For the last few years, the big question about the Crescent Vårgårda Team Time Trial World Cup has been whether any teamcould beat Specialized-lululemon. The US-based team have won for the last three years in a row - and despite losing individual time trial world champion Ellen van Dijk to Boels-Dolmans, and Marianne Vos declaring her 2014 ambitions for winning cyclo-cross, road and time trial world championships, nothing could stop them, as they blasted through the pouring rain to become the first team to win four times here, and with a new fastest time on the course.
With the help of the tailwinds in the first part of the course, they raced the 16.4km to the Herrljunga checkpoint at 53.6kph, 50 seconds faster than Vos’ Rabobank-Liv and 51 seconds ahead of Orica-AIS. By the time they’d returned to Vårgårda, the gap to Rabo had only increased by eight seconds, but ORICA had faded, and Boels were in 3rd place, crossing split two 1:52 behind.
But it was over the final 10 kilometres that Specialized really pulled out their lead. It’s a loop the teams know well, the same course as the Vårgårda Road Race World Cup lap, with a short, sharp climb, descent and some tight corners at the end. The technical aspects just made them stronger, and their finishing time was 1:21 faster than Rabobank.
It’s a great strength of Specialized-lululemon that despite changing rosters, they keep their TTT training so strong, especially given the very few chances to race them. This is only the second UCI-level TTT of the year, and of this squad, only Evelyn Stevens and Trixi Worrack were part of the squad that won in 2012, and there were no riders at all from the year they first won, as HTC-Highroad, in 2011.
Despite Rabobank-Liv and Boels-Dolmans training hard and stepping up themselves, Specialized-lululemon only seems to get better, and they will start the world championship TTT on September 21 as the favorites.
But is this the last year we’ll see them dominate? With the sponsorship deals with both Specialized and lululemon coming to an end, team owner Kristy Scrymgeour is currently running a crowd-sourced fundraiser to try to keep the team going next year. So just as the Cervélo Test Team folded after winning here three times, we might not get the chance to see them go for a fifth victory.
The Crescent Vårgårda weekend continues on Sunday with the road race, the penultimate round of the 2014 UCI Women's Road World Cup, and finishing in third place with Boels-Dolmans means Lizzie Armitstead has increased her series lead. It’s a familiar course, but always an unpredictable race, and with the UCI streaming it live for the first time, there’s plenty of incentive for more fireworks.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Specialized - Lululemon (USA)||0:52:12|
|2||Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team (Ned)||0:01:21|
|Thalita De Jong|
|Annemiek Van Vleuten|
|Anna Van Der Breggen|
|3||Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (Ned)||0:02:33|
|Eleonora Van Dijk|
|4||Orica - AIS (Aus)||0:02:51|
|5||Bigla Cycling Team (Swi)||0:03:55|
|6||Estado De Mexico Faren (Mex)||0:04:11|
|Maria Giulia Confalonieri|
|7||Team Giant-Shimano (Ned)||0:04:19|
|9||Hitec Products (Nor)||0:05:23|
|Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen|
|10||Tibco / To The Top (USA)||0:05:45|
|11||Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team (Ned)||0:06:47|
|Monique Van De Ree|
|Natalie Van Gogh|
|12||Btc City Ljubljana (Slo)||0:07:01|
|13||Team Rytger (Den)||0:08:26|
|Kamilla Sofie Valin|
|Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig|
|14||Astana Bepink Womens Team (Ita)||0:09:00|
|Alice Maria Arzuffi|
|15||Servetto Footon (Ita)||0:09:30|