Coryn Rivera, who was part of Sunweb's winning team time trial in Bergen last year, believes her squad's ability to work as a unit while racing over a flat parcours will help them defend their title.
“We have really good pacing, and we use each other’s strengths to the best of our ability,” Rivera told Cyclingnews on the eve of the championships race. “We are a good team, and we know each other well, and that's important when racing a team time trial.”
Sunweb have gone up against Boels Dolmans in every team time trial on the Women's WorldTour this season. Boels Dolmans won the world title in Doha in 2016, a victory that ended Specialized-Lululemon/Velocio-SRAM’s four-year grip on the championship race. Since then, Boels have been the top team to beat in the discipline, until last year's Bergen World Championships where Sunweb stormed to victory with 12 seconds to spare, and took their first world title in the team time trial. It was a victory that surprised the whole team.
“It was a crazy feeling because we didn’t expect to win last year,” Rivera said. “We wanted to win, but the main thing was that we were very focused on our own race. We knew that we had to be the best that we could and be as smooth as possible. We were a unit and adjusted to anything that came our way.
“What happened last year was very special, especially because we were kind of the underdogs, and so it was cool to unseat the defending champions, and upset the usual trend.”
In Innsbruck, Sunweb’s team time trial roster includes Rivera, Ellen Van Dijk, Leah Kirchmann, Pernille Mathiesen and Lucinda Brand. The team also includes Liane Lippert, who was a late addition to the roster after Floortje Mackaij crashed and suffered a broken jaw.
“It’s unfortunate that Floortje, who was on the original line-up, had an accident at home and broke her jaw,” Rivera said. “Liane is filling in for her, but I don’t think that makes us any weaker – we have a strong team here.”
The women will race 54.5km from Otztal to Innsbruck. The route doesn't include the climb featured in the men’s route and will instead be an almost entirely flat course.
“The women don’t do the climb, and there is nothing really special about the course; it’s downhill at the start and there is a little bit of a climb in the first kilometre, but it’s so early that I don’t think it will make a difference,” Rivera said.
“It's very long, and there are a couple of slight rises, but there is no defining section of the course at all. I think it will just come down to the team and our pacing plans.
“In that sense, we like the course, and it suits the team that we have here. That fact that it’s flat plays to our strengths because we are good as a unit, pacing as a team, and in terms of putting the team first.”
This year, Sunweb showed that their world championships title was well-deserved when they won team time trials at the opening stage of the Giro Rosa, Ladies Tour of Norway and most recently at the Madrid Challenge. Boels Dolmans, on the other hand, won team time trials at the Healthy Ageing Tour and PostNord Vargarda West Sweden.
Boels Dolmans team for the championships include Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Christine Majerus, Amy Pieters, Karol Ann Canuel and Amalie Dideriksen.
Other teams that have had strong team time trials this season include Mitchelton-Scott, Canyon-SRAM and Cervelo-Bigla, however, the latter will not be racing for the world title in Innsbruck.
“All of our TTTs have been pretty close,” Rivera said. “But we have only ever been separated by a handful of seconds. Everything is close, and they are also a strong team. They’ve also won the World Championships before, and I think it will be pretty close again on Sunday. It will come down to the best teamwork at the end of the day.”