Canyon-SRAM, the squad that rose from 2015 UCI Road World Championships team time trial winners Velocio-SRAM and their predecessor, Specialized-Lululemon, looked well on the way to keeping their four-year sweep of the discipline intact as they powered through the early, technical section of Sunday's course in Qatar with the day's fastest time, but when the course ventured into the desert heat and winds, hopes of taking another title began to wilt.
Canyon-SRAM, whose six-rider roster included four of the riders who won the rainbow jerseys last year, led 2016 Women's World Tour winners Boels Dolmans by nine seconds at the first checkpoint, but at the next checkpoint the team had slipped to second place, 14 seconds slower. By the finish on the manmade island in Doha called the Pearl, the team had lost 48 seconds to the winners over the entire 40km course to take silver.
"They have started well and as planned," said Canyon-SRAM director Ronny Lauke. "We wanted to ride the start circuit smooth but with a high steady speed to avoid peaks. They did it well and this has lead to the best first intermediate.
"On the cross-headwind section leading towards Doha city, the winners played their strength as shown the majority of the season, and we couldn't bounce back," Lauke said. "We have tried everything and the girls went into their limits and more."