With three race favourites among them, all eyes were on the Dutch time trial specialists this morning. Already an Olympic and European time trial medalist, Anna van der Breggen would need only one more medal to complete her career-best season; former world champion Ellen van Dijk was fresh off her third gold medal in Sunday’s team time trial; and fans were eager to watch Annemiek van Vleuten, who impressed everyone with an incredible comeback last month.
But in the heat of the Qatari desert, the Dutch missed out on gold as 41-year-old American Amber Neben (BePink, United States) stopped the clock nearly 6 seconds sooner than Van Dijk, earning herself a second world title.
Eight years after winning her first world time trial title in Varese, Italy, Neben proved once again to be the fastest woman in the world.
The 2016 world individual time trial championships podium.
1. Amber Neben (United States) 36’37”
2. Ellen van Dijk (The Netherlands) + 5″99
3. Katrin Garfoot (Australia) +8″32
For full results, please visit the CyclingTips results page.
The world championships individual time trial
All of the worlds individual time trial events are held at the Pearl Qatar, which was also the final section of the team time trial course, with lots of twists and turns.
Of course you have to be an all-out powerhouse to win gold on a world ITT championship, but on this technical circuit in the Qatari desert, the rider holding the best combination of technical skills and heat resistance was the one with the biggest chance for a win.
How the race was won
Kuwait’s Nadia Ajeraiwi kicked off the women’s elite individual time trial event, not a serious candidate for the win of course.
The first of the favourites to start was American rider Amber Neben (BePink), who took an impressive start, setting the fastest time at time check 1. Her time at the finish was 36’37”, a time which Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-AIS, Netherlands) wasn’t able to reach, coming in at a second place 25 seconds slower.
It was also tight between Neben and Van Vleuten’s compatriot Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans). While Neben was 7 seconds ahead of Van Dijk at time check 1, Van Dijk turned it around into a 4 second advantage at time check 2.
The standings were reversed again at time check 3, Van Dijk obviously affected by the heat. At the finish, Van Dijk crossed the line 6 seconds behind Neben, arriving at the finish line in a provisional second place.
Of the favourites, Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM, Germany), Neben’s teammate Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia) and Australian ITT champ Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) weren’t able to reach Neben’s time at the first intermediate time check either – nor at the second.
One more rider to challenge Amber Neben
With defending world champion Linda Villumsen (United Healthcare, New-Zealand) not attending due to an ankle injury she sustained at the Rio Olympics, Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv, Netherlands) was the last rider to start her quest for gold and the take it up against Neben.
When she passed the first time check in twelfth position though, it was clear that she wouldn’t be challenging Neben, or even taking any medals today.
Unless one of the favourites would seriously speed it up in the second half of the race, Neben would be crowned queen of the desert and that’s exactly what happened: unthreatened from time check 3, Neben took her second world title in the race against the clock.
The American women have dominated the individual time trial this year, with Kristin Armstrong (Team Twenty16-RideBiker) having won the Olympic time trial title and now Neben with the world title in the discipline.
One more race to go in Qatar
The women’s road race is on Saturday October 15th, 12:45 p.m. Qatar time (that’s 1:45 p.m. European CET; 7:45 a.m. North American EST; 8:45 p.m. Australian AEST).
The road race will be broacast throughout the world and live streamed on the UCI website.
Who is your favourite for the gold medal on the road?