Annemiek Van Vleuten proved herself the fastest over the rolling parcours of the UCI Road World Championships women’s time trial in Innsbruck.
The Dutch woman was the only rider to nudge past the 48 kilometres per hour mark, with a time of 34 minutes 25 seconds, representing 48.3km per hour over the 27.8km course.
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Van Vleuten’s determination to regain the title she won last year was evident in her decision to skip the team time trial on Sunday, spending the lead-up to Tuesday’s race training at altitude in Livigno, Italy.
Her win pushed countrywoman Anna van der Breggen into second place – denying the reigning Olympic road race champion an opportunity to snap up her first world title by a margin of 28s.
The entirely Dutch podium was rounded off by former rainbow jersey wearer and current european champion, Ellen Van Dijk.
British riders Alice Barnes and Hayley Simmonds were 22nd and 23rd respectively, finishing 3-42 and 3-47 behind the winner.
How it happened
The course from Hall-Wattens to Innsbruck featured a flat opening 10 kilometres, with a selection of climbs enlivening the the second half of the race.
All eyes were on the Dutch – with Van Vleuten looking to defend her rainbow stripes, whilst Van Dijk was a clear contender for the title alongside Van der Breggen who lost out on the european title in Glasgow by only 2 seconds.
It was unsurprising, then, when Dutch rider Lucinda Brand set a blistering pace early on – at the 18km point she had clocked up 23-34 – arriving to take her place in the hot seat at the finish line, with 36-07.
Brand was able to rest there for a while, but was knocked off the top spot by the arrival of Canadian Leah Kirchmann, who sped into the finish having completed the course in 35-52.
Kirchmann’s time at the intermediate split was 23-49, a pace which Van Dijk was able to better by six seconds.
Reaching the finish line the 31-year-old who transfers to Trek Factory Racing for 2019 had clocked a time of 35-50, meaning the Dutch were back in the hot seat, with Van der Breggen also underway.
Van der Breggen – the 28-year-old crowned ‘Queen of the Ardennes’ for her dominance at the Classics – has so far found the rainbow stripes elusive, but meeting the intermediate check in 22-44, 28s quicker than Van Dijk it seemed clear that she represented a threat.
Come the finish line, she’d taken a full 56s out of Van Dijk, with a time of 34-54 and an average speed of 47.6kph.
The Dutch pair took to the virtual podium – where they could look on the ride of their team mate and rival – Van Vleuten.
Running a 58 tooth front chainring over the hilly course, Van Vleuten was the first to exceed the 48kph mark, at 48.4kph through the intermediate time check to record a time 19s quicker than that of Van der Breggen.
The 35-year-old passed two time former world champion in the discipline, Amber Neben of the USA, soon after the time check, and in the final metres she was able to tag one more rider, Germany’s Trixi Worrack.
Van Vleuten burst over the finish line to stop the clock at 35-25, 28s quicker than Van der Breggen and 1-25 ahead of Van Dijk.
UCI Road World Championships 2018 women’s time trial, Hall-Wattens to Innsbruck (27.8km)
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), in 35-25
2. Anna van der Breggen (NED, at 28s
3. Ellen van Dijk (NED), at 1-25
4. Leah Kirchmann (CAN), at 1-26
5. Leah Thomas (CAN, at 1-32
6. Lucinda Brand (NED), at 1-42
7. Amber Leone Neben (USA), at 1-47
8. Karol-Ann Canuel (CAN), at 2-15
9. Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA), at 2-17
10. Tayler Wiles (NED), at 2-31