Ellen van Dijk was crowned the 2016 European individual time trial champion in Plumelec, France on Thursday. The Dutchwoman covered the 25.4-kilometre course in 36:41 to beat out compatriot Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) by 18 seconds en route to gold. Olga Zabelinskaya (BePink) rounded out the podium.
“People asked me if it makes up for Rio,” said Van Dijk, who finished just off the individual time trial podium at the 2016 Rio Olympics following an unfortunate crash on the technical course. “No, not really. It doesn’t. Rio is Rio. Europeans is Europeans. Of course, I’m happy to win this title, but it’s not redemption. What happened in Rio is something that I will regret for the rest of my life, and this title is one that I will always be proud of.”
Following a terrorist attack in Nice in July, the 2016 European Championships were moved from the Côte d’Azur to Plumelec. The undulating time trial course suited Van Dijk’s strength and tailored training earlier in the season.
“It was never flat today,” Van DIjk said. “it was always up or down. The metres of altitude were almost the same as Rio, but it was not on steep climbs. It was all more gradual. Also most of the roads were long straights that were not every technical. It was a power course without any place to hide.”
Having come third in Chrono Champenois and feeling less than her best on Monday, Van Dijk made the decision to sit out the European Championships.
“I was in doubt if I should start,” Van Dijk explained. “I thought if I want to be good in the Worlds, maybe I shouldn’t race and should rest now so I could go full for Worlds. I made the decision on Monday that I will skip these Europeans.”
“And then on Tuesday, I decided that maybe I didn’t feel so bad and I should give it a try,” she added. “And yeah – it was a good try. It’s good for my morale. That’s important looking towards Worlds.”
Although she made the decision to start the individual time trial, Van Dijk will sit out Saturday’s road race.
“I’m going to take the weekend off and then I’ll do some sunny weather training to prepare for Worlds,” said Van Dijk. “That’s the next big goal.”