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Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) claimed her first world title in the elite women's time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Imola, after placing second in the event on four previous occasions. Van der Breggen covered the 31.7km route in a winning time of 40:20 to beat silver medallist Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) by 15 seconds and bronze medallist Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) by 31 seconds.
"Getting second for many years, I would say that I really can't believe it yet," van der Breggen said. "I had no idea, I just said to Danny Stam, my director in the car, 'don't give me any time splits. It doesn't matter, I just want to go as fast as possible to the finish line'. I only heard on the finish line that I won. It's incredible and I'm really happy."
Defending champion and pre-race favourite Chloe Dygert (USA) was on track to secure her second consecutive world title in the event but crashed over a guard rail and down a steep embankment on the return to the finish line at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola. She was treated by medical staff before being transferred by ambulance to the hospital in Imola. The extent of her injuries have not been confirmed, however, USA Cycling confirmed that Dygert remained conscious.
How it unfolded
The elite women's time trial kicked off the four days of racing with a 31.7km flat contest held along an out-and-back circuit that started and finished at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.
The women were expected to produce faster times along the flat, non-technical course and smooth tarmac surface, however, a block headwind made times slower than usual at roughly 31kph, on the way out to the first checkpoint, but upwards of 50kph on the return.
Emma Cecilie Norsgaard Jorgensen of Denmark was the fastest of the early starters racing through the 14.9km checkpoint in 21:21 and 16 seconds faster than Lizzie Banks (Great Britain) and 33 seconds faster than Mikayla Harvey (New Zealand).
Amber Joseph of Barbados was the first rider off the starting ramp and the first to finish, covering the distance in a time of 50:36, that was surpassed by Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine), who finished with 43:35, and then again by Harvey with a time of 42:53.
Harvey's fastest time didn't last long as Banks finished in 42:43, a time that was overtaken by Jorgensen, who finished over a full minute faster with a time of 41:42 and an average speed of 44kph.
Audrey Cordon Ragot (France) and Mieke Kroger (Germany) finished with quick times that moved them both briefly into second and third place, but 30 seconds slower than Jorgensen.
The times started getting faster and faster as the time trial progressed with Lauren Stephens (USA) racing through at 21:06, overtaken by Grace Brown (Australia) with 20:35 at the intermediate check.
Amber Neben, who won the world title in the time trial in 2008 at Varese and in 2016 on a flat course in Doha, and is competing in her 16th World Championships, took the starting ramp but she covered the first half of the time trial 13 seconds slower than Brown.
Brown was the first rider to take over the hot seat from Jorgensen, as she stormed through the finish line 41:21 to set a new benchmark. It didn't last long, though, as van Dijk finished 29 seconds faster and was the first rider to go over 46kph.
Teniel Campbell (Trinidad and Tobago) covered the course in 45:52. She was aiming for a strong time trial performance on the original course in Switzerland, where she got her start in European racing with the WCC team at the World Cycling Centre.
The favourites were the last to start with Lisa Brennauer (Germany) and Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) setting faster intermediate checkpoints. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) was searching for her first world title in the discipline after earning the silver medal on four occasions; 2015 in Richmond, 2017 in Bergen, 2018 in Innsbruck where she won the elite women's road race world title, and last year in Yorkshire. However, van der Breggen's intermediate checkpoint was slower than Reusser.
The USA fielded three riders in the time trial and after Stephens and Neben started earlier, then defending champion Dygert was the last to roll off the starting ramp kitted in the Team USA skinsuit and tall pink socks and shoe covers, and racing on a team-issued Felt DA time trial bike.
Dygert pushed an enormous gear over the flat roads and smashed through the intermediate time check at an astonishing 19:35, nearly half a minute faster than Reusser. However, just as she appeared to be headed for her second world title, Dygert crashed through a righthand bend on a downhill and went over the roadside barriers, with video footage showing her going over the barriers and her bike and onto the other side into a grassy ravine, and was not able to complete the event.
Reusser then moved into the fastest time, overtaking Van Dijk, with a finish time of 40:35. The last rider to finish was Van der Breggen, who set a blistering time of 40:20, 15 seconds faster than Reusser, with an average speed of 47kph to take the rainbow jersey.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)||0:40:20|
|2||Marlen Reusser (Switzerland)||0:00:16|
|3||Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)||0:00:31|
|4||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:00:45|
|5||Grace Brown (Australia)||0:01:01|
|6||Amber Neben (United States Of America)||0:01:20|
|7||Emma Norsgaard (Denmark)||0:01:22|
|8||Mieke Kroger (Germany)||0:01:31|
|9||Lauren Stephens (United States Of America)||0:01:43|
|10||Vittoria Bussi (Italy)||0:01:47|
|11||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)||0:01:54|
|12||Georgia Williams (New Zealand)||0:02:17|
|13||Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia)||0:02:20|
|14||Anna Plichta (Poland)||0:02:21|
|15||Elizabeth Banks (Great Britain)||0:02:24|
|16||Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)||0:02:29|
|17||Juliette Labous (France)||0:02:30|
|18||Anna Kiesenhofer (Austria)||0:02:31|
|19||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)||0:02:33|
|20||Mikayla Harvey (New Zealand)||0:02:34|
|21||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)||0:02:35|
|22||Karol-ann Canuel (Canada)||0:02:47|
|23||Arlenis Sierra Canadilla (Cuba)||0:02:47|
|24||Lisa Norden (Sweden)||0:02:53|
|25||Vittoria Guazzini (Italy)||0:02:56|
|26||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)||0:03:15|
|27||Aigul Gareeva (Russian Federation)||0:03:38|
|28||Claire Faber (Luxembourg)||0:03:46|
|29||Dana Rozlapa (Latvia)||0:03:48|
|30||Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)||0:03:52|
|31||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||0:04:08|
|32||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)||0:04:22|
|33||Sara van de Vel (Belgium)||0:04:24|
|34||Ann-sophie Duyck (Belgium)||0:04:46|
|35||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||0:04:54|
|36||Teniel Campbell (Trinidad & Tabago)||0:05:33|
|37||Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)||0:05:45|
|38||Catalina Soto Campos (Chile)||0:05:54|
|39||Sara Martin Martin (Spain)||0:06:31|
|40||Fernanda Yapura (Argentina)||0:06:35|
|41||Tereza Korvasova (Czech Republic)||0:07:24|
|42||Agusta Bjornsdottir (Iceland)||0:07:25|
|43||Jarmila Machacova (Czech Republic)||0:07:26|
|44||Kerry Jonker (South Africa)||0:07:49|
|45||Akvile Gedraityte (Lithuania)||0:08:59|
|46||Margret Palsdottir (Iceland)||0:09:39|
|47||Amber Joseph (Barbados)||0:10:16|
|48||Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (Ethiopia)||0:11:00|
|49||Siham Es-saddy (Morocco)||0:14:08|
|DNS||Olga Zabelinskaya (Uzbekistan)|
|DNF||Chloe Dygert (United States of America)|