Van der Breggen motivated for road race revenge
After narrowly missing the gold medal in the individual time trial by just 2.54 seconds, Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) turned her focus to Saturday's Worlds women's road race where she will try to get the elusive rainbow jersey.
It was only the second time Van der Breggen has raced the time trial in the World Championships - in 2012 she was 11th - but her recent results in the Worlds road race (5th in 2012, 4th in 2013) - and her impressive year that included an overall victory in the Giro Donne and the win in La Flèche Wallonne - bode well for her chances for Saturday.
Van der Breggen was a bit of an unknown in the time trial, but showed her strength against the clock by winning the Giro Donne largely through her dominant ride in the time trial there, but said the courses were very different between Italy and Richmond.
"You cannot compare the time trial in the Giro, there were a lot of hills in it, so I didn't know what to expect. I knew it would be close in the top spots. Of course it's really nice to be on the podium in the world championships."
"The road race will be exciting. I have a bronze medal [in the TTT] and a silver medal, but the rainbow jersey is the most beautiful there is, so I hope to do good in the road race with the Dutch team. I think we're really ready for it. It will also be an exciting race, because there are a lot of girls who can take the jersey, same as the time trial."
The Dutch team is missing Marianne Vos, the three-time rainbow jersey winner, but Van der Breggen says her team has already adjusted to her absence.
"The team we are a bit used to it now. The team tactics need to be different of course, because Marianne has a good sprint, she's a good climber - she can do everything. But she's not here, so it's not something to think about. You have to think in terms of opportunities and use the strengths of the girls who are here. We need to make a tactical plan with that. It would be different if she was here but she's not."
Brennauer bounces back with bronze in Worlds time trial
Defending champion Lisa Brennauer (Germany) came into the World Championship time trial in Richmond on a high after being part of the winning team time trial squad, Velocio-SRAM, but was unable to match the dominance of her six-woman team. Starting slower than most of her closest competitors might have set her back, but the German insists her strategy was sound.
"I'm pretty happy with my strategy," Brennauer said. "In the past years, especially last year, it was my big strength to do a good final. I think that's what I showed today as well. I like the long time trials. The distance suited me a lot today. I could show a good final again.
"You could see it this morning with the juniors, I think it was the guy who was second who gained a lot of time in the end as well. Everything was still possible, so I tried to stay with my strategy and concentrate on my race and not focus too much on the other girls' split times."
None of the riders were very sure of where they stacked up against each other, Brennauer said, because there were very few comparable time trials where all the contenders were present. In the end, the difference between Brennauer and winner Linda Villumsen was a scant five seconds.
"From the beginning on I expected a very tight race and a big battle for the medals," Brennauer said. "We didn't have so many time trials this year where the main contenders started so it was quite hard to judge who would be in very good form and who would not be. Last year we had many more time trials where every one of the big names started, so you already knew who was in good form. What you could tell was there were a lot of people that could potentially win a medal here today. So I expected it to be very close."
The tight race was an indicator of an increase in the level of women's cycling, and in particular the specialisation of riders in the time trials.
"In my opinion women's cycling is on a good path. The closer the competition gets, the more exciting for all of us. A good competition is also very good for yourself, you have to stay focused and keep working and keep on getting better. And try to become better and better. It only makes women's cycling more exciting."
Garfoot stuns with fourth in Worlds
34-year-old Katrin Garfoot (Australia) put in a strong ride in the women's time trial to take fourth behind Villumsen, Van der Breggen and Brennauer. The Queenslander was only nine seconds off the winning pace in the 29.9km test, and was encouraged by her result.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Garfoot, the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, said. “I’m stoked with this. The time gap is pretty small compared to the kilometres that there are in the course. It’s realistic to keep fighting for those nine seconds for next year.”
“It was hard out there,” she said. “I got the first time check, and I thought to myself: ‘Let’s do this.’ What else can you do? I checked how I felt and what I should be doing, and I put my head down to do what needed to be done.”
Fourth at the first check, and fifth at the second and third, Garfoot picked up the pace into the headwind and up a punishing final climb to the line to take fourth, ahead of two-time Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong.
Garfoot has already turned her focus to Rio, getting over the immediate disappointment of missing the medals by looking ahead to a new goal.
“(Of course) I would love to take part in the Olympics for Australia,” Garfoot said. “I would love to podium. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it’s not an unrealistic goal anymore.”
Canadian ITT performances earn women an additional spot for Rio Olympics
Top 15 performances from Canadian individual time trial riders Tara Whitten and Karol-Ann Canuel at the World Championships on Tuesday earned the country an additional spot at the Rio Olympics next summer.
Whitten placed 13th with a time 1:26 slower than winner Linda Villumsen (New Zealand), while Canuel was 15th, 1:32 off the winning mark.
“I am definitely a little bit disappointed with how I rode today,” Whitten said. “I think I started out a bit quick, but I always do. It was my goal not to, so it’s a little bit disappointing to do that again. At the same time, I gave it everything I had and fought to the end. I have to be happy with that and just look at it as a first step in my comeback process.”
Whitten, who retired from pro cycling after the London Olympics in 2012, finished fourth in the 2011 World Championships. Her performance this year bumped Canada into the 10th spot in the UCI rankings and earned the country’s additional Olympic berth.
Earlier in the week, Canuel won gold in the team time trial with her trade team Velocio-SRAM.
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