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By Kip Mikler, VeloNews editor
After Judith Arndt finished second to take the silver medal in the elite women’s time trial at the Hamilton road world’s on Wednesday, the German rider said what everybody already knew about Joane Somarriba, the woman who had beaten Arndt to take the world title.
“Joane prepares herself for two or three events during the year,” Arndt said. “And then she wins.”
It made perfect sense that Somarriba, the Spanish climbing specialist you usually see winning grand tours, not one-day events like the world time trial championship, circled this day on her calendar. Hamilton is not your average TT course. The profile of the 20.5km course features two peaks, the second a wide-open wind-blasted ascent that made all the difference for those who weren’t prepared.
“You really had to be mentally strong,” said American Kristin Armstrong, who put in an impressive ride and finished 13th. “You go from around 50 [kph] to about 20 when you hit that hill.”
Somarriba, who won the Grande Boucle Féminine (women’s Tour de France) for the third time in August and then turned her attention toward Hamilton, knew this course had climbs more difficult than any world’s course raced since 1995, when the event was held in Colombia.
“This was a dream,” Somarriba said after averaging 43.969 kph to post a winning time of 28:23.23. “Since June I was concentrating on attaining a podium finish here, so when I did, it was very emotional.”
With perfect weather (sunny, mid-70s), all Somarriba had to worry about — other than competitors that included defending world champion Zulfia Zabirova of Russia, last year’s silver medalist Karin Thürig of Switzerland, the Canadian duo of Geneviève Jeanson and Lyne Bessette, and Arndt among others — was maintaining her speed across the flatter sections of the course. After the first steep climb up to the ridge overlooking Hamilton, riders faced windy roads for the next 10km before a fast 2km descent, followed by a second climb a bit longer than the first.
“I knew this course would be difficult, so I worked on the hills and the flats,” Somarriba said.
The second climb proved decisive. Thürig, for one, was unable to match the power she carried through the first climb when she hit the second ascent of the escarpment. Time-trial specialists unaccustomed to such jagged course profiles struggled to maintain momentum.
“The last world championships [in Zolder, Belgium] were better for me, because I’m not a climber,” said Zabirova, who still managed to win a bronze medal after finishing third, 26 seconds slower than Somarriba.
Arndt, the former Saturn rider who won the prestigious Tour de l’Aude stage race in May, was pleased with her second-place time of 28:34.01, 11 seconds slower than Somarriba’s time, after being only fifth best at the 8km split, when she was 23 seconds behind the Spaniard.
Drawing the loudest cheers from the spectators gathered everywhere from downtown Hamilton to the elegant neighborhoods along Scenic Drive on top of the escarpment were the riders wearing the maple leaf. Jeanson and Bessette were both considered medal contenders, and for a while it looked like Jeanson had a shot at her first world title in the elite ranks. She came across the finish with the best time, but there were still 13 of 43 starters to go. The Rona rider ended up in fifth, while Bessette finished a disappointing 15th.
“Three weeks ago or a month ago I didn’t even know if I was going to race at world’s,” said Bessette, who broke her collarbone in a crash at the Nüremberg World Cup race in Germany late August. “I did everything I could after I crashed to stay positive and just train as hard as I could and get ready.”
Clearly disappointed with the finish, Bessette fought back tears when she added, “Of course this is my country and I would have liked to have done better, but … I just couldn’t go faster today and tomorrow’s another day.”
So is Saturday, when the Canadian team might have to decide who its leader will be in the elite women’s road race. Jeanson was stronger on the climb in the TT; will that be a factor?
“With Geneviève’s [fifth] place, and my top 15, I felt great on the course and I think it’s going to be really awesome to race together,” Bessette said.
The top U.S. rider on the day was Dede Demet-Barry, who rode above expectations on her 31st birthday, to post an eighth-place finish.
Women’s time trial world championship results
1. Joane Somarriba (Sp), 28:23.23 (43.969kph)
2. Judith Arndt (G), at 0:10.78
3. Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus), at 0:26.25
4. Karin Thürig (Swi), at 0:27.13
5. Geneviève Jeanson (Can), at 0:48.49
6. Jeannie Longo Ciprelli (F), at 0:58.95
7. Lada Kozlikova (Cz), at 1:01.61
8. Dede Demet-Barry (USA), at 1:16.29
9. Teodora Ruano Sanchon (Sp), at 1:22.16
10. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit), at 1:24.92
11. Edwige Pitel (F), at 1:30.26
12. Olga Zabelinskaia (Rus), at 1:37.74
13. Kristin Armstrong (USA), at 1:41.20
14. Mirjam Melchers (Nl), at 1:43.95
15. Lyne Bessette (Can), at 1:48.68
16. Olivia Gollan (Aus), at 1:49.93
17. Vera Carrara (I), at 1:51.94
18. Sara Carrigan (Aus), at 1:57.60
19. Meifang Li (PRC), at 1:58.42
20. Frances Newstead (GB), at 2:03.18
21. Hanka Kupfernagel (G), at 2:10.64
22. Paola Madrinan (Col), at 2:14.30
23. Leah Goldstein (Isr), at 2:14.80
24. Christiane Soeder (A), at 2:17.80
25. Susanne Ljungskog (S), at 2:17.89
26. Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus), at 2:24.66
27. Nicole Brändli (Swi), at 2:27.23
28. Anna Zugno (I), at 2:29.22
29. Kirsty Nicole Robb (NZ), at 2:32.88
30. Bogumila Matusiak (Pol), at 2:36.63
31. Rasa Polikeviciute (Lit), at 2:49.75
32. Anita Valen (N), at 3:00.88
33. Nataliya Kachalka (Ukr), at 3:10.12
34. Loes Gunnewijk (Nl), at 3:20.70
35. Sinead Jennings (Irl), at 3:37.98
36. Wendy Houvenaghel (GB), at 3:53.02
37. Corine Hierckens (B), at 3:53.88
38. Andrea Graus (A), at 3:57.11
39. Evy Van Damme (B), at 3:59.90
40. Junying Zhang (PRC), at 4:01.19
41. Melissa Holt (NZ), at 4:02.35
42. Joanna Ignasiak (Pol), at 4:54.37
43. Erika Csomor (Hun), at 5:00.38
DNS Fatma Galiullina (Uzk)
To see how the world championship time trial unfolded, just click here to bring up our live update window.