The Dutch rider was simply in a league of her own on the Atherstone course to beat UCI Hour Record holder Joss Lowden (Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur) by over a minute. Vollering was the only rider in the field to finish under 24 minutes and the 24-year-old now leads the race by 1:09 from Juliette Labous (Team DSM).
A number of the world's best time triallists are not at the race but Vollering’s standout performance was further evidence of her ever-improving form when riding against the clock.
“It was painful but really fun. I’m really enjoying time trials at the moment and I’m improving. It was a good one today and it’s good to see that I’m still taking a lot of steps. I’ve done a lot of work on the time trial bike this year but I still think that I can do a lot more. Every year I’m doing a bit more and I’ve also done a lot of time trials in races and that’s made a big difference,” she said after pulling on the leader’s jersey.
“It was a really hard course with a lot of ups and downs. It was really technical. There was a lot of headwinds and corners, so it was quite difficult. The first 4km were really tough because it was almost all uphill and it was steep. I had to take that full and that’s never nice in a time trial because you feel like you’re blowing up. The middle part was the hardest because my legs were exploding because of the start. Suddenly it was only the last 2km and I went all out from there again.”
Somewhat surprisingly this is the first time Vollering, the winner of La Course and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year, has been in the leader’s jersey in a WorldTour stage race, but her consistency throughout 2021 has been spectacular with the Dutch rider enjoying over 30 top 10s when including overall general classification results.
“Of course, it’s really important to have happy head and to enjoy the races that you go to but I’m always looking to get the best out of every race,” she said when asked to what she attributed her level of consistency.
“At every race I’m really motivated to get the best out of myself, and I think that really helps a lot. I even don’t know by how much I won by but I just tried to do a nice time trial with my feelings. That was the most important thing for me.”
Although she has a considerable lead in the overall standings, Vollering and her SD Worx squad will have to be attentive over the final three days of racing. The coming stages reach the east coast of England and there could be crosswinds to contend with, while the dropping temperatures and rain this week have added another dimension to the racing.
There are plenty of riders still recovering from Paris-Roubaix Femmes or running on fumes from a long season but the weather and course lend themselves to attacking racing and breaks.
Vollering hinted that SD Worx might embrace the nature of the course and look to go on the offensive rather than let the action come to them.
“We need to keep it together and we like hard races also,” she said.
“We have a really good team here to control the bunch a bit. We can maybe make moves again to split it up again with three more hard days. We tried to split the race in the first two days but it wasn’t working but who knows for the next few days.”
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has 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 runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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