Several riders in the women’s event suffered from the heat, with Knetemann’s own teammate Anouska Koster crashing into a barrier at high speed having lost concentration and lost control on a key segment.
Knetemann claimed the UCI “did not think this through” as riders were reportedly left without sufficient medical support on the 40km race.
“The heat in Qatar is extreme, I cannot explain how excruciating it feels to be riding 40 kilometres through the desert,” she said in an interview, published on Dutch news site NOS.
“You’d expect organisers and the UCI to have some knowledge about cycling. If you send out people for a team time trial in this heat, make sure there are at least ten ambulances ready to look after the riders. The UCI didn’t think this through.”
Rabo-Liv were down to the four riders required to stop the clock when Koster crashed, cutting her face and looking delirious as she tried to remount her bike, helped by two team soigneurs.
Eventually she was cleared to continue, but was so far behind that she stopped the clock over six minutes down on winners Boels-Dolmans in last place.
Knetemann said the heat was too much: “Especially in a time trial, when you’re wearing aerohelmets and a tight skinsuit, it’s horrible. It’s like riding in a sauna.”
Koster was seen to by medics after the race and posted a picture on Instagram of her bandaged injuries.
“Even your lungs hurt,” said Chantal Blaak of the winning Boels-Dolmans team. “After twenty minutes we were already overheated. Anyway, we’re safe over the line and we have the world title. That was our goal.”