23 September 2018

Canyon-SRAM and Quick-Step Floors capture first gold medals in 2018 UCI Road World Championships

The first gold medals of the 2018 UCI Road World Championships have been captured by Canyon-SRAM and Quick-Floors in their respective team time trial women’s and mens’ events.

On a fast, largely downhill course running through the Ötzal valley to Innsbruck, the German-registered Canyon-SRAM squad clinched the womens’ team time trial event on Sunday morning by a sizable 21 seconds over silver medallists Boels-Dolmens.

Team Sunweb, who won the equivalent event last year, had to settle for bronze at 28 seconds, albeit taken with an equally comfortable advantage over Wiggle-High5, fourth at 57 seconds.

The silver medallists in 2016 and fourth last year, Canyon-SRAM clocked an impressive 53.8kmh average speed for the 54.8 kilometre course, which started in the AREA 47 outdoor adventure centre in Ötzal.

Canyon-SRAM came through the course’s first and only checkpoint, after 22.8, kms, where they were just 11 seconds down on early fastest team Wiggle-High5.

But whereas many of the other 11 teams taking part began both to shed riders and ship time on the leaderboard, Canyon-SRAM both stayed on the pace and retained their full complement of six all the way through the lengthy course to  the finish, situated in front of Innsbruck’s Hofbruck palace. And that consistency reaped the German squad rich rewards.

“We’ve trained really hard for this,” said Canyon-SRAM’s British rider Hannah Barnes afterwards. “We put everything into it – every day we were getting smoother and better on the course.”

“It was pretty difficult because  we’ve never done a 55km course so we had to time it really well and not over-pace. But it was perfect.”” added Canyon-SRAM’s Trixi Worrack.

With the TTT current format ending after this year’s Road World Championships, Worrack’s total of five golds and a silver medal will likely remain the maximum obtained by any individual female rider in this event.

“We didn’t win one TTT this year so it was a bit of a surprise,” Worrack pointed out, “but I think only for the others, because we knew what we could do if we had the perfect day. We could finish on the podium or even on top.”  As it turned out, Worrack’s feelings about her team’s chances proved to be 100 percent correct.

The Men’s Team Time Trial was taken later that day by Quick-Step Floors for a fourth time in the Belgian squad’s history, where the challenging Axams climb, not part of the women’s event,  made a criticial difference.

Situated just after the TTT’s half-way point, four kilometres long, Axams, with steep mid-climb segments of up to 15 percent, and a very fast downhill, too, was the only major obstacle on a largely flat, if long, 62.5 kilometre course.

Quick-Step Floors were a little off the pace  at the first of two checkpoints, after 22 kilometres, when they were third fastest team on the day, 22 seconds down on early  pace-setters Mitchelton-Scott. Defending champions Team Sunweb then surged into contention to set the fastest time after 44 kilometres at the second intermediate checkpoint, but Quick-Step Floors, showing impressive consistency, were able to equal Team Sunweb’s pace.

Just a few tenths of seconds behind Team Sunweb at km 44, the Belgian outfit then powered ahead  of their rivals on the un-nervingly fast descent off Axams, touching speeds over well over 100 kmh in places, to blast into Innsbruck’s city centre with a double digit time advantage. So it was that Quick-Step Floors  claimed their fourth Road World Championships team time trial gold, this time ahead of Team Sunweb by 19 seconds.  BMC Racing Team rounded off the podium with bronze, 20 seconds adrift, whilst Team Sky finished fourth, 44 seconds down, and early pace-setters Mitchelton-Scott faded to fifth.

“You can never do a team time trial perfectly but it was pretty close,” commented Quick-Step Floors rider Niki Terpstra afterwards.

“It was a special parcours with a lot of fast and flat parts but a hard climb in the middle. We really trained the downhill very well, we had the video and I played it 100 times yesterday on my phone to watch every corner. It was a bit scary but we knew the route and it worked pretty well.”

Innsbruck also enables Terpstra to claim a record-breaking fourth team time trial gold medal after being part of the line-up in all Quick-Step Floors previous triumphs in 2012, 2013 and 2016.

Terpstra also has a TTT silver medal from the 2015 Road World Championships in the same category and a bronze from the 2014 Worlds, and  Terpstra was part of Quick-Step Floors only line-up not to take a medal in the men’s TTT, in 2017 when they finished fourth.

After the opening team time trials, racing at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships continues on Monday with the Womens’ Junior Time Trial and U-23 Men’s Individual Time Trial events, where the first rainbow jerseys of the 2018 Championships will be awarded.