Having this season won the European and Swiss time trial titles as well as the mid-race time trial at the Simac Ladies Tour – and finished second at the Tokyo Olympics – Marlen Reusser came to the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders among the top favourites to take gold, and on her 30th birthday, no less.
The Swiss rider last year finished second in the Worlds time trial in Imola, missing out to Anna van der Breggen by 15 seconds, and was on top form this time around, having beaten the likes of Ellen van Dijk and Lisa Brennauer to European gold in Trento 11 days ago.
However, on the 30.3-kilometre ride from Knokke-Heist to Brugge, it was Van Dijk who came out on top, riding a negative split to take the rainbow jersey by 10 seconds.
Speaking after the race, Reusser could do little to hide her disappointment at losing out in a race which she said she had built her season around.
"It was also really a big dream of mine to win today," Reusser said in the post-race press conference. "As you say it's my 30th birthday. Actually, it was the biggest goal of the season, so I have to say that I'm really disappointed.
"It's really bitter for me, but to see Ellen won and that she's so happy it makes it a little bit better. I'm disappointed."
Van Dijk had been in the hot seat for an hour before the last finishers Brennauer, Reusser and Annemiek van Vleuten set off, and held the quickest times at the day's two checkpoints until Reusser passed through. She said later that she was worried about losing out on the title to the in-form Swiss rider.
"I knew it was a good time trial, but I knew I had good time trials in the past two weeks and then Marlen would still beat me by quite a big gap," Van Dijk said. "I wasn't sure if it would be enough for the win and the hour after was very nerve-wracking.
"When I saw she was three seconds faster at the [second] intermediate I thought 'yeah she was better in the last two weeks so it's no surprise' but I was also still hoping of course because it was only three seconds and then at the finish, it was such an emotional moment because I knew I was going to make it."
In the end, the Dutchwoman was the quickest of everyone over the long straights that made up the final 9.5-kilometre run to the line, taking her second Worlds TT win eight years after her first.
Reusser will have to wait until next year's Worlds in Wollongong, Australia to try and make that step up from silver and become the first Swiss woman to win time trial gold since Karin Thurig in 2005.
"For sure I expect to get even better next year," she said. "I still have the goal, for example, to win the World Championships individual time trial. I hope that I can do that next year."
Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in 2019 after working as a freelancer around pro cycling media for the previous seven years.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.