The 2022 World Championships kick off, and a week of racing in Wollongong, with the women’s elite singles time trial on September 18. This year, for the first time ever, the women’s individual test track is the same distance and track as the men’s track. Also for the first time in history, a single U23 woman will be awarded a rainbow jersey.
Women are lining up in Australia after a long season of high-intensity racing. There were more WorldTour races in 2022 than ever before, but only two of the races featured a time trial. This meant that there were precious few opportunities for racers who specialized in this field.
For those hoping to win on Sunday, the ITT European Championship may be the best test. Even riders who had not raced in Germany would have been watching the race to see how two women in particular stacked up against the rest of the field.
The route consists of two 16.8 km long courses around downtown Wollongong. In total, both the women’s U-23 and Elite are racing 34.2 km.
What makes racing difficult is the number of corners. Since the path runs through the city center there are a lot of corners, some really steep and some more gradual, but the amount of time the women will spend on and off the gas will ultimately affect.
Once the riders are about halfway through a single circuit, they have a semi-straight shot that goes back to the start/finish zone. All in all, this is the only place for a truly consistent energy drop.
On top of the turns, the course features Mount Ousley, a relatively short and steep climb.
Due to the technical nature of the course, we are looking for the best experience professionals to take the jersey. It will truly be a fight between two women, although there are a few other contenders who might count that.
Elaine Van Dyck
Defending champion Elaine van Dijk is one of the two favorites to win the title. Van Dijk, the seasoned pro, knows how to peak in the race and will have set her heart on keeping the jersey. She is also incredibly skilled at handling a TT bike.
Van Dijk finished second at the ITT European Championships, but that would have given her an idea of where she needs to improve before Worlds. She actually hasn’t competed in the Giro Donne or Simac Ladies Tour, which are the only races in the WorldTour that have a time trial stage. Looking back on earlier in the season, she won the inaugural ITT on the EasyToys Bloeizone Tour. Its main competitor took third place on that occasion.
She easily got the Dutch national title in June.
Van Dyck’s main competitor is the Swiss Marlene Roeser. Roeser overtook the Dutch powerhouse at the European Championships in August, but did the same in 2021, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything by the time we hit the worlds. The Swiss rider has been getting better every season, but her year with SD Worx has pushed her to new levels.
Like Van Dijk, Reusser was not on the Giro Donne or Simac Ladies Tour roster. However, she managed to turn stage 4 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift into a time trial when she took off from the front and was only seen by the peloton after winning the stage.
Anime Van Vleuten
Behind Rossier and Van Dyck are a few top contenders who stand a good chance of sitting on the podium. At the top of that list is the two-time ITT world champion Annemiek van Vleuten. It’s not that Van Vleuten couldn’t win on Sunday, she’s definitely in great shape. The question is how can she take on two contestants who have made it their mission to win this shirt and only this shirt. Van Vleuten had her eyes fixed on the Ceratizit challenge by La Vuelta, and possibly the road title the following Saturday.
However, Van Vleuten won the Ceratizit Challenge with a single long-distance move…it was basically a time trial. She does not lack in strength, and has repeatedly proven to be the best in the world. She’s the current ITT Olympic champion after all.
Grace Brown will come on Sunday with a lot of pressure on her shoulders. She’s racing the home roads, with the whole of Australia behind her. But this pressure is not without reason. Brown finished fourth in the Olympic time test behind Van Vleuten, Rosser and Van Dyck. Since that performance, Brown has jumped to a new team that has focused a lot of attention on setting up her trial time. She started her year by winning the Australian National ITT title. Recently, Brown was named ITT Commonwealth Games.
Brown will really want that win. Maybe 1% more than its competitors, but in cycling 1% can make all the difference.
American Leah Thomas spends an extended period of time at home in California training for the event. Thomas had surgery early this year and as such didn’t have the 2022 she was hoping for, but with a significant amount of time away from racing, Thomas will come to a new Australia. She also won the USA ITT title in July, when she was a few months after the operation.
Thomas has always been a strong pro for the time but now has the support of the same team that backs the current ITT world champion, Van Dijk probably regrets giving Thomas some advice that comes Sunday.
The third contender for the Dutch Women’s Championship is current road champion Reagan Marcus. Markus finished second behind Van Dijk on the EasyToys Tour, second behind Audrey Cordon-Ragot in the Simac Ladies Tour ITT, that’s in the European Championship demo.
We may look at all the Dutch podiums on Sunday.
Notably, Cordon Ragot, French ITT champion and recent Simac Women’s Tour time trial winner, will not be racing on time or a road race, a real blow for France.
And the title U23
One contestant stands above the rest when it comes to the U23 ITT title and this is it Shereen Van Anroe. The ITT European Under-23 Champion had her best season ever with Trek-Segafredo. She will likely finish the season as the best young female rider in the UCI rankings, having also won the youth rankings in the Tour de France.
Van Enroge’s first contender for the title is the Italian Vittoria Jawazini. Guazzini finished 11 seconds behind Van Anrooij in the ITT European Under-23 Championship. The Italian came second behind Elisa Longo Brugini in the Elite Women’s National Championship as well.
Another contestant to look for is Mary Lou Net The Frenchman, who finished third in the European Championship.
how to watch
The race will be broadcast live on Eurosport and GCN+ as well as FloBikes for Canadian and American viewers. Since the event takes place in Australia, it’s too early for European fans, at 1:35am CST. For those in North America, be sure to tune in on September 17th at 19:35 EST.
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