The wind and rain couldn’t keep Chloé Dygert Owen from claiming her rainbow stripes.
On Tuesday the American rode a dominant individual time trial to claim the world championship in the event, completing the 30.3 kilometer course in 42:11.57. Dygert Owen’s average speed was a whopping 43.1 km/h (26.78 mph), despite her riding on twisting rain-soaked streets that sent several riders tumbling.
Dygert Owen collapsed to the wet tarmac after she crossed the line. The 22-year-old, who already owns seven world titles on the track and road, buried her head in her hands and gasped.
This is her first world road title as an elite woman.
“We took this year and really just worked toward this race,” Dygert Owen said at the finish. “This is what I prepared for, and now we’re looking forward to Tokyo.”
Dygert Owen’s time was simply in another class when compared to that of the 52 other women in the event. Reigning Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen of The Netherlands, widely regarded as the best road racer of this generation, was second, 1:32 in arrears.
Defending world TT champ Annemiek van Vleuten—who dominates time trials and currently leads the UCI Women’s WorldTour standings—was third, 1:53 down.
The women took to the course after a 40-minute rain delay, which the UCI imposed after a storm drenched the Under-23 men’s race, and produced several dramatic crashes. Conditions greatly improved for the women’s event, and while the streets were wet, the skies were mostly dry along the course.
The hilly 30.3-kilometer route included four punchy climbs, including the Bedlam Road (1.1km at 6.6 percent) and Hampsthwaite Road (1.5km at 4.9 percent) climbs.
“It’s a relentless course—you really have to punch it up on those climbs,” said American Leah Thomas, who finished 7th place, 3:14 in arrears. “The conditions were better than I actually thought they’d be. The roads were wet but it was like that for everyone.”
Dygert Owen victory caps off her comeback season. In May of 2018 she crashed at the Amgen Tour of California and suffered a concussion; the head injury, and other injuries, kept her off of the bicycle for the remainder of the year. Dygert Owen returned to the U.S. domestic road scene in early 2019 and won several domestic stage races.
In July she won the Pan American Championships in the individual time trial, and then in August she dominated the Colorado Classic, winning all four stages. In an earlier interview with VeloNews, Dygert Owen said she finally felt a return to her previous physical level after a block of track training this summer.
Her coach, three-time Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong, told her after a session that her power numbers signaled that she had returned.
“Kristin called me, and she didn’t say, ‘good job.’ She said, ‘Chloé, you’re back,’” Dygert Owen says. “It’s one of those moments that is very special. I’ll never forget that moment.”
Dygert Owen’s victory continues an American tradition of greatness in the women’s individual time trial. In 2016 Amber Neben, who was fourth on Tuesday, claimed the world title in Doha, Qatar, taking back the title she had won in 2008.
Armstrong won the event in three different Olympics (2008, ’12, ’16) and also claimed the world title in 2009 and 2006. Mari Holden won the world title in 2000, and took Olympic silver that year. And Karen Kurreck took the inaugural women’s TT world title in 1994.
2019 UCI Elite Time Trial World Championships
- Chloé Dygert Owen, United States, 42:11
- Anna van der Breggen, The Netherlands, at 1:32
- Annemiek van Vleuten, The Netherlands, at 1:53
- Amber Neben, United States, at 2:38
- Lisa Klein, Germany, at 2:41
- Marlen Reusser, Switzerland, at 3:02
- Leah Thomas, United States, at 3:13
- Lucinda Brand, The Netherlands, at 3:16
- Alena Amialiusik, Belarus, at 3:18
- Lisa Brennauer, at 3:20