The desert heat has been a big concern for many in the build up to the World Championships in Qatar, but it had a brutal impact on the riders during the women’s team time trial. Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen described it as 'not normal' after one of her teammates crashed, seemingly due to the effect of the heat.
Ahead of the World Championships, the UCI issued a document detailing their plans to shorten any of the road races if the temperatures were deemed too high. However, the same could not be said for the time trial events.
Time trials are hard at the best of times, but with the mercury nudging towards the 38-degree mark and high humidity to boot, the women’s peloton were taken up a difficulty level. No team was left untouched by the intensity, with riders blown out the back, many before the halfway point.
RaboLiv rider, Anouska Koster's crash was the most extreme example of what could happen. She suddenly veered off the road and into a barrier. After being thrown over her handlebars, she suffered injuries to her face and shoulder. There were worrying scenes as she tried to remount her bike but stumbled and fell back on the ground, before being helped to stand by a member of the team. Miraculously, she was able to get back on and finish. The team had already lost two riders prior to her crash and risked a DNF is she was unable to get going again.
Chloe Dygert (Twenty16-Ridebiker) had almost made it to the line when she was violently sick. With Dygert unable to take part in the sprint to the line, one of her dropped teammates was forced to chase back. Former German time trial champion Mieke Kroger also looked distinctly unwell when she was dropped from the Canyon-SRAM train before the second check point. The team had been in the lead at the first, but spectacularly blew up and lost almost a minute over the remaining distance.
At the finish line, there were more signs of heat exhaustion with several riders requiring medical assistance. However, said medical help took time to arrive as several riders had to wait around 15 to 20 minutes to be looked at.
Cervelo-Bigla had given everything for their bronze medal, and a team member told Cyclingnews that the entire six-rider squad were being seen to by the doctor with four of them being physically sick. Canyon-SRAM's Kroger needed assistance as she gingerly made her way to the podium area with a wet towel draped over her shoulders.
In the end, Boels Dolmans won the title, beating defending champions Canyon-SRAM by 48 seconds with Cervelo-Bigla taking the podium.