Road World Championships 2012 Women’s Individual Time Trial: The Big Preview

The time trials are well underway at the World Championships in Limburg but the women’s individual time trial is the first of the elite events to tackle the tough and testing course through the bergs and woods of South Holland. 

The Cauberg, coming as it does 2km from the finish line, has proved to be the hill that can make or break a successful ride. Ride too hard from the gun and riders find their strength has deserted them just when they need it to conquer the 12% maximum gradient. 

>> Save up to 31% with a magazine subscription. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

Save too much, however, and there is little time to squeeze out your remaining energy. It is a course that requires technical riding, a profound ability to gauge effort, and a toughness to tackle the regions ramps.

Many of the competitors will have ridden the final few km of the course during the TTT this Sunday

At just over 24km in length the course is shorter than this summer’s Olympic Games time trial, yet with the cooler conditions predicted and the aforementioned hills, the race in London should be comparable in length to the route this Tuesday.

Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong is missing, however, from the roster and the remaining riders will be fighting tooth and nail for the highly-coveted rainbow jersey.

The course
Distance: 24.3km
Climb One: Gronsvelderberg (KM7) – 2100m at 3.5%
Climb Two: Cauberg (KM21) – 1200m at 5.8% (max. 12%)

Where and when
When: Tuesday September 18, 13:30-16:10 (UK time)
Start: Eijsden, The Netherlands
Finish: Valkenburg, The Netherlands

Tuesday September 18, 14.00-16.15, LIVE elite women individual time trial, British Eurosport
Tuesday September 18, 21.15-22.45, elite women individual time trial highlights, British Eurosport

Ones to watch
Judith Arndt, 36, Germany
Arndt is the strongest and most consistent time triallist in women’s cycling but has been denied a win at the biggest races this year; Kristin Armstrong pipped her to the gold medal at the Olympics and Specialized edged out her Orica-AIS squad at last Sunday’s team time trial.

Judith Arndt: second at the Olympics

A powerful rider and the defending champion, her form is showing no signs of waning. The biggest test will be whether she can cope with the hilly course that might suit the lighter riders.

Last three time trial results
Olympic Games Time Trial: 2nd, 16 secs behind Kristin Armstrong (August)
Thuringhen Rundfahrt, stage four: 2nd, s.t. behind Trixi Worrack (July)
Thuringhen Rundfahrt, prologue: 3rd, 3 secs behind Hanka Kupfernagel (July)

Emma Pooley, 30, Great Britain
Pooley has two medals in the individual time trial from the last two world championships; a gold and the rainbow jersey in 2010 translated into a bronze in 2011.

She made it a hat-trick of time trial medals with a bronze in the team time trial on Sunday and recently won the Tour de l’Ardeche stage race in France. And, with a diminutive frame that conceals considerable power, she should be suited to the hilly course on Tuesday. 

Watching on: Pooley realises team-mate Lizzie Armitstead won silver at the Olympic road race

However she placed a disappointing sixth at the Olympic Games in August and is unsure of her form leading into this week and indeed her future in the sport beyond 2012. Watch this space.

Last three time trial results
Tour de l’Ardeche, stage two: 2nd, 17 secs behind Ashleigh Moolman (September)
Tour de l’Ardeche, prologue: 18th, 9 secs behind Cecilie Johnsen (September)
Olympic Games Time Trial: 6th, 1-03 behind Kristin Armstrong (August)

Evelyn Stevens, 29, United States
Stevens should be confident going into the race as she watches her form build just at the right time. Second at the recent Holland Ladies Tour, first at the Route de France and third at the Giro Donne; Stevens has had a breakthrough year in 2012. 

She was part of the victorious Specialized-Lululemon team last Sunday, a win which will put her in an ideal position going into the individual event.

Last three time trial results
La Route de France, stage one: 2nd, 2 secs behind Alena Amialyusik (August)
Giro Donne, stage two: 5th, 17 secs behind Marianne Vos (June)
United States National Championships: 2nd, 1 sec behind Amber Neben (June)

Amber Neben, 37, United States
Seventh at the Olympics, American champion Neben will carry the same confidence as Stevens from the team time trial. Perhaps a win might be one step too far, but she’ll be in with a good shout for a podium. 

Last three time trial results
Olympic Games Time Trial: 7th, 1-12 behind Kristin Armstrong (August)
Thuringen Rundfahrt, stage four: 4th, 18 secs behind Trixi Worrack (July)
Thuringen Rundfahrt, prologue: 25th, 21 secs behind Hanka Kupfernagel (July)

Ellen Van Dijk, 25, The Netherlands
Dutch champion and on home turf, Van Dijk will have the support of a loud and enthusiastic Dutch crowd roaring her up the Cauberg and on to the finish line.

Van Dijk (third from left) won the TTT with Specialized-Lululemon on Sunday

Last three time trial results
Olympic Games Time Trial: 8th, 1-19 behind Kristin Armstrong (August)
Netherlands National Championships: 1st, 14 secs ahead of Annemiek Van Vleuten (June)
Emakumeen Euskal Bira, stage three: 3rd, 6 secs behind Linda Villumsen (June)

Linda Villumsen, 27, New Zealand
Dane turned Kiwi Villumsen was second in Copenhagen last year and will be more motivated than ever to go one better in 2012. 

Without a win in 2011, she pulled a performance out of the bag. With several victories to her name this year and a strong fourth place at the recent Olympic Games time trial, Villumsen will be up there.

Last three time trial results
Olympic Games Time Trial: 4th, 25 secs behind Kristin Armstrong (August)
Giro Donne, stage two: 6th, 18 secs behind Marianne Vos (June)
Giro del Trentino, stage 2b: 1st, 4 secs ahead of Judith Arndt (June)

Related links

Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Specialized-Lululemon claim inaugural Worlds TTT

Road World Championships 2012: Coverage index