European time trial champion Ellen van Dijk targeted the rainbow jersey in Tuesday’s elite women’s time trial. The 29-year-old Dutchwoman came within six seconds of winning a second gold medal at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships but ultimately settled for second place behind Amber Neben (USA).
“I’m satisfied because I didn’t do anything wrong, but when I started here there was only one thing that counted for me and that was the world title,” Van Dijk said. “I wanted one. I had a good performance here, so I have to be satisfied by that, but I’m not going to be hanging this silver medal above my bed.”
Van Dijk was part of the third of four waves of riders to take on the flat, fast and technical course around The Pearl Qatar. One of the early starters, Neben had already set a blistering fast benchmark of 36:37 over the 28.9-kilometre effort.
Van Dijk, who won individual time trial world title in 2013, set the third fastest time at the first intermediate check behind Neban and Trixi Worrack (Germany). By the mid-point of her race, at the second time check, Van Dijk had surpassed Worrack and Neben to post the fastest time of the day. At the third and final checkpoint, with six kilometres still to race, Van Dijk clocked in with the second fastest time, three seconds slower than Neben.
The effort Van Dijk made in her final push to the line was undeniable. Viewers watching the race live saw her empty her tank completely.
“Of course I knew I needed to give it my all to get the best time as possible and that’s what I did,” Van Dijk said. “No matter what was happening in front of me or behind me, I would always try to get everything out of my body.”
Van Dijk stopped the clock at 36:43, less than six seconds off what would prove to be a winning time by Neben.
“There are of course places where I could have improved,” noted Van Dijk. “Every corner was not perfect, but I was on a good ride and I felt good today, but it just wasn’t good enough.”
“I love time trialling because it’s such a honest discipline,” said Van Dijk. “The best one wins, and today that was Amber. I have to settle for second place.”
Boels-Dolmans was also represented in the individual team trial by Kasia Pawlowska (Poland) and Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada). Pawlowska rode one of the best time trials her career to post her first top ten finish in the individual time trial at a world championship event. Canuel slotted into 19th place to give Boels-Dolmans three riders in the top 20 overall.
Van Dijk, Canuel and Pawlowska are amongst nine Boels-Dolmans riders that will start the elite women’s road race. They will join Chantal Blaak, Amalie Dideriksen, Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead), Megan Guarnier, Romy Kasper and Christine Majerus on Saturday’s start line.
“I think the race on Saturday is going to be really open,” said Van Dijk. “It’s going to be a hard, long and hot day.”