Women's World Championships Time Trial History
First run in 1994, the Women’s World Championships time trial has been a remarkably difficult race to establish a dynasty of titles in. Compared to say the men’s race, which had the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin and Michael Rogers lock it up for 10 titles between them in 11 years, the only 3-time run came right at the beginning with Jeannie Longo in 1995-1997. The French rider is the only person to have won 4 titles, adding her final victory in 2001.
Ellen van Dijk has won the last 2 seasons, plus her first win in 2013 to be the next most decorated rider. She will not return for this year’s race though as she’s currently pregnant and away from racing. She visited the podium 3 times in-between her victories but it’s Judith Arndt with the most medals in the World Championships TT. The German has 7 medals in total – 2 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze – between 1997 and 2012.
A remarkable feature of the race is how close the margins can be. The last 3 editions have all seen gaps of 15 seconds or less between the winner and runner-up. Linda Villumsen beat Anna van der Breggen by 2 seconds in 2015. But the run between 1997 and 2001 was particularly impressive. In those 5 editions, the total gap from all 5 races adds up to just 11 seconds. Zulfiya Zabirova twice lost by less than a second in that period. In 1997 she was 0’00″85”’ behind Jeannie Longo and in 1998 she was 0’00″37”’ behind Leontien Van Moorsel. It took until 2002 for Zabirova to finally get onto the top step of the podium.
Women's World Championships Time Trial 2023 Profile
Women's World Championships Time Trial 2023 Contenders
The favourite for this year’s race is Marlen Reusser. The Swiss rider is coming into the World Championships off the back of a final day Tour de France Femmes TT stage win. She was pushed close by teammate Demi Vollering but Reusser was also able to beat her in the Tour de Suisse time trial this year as well. With no Van Dijk, this very much feels like the year for her to break her duck.
It’s tempting to tip the 2019 World Champion Chloe Dygert. The American is looking close to her best again this season after a tough period since her notable crash at the 2020 World Championships in Imola. She won the US national title this season but only by a handful of seconds. Also counting against her here is the sheer volume of racing on the track the American will do as well. US teammate Amber Neben is another former World Champion from back in 2008. She was 3rd in nationals but qualified for her spot here by winning the Continental championships this year. Pretty much a pure time triallist these days, Neben was 4th at her last appearance in 2021. Lauren Stephens might also be worthy of consideration for a top 10 spot.
Last year’s runner-up on home soil was Grace Brown. She pushed Van Dijk close, finishing just 13 seconds behind the Dutch rider. She had a quiet Tour de France Femmes but still finished an encouraging 4th on the final day time trial and might be in the medal hunt again. The Aussie also has a comprehensive time trial victory this season back at the Bretagne Ladies Tour.
Dutch hopes will come from Riejanne Markus and Demi Vollering this year as the top 2 riders at the Dutch national championships this season. Markus won the title, with Demi Vollering admittedly on an off day having travelled overnight by car from Switzerland leading up to it. Markus was also 5th in the Tour de France Femmes TT and might sneak onto the podium. Tour de France Femmes winner Demi Vollering will be a genuine threat having finished 2nd behind Marlen Reusser by only a few seconds this season. Full of confidence, she does have a chance of the win if everything goes well.
Cédrine Kerbaol won the French time trial title this year with a strong ride that saw her beat favourite Audrey Cordon-Ragot. She didn’t have a great Tour de France Femmes time trial, maybe struggling more than the major favourites here from the Tourmalet the day before. 4th at the Bretagne Ladies Tour time trial, she’s maybe a little weaker on a lumpier TT. French teammate Juliette Labous should finish in the top 10 after 6th in Pau last weekend. She was 8th as well in the Tour de Suisse time trial and those positions feel about right.
Another rider probably looking at the lower reaches of the top-10 is the Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer. She was 5th in the European Championships TT last season and the only time trial we’ve seen her do this year was at the Tour de Suisse. That day Kiesenhofer was 6th and whilst some way behind the big names, should be more than capable of a solid ride amongst the next tier down.
I’m not fully sure what to expect from Lizzie Holden, even after she won the British title this season and it’s kinda similar with Anna Henderson as well. Henderson’s result at nationals wasn’t reflective after a mechanical ruined her time. Henderson was 13th at the Tour de France Femmes and Holden 23rd and that might be how things pan out at the World Championships time trial too.
Another national champion it’ll be had to peg exactly where they’ll finish is Danish rider Emma Norsgaard. Comfortably Danish champion this year ahead of Uttrup Ludwig, her TT results this year fluctuate from 3rd at the Baloise Ladies Tour on a flat course to 41st at the end of a week of hard racing at the Tour de France Femmes. Somewhere in the top-15 feels about right.
It’s really difficult to pick the form of Marta Cavalli at the moment. 1st on Hautacam in the CIC-Tour Pyrénées, she was also 8th on the Col du Tourmalet at the Tour de France Femmes. 2nd at Italian nationals, she was down in 92nd at the Tour de France Femmes time trial though. Teammate Vittoria Guazzini is another in the same boat after injuries but was 8th in Pau for some encouragement coming into the World Championships. She probably represents Italy’s best chance in the time trial.
Antonia Niedermaier has been a bit unlucky this season, finding trouble in crashes after returning from injury. She suffered a brutal injury at the Giro Donne which saw her teeth affected as the camera lingered a little too long on her. The day before she’d a stage with a strong solo break and was comfortably U23 TT champion in Germany this season. I can see her sneaking into the top-10.
Women's World Championships Time Trial 2023 Outsiders
Ukrainian national champion this year, Valeriya Kononenko comes to this year’s World Championships time trial with a victory at the Princess Anna Vasa Tour as well. She was 2nd behind Ellen van Dijk at the Chrono des Nations late last season and is an underrate shot for the top-15 this year.
2nd behind Lotte Kopecky at Belgian nationals was Febe Jooris who will be taking her in her first Elites level World Championship this year. She won the Belgian U23 title earlier in the season and finished 6th in the Tour de Feminin time trial in Czechia in May. 17th on the lumpier Princess Anna Vasa Tour feels a little bit below where you might expect coming into these championships however.
Eliska Kvasnickova became Czech champion at just 18 years old this year and has done well in the TTs as part of stage races in her home country. 7th at the Gracia Orlová time trial in April, she was 2nd in the one at the Tour de Feminin in May. Another young hope, she finished on the same time as Jooris in last year’s Junior Worlds TT.
Olga Zabelinskaya continues to plus away at the age of 43 and won the Asian continental title this season. She was 2nd in the lumpy time trial at the Princess Anna Vasa Tour recently and 5th at the time trial at the Tour of the Gila. The adopted Uzbek could end up in the top-20. Teammate Yanina Kuskova is one to keep an eye on as well after strong results early this season and as the Asian U23 champion. It’ll be interesting to see how she stacks up against stronger opposition.