Canyon SRAM always knew that it would take something special for them to win the women's time trial at the World Championships and in the end the team were forced to settle for fourth place. It marked the first time the squad – previously known as Velocio-SRAM – had finished off the podium but Lisa Brennauer was proud of the team's showing and admitted that they had gambled on their strategy in order to take on the most established time trial teams.
"We were on a pretty good ride but we had a big mechanical in the last five kilometres. That meant that we needed to wait for our fourth rider in the final. We took lots of risk that meant we'd only have four riders in the final, and that was planned, but then if you have mechanical problems it's never nice," Brennauer told Cyclingnews at the finish.
The team were once the dominant squad in the team time trial format, winning four straight titles between 2012 and 2015 but, lacking the firepower of Boels Dolmans, Cervelo Bigla and surprise winners Sunweb, Brennauer and her teammates were forced to come up with an improvised strategy for the 42.5 kilometre course in and around Bergen.
One rider was asked to empty the tank in the first section, in the lead up to the major climb, while the team were reduced to four before the finish. By that point the squad sat fourth in the timings but they were still within 14 seconds of a medal. When Elena Cecchini dropped her chain, however, the remaining three riders were forced to wait. Any chance of a medal was lost in that moment.
"We were still in contention for a medal but if you take the risks to win then things can happen," Brennauer said. "One rider just dropped her chain and it took a long while for her to come back. We had to take those risks though. We lost one rider early but the plan was for her to use her energy before the climb because we saw in training that this was our best option.
"With a bit more luck... we were only a few seconds back at the final time check and were still there. That makes it super hard. We were there and we had a really good ride."
Coming into the TTT most of the talk regarding the course had centred on the 1.5-kilometre climb in the second half of the race. However, Sunweb truthfully won the race in the downhill sector and technical run-in to the line.
"Yes, there the climb but there's still 10 kilometres to go and that's still one quarter of the race," said Brennauer. "You can't forget about that and you needed to stay focused and be ready. It's not over at the climb."