FLORENCE, Italy (AFP) — American team Specialized-lululemon defended its women’s team time trial crown in the first event of the world road cycling championship on Sunday.
Specialized, winners last year in the Dutch town of Valkenburg, completed the 42.8-kilometer course in a winning time of 51:10 with an average speed of 50.165kph (31.17mph).
Rabo Women, led by multiple world champion Marianne Vos, finished second at 1:11 back, while Australian squad Orica-AIS claimed third place at 1:33.
“Lulu deserve the win,” Orica sport director Dave McPartland said in a press release. “No questions about that. They were strongest, so full credit to them. We did everything we could, and we were third quickest today. We finished on the podium. We have to be happy with that given the way we rode.”
It was the second consecutive title for American Evelyn Stevens, German Trixi Worrack, and Dutchwoman Ellen Van Dijk, who had triumphed in the trade team event last year and teamed up with Great Britain’s Katie Colclough, American Carmen Small, and German Lisa Brennauer for this year’s edition.
“Now we have a double rainbow, it’s amazing,” said Stevens. “It’s a special way to end the season with the team.”
McPartland was happy with how his Orica squad performed, despite some issues it had later in the race.
“We have to be happy with the result,” McPartland said. “The girls got a bronze medal at the World Championships. The most impressive part is they all gave 100 percent. I can’t sit here and say: ‘What if we had done this? or What if we had done that?’ They all did everything they could.
“When we got close to Florence, probably during the last 6-7km or so, we started to back off a bit. A few of the girls started skipping their turn in the rotation and that put pressure on the stronger riders. It also broke up our rhythm. By the time we hit the technical part, we were behind and the damage had already been done in terms of our goal to contend for the win.”