the climb.”
Team Virtu Cycling was the second team off the start ramp and profited, as the roads were still relatively dry until the first time check where the team was a minute faster than all other squads. After that the Danish team raced on wet roads and was held up by a puncture for Mieke Kröger to eventually finish eighth.
“It is no secret that Mieke is our strongest card when it comes to team trials,” explained sports director Carmen Small. “So there was no doubt when she had a flat halfway on the route; the team had to stop and wait for her to change bikes. And then a top result was out of our hands. These things happen, once in a while, but we had hoped for a better result than this one.”
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) pointed out the special demands of a team time trial and was happy to finish third with her team, 47 seconds down on Boels Dolmans.
“We actually have to know each other so well that we can read each other without even talking. There is such a connection amongst all of us riders to have the fastest time from A to B," she said.
"This is a special event for me, and I am really happy that we could finish on the podium again since we do not have the opportunity to stand on the podium with the whole team all together very often.”
Monday 13 August sees the PostNord Vårgårda West Sweden Road Race, 141 kilometres consisting of a total of eight laps of an eleven-kilometre circuit with a big 55 kilometre loop in between.