Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team has won the silver medal at the last Worlds team time trial on Sunday. The orange train was only 21 seconds short of the winning time by Canyon-SRAM, who completed the 54.5-kilometre course in 1.01’46”. Last year’s world champions Team Sunweb took bronze.
“It is not the medal we were going for, but we can be proud of what we achieved,” said Karol-Ann Canuel. “I think everyone was awesome and everyone gave their best. That is only what you can ask for in a TTT.”
Yet Amy Pieters feels that it was more a matter of losing gold today than winning silver. "There will be no new opportunity to earn gold, since this was the last Worlds TTT. That's why it hurts just that bit more. We trained to win here and we even thought we were better prepared than last year. I wouldn't know where we could've gone 22 seconds faster."
Although there were a couple of short climbs along the way, overall the course was downhill, resulting in fast average speeds by all teams.
“It was a fast course, but I found it quite hard, because you have to go as fast as possible all the time,” said Canuel. “The goal was to stay with six as long as possible and that is what we did.”
The length of the course and the downhill profile made pacing very important. At the only intermediate time split of the race, after 22.9 kilometres, Wiggle-High5 set the fastest time.
Canyon-SRAM arrived there almost eleven seconds slower, with Boels-Dolmans setting a third time at 18 seconds from Wiggle-High5. The defending world champions Team Sunweb slotted into fifth place, behind Mitchelton-Scott in fourth.
It was difficult to compare the team’s performances after the intermediate point, but when Canyon-SRAM arrived at the finish line in 1.01’46”, smashing the time of Wiggle-High5 that had arrived at the finish with only four riders, it was already certain that this was going to be a tough time to beat.
Boels-Dolmans in the meantime had also lost two riders, with Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus and Danish road champion Amalie Dideriksen both having had to let the orange train go. The four remaining riders, three Dutchies plus Canuel, held the pace up as best as they could.
They crossed the finish line in a provisional second place, securing a Worlds medal with only one team still to finish. It was going to be tight between Boels-Dolmans and Sunweb, but eventually Sunweb was seven seconds slower – earning Boels-Dolmans its third silver medal in the discipline.
“Silver, yeah, story of my life,” said Anna van der Breggen. “It actually went really well with the team today, everything went as planned. You can feel whether it’s working or not, whether you’re all in the flow and whether the pace is high.”
“On a fast course like today, it’s really important to stay with six riders as long as possible,” Van der Breggen continues. “We managed to do that for a long time and almost finished with five riders, Amalie only had to let go right at the end.”
“Looking back on the team time trial, we just did really well,” Van der Breggen concluded. “We rode as fast as we could and that’s that. Unfortunately Canyon-SRAM was faster today and beat us.”
On Tuesday, Van der Breggen is back on her time trial bike for the Worlds individual time trial, just like Canuel. The road race follows on Saturday, in which Majerus will no longer participate. She’s been suffering from illness since the end of August and decided to withdraw.
“Since sickness, the last four weeks have been just one big struggle on the bike,” Majerus explained. “I put every single bit of energy left into the preparation of this team time trial, as it was a big goal of us. Unfortunately, it also made me realize that the tank is empty."
Both the women’s individual time trial and road race are live to watch on Eurosport throughout Europe, on NOS in the Netherlands and Sporza in Belgium. Full broadcast information is available on the UCI website.