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Dutch star Van Dijk defends world time-trial crown

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Dutch Ellen van Dijk successfully defended her time trial crown at the Road Cycling World Championships on Sunday, taking her third career title ahead of Australia’s Grace Brown and European champion Marlene Reusser.

The 35-year-old was the last rider to go down the ramp and chased Brown’s fast pace, winning 12.73 seconds in 44m28.60s to take another title, also winning in 2013.

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Switzerland’s Reusser was third, 41.68 seconds back at the opening of the eight-day road racing world championship in Wollongong, a coastal city 50 miles south of Sydney.

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Two-time title holder and Olympian Annemiek van Vleuten failed to make it to the podium, with the Dutchwoman finishing in seventh place, a whopping 1 minute 43.02 seconds behind Van Dijk.

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“I never expected to win. I didn’t think it was the perfect track for me, but I had a good mental and physical approach to my coach,” Van Dijk said.

“I just thought I’d give it my all today, a podium spot would be nice, but if not, no, I still had a great year. I never thought I’d win today.”

She made it a point to not look at the times set by other cyclists, instead concentrating on her riding.

“I wanted to focus entirely on myself, but I was so surprised that I crossed the finish line first,” she said.

For the first time at the World Championships, the women covered the same distance as the men, sharing a 34.2 km (21.2 mi) course consisting of two laps of a technical and winding course with little climb.

Commonwealth Games time trial champion Brown was one of the first riders to survive before Van Dijk’s exploits.

Reusser appeared on her way to challenge Brown after picking up a faster pace in the first split, but disappeared when Van Dijk, who had been following her, accepted the challenge.

“It was a very long and nervous wait,” Brown said. “I thought I still had a chance to win the race overall, but Van Dijk had a phenomenal day. She is an experienced time trial driver and deserved to win.”

In the other first event, the women’s under-23s fought for their championship in the same race with Italy’s Vittoria Guazzini, who finished fourth, 52.11 seconds behind Van Dijk, to take the U23 gold.

The men’s time trial will take place later on Sunday, with Italy’s Filippo Ganna becoming the two-time defending champion.



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