The team time trial is the only event of the world championships for trade teams to fly their colors. Team Sunweb took full advantage of this opportunity and became world champions for the first time. The six-rider team of Lucinda Brand, Leah Kirchmann, Floortje Mackaij, Coryn Rivera, Sabrina Stultiens, and Ellen van Dijk bested last year’s winners, Boels-Dolmans, by a mere 12 seconds.
Cervélo–Bigla claimed the bronze medal for the second year running, 28 seconds down.
The 42.5km course from Ravnanger to Bergen hardly included a stretch of flat road and the tough Birkelundsbakken climb (3km at 6 percent) topping out with 11km to go was sure to reveal which teams may have gone out too hard. Nine teams took to the start to contest to be world champion.
Team Virtu Cycling kicked-off the 2017 UCI World Road Championships under clear sunny skies by rolling down the start ramp on Sunday afternoon to begin the women’s team time trial championship. The team was not short on power, with the last two individual time trial world champions, Linda Villumsen (2015) and Amber Neben (2016), among their six starters.
Neben suffered a dropped chain, which took a long time to put back on, a few kilometers after the first checkpoint. This virtually ended Team Virtu’s chances to compete for the win and they would finish with a time of 58:33.15, fifth place on the day.
The latter half of the starting teams included the heavy hitters and medal earners from the previous year.
Team Sunweb was the first of the main contenders to leave the start house and they set about posting the fastest time at all of the time checks out on course. It was evident they were on a good day, as the gap to FDJ, who started three minutes in front of them, was shrinking. When Team Sunweb crossed the line, they had set a new best time of 55:41.63 and had caught and passed the team that started in front of them.
However, the three remaining teams out on course were the medal earners from the 2016 world TTT championships in Doha.
Cervélo-Bigla was the next to come through the finish and although they were quicker than Team Sunweb through the first half of the course, they faded in the end and finished 28 seconds down on the team from The Netherlands.
Canyon-Sram started quick like Cervelo-Bigla, but were unable to match the second half pace of Team Sunweb. Ultimately, they would end up missing the podium and finish just over a minute down in fourth place.
Last year’s world champions, Boels-Dolmans, charged through course and were 15 seconds ahead of Team Sunweb at the top of the tough climb out on course with 11 kilometers remaining. However, with 4 kilometers to go Boels-Dolmans had faded and were even on time with Team Sunweb. They would need to be perfect over the final couple kilometers to become back-to-back world champions.
Team Sunweb showed they paced the course flawlessly on Sunday with Boels-Dolmans unable to match their second-half speed and having to settle for the silver medal in 2017.
For Ellen van Dijk, this is the fourth time she has become world champion in the team time trial (2012 and 2013 Specialized-lululemon, 2016 Boels-Dolmans).
“It was a really tough course and it was so important not to over pace on the climbs, as you blow up the whole team so we really focused on that,” van Dijk said after the race. “That was our strength, we kept it really smooth and it was feeling good all the way. We used each others strengths all the way and we took the win, which is incredible.
“This year we really didn’t expect to go for the win, but when you do it really as a team like this and use each others strengths in such a good way it’s such a satisfying feeling. We were the underdog and now we’re world champions.”
1. Team Sunweb (NED), in 55:41.63
2. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED), at +12.43
3. Cervélo–Bigla Pro Cycling Team (GER), at +28.03
4. Canyon Sram Racing (GER), at +01:04.79
5. Team Virtu Cycling (DEN), at +02:51.52
6. FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope (FRA), at +03:23.04
7. BTC City Ljubljana (SLO), at +03:46.58
8. Bepink Cogeas (ITA), at +04:07.29
9. Hitec Products (NOR), at +04:58.84