Why no British women at the UCI World Championships Time Trial?

British Cycling says there's no medal contender for the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships. True or false? Let's take a look at the candidates…
Emma Pooley (centre) became the world time trial champion for Britain in 2010

Emma Pooley (centre) became the world time trial champion for Britain in 2010

On Tuesday afternoon, some of the best individual time trial riders from the women’s elite racing scene will take to the course on the streets of Ponferrada, Spain, to compete for the right to wear the coveted rainbow jersey (or skinsuit) of the world champion for the forthcoming year. But there won’t be a British rider among them.

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British Cycling took that decision, saying: “We have chosen not to enter anyone into the elite women’s time trial event this year as we don’t believe we have a contender for a medal and we are obliged to use our resources where we have the best chance of success.”

But the recently retired Emma Pooley, who won gold in the event back in 2010, criticised the decision on social media stating that there was “poor reasoning” behind it, adding that “I didn’t have a medal chance at [my] 1st Worlds. But experience helped later.”

In response, BC said: “We would agree that it can be good experience, but our priority is to win medals and so we need to focus our resource on that.”

The ideal candidates

It is true that there aren’t many medal contenders available to BC. With both former British champion Joanna Rowsell and Katie Archibald (who finished second at the British nationals this year) choosing to ride the track at the national championships this week, Pooley would surely have been an automatic selection for one of the two places had she not retired.

Elinor Barker, who looked like a leading candidate to take on the role as one of Britain’s leading time trial rider when she won the junior event at the 2012 world championships, will also be riding at the track nationals.

The road racers

That leaves BC with a difficult choice. They could for instance, ask two members of the road team to ride the event, but riders like Lizzie Armitstead are unlikely to want to risk burnout in an event they’re less likely to succeed in with the road race only a few days away.

In fact, Armitstead would seem the only rider in the road race team to consider. With two mountain bikers in Alice Barnes and Annie Last, the rest of the team don’t look to have the time trial pedigree to warrant a selection for the worlds.

Who’s left?

Sharon Laws and Lucy Coldwell, who both failed to make the final road race team, have  had fine results in time trials in the past but are now 40 and 30 years old respectively, making it questionable whether it would be worth funding them for experience alone.

Laws has previously been the British national TT champion, while Coldwell came eighth at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, but Laws seems to be consistently out of favour with BC while Coldwell is unlikely to place well in such an elite field.

Sarah Storey would be the only viable remaining option, having placed third at the nationals this year. But like Laws and Coldwell, the experience would be relatively inconsequential to Storey and she’s unlikely to be able to compete with the favourites in the race.

More from the world championships

Great Britain names World Championships team

Full list of Great Britain riders announced for this year's UCI Road World Championships in Spain, September 21-28

Road World Championships 2014: Event schedule

List of events taking place at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain, over September 21-28