By Ryan Dabbs
Anna van der Breggen has withdrawn from the World Championships time trial on Monday 20 September, claiming she doesn't have enough energy to perform to her best.
Van der Breggen, who is the reigning champion of the World Championships time trial after winning in 2020 at Imola, therefore won't be defending her title on the 30.3 kilometre course that finishes in Bruges. The Netherlands also won't be able to call up a replacement for the 31-year-old, because she had her own personal starting place as the defending world champion.
The Netherlands will still have a strong trio of riders for the time trial though, with Olympic TT champion Annemiek van Vleuten, Ellen van Dijk and Riejanne Markus all included for the event.
Van der Breggen withdrew from the European Championships last week after finishing 58th place in the general classification at the Challenge by La Vuelta, citing she wasn't at her 'normal level', which she echoes as her reason for withdrawing from the World Championships time trial.
"I have no idea why I am not reaching my level at the moment," said Van der Breggen. "We will conduct several investigations in the coming days. On the basis of that I determine my further program this year."
Anna's sports director at SD Worx, Danny Stam, also suggested that she is suffering from a lack of energy. Consequently, Stam agrees with her decision to withdraw.
"Anna had too much on her plate and sometimes the bucket overflows," said Stam. "We have seen the results of her blood values and her vessel with energy is somewhat empty, so she has to take it easy. The time trial is a very specific part and takes a lot of energy."
Regardless of Van der Breggen missing the time trial, Netherlands national coach Loes Gunneijk is leaving the decision up to the reigning time trial champion on whether or not she competes in the World Championships road race on Saturday 25 September.
"Anna has her own starting place at the World Championships," said Gunnewijk, "as far as I'm concerned, she can also decide at the last minute about her participation."
Road World Championships 2021: Five things to look out for in the men's road race
Van Aert the favourite and the next generation of Brits - keep your eye on these moments
By Stephen Puddicombe •
Tweets of the week: André Greipel gets a lesson from Alex Dowsett, a rabbit predicts the new world champion and more
Here's a selection of our favourite tweets from the last seven days
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •