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 Yash Mudgal
Yash Mudgal
Yash Mudgal is a Senior Editor at Gulf Times sports section. Prior to joining Gulf Times in 2012, he was with a leading daily in India. At Gulf Times, Yash mostly covers Olympic sports although his interests include tennis and cricket too.
Amber Neben (centre, also right) of the United States won womenu2019s elite individual time trial ahead of Ellen van Dijk (left) of the Netherlands and Katrin Garfoot of Australia at the UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016 yesterday.
Ageless Neben clinches rainbow after eight years

Veteran Amber Neben produced a stunning performance to become a double world champion yesterday. The 41-year-old rider, who had claimed the women’s world time trial gold in 2008, was crowned champion once more after winning the 28.9km test in searing Doha heat with a time of 36 minutes 37.04 seconds. “It’s unbelievable,” a delighted but emotionally spent Neben said before the medal ceremony. Neben left the cycling world in awe of her longevity and perseverance as she became the second oldest women ever to win the event after France’s Jeannie Longo, who won aged 42 in 2001. “It was a long wait. I think I used more energy sitting there (waiting for the other riders to finish) than I did on the bike. I was so nervous. It was so hard to watch. The difference today was the mental perseverance. This one was more special because of everything that has happened between 2008 and now,” said the American who was not among the title contenders. Dutch woman Ellen van Dijk came up just short yet again, but her epic battle with Neben was the highlight of the race. “I feel for Ellen, but am so excited for myself,” Neben said. Neben started halfway the field, at the hottest moment of the day. German Trixi Worrack and Dutch Annemiek van Vleuten rode just before her, both setting the best time until that moment. Both the German and the Dutch girl were waiting in medal positions for quite a while, with Worrack pushed out of the hot seat when Van Dijk rode the second best time. The German eventually ended up sixth in 37:48.18. Last year’s silver medallist Anna van der Breggen, who won this year’s Olympic Road Race and the Individual Time Trial at the recent European Championships, could not impress. She finished 13th. Katrin Garfoot of Australia found something in the final couple of kilometres to win bronze and Annemiek van Vleuten, who cracked three bones in her neck only two months ago in the Rio Olympic time trial, was on course for a fairytale bronze medal for much of the race, but was eventually edged down into the fifth. Neben, who survived a bout of spinal meningitis at the age of four, leaving her in a coma for three days and doctors fearing brain damage if she survived, has plans to give back something to the game. “I will race a little bit next year. I’d like to target some big races. I would also like to start a team in the US to pair with my UCI team to help some younger riders. And also I’d like to talk about some issues that young high school girls might have with depression and use our stories as athletes to help those people. I have the passion in my heart to be able to encourage young people to set goals to persevere,” she said. Neben’s victory completed a brilliant year for US women’s time trilling, after her fellow veteran Kristin Armstrong’s won gold in Rio. Comparing her 2008 victory with yesterday’s, she said, “This one is more special, simply because the journey over the last eight years. After I won in 2008, I had a series of two or three years with really bad accidents, having to get up and not giving up multiple times. I’m almost at the end of my career and then to come back from that and fight through it and still be here has been special. God’s blessed me with a victory and I’m humble.” Van Dijk said she was “satisfied” with silver. “I am satisfied, because I left it all out there on the course. Silver is silver and Amber was simply better. Yeah, I won’t say I am happy with it, but satisfied, I have to be satisfied,” the Dutch rider who finished fourth in the Rio Games said. “In Rio I was close to the gold, but I screwed it up myself, but this time, I would have loved to take the rainbow stripes, but I didn’t. It’s a Time Trial, I love the Time Trial because it’s such an honest discipline, the best girl wins and today that was Amber.” Van Dijk seemed to be on course to beat Neben’s time, when she set the fastest intermediate times at the first two sections, but she couldn’t hold on to that advantage. At the third split she was two seconds behind. With Neben watching nervously from the hot seat, Van Dijk crossed the finish line 5.99 seconds adrift. “There are always things you can improve, my corners were not perfect, but it’s not that something went dramatically wrong like in Rio, so this was it for today,” the 29-year-old rider said. When asked what the difference between Neben and her today, she said, “I think the difference is pretty obvious. It was six seconds.” RESULTS WOMEN’S TIME TRIAL 1. Amber Neben (US) 36:37.04” 2. Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) +5.99” 3. Katrin Garfoot (Australia) +8.32” 4. Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia) +11.52” 5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) +25.79” 6. Lisa Brennauer (Germany) +57.59” 7. Trixi Worrack (Germany) +1:11.14” 8. Ann-Sophie Duyck (Belgium) +1:27.96” 9. Katarzyna Pawlowska (Poland) +1:36.49” 10. Alena Amialiusik (Belarus) +1:41.59”

Karlijn Swinkels (also inset) of the Netherlands crosses the finish line to win the Womenu2019s Junior Individual Time Trial event at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships yesterday. (AFP)
Swinkels grabs first time trial rainbow jersey

Karlijn Swinkels grabbed the first rainbow jersey at the UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016 winning the Women’s Junior Individual Time Trial title yesterday. The 17-year-old crushed the field finishing in 18:21.77 with an average speed of 44.764 km/h. Italy’s Lisa Morzenti finished second in 18:29.12 and French Juliette Labous secured the bronze in 18:43.12. Germans Marco Mathis and Maximilian Schachmann pulled off a dominant time trial performance and went one-two in the Men’s Under-23 Time Trial. Swinkels, who was sixth in the Individual Time Trial at the European Championships, became the first Dutch woman to take the women’s junior title in this event. “I’m very proud. I did not expect it at all. It’s a dream come true. I can’t describe how I feel.” Talking about her race tactics she said, “We came here on Thursday. On Friday we did very low pressure training because we had to acclimatise. But on the second day we trained on the track and I did every turn at least ten times, so I knew it perfect. The race’s first kilometres were very hot, because you do the warm-up in a very cold room, but after two kilometres I just did not think about it, just ride.” Swinkels was second in the Netherlands’s junior national time trial championships earlier this summer. She has three other podium finishes in 2016 Nations Cup races. Two Americans rode to top-five finishes in the individual test: Skylar Schneider was fourth, and Hannah Arensman was fifth. Three Italians also finished among the top 10. Schneider rode a fast time late in the order, 18:51.80. The American was only bettered by Swinkels and Morzenti, who had started fourth and second to last. Only Labous remained on course, and Schneider seemed to be set for a bronze medal. But, Labous closed fast to finish in 18:43.12, stepping up from her fifth-place in Richmond last year. “I’m very satisfied. I did not know what to expect from the race. Finishing first is always difficult but I’m happy with the silver,” Morzenti, who came into the race as European champion, said. Commenting over Italians’ success in time trialling she said, “We have been training together for weeks, both for the European Championships and the World Championships. We’ve gotten close together and the good relationship we have really helped us perform well in this race.” Labous, who finished fifth last year, sounded satisfied with her show. “My aim was to win, but coming third is also good. It’s a medal and I’m happy with a medal. Last year I was disappointed, but here I’m happy,” she said. “I went full gas from the beginning, but I knew that at the end it would be very hard with the heat, so that was mentally hard. I gave everything in the end, because I knew that this was the place to make the difference. “We have the road race ahead. We have a strong team so we want to win this race. My season is already good, because I signed a contract with Team Liv-Plantur, so I will be a professional rider and that was my aim of the season.” Elena Pirrone was the first rider to leave the start ramp at The Pearl-Qatar. She finished in 19:05.44 and stayed in the hot seat only until the eleventh starter Franziska