Amber Neben (United States) admitted that she had 'no excuses' after a disappointing defence of her world time trial title ended with an 11th-place finish in Bergen.
The 42-year-old two-time world champion came into the event full of confidence and looking to secure a second straight title over the 21.1km course, but Neben was never in contention and finished 1:28 down on winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands). The United States had some form of consolation with Chloe Dygert, who posted fourth after a difficult year in which she has been hit by injury.
Neben was the last rider to roll down the start ramp and it was clear from the first check that she was not on a good day.
"I had a terrible ride and it just wasn't my day," she told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"Unfortunately that happens. I felt really good the last few days but I was just really flat today and uncomfortable. It's part of the sport, and you have to nail that part of the process with regards to peaking and coming up at the right time. Sometimes you don't get it right. No excuses. I just didn't have a very good day today."
The demanding course in and around the Norwegian city of Bergen saw rain and winds play their part and Neben added that they had compounded the situation for her.
"I wasn't sure that I had the right front tire on," she said looking down at her bike.
"I was a little skittish. That slowed me down and then it felt a litter heavier on the backside, with the wind slowing me down on the climb. That changed things up a bit but it's part of the sport and you have to be able to handle it."
At the first time check, Neben was down in 27th place but she rallied in the second half of the race and climbed to 12th at the mid-way point. Even though she was struggling, her experience ensured that she at least managed her effort. As Van Vleuten celebrated a well-deserved title, Neben crossed the line over a minute off the podium.
When asked by Cyclingnews as to when she knew her day would end in disappointment, Neben said: "Usually when I go I just know that I'm in the moment and in that special place. It was pretty early on that I knew it was going to be a fight. Mentally I just tried to stay in it and battle, battle, battle but I was fighting for my rhythm just right out the gate."
At 34, and with younger riders coming through, Neben admitted she will need to take stock and make a decision on her future. Retirement is a possibility but so too is a return to the world stage next year in Austria.
"To be determined," she said when asked about her future.
"I need to think about it, pray about it. It's not yes, it's not no. I don't know at this point in time.
"I have to earn a spot back next year and there's a really deep group of American cyclists at this point in time. So if I can win or earn my way back then you could see me again but really I have to commit to doing it. I need some time to pray about it and figure out what God is directing me to do and if he's got me going or stopping. I'm 42 but it's still there. I know it's still there. I just had a bad day so coming back certainly isn't out of the question."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.