Ellen van Dijk powers to an astonishing World Championships individual time trial title in 2021

The Dutch rider went out early and held everyone off with an phenomenal time

Ellen van Dijk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ellen van Dijk managed to hold everyone off after finishing an hour before the biggest favourites at the UCI Road World Championships to become the time trial world champion again.

Van Dijk went out early in the race as the middle rider for the Netherlands after Riejanne Markus was the early rider and Annemiek van Vleuten last off. 

It was not meant to be for the Olympic champion, Van Vleuten who ended finishing in third place on the day with Swiss rider Marlen Reusser taking the silver. 

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British rider Joss Lowden pulled off a very strong eighth on the day as she builds towards a tilt at the Hour Record.

How it happened

The day started in the coastal town of Knokke-Heist before tackling an almost entirely flat 30.3km course with a finish in the city of Bruges.

The early times saw a Dutch rider sit atop of the standings with Riejanne Markus setting a time of 38-04 which stood for quite some time. 

Out on course, Markus’ team-mate Ellen van Dijk was flying and even caught very talented time trialist Lisa Klein at around the half-way point as she looked to be decimating the competition that had gone before the newly crowned European road champion.

Women's elite time trial course

(Image credit: UCI Flanders 2021)

Van Dijk put in an astonishing ride putting almost two minutes into Markus with a time of 36-05 with Klein using the pace of Van Dijk to take second at that point, just a few seconds faster than Markus.

After Van Dijk finished, no-one got close to her for a very long time with the likes of Ukrainian Valeriya Kononenko and Canadian Leah Kirchmann looking like they would be the closest at the first split where they were just over a minute down.

British rider Joss Lowden put in a fine ride to take the provisional third at 1-59 down on Van Dijk, beating Markus by just a tenth of a second.

As some of the other bigger names started to come through the first split it started to become clear that Van Dijk’s time would be challenging the medals at the very least with Emma Norsgaard (Denmark) trailing by 55 seconds at the first time check.

Reusser was just over three seconds faster than Van Dijk after 16.3km as the new European time trial champion looked to be flying out on the road.

And much to everyone’s surprise, Van Vleuten was 16 seconds down on Reusser at the first split. The race suddenly looked like it could just be between Van Dijk and Reusser, but Van Vleuten was not out of it.

Reusser did drop to 2.91 seconds up on Van Dijk at the second split as the Swiss rider looked like she could be fading as she kept shifting on the saddle. Van Vleuten pulled back just under a second by that second split.

Juliette Labous (France) set the second fastest time at the finish finishing 1-44 down on Van Dijk meaning she was well outside the gold medal fight with the riders that were to finish. Soon after that, American rider Amber Neben then took over second at 1-24 down.

Reusser came to the line and she did not have the pace with Van Dijk holding on as the Swiss rider finished 10.29 seconds down. Van Vleuten came in at 24 seconds down.

This meant that Van Dijk managed to hold on to the win with an incredible ride to beat the European champion Reusser and the Olympic champion Van Vleuten and take her second individual time trial title.

UCI Road World Championships Flanders 2021 elite women's individual time trial, Knokke-Heist to Bruges (30.3km)

1. Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands), in 36-05
2. Marlen Reusser (Switzerland), at 10s
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), at 24s
4. Amber Neben (USA), at 1-24
5. Lisa Brennauer (Germany), at 1-29
6. Juliette Labous (France), at 1-47
7. Lisa Klein (Germany), at 1-52
8. Joss Lowden (Great Britain), at 1-59
9. Riejanne Markus (Netherlands), at same time
10. Alena Amialiusik (Belarus), at 2-19

Tim Bonville-Ginn
Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!


I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.


It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.


After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.


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