Specialized-lululemon takes opening team time trial World title
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Specialized-lululemon takes opening team time trial World title

by Ben Atkins at 6:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, World Championships
Favourite lives up to pre-race billing on hilly Limburg course
Specialized LululemonPre-race favourite Specialized-lululemon got the 2012 World road championships under way with a convincing victory in the Women’s Team Time Trial between Sittard and Valkenberg. The German-registered team of Charlotte Becker, Amber Neben, Evie Stevens, Ina Teutenberg, Ellen van Dijk and Trixi Worrack completed the hilly 34.2km course in a time of 46 minutes 31 seconds, to finish 24 seconds quicker than second place Orica-AIS.

"We're very excited," said Specialized-lululemon directeur sportif Ronny Lauke. "This has been a goal for us since it was announced last year and it's really nice that we have been able to make it happen."

The Australian Orica-AIS team - of Judith Arndt, Shara Gillow, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins, Alex Rhodes and Linda Villumsen - had posted the previously fastest time, of 46’55”, which had knocked Dutch team AA Drink-Leontien.nl - of Chantal Blaak, Lucinda Brand, Jessie Daams, Sharon Laws, Emma Pooley and Kirsten Wild - off the top of the podium a few minutes before.

"I knew we were going to be successful when we had a visualization session with the girls before the start," said Stevens. "We visualized the start area like a canon shooting us out, and the top of the Cauberg sucking us in. We finished the session with 'Namaste Bitches.'"

Specialized-lululemon had been fastest all the way around the course however, and - having finished with five riders after only dropping sprinter Teutenberg - was always favourite to take the title.

"It was all me," joked Teutenberg. "I made up those ten seconds with my pull into the Cauberg. Who says this is a team time trial."

Olympic road champion Marianne Vos’ Rabobank team finished in fourth place, having suffered a disaster in the opening kilometres as French time trial champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot was forced to change her bike, then she and Iris Slappendel crashed. The orange and blue team still managed to go faster than the RusVelo team - which featured former World time trial champion Hanka Kupfernagel - to go into second place at the time, but was eventually pushed off the podium by the later starters.

The Women’s teams hit the Limburg hills

Sengers Ladies was the first team to roll down the ramp in Sittard’s Putstraat, and set the first time of 17’13” through the 11.9km checkpoint. This was beaten by Michela Fanini-Rox, the next team to pass, with 17’03”, which stood until fourth team to start, Hitec Products-Mistral Home lowered it by less than half a second.

Sengers Ladies then went through the 21.6km check in 32’25”, which was immediately beaten by Michela Fanini again, who went through in 41’44”. Meanwhile Be Pink went through the first checkpoint 20 seconds quicker than the time set by Hitec Products-Mistral Home, setting a time of 16’41” for the big teams of favourites to aim at.

Rabobank experienced problems immediately as Pauline Ferrand Prevot was to get a bike change in the opening metres. The French champion was quickly on her way, and managed to rejoin her waiting team, but it cost the Dutch squad valuable seconds in the first few kilometres of the race.

Worse was to strike a few minutes later though, as Ferrand Prevot and Iris Slappendel came together after six kilometres and crashed. Neither rider was able to continue, with Slappendel taken to hospital with a fractured collarbone, and Rabobank was forced to ride the majority of the race with the four riders needed to record a finishing time. This meant that - as well as the experienced Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten and Tatiana Antoshina - 18-year-old Thalita de Jong would have to ride the entire race.

Michela Fanini-Rox’ time at the second check held up to Lotto-Belisol - which was only marginally quicker than Sengers Ladies - and Hitec Products-Mistral Home. RusVelo then went quickest at 11.9km, smashing the BePink time with 16’18”. The Russian team began to experience problems as soon as the hills began though, as Romy Kasper had a technical issue and was left behind.

BePink then went through the second checkpoint in 31’01”, just as AA Drink-Leontien.nl posted 16’05” at the first. The blue and green team was already down to five riders as they went through the time check however, as Lucinda Brand dropped off.

Sengers Ladies, with five riders left after the climb of the Cauberg, crossed the line to set the first time of 52’17”, but was beaten shortly as Michela Fanini-Rox, having been consistently quicker than all the way around, crossed the line in 51’08”.

Orica-AIS went through the first check in a new best time of 15’50”, just as RusVelo went best through the second in 30’27”. Specialized-lululemon then passed the 11.9km check in 15’49”, less than a second quicker than Orica-AIS, but good enough to take the lead.

AA Drink-Leontien.nl then went through the second check in 30’05”, just as BePink - now down to four riders - went 1’22” quicker than Michela Fanini-Rox to stop the clock in 49’46”.

Orica-AIS went best at 21.6km point in 29’16”, but Specialized-lululemon then went through in 29’03”, having taken more than 12 seconds out of the Australian team in the second sector.

RusVelo pushed BePink off the top of the podium with 49’02” but - with ace-climber Pooley nursing Laws, Daams and sprinter Wild up the Cauberg - the AA Drink-Leontien.nl team flew down the final kilometre to beat the Russian team with 48’30”.

The four remaining Rabobank riders finished in 48’52” to go into provisional second but - Arndt, Gillow, Rhodes and Villumsen - came in to break local hearts and push Dutch team AA Drink-Leontien.nl off the top of the podium, posting 46’55”. With only Specialized-lululemon to come, the Australian team was guaranteed at least a silver medal.

The German-registered team still had five riders - with Charlotte Becker, Amber Neben, Evie Stevens, Ellen van Dijk and Trixi Worrack only having left sprinter Ina Teutenberg behind - and those numbers were to tell as they stopped the clock in 46’31” to take the first ever World title for trade teams.

Result Women’s Team Time Trial World Championships
1. Specialized-lululemon (Ger), 34.2km in 46’31”
2. Orica-AIS (Aus) @ 24s
3. AA Drink-Leontien.nl (Ned) @ 1’59”
4. Rabobank (Ned) @ 2’20”
5. RusVelo (Rus) @ 2’30”
6. BePink (Ita) @ 3’14”
7. Michela Fanini-Rox (Ita) @ 4’37”
8. Hitec Products-Mistral Home (Nor) @ 4’38”
9. Dolmans-Boels (Ned) @ 5’00”
10. Lotto-Belisol (Bel) @ 5’31”
11. Skil-Argos (Ned) @ 5’33”
12. Sengers Ladies (Bel) @ 5’45”


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