Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) defended her title in the women's individual elite time trial at the UCI Road World Championships with a commanding victory over compatriots Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) and Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) to lead a Dutch one-two-three.
Van Vleuten was fastest at the intermediate checkpoint and despite a brave performance from Van der Breggen, the more experienced Van Vleuten had enough in the bag to cover the 27.7km course in a time of 34:25, with Van der Breggen 28 seconds down and the only rider to finish within a minute of the winning time.
"There are not so many who have won the World Championships twice. For sure I had some pressure but I also had it last year, so it's no different. If you're here starting, you want to win. And I know how beautiful the rainbow jersey is," said the winner.
"I know I took some time in the first part but I also felt I went out pretty fast. At nationals, I went out too slow so I felt I had to start fast and then die at the end. It's not nice to do, but I saw yesterday in the juniors and U23s that people had trouble in the second part. I also was in trouble but then you have a good TT I think."
In near perfect autumnal conditions the Dutch were simply untouchable. If the Johan Cruyff squads of the 1970s were built on the philosophy of the 'total football', then this was 'total cycling' with roulers and climbers in the kit from the Netherlands all leading the race at one point.
First, Lucinda Brand set the quickest time of 36:07, and although her time was quickly bettered by a strong ride from Leah Kirchmann (Canada) and then Leah Thomas (United States of America), it was only a matter of time before the full force of Dutch dominance was felt.
Ellen van Dijk edged out Kirchmann before Van der Breggen her charge. The 2016 Olympic champion has yet to win gold at a world championship but she was in a clearly determined mood as she powered down the start ramp and along the flatter sections of the course. Within a blink of an eye she had caught the rider ahead of her and put 15 seconds into Van Dijk, and as the road began to rise so too did Van der Breggen's advantage. She stood on the pedals only briefly as the climb began to bite, and as she crested the top it was clear that only Van Vleuten would stand in the way of a rainbow jersey.
At the Dutch championships, where she won by only three seconds over Van Dijk, Van Vleuten said she started too slowly but today she looked to match her main rival pedal stroke for pedal stroke and although Van der Breggen put almost a minute into Van Dijk, the defending champion was already making inroads into the lead.
At the 11km mark Van Vleuten was nine seconds up and by 14km the margin had widened out to 15 seconds. One could feel the sense of déjà vu flowing over the Austrian landscape as the Mitchelton-Scott rider put her skills to the test.
By the time Van Vleuten had reached the top of the main climb after 18.1km, her leading advantage was 19 seconds. The fact she had caught and disposed of former winner Amber Neben just before the summit was merely a distraction, and the Dutch rider burned away from the American as she traversed the descents and sped through the rolling countryside.
There was time for a late scare, with time checks suggesting that Van Vleuten was beginning to struggle but by the time she approached the line the win was sealed. Now for Saturday's road race, and quite possibly the second Dutch procession at this year's Worlds.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands)||0:34:25|
|2||Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands)||0:00:29|
|3||Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands)||0:01:25|
|4||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)||0:01:27|
|5||Leah Thomas (United States Of America)||0:01:32|
|6||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||0:01:43|
|7||Amber Leone Neben (United States Of America)||0:01:48|
|8||Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)||0:02:16|
|9||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)||0:02:17|
|10||Tayler Wiles (United States Of America)||0:02:31|
|11||Georgia Williams (New Zealand)||0:02:33|
|12||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)||0:02:35|
|13||Juliette Labous (France)||0:02:40|
|14||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:02:49|
|15||Trixi Worrack (Germany)||0:03:02|
|16||Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)||0:03:09|
|17||Marlen Reusser (Switzerland)||0:03:11|
|18||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)||0:03:17|
|19||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)||0:03:17|
|20||Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)||0:03:20|
|21||Elena Pirrone (Italy)||0:03:32|
|22||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)||0:03:42|
|23||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)||0:03:47|
|24||Vita Heine (Norway)||0:03:48|
|25||Martina Ritter (Austria)||0:03:51|
|26||Lotta Pauliina Lepisto (Finland)||0:03:56|
|27||Omer Shapira (Israel)||0:03:59|
|28||Ann-Sophie Duyck (Belgium)||0:04:00|
|29||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||0:04:00|
|30||Margarita Victo Garcia Canellas (Spain)||0:04:09|
|31||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||0:04:09|
|32||Anastasiia Iakovenko (Russian Federation)||0:04:10|
|33||Kelly Murphy (Ireland)||0:04:19|
|34||Fernanda Yapura (Argentina)||0:04:21|
|35||Antri Christoforou (Cyprus)||0:04:31|
|36||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)||0:04:34|
|37||Barbara Mayer (Austria)||0:04:41|
|38||Tereza Korvasova (Czech Republic)||0:05:01|
|39||Mia Radotic (Croatia)||0:05:04|
|40||Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)||0:05:09|
|41||Eileen Burns (Ireland)||0:05:11|
|42||Maria Novolodskaya (Russian Federation)||0:05:26|
|43||Natalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)||0:05:47|
|44||Varvara Fasoi (Greece)||0:06:09|
|45||Faina Potapova (Kazakhstan)||0:06:30|
|46||Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (Ethiopia)||0:06:34|
|47||Agua Marina Espinola (Paraguay)||0:06:46|
|48||Tatiana Jasekova (Slovakia)||0:06:49|
|49||Teniel Campbell (Trinidad & Tabago)||0:07:19|
|50||Mosana Debesay (Eritrea)||0:07:32|
|51||Yixian Pu (People's Republic of China)||0:07:37|
|DNF||Mikayla Harvey (New Zealand)|