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World championships: 5 riders to watch for the women’s time trial

The Netherlands has dominated the TT discipline in recent seasons, but the USA, Australia, and Switzerland have riders to topple the orange nation.

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Following a small reshuffle of the schedule, the elite women will have an opportunity to win the first rainbow of the UCI Road World Championships.

The elite women’s time trial has been moved forward a day and will see the top time trialists lining up Sunday to fight for bragging rights.

The individual time trial is still a relatively recent addition to the competition with the first women’s world title handed out to U.S. rider Karen Kurreck in 1994. Chris Boardman was the first men’s winner in the same season.

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Last year saw Ellen van Dijk ride to victory for the second time, eight years after she claimed her first, and she’ll be a big favorite again in Wollongong. This year’s route is the same length as the men’s at 34.2km and includes a small climb in the middle plus a lot of technical corners that make it a very challenging course.

VeloNews has selected five riders to watch in the elite women’s time trial at the world championships.

Ellen van Dijk

What a year 2022 has been for Van Dijk. There are few opportunities during the women’s season for the world champion to show off their stripes, but Van Dijk has grabbed every opportunity she’s had with both hands. Indeed, she’s only once been beaten against the clock this year, at the European championships when she was bettered by Marlen Reusser, but that happened last year, and she took the worlds win.

Van Dijk’s highlight this season was smashing the hour record, which she did back in May, off the back of a busy classics period. She’s not raced since the European champs after pulling out of the Simac Ladies Tour in order to focus on the worlds. If she’s got her buildup right, she’s going to be very tough to beat.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten took third in last year's worlds
Annemiek van Vleuten took third in last year’s worlds (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

If there was ever going to be a nation with two riders on this list, it was going to be the Netherlands. It got both of its riders onto the podium last year and with Van Dijk and Van Vleuten riding this year, along with Shirin van Anrooij, it would be hard to bet against them getting at least two up there again.

Van Vleuten would probably prefer a slightly tougher course, but she’s a favorite on any parcours — flat or hilly. The 39-year-old has had one of the best seasons of her career, a high watermark already, with victories at the Giro d’Italia Donne, the Tour de France Femmes, the Challenge by La Vuelta, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Her recent win at the Vuelta showed that she has far from slowed down since her Tour de France win. With retirement on the horizon for Van Vleuten, notching up a third TT world title would be a nice way to head toward her final season as a professional.

Kristen Faulkner

Since turning professional just over two years ago, Faulkner has swiftly climbed the ranks in professional cycling and this year has seen her back up a lot of the promise she showed in those early days. She has proved herself not only as a growing GC talent but has really pushed forward in her time trialling abilities.

Faulkner beat some tough competition to take a comfortable win in the Tour de Suisse time trial. She went on to do the same in the fast opener to the Giro d’Italia Donne. Though the second half of her season has been beset by challenges, from catching COVID between the Giro and the Tour to some heavy crashes, she’s still a strong contender for the podium.

She has spent a lot of time on her time trial bike this season with the world championships in mind and will be hoping that it reflects in her result. It is the first time that she’s had the chance to do the TT in U.S. colors.

Marlen Reusser

Marlen Reusser won her second European TT title this year
Marlen Reusser won her second European TT title this year (Photo: Marius Becker/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Reusser is another more recent addition to the women’s peloton but she’s excelled in the TT discipline right from the start. She won her debut appearance in the Swiss national TT in 2017 and she finished sixth at the 2019 world championships, her third attempt at the event. Since then, she has taken the silver medal in the last two worlds, closing the gap on each attempt.

She’ll be hoping that she can reverse her fortunes and finally take home that rainbow jersey with her. Reusser has had a rollercoaster season with injury and a concussion disrupting it, but she took a commanding win on the cobbled stage of the Tour de France Femmes in the summer, and laid claim to her third European TT title last month.

Grace Brown

With no Rohan Dennis for the men’s competition, Brown offers the home nation its best chance at a medal, and a potential win, on the opening day of the world championships. Brown has notched up some big wins this season, starting with her second Australian TT title. She’s continued that form throughout the season and took a dominant victory in the time trial at the Commonwealth Games at the start of August.

Brown’s recent stage win at the Challenge by La Vuelta shows that she’s peaking again at just the right time and will be a top contender in both the time trial and road race at the worlds.