Brausse became the first rider to beat the 19-minute barrier on the 13.7-kilometre loop when she finished in 18:56.03. Pirrone was quite satisfied with the conditions: “It was not as windy as I expected to be. I improved my position, so I’m generally very happy with how I did today. It was hot, but that was really OK.” The South American riders were not able to get anywhere near the podium with Pan-American champion Tatiana Duenas ending up as best South American in 19th place. The Colombian was satisfied however: “I’m quite happy because this is only my second year of competition and first World Championships. I hope my country gives even more support to women’s cycling in the future,” she said. In the men’s section Mathis, 22, claimed the world championship title in the under-23 time trial race, finishing ahead of his teammate Schachmann, who was also second in the 2015 worlds U-23 time trial. “It was my course, absolutely flat and technical,” Mathis said. The win was even sweeter for the Germans as another teammate, Lennard Kamna, last year’s bronze medallist in the race, finished fourth. Mathis was one of the early starters and put down a time that was not to be bettered by other 72 riders in the category. “I badly wanted to win and I really went all out,” said Australian Miles Scotson, who finished third. “It was a tough race, but a good race for me.” Neilson Powless, US team’s best hope for a medal at the Worlds, could only manage a sixth place, 54 seconds behind, and just nine seconds ahead of his teammate Geoffrey Curran. Defending champion Mads Wurtz Schmidt had a forgettable outing. The Dane could only manage 21st place, more than two minutes behind. Another pre-race favourite, Italian Filippo Ganna, world pursuit champion, finished 14th. Time trial races continue today with the junior men’s and the elite women’s events. RESULTS Women Junior Individual Time Trial 1. Karlijn Swinkels (NED) 18:21.77 2. Lisa Morzenti (ITA) +7.35 3. Juliette Labous (FRA) +21.35 4. Skylar Schneider (USA) +30.03 5. Hannah Arensman (USA) +34.05 6. Franziska Brau?e (GER) +34.26 7. Simone EG (DEN) +38.41 8. Alessia Vigilia (ITA) +42.13 9. Madeleine Fasnacht (AUS) +43.60 10. Elena Pirrone (ITA) +43.67 Men’s Under-23 Individual Time Trial 1. Marco Mathis (GER)    34:08.09 2. Maximilian Schachmann (GER) +18.63 3. Miles Scotson (AUS) +37.98 4. Lennard Kamna (GER) +42.30 5. Kasper Asgreen (DEN) +50.58 6. Neilson Powless (USA) +54.17 7. Geoffrey Curran (USA) +1:05.45 8. Tom Bohli (SUI) +1:16.24 9. Eddie Dunbar (IRL) +1:21.59 10. Callum Scotson (AUS) +1:22.30

Boels-Dolmans riders Evelyn Stevens (left), Lizzie Deignan (centre) and Chantal Blaak celebrate on the podium after winning the womenu2019s team time trial on Day One of the UCI Road World Championships at The Pearl yesterday.
Lizzie leads Boels-Dolmans to win; Etixx take men’s title

Defending world road champion Lizzie Deignan of Britain got her UCI Road World Championships off to a winning start as her team Boels-Dolmans won the women’s team time trial yesterday. Deignan had won women’s road race title last year in Richmond, Virginia. In the men’s section, Etixx-Quick Step stopped BMC Racing from completing a hat-trick of titles with an 11-second victory. With the win, Boels-Dolmans ended the four-year reign of Canyon SRAM Racing on the opening day of the World Championships. The Dutch outfit, who have won three of the four TTTs on the women’s circuit this season, finishing their 40km assignment in 48:41.62s leaving the defending champions 48.24 seconds adrift in the second place. Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team took the bronze in 50:38.09s. Canyon, who won the previous four women’s team time trial titles in its different incarnations — Specialised-lululemon (2012-2014) and Velocio-SRAM (2015) — started fast from Lusail Sports Complex and set the fastest intermediate time in the first 13km section. Deignan’s team, comprised of four-time world champion Ellen van Dijk and American Evelyn Stevens, remained together on the long straight 40km course from Lusail to The Pearl to set the fastest intermediate time in after 26.4km in sweltering conditions, where the temperature reached as high as 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Boels-Dolmans kept on pushing till the end, with Deignan and Ellen van Dijk taking strong turns on the final straight to the finish line. Chantal Blaak and Stevens followed the two big engines, while Christine Majerus and