Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team won the team time trial in Vårgårda, Sweden on Friday evening. The Dutch-registered squad stopped the clock at 51:43 following what DS Danny Stam called a perfectly paced 42-kilometre effort. The winning time proved 36-seconds faster than Cervelo-Bigla in second place and 76-seconds faster than Rabo-Liv in third.
The win in Sweden is the team’s second team time trial victory since inception nearly four years ago and the 16th UCI Women’s WorldTour victory (six one-day races, six stage wins, three general classification wins, one team time trial) over 32 days of racing.
“We have been working towards this since January,” said Stam. “We know there are not many opportunities to train for the team time trial during the rest of the season, so it was a focus for our winter training camps.”
“Specialized have been very involved with both the testing and the equipment,” Stam added. “Without their help, I don’t think it would have been possible to reach this level.”
Ranked first in the UCI Women’s WorldTour team classification, Boels-Dolmans was the last team to race on Friday. At the first intermediate checkpoint (16.4-kilometres), Boels-Dolmans was five seconds down on Cervelo-Bigla, who had set the fastest time.
“We wanted to be fast, and we wanted to do our own race,” explained Chantal Blaak, who was part of the team’s first team time trial win at Energiewacht Tour in April. “We knew were on a good ride when we hit the first check, and that gave us confidence. The second part of the course was harder, and that’s our strength.”
By the second intermediate time check, nine kilometres from the finish, Boels-Dolmans had gained back the time lost on the first part of the course. Clocking in at 37:52, the team now had a 39-second advantage.
“The pacing strategy was great,” said Stam. “All the girls did an amazing job at the right moments.”
The team kept the pace high and the pressure on en route to the finish line, averaging 49.307 kilometres/hours for the winning ride.
“It’s such a good feeling to win together,” said Blaak. “Everyone works hard for it – the girls and the staff – and we have the best support from our sponsor. It’s a real team effort.”
“Today’s win is something that we all deserve, even the teammates who are not racing here with us,” Blaak added. “The team time trial Is teamwork, and we have shown already a lot of times this season that we can work really, really well together. This win fits perfectly with our season.”
While the win in Sweden is cause for celebration, the team sees the race as a stepping stone to a bigger goal – the team time trial at the 2016 Road World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October. Boels-Dolmans finished in second place at the 2015 Road World Championships and is aiming one step higher this year.
“It’s a good start on the way to Doha, but there’s a different course in Qatar and more work to come,” said Stam. “Today shows that the girls came good from Rio. It is nice to start this part of the season with the win.”
“We are definitely going to analyse our ride,” Blaak added. “There are always things to work on and ways to improve. We want to be better before Worlds. We are not there yet, and we need to work for it. What’s better than to be the world champion with your own team? That's the main goal and the best way to payback our sponsors and showcase all the hard work we put in all season.”