Boels-Dolmans made it back-to-back team time trial victories in Vårgårda, Sweden on Friday evening. The reigning team time trial world champions posted the fastest time at both intermediate splits en route to the quickest time over the 43-kilometre course.
“This team time trial is very important,” said Chantal Blaak, who led Boels-Dolmans across the finish line. “The Worlds course is kind of the same – up and down – and it’s a similar distance. Today was a good test, and the only real test, before Worlds to see what went right and where we need to improve."
Three of Boels-Dolmans six starters were part of the Dutch-registered squad’s gold-medal ride in Doha, Qatar last October. Amy Pieters and Anna van der Breggen are both new to Boels-Dolmans this season, and Amalie Dideriksen missed out on team time trial selection in 2016. Friday’s race was the first time the six had lined up together for the team discipline.
The 43-kilometre test was held on rolling roads with several sweeping and a few sharp corners. The course is a familiar one – used since the first edition of the Vårgårda team time trial in 2009.
“It was very windy today,” noted Blaak. “We had a headwind on the way back. It felt like you were riding into a wall when you came on the front. It was super hard, but it also played to our strength. We have a lot of strong motors in this team.”
Boels-Dolmans clocked 18 minutes at the 16-kilometre mark, where the first intermediate time check was recorded. The time was four-seconds faster than Cervelo-Bigla and 13-seconds quicker than CANYON//SRAM.
The second time check came at kilometre 32. Here Boels-Dolmans was 19-seconds faster than Cervelo-Bigla with a time of 38:44.
“We all used all our strengths,” said Blaak. “We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and we know that about each other. We make each other stronger as a unit.”
Blaak led the team across the finish line, stopping the clock at 52:39. Although Boels-Dolmans allowed the pace to drop ever-so-slightly on the final push home, they did enough to beat out Cervelo-Bigla by 13-seconds. CANYON//SRAM rounded out the podium at 51-seconds.
“We came here to win,” said Blaak. “We all know how difficult that is, especially with so many teams taking the team time trial so seriously now. We knew we’d have to be super focused.
“Cycling is 100 percent a team sport, but if you win a road race, you’re alone on the podium,” Blaak added. “The team time trial is special because you celebrate together.”