Boels-Dolmans claimed the Team Time Trial title at the UCI World Championships today after a hot and humid 40km race in Doha, Qatar.
The Women’s World Tour lead team took their fortieth win of the season, in 48 minutes 41 seconds – 48 seconds ahead of four time TTT World Champions, Canyon//SRAM. In third were Cervelo-Bigla, 1 minute 56 seconds back.
Defending champions Canyon//SRAM led proceedings by 9 seconds at the first time check, 15km in – but faded by the second check as Boels continued to grow stronger.
Director Sportif at Canyon//SRAM, Ronny Lauke said: “They started well and as planned. We wanted to ride the start circuit smooth but with a high steady speed to avoid peaks. They did it well and this has lead to the best first intermediate. On the cross head wind section leading towards Doha city, the winners played their strength as shown majority of the season, and we couldn’t bounce back. We have tried everything and the girls went into their limits and more.”
Boels’ team consisted of Chantal Blaak, Karol-Ann Canuel, Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead), Christine Majerus, Evelyn Stevens and Ellen Van Dijk. The team can shed riders on their way to the finish, and it was Blaak, Stevens, van Dijk and Deignan who crossed the line together for the fastest time.
The event was Stevens’ last as a professional cyclist. Coupled with it being Boels’ first UCI World Champs TTT win, it was an emotionally charged victory.
The course was a highly technical affair, with 90 degree bends, some narrow roads, and a long straight – soul sapping – stretch in the interim.
High temperatures over 35 degrees also made for a tough race. Normally, the UCI World Championships would be held earlier in the year, but they have been delayed for 2016 so as to limit the effect of Qatar’s dessert conditions. The delay seems not to have had enough effect. Humidity, coupled with aero equipment such as time trial helmets resulted in several riders suffering from heat stroke, some crossing the line and vomiting immediately. The UCI have already received criticism for not supplying enough ambulances for a race of this nature, in these conditions.
Rabobank Liv’s race was particularly affected. When they were already down to four riders, Anouska Koster crashed (having already crashed in training earlier in the week) – leaving them just three riders to charge to the finish in eighth place. Early reports suggest that she’s in hospital, and looks ok but is in some pain. To lift their spirits, however, their rider Thalita de Jong won her first cyclocross race of the season in Ronse, Belgium today.