Karol-Ann Canuel were left behind in the final curvy section in the Pearl. “We worked really hard this season, and I think that we’ve shown to be the most dominant team in world cycling,” Deignan said of the team’s performance. “It was really important to us that we finished this season off with this medal. It’s been a long season, but we all came together and worked really hard. I’m very proud of the team,” the Brit rider said after winning her first medal in team trial. Winning send-off for Stevens It was a sweet end for Stevens, who was also part of the winning teams in 2012, 2013 and 2014. “I came into this season knowing this was my last race, it’s nice to have a goal and it makes it very special to win,” the 33-year-old rider said. Meanwhile, Cervelo and Raboliv kept fighting for the bronze medal. Cervelo set the third intermediate time after the first section, with Anna van der Breggen’s Dutch team 15 seconds behind. In the second section, Raboliv managed to gain five seconds back, but their chances of a podium place suffered when Anouska Koster had a crash. With the team already down the four riders required to stop the clock, Koster swerved towards the barrier at the side of the road, hit the kerb and was catapulted over the handlebars and had to pull out of the race. Cervelo finished with four riders (Lotta Lepisto, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Joelle Numainville, Stephanie Pohl) having dropped Ciara Horne, Lisa Klein along the way. Their 50:38.09 clocking was more than enough to keep Italian Bepink (51:27.65s) behind and grab the bronze. Canyon also finished with four riders after dropping Hannah Barnes in the final section. Alena Amialiusik, Lisa Brennauer, Elena Cecchini, and Trixi Worrack secured the silver medal in 49:29.86s. In the men’s section, BMC, who had won the event at each of the two previous editions, were unable to complete a hat-trick in Doha, with Etixx becoming the first team to win a third world title in the event. Etixx went out ahead of BMC and set a time split of 15:11s at the first checkpoint, with the defending champions three seconds slower. However, it was all-square at 27:56s through the second split, with both teams chasing the time of 43 minutes 9seconds set by Orica-BikeExchange, who ended up third. Marcel Kittel led Etixx across the line after 42 minutes 32seconds, and despite the efforts of Rohan Dennis, BMC crossed 11 seconds slower to hand Etixx the title and their 53rd win in 2016. Kittle and fellow German Tony Martin, Belgians Julien Vermote and Yves Lampaert, Dutchman Niki Terpstra and Luxemburg’s Bob Jungels produced a flawless ride on a technical course, finishing strongly. Orica-Bike Exchange took third place, 37.12 off the pace. “It’s a really emotional victory for me. It was my last race for the team, and it’s become a family in the last five years, with some great victories and great moments,” said Martin, who will ride for Katusha in 2017. “It’s a dream that came through. It was the perfect final for me, the perfect moment to leave the team with a fantastic memory,” the three-time world champion said. BMC riders were unable to match their rivals’ power on the final section of the race. “Obviously we’re pretty disappointed. We came here to win but losing by 11 seconds to Etixx, they showed they were the stronger team. I don’t think we had our best day as a group but we rode as intelligently as we could. I’m proud of the way that we rode,” Taylor Phinney of BMC said. “I think we all could have gone a little bit faster in the end but we were pretty maxed out by then, as you are in a team time trial,” Phinney added. “Honestly, if I look back, it’s almost like I’ve blacked out the last hour. It’s one of those events where it’s only afterwards that you can piece it together and figure out where you could have made time.” RESULTS MEN’S TEAM TIME TRIAL 1. Etixx-Quick-Step (Belgium) 42:32.39” 2. BMC Racing (United States) +11.69” 3. Orica (Australia) +37.12” 4. Team Sky (Britain) +54.28” 5. LottoNL (Netherlands) +54.79” WOMEN’S TEAM TIME TRIAL 1. Boels (Netherlands)  48:41.62” 2. Canyon (Germany)  +48.24” 3. Cervelo (Germany)  +1:56.47” 4. BePink (Italy)  +2:46.03” 5. Twenty16 (United States)  +2:46.73” Qatar Cycling Federation president Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Thani, UCI chief Brian Cookson and Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx with Etixx-Quick Step riders after they won the men’s team time trial event yesterday.