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Van Vleuten (right) says Dygert (center) is the...

Van Vleuten: Chloé Dygert is the favorite to win Olympic time trial

Annemiek van Vleuten says Chloé Dygert is now the favorite to win the Olympics in the individual time trial.

Chloé Dygert’s dominating world championship win in the individual time trial makes her the favorite to win that event at the 2020 Olympics.

That’s the perspective of Annemiek van Vleuten, Dygert’s top rival in that event.

“She showed such a big advantage, such a big victory, it showed she is an amazing time trialist,” van Vleuten told VeloNews. “So, she will have more pressure, but I think she can handle that. She is the favorite.”

Van Vleuten praised Dygert’s performance at the Yorkshire world championships this past September, where the American won the individual time trial ahead of Anna van der Breggen by a whopping 1:32. Dygert caught and passed riders who had started more than five minutes ahead of her on the hilly 30-kilometer course in Yorkshire.

Van Vleuten, the two-time defending world champion in the individual time trial, struggled during the event. She finished third, 1:53 down on Dygert.

Van Vleuten said she was not surprised by Dygert’s success in Yorkshire. In the lead up to the event, she told Dutch journalists to keep an eye on the young American.

“I was telling the Dutch media in interviews to watch Chloé Dygert because, before the time trial, they were like, ‘You will win this TT, right?'” van Vleuten said. “I was like, actually there is this girl who was 4th place in [2017 world championships] in Bergen when she was only 20. I raced on the [2018] track in the world championships in Apeldoorn and she lapped me.”

Annemiek Van Vleuten takes off solo during UCI Road World Championships. Photo by Pauline Ballet – Pool/Getty Images

Three days later it was van Vleuten who stormed to victory in the women’s world championship road race. Van Vleuten attacked with more than 100 kilometers remaining, and then held off a chase group to win her first elite road world title in Harrogate.

“It was a crazy world championships,” van Vleuten said. “There were so many people along the course cheering for me. The fans in Yorkshire were the best.”

Dygert finished fourth after leading the chase to bring back van Vleuten.

The victories sets the stage for Dygert and van Vleuten to battle in Tokyo for Olympic gold. Dygert has decided to race the road time trial in addition to events on the track. She will not participate in the road race.

“My goals are to stay on the track and do the road time trial, and I’m not going to deviate from that even if I have good results in other races,” Dygert told VeloNews before Yorkshire.

Van Vleuten will compete in the road race as well as the individual time trial.

While the deficit to Dygert was substantial in Yorkshire, van Vleuten admitted she was not on her best day during the individual time trial. By the race’s early time check, she was already several seconds down on the American.

Knowing that she had bag legs gives van Vleuten hope that she can contend with Dygert in Tokyo.

“I felt after five minutes that my legs were exploding and full of lactic acid,” van Vleuten said. “It gives me some hope for Tokyo, because if I had been on a good day, finishing two minutes behind Chloe Dygert would be a really hard job to come close to her.”