Boels-Dolmans today announced the six riders who will compete in the team time trial World Championhips next week in Doha, Qatar, with just one change to the roster that claimed second place last year in Richmond.
Returning to the event for Boels-Dolmans are Chantal Blaak, Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead), Christine Majerus, Evelyn Stevens and Ellen van Dijk. Karol-Ann Canuel will take the place of Katarzyna Pawlowska.
"We had eight riders that were capable of being a part of this squad," said team manager Danny Stam. "Ultimately, I chose the six that have the most experience riding together. This group has the best combination of power, experience, technical skills and the will to win."
The Dutch-registered team missed the gold medal to Velocio-SRAM by just six seconds last year in Richmond, and victory this year in Doha has been a clearly articulated goal ever since, with team time trial training beginning as early as team camp in December. The team took its first-ever TTT win this year at the Energiewacht Tour in April, then followed it up with TTT wins at Värgarda and Boels Rental Tour.
“We’ve had a lot of success the whole year, but nearly every time, there’s only one rider standing on the podium or only one rider standing on the top step," said Van Dijk, who has been a part of every Boels-Dolmans winning team time trial effort this year. "A team time trial result is something that the whole team can share together – not only the girls here but even the ones that are not here with us. The staff play an important role and the sponsors do, too. Every victory is a team victory, but this is the only one where you can see it so clearly."
The 40km team time trial begins in the city of Lusail north of Doha and follows an urban stretch of road south into the West Bay Lagoon, which is the entry point into The Pearl Qatar. The man-made island off the West Bay coast hosts the finish of all 12 events that make up the UCI Road World Championships.
"There are some corners in the beginning of the course but they are not hard corners,” Van Dijk said. “There are two times U-turns. It’s quite a lot of straight roads. It will come down to the smoothest trains. It will be important to pace the race well and not to go too fast or too slow in the beginning.”
Van Dijk and her teammates plan to arrive in Doha on Tuesday, enjoy an easy ride on Wednesday and then practice on the course ahead of Sunday's race.
"We have been training this discipline for quite some time, and the final preparation was these last few days,” Van Dijk said. "A lot of thought has gone into where we can improve, but I’m sure it’s the same for all the other teams. We can’t worry about the others. We can only focus on ourselves, and that’s what we are doing.
"We are one of the favourites or maybe the favourite for next week, but for sure it’s not going to be easy,” Van Dijk said. “Of course, that’s what makes it so special."
The team time trial will also be special because it will be the last professional race for Stevens, who is retiring after this season. The American, who is not on the US time trial or road race teams, announced her retirement following the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"I have the utmost respect for my teammates, staff and sponsors and I love racing the team time trial,” Stevens said. “I am happy to know my last memory of racing will be with this group of strong and powerful women and this amazing organisation. This is exactly how I want to end things, and I feel lucky that I’ve had the option to end things on my terms."
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