Anna van der Breggen time trialled to silver at the Worlds ITT Championships in Bergen, Norway on Tuesday. This is the second silver medal Van der Breggen earned for a world championships individual time trial, after the 2015 ITT Worlds in Richmond, USA. The Olympic road champion stopped the clock at 29:02:51, just 12 seconds short of the winning time by compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott), who needed 28:50:35 to complete the 21.1-kilometre course.
"My ride went pretty well, especially the first part," Van der Breggen said. "But I did feel that it was hard to keep up the power on the downhill. And that's exactly where Annemiek won the race."
Van der Breggen was the second rider off the start ramp and was off to a flying start. American rider Lauren Stephens was the rider who had started before her and a good time trialist herself. But at the first intermediate time check, 3 kilometres into the race, Van der Breggen had already taken 26 seconds on Stephens. At the second time split, her advantage had grown to 30 seconds and at the third, which was located on the cobbled sector, it was already 56 seconds. Van der Breggen eventually crossed the line only 23 seconds behind Stephens, which meant her time was 1'07" faster than Stephens.
Although none of the riders who had rolled off the start ramp behind Van der Breggen was able to challenge her time at one of the intermediate splits, Van der Breggen wasn't sure after the finish that her ride would earn her a medal.
"I wasn't certain that I had finished in the top three," Van der Breggen said. "The uphill section was wet, because of the rain, and the corner before the climb was wet too. You were able to power through that corner when it wasn't wet, but that wasn't possible now. That was frustrating."
Halfway through the day two of Van der Breggen's main rivals took to the start. Chloe Dygert and Annemiek van Vleuten started their individual time trials with a minute-and-a-half interval, while Van der Breggen cooled down on the rollers before heading for the hot seat.
Dygert quickly appeared to be no threat for Van der Breggen, but Van Vleuten was only 0,77 second slower at the first intermediate split. At the second time check, atop the climb, Van der Breggen still held the fastest time, by almost four seconds. It was thought that Van Vleuten's advantage lay on the climb, but eventually it was the section between the second and third intermediate splits where Van Vleuten won the race.
"[The downhill] is a completely different way of delivering power," Van der Breggen explained. "It's also about aerodynamics, your position on the bike and still being able to get power into the pedals. That was difficult here."
Van Vleuten had taken 12 seconds off Van der Breggen's time at the third time split and didn't lose any more time on her way to the finish line, moving into the hot seat and moving Van der Breggen into the silver medal position.
The last riders to take to the start were Katrin Garfoot (Orica-Scott), Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) and defending world champion Amber Neben (Team Virtu), the only riders expected to be able to challenge the winning time. But halfway through the race, it was clear no one would be able to beat Van Vleuten's time - or Van der Breggen's time. The only change to the eventual podium was Garfoot taking bronze, leaving Dygert with fourth place.
"Of course it's nice to win silver, but I had really hoped to win," Van der Breggen concluded. "I'm super happy that it's Annemiek who won, but for me it's just disappointing. I already had a Worlds ITT silver medal. And I think this was my best time trial of the season. So, if you're this close, you just want to take home the gold medal."
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team had two riders at the start of today's World ITT Championships. Canadian time trial champion Karol-Ann Canuel also raced against the clock on the 21.1-kilometre course, finishing 21st. Both riders will start in the Worlds road race on Saturday too.