Preview: the world championships kick off Sunday with team time trial in the Qatari desert
After a long wait, it’s finally here! An eventful season, which saw the Olympics and the inaugural Women’s WorldTour, will culminate with the world road championships in Qatar.
First up on the programme, are the women’s and men’s team time trials.
A boycott of this event by the men’s WorldTour teams was narrowly avoided when the UCI and the teams reached a final agreement over compulsory participation, WorldTour points and an appearance fee.
Although the controversy didn’t involve the women’s teams, participation of women’s teams has always been limited at the UCI team time trial, as transport of riders, staff and equipment is costly and women’s team budgets are typically much smaller than men’s teams.
Since negotiations by the men’s teams resulted in an attendance fee, women’s teams are now also financially compensated for their participation in the worlds team time trial. The compensation, however, is a mere 2,000 euros per team, while costs for a team to attend and participate in the TTT average between 15,000 and 40,000 euros.
Costs are likely the reason why this year’s TTT attendance is the lowest yet, with only eight teams registered to start in the Qatar desert on Sunday. Orica-AIS decided to sit this one out before the season even started, and teams like Wiggle-Honda, Liv-Plantur and Cylance Pro Cycling soon followed suit.
The worlds team time trial
The women’s TTT event is the opener of the 2016 world road championships in Doha, with the first team rolling down the start ramp at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9 local time (7.15 a.m. American EDT, 1.15 p.m. European CET, 10.15 p.m. Australia’s AEDT).
The 40-kilometre course will take riders along the east coast of Qatar, before twisting back through no less than 14 turns back to the start at the Pearl Qatar.
The eight teams taking to the start are defending champs Canyon-SRAM, Rabo-Liv, Boels-Dolmans, Cervélo-Bigla, Twenty16-RideBiker, Team Hitec, BTC City Ljubljana and Astana BePink.
Who to watch
With Canyon-SRAM, Boels-Dolmans and Rabo-Liv taking to the start, three former podium finishers, it looks like the top three is set. Dangerous competition can, however, come from outsiders Team Twenty16-RideBiker and Cervélo-Bigla.
Having always been outspoken about their goal to become world team time trial champions, 2016 might be the year for Boels-Dolmans to realise that goal. They won the Energiewacht Tour and Boels Rental Ladies Tour team time trials, as well as the all important TTT dress rehearsal in Vårgårda, a Women’s WorldTour race.
Their frustration of coming just six seconds short of the world title in 2015, plus their current form, will mean six focused riders, who are determined to take that world title this year.
Ellen van Dijk
The undefeated world TTT champions will try to take a fifth gold medal at the UCI team time trial in Qatar. It will be harder than ever to win though, with no victories for the team in this discipline throughout the season.
Then again, the team wasn’t a top favourite in 2015 either, but pulled it off at the world championships. With the experienced Trixi Worrack as their team captain, Canyon-SRAM will do everything it can to continue its clean sweep at the worlds team time trial.
Lucinda Brand and Thalita de Jong have decided to skip the world road championships this year, as they are both focusing on cyclocross. With Pauline Ferrand-Prevot having ended her season after the Olympics, the team misses three strong riders for the team time trial squad in Qatar. But Rabo-Liv has enough high quality riders to still have a potentially medal winning team to represent them in their final performance on the road.
After a bronze medal in 2015 and silver in 2013, these six will aim to deliver gold for Rabo-Liv this year:
Anna van der Breggen
Outsiders: Cervélo-Bigla and Team Twenty16-RideBiker
Both teams have pulled an incredible team time trial performance this year. Team Twenty16-RideBiker won the team time trial in the UCIWWT women’s Tour of California, beating Boels-Dolmans by six seconds, while Cervélo-Bigla surprised everyone with their second place in the Vårgårda team time trial. They were still over half a minute away from Boels-Dolmans’ winning time, but they beat Rabo-Liv and Canyon-SRAM by 40 seconds and 1’05” respectively.
How to follow the race
The race is on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2.15 p.m. local time (7.15 a.m. EDT, 1.15 p.m. CET, 10.15 p.m. AEDT). The women’s team time trial has been moved specifically to ensure better TV viewing, so you should be able to watch the entire race on television.
More information about the race can be found at dohacycling2016.com.
What do you think; will Boels-Dolmans pull it off this year?