Ellen van Dijk took her 3rd world championship in the time trial this morning. The Dutch rider was the quickest on the circuit in Wollongong, the host city in Australia of the 2022 Cycling World Championships. For Van Dijk, it’s a 2nd win in 2 years, after also winning last year’s edition in Flanders. Her first win came quite some time ago now, during the championships held in Firenze back in 2013. No rider has successfully retained the World TT Championship since Annemiek van Vleuten in 2017 & 2018.
The final time gap from Ellen van Dijk to 2nd place was 13 seconds. Where somewhat surprisingly, Grace Brown took the silver medal. Then there was a gap to Marlen Reusser, with the Swiss rider 42 seconds behind the winner. Reusser was my favourite in the World TT Championships race preview, but maybe slightly underperformed on the day. She was only 10 seconds away from an impressive performance from Vittoria Guazzini in 4th. That finish allowed her to take home the U23 World Championship as the best U23 rider. Rather than being held separately like the men, all women raced together and the highest U23 rider was due to win the additional set of rainbow stripes. Something that will be, infamously, repeated in the road race at the weekend.
“It has yet to dawn on me that I am a three-time world time trial champion. I can’t believe it. I was not aware of the split times. I never want to know. I come completely into my own world to get the most out of myself. When I hear the times of the other riders, I lose my focus. Until the finish I had no idea what I was riding for.
I did hear my coach say that it was going well and that I was driving for something. I had agreed with my coach that I didn’t want to know anything. It was a big surprise when I crossed the finish line and took the world title again.
I prepared myself specifically for the time trial. I was here a week before. I had arranged with the Dutch cycling association that I had a house close to the track to stay in so that I could train on the track every day.
My own team has helped me very well. There are many aspects, but the mental aspect is the most important. I am now going to enjoy this gold medal. I am happy with my three world titles.”Ellen van Dijk
The suspense was built when Grace Brown, who had set off much earlier, spent a long time in the hot seat waiting for other riders to oust her. Once Van Dijk started, that looked imminent with the Dutch rider ahead at the first intermediate split and gradually increased that. With Reusser no threat to Brown, she was able to celebrate on the hot seat with her trade teammate Vittoria Guazzini about the guaranteed medal.
For Annemiek van Vleuten, it was a rather mixed feeling post-race. She went into the time trial as the bookies’ favourite, although I had marked for 3rd place on the podium. The winner of all three major tours in women’s cycling this year was only able to finish 7th, 1’42” down on Van Dijk. After the race, Van Vleuten admitted simply that she had an off day and couldn’t find the watts she needed. At the first intermediate split, she knew from the team car reaction that she was down by more than anticipated. Annemiek will ride again on Wednesday in the Mixed Relay TT where the Dutch are favourites to win with a team containing: Bauke Mollema, Mathieu van der Poel, Daan Hoole, Riejanne Markus, Annemiek van Vleuten and Ellen van Dijk.
“Afterwards I saw that I was also far below the wattages that I normally drive. You couldn’t keep an eye on that during this time trial, because it went up and down a lot. But in hindsight, it was way below par. I think this was my worst time trial ever. I don’t know what caused it, but I didn’t have it today.
I still believe I’m just good and have confidence for Wednesday and Saturday, but today it was nothing. I must soon forget this and prepare for the next two games to come.”Annemiek van Vleuten
Main photo Credit: Cor Vos