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.”
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.
Boels-Dolmans riders Evelyn Stevens (left), Lizzie Deignan (centre) and Chantal Blaak celebrate on the podium after winning the women’s team time trial on Day One of the UCI Road World Championships at The Pearl yesterday.