Women’s time trial preview: Hilly course should see a wide-open race
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Women’s time trial preview: Hilly course should see a wide-open race

by Ben Atkins at 3:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
 
Defending champion's retirement opens the door to a number of contenders

noemi cantele

The women’s time trial will be run over one lap of the same 22.7km course that the men will cover twice the day after. Largely based on, although slightly longer than, the road race course, it still features the two short, sharp climbs of Scenic Road and Aphrasia Street.

Last year’s champion Kristin Armstrong of the United States retired after last year’s race, but the other two members of the 2009 podium will be present. Noemi Cantele of Italy and Linda Villumsen of New Zealand (although she previously rode as a Dane) finished second and third to Armstrong last year and will be among the favourites this time around.

Cantele in particular will like the look of the two steep climbs, as she is a lover of the short, sharp hills of Flanders. The former Italian champion has had a quiet season so far but confirmed that her form is coming right on time, with victory in the queen stage of the Giro della Toscana to the hilltop town of Volterra earlier in the month.

The big favourite for the race though, is surely Cantele and Villumsen’s HTC-Columbia teammate Judith Arndt of Germany. The German champion took the bronze in 2008 and, after victory overall in Toscana, the 2004 road race champion looks good to add her name to the list of women to have taken the rainbow jersey in both disciplines, alongside Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli of France and Leontien Van Moorsel of the Netherlands.

The United States should mount a strong challenge to take the rainbow jersey home for a third year in succession with 2008 champion Amber Neben and Evelyn Stevens, yet another HTC-Columbia rider.

Neben has spent much of her season racing in the US after the collapse of her Nürnberger Versicherung team (which has continued on a smaller scale as Noris Cycling) and crashed out of the Giro d’Italia in July; she returned to Europe earlier this month though to win the Memorial Davide Fardelli time trial over a similar distance, beating a quality field that included Cantele.

Stevens, the US champion, has enjoyed considerable success in her first full season as a professional. The former Wall Street trader won the Crono Gatineau in Canada in June, beating Neben, Villumsen and a host of others. Her solo victory in the Giro stage over the Ghisallo proves that she doesn’t mind tackling tough climbs on her own.

Local hopes will be carried by Tasmanian-born Vicki Whitelaw. The Lotto Ladies rider was a close second behind Neben in the Memorial Davide Fardelli, finishing ahead of Cantele; she also won the recent Tour de l’Ardeche.

British interest will take the form of Cervélo’s Emma Pooley; the Olympic silver medallist has yet to translate that Beijing result to World championships, but the tough climbs in the early part of the course will be to her liking. The British champion has a number of high-profile wins this year, but her victory in May’s Grand Prix Suisse-Souvenir Magali Pache over most of this field will be the one that should give her most confidence.

Possible wild cards in the race include Canada’s Anne Samplonius, who won the recent Chrono Champenois, and Olga Zabelinskaya, who has taken the women’s peloton by storm on her return to the sport after having children.

On the list to start, but unlikely to worry the medallists is the legendary Longo-Ciprelli; still France’s number 1 as she approaches her 52nd birthday.

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