UCI Road World Championships: Ellen van Dijk surprised by third time trial world title

Van Dijk had already said goodbye to her world champion's jersey, but she'll be wearing it again in 2023.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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WOLLONGONG, Australia (VN) — Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) joined an elite club of one as she romped home to take her third time trial title at the UCI Road World Championships.

Only four-time winner Jeannie Longo now sits ahead of her in the all-time standings in the discipline.

Van Dijk set off for her effort at a blistering pace, putting 20 seconds into Grace Brown — who was leading at the time — at the first check. Though she began losing time to Brown on the final stretch, she held on to take a convincing victory in Wollongong.

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The Dutchwoman was at the top of most people’s list of favorites but she was not expecting to take the victory on a course she felt didn’t suit her. She had made peace with the end of her term as the world champion, but the jersey was not done with her yet.

“I am actually a bit surprised to win. For sure, I prepared as well as possible but also for me I never thought it would be the perfect course. I also didn’t have a reference recently because my last race was the Europeans and I didn’t feel very good there so I also had to take some time off and reset and really focus on this race,” she said afterward.

“I had quite a good preparation on this but I didn’t know what it was worth. Also, on this course, it was difficult to know what to expect. Last week, I had some problems with my back but it was probably more tension and stress than anything else. Like I said, I didn’t expect it. I said bye to my jersey yesterday and put it at the bottom of my bag. It was a really great year and I really enjoyed it. I felt happy and I felt that anything that came today was a bonus. It is a great moment.”

The time trial circuit around Wollongong was very technical with lots of corners to deal with in the opening half of the loop, plus a lot of elevation change all the way around.

“The course had a lot of rhythm changes, up, down, left, right. I don’t mind riding corners but I don’t like changing my rhythm all the time so I really trained for that in the last few weeks, I did all kinds of efforts where I changed my rhythm constantly, above threshold, under threshold. I tried to prepare for it in a super specific way and it worked out,” Van Dijk said.

Prior to the time trial, Van Dijk posted a picture of herself after her first two TT world titles on social media. In the caption she spoke about the pressure she felt after taking her first in Florence in 2013 and the absence of it over the last season.

This year, the win was the cherry on the cake of a season that has seen her cement her place as one of the best time trialists in the peloton.

“My first title was when I was the favorite. I could do it then and it was really nice. Last year was really emotional because I was waiting for it for so long and finally I got it. This one, I am still sort of processing it because it’s a bit more of a surprise. It sounds a bit stupid, but it was a bit of a confirmation that I was the best again. It feels great,” she said.

With another TT world title in her back pocket, Van Dijk will now look to secure a win for the Dutch in the mixed relay before the road race at the weekend. Despite being the big favorites, the Dutch have suffered some major mishaps at international events in recent years and there will be plenty of attention on their tactics next Sunday.

The team has been working a lot on its unity over the past year in an effort to prevent the same mistakes from happening again.

“Of course, the only goal is winning. We definitely have a different approach from last year, we have worked a lot on team building, we have had a lot of meetings together not just on the bike but off the bike and I think that we are ready for Sunday. We will see but for sure the Dutch team will be ready,” Van Dijk said.

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