The Netherlands' Anna van der Breggen is ready to either win the World Championship road race on Saturday, or to support a teammate in doing so, the 28-year-old told Cyclingnews on Friday.
Van der Breggen has already taken two silver medals this week at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, which means she's now ready to go one better in the elite women's road race this weekend.
"It's always nice to get a medal at the Worlds, but I must admit that I was quite disappointed after the team time trial because we [Boels Dolmans trade team] had put so much effort into it, and I really thought that we were ready for it, and it all went well.
"We didn't really make any mistakes," Van der Breggen pointed out. "If we knew that we'd gone wrong somewhere, then maybe it would be easier to accept, but we had the feeling that we'd done well, so then it's difficult to know why we didn't win."
As for the individual time trial, in which Van der Breggen once again lost out to her Dutch teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, in a repeat of last year's result in Bergen, Norway, Van der Breggen's regret, despite having again given everything, is palpable.
"I went there to win it this year," she told Cyclingnews. "I tried to recover as well as I could after the team time trial, but I must admit that I went really deep there. So it's difficult to have just one day in between the two races. But I was fully motivated, and it was a good time trial, so I'm happy that my shape's good. That's the positive thing that I can take out of it. I knew that it was going to be hard to be faster than Annemiek."
Now the pair must unite in a Dutch team that also includes defending road race world champion Chantal Blaak and last year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Lucinda Brand.
"We're now in the same team, which is nice – that for once we're not competitors but are working together. Maybe it will be my day, and maybe not," said Van der Breggen.
When Cyclingnews brings up the rumour that Dutch coach Thorwald Veneberg had allegedly suggested that any riders going against team orders could miss future races for the national team, Van der Breggen is quick to make clear that doing what's best for the team is foremost in her mind.
"It's something I've just read on the internet, but it's not something I've heard from the coach, so it's not something that I'm really taking seriously," she said.
"It's not easy – especially not if you have good legs and you're behind," Van der Breggen said of a hypothetical situation in which she'd have to play a team role. "But it's something that you have no choice in. That's cycling. Only one rider can win. You need to support each other in that, because we're in the same team."
Outside of the Dutch team, Van der Breggen identifies a number of riders who look likely to be dangerous on the hilly Innsbruck parcours on Saturday.
Of course, Ashleigh [Moolman-Pasio] rides strongly on climbs like we have here, but she is alone [with only one South African teammate – Ed], so for her it's going to be difficult if you have no teammates," said Van der Breggen.
"Then you have Kasia [Niewiadoma, Poland] who is riding well now at the end of the season. The same goes for Elisa Longo Borghini, and in fact the whole of her Italian team is always one to look out for. And the Australian team, with Amanda Spratt, is always strong.
"Plus I think we could be a bit surprised by the mountain bikers doing these Worlds. It's a circuit that's good for mountain bikers, as you have so many climbs: it's up and down, up and down, like in mountain biking. I know Annika Langvad [Denmark] is doing this race, and Jolanda Neff [Switzerland] is doing it, too, and those girls are always very strong.
"And somebody could surprise us on this circuit," said Van der Breggen, "like Spain, who we haven't seen much of lately.
"You never know, on climbs like this, just who could have a good day and surprise everyone."