Two laps of a 15km circuit through the Richmond CBD await the women. The course is very flat and non-technical - one for the powerful specialists. There is a short, testing climb within the final kilometre of 200m at 7 per cent, and a false flat to the finish line from there, so it will be important to maintain energy and sustain the pace to the line.
Anna Van Der Breggen (NED) has been in superb form all season. She is more than just a time-trial specialist, taking her biggest win in the Giro Rosa, where she built her foundation for the win on the back of a dominant TT. She has been growing gradually stronger against the clock in the past few seasons and now consistently takes wins in the TTs at the top level. Van Der Breggen only failed to win two TTs this year, both very short prologues. She crashed out of the team time trial last year and couldn’t compete in the TT, so she’ll be looking to make up for missed opportunities. Her team dropped riders and time throughout the TTT, but she looked strong in her role. The rider to beat.
Defending champion Lisa Brennauer (GER) hasn’t put a foot wrong all season, winning all her TT's except for a prologue second behind Van Der Breggen, and an upset at the German nationals to Mieke Kroger. She has been pushed very close in every one of them though, winning one by under a second. Brennauer is coming into form at the right time, winning her most recent TT in the Boels Ladies Tour against a lot of the riders that she’ll face in Richmond. She backed that up with her performance in the TTT, where her Velocio-SRAM team took the win. A very tough competitor who will love this course.
Mieke Kroger (GER) is a young rider who has taken some very good results in her short career. She came fourth last year at the world championships, and this year, took her biggest result in the German nationals, beating Brennauer. Coming from a track background, she has yet to establish herself as a consistent presence at this level. She looks to be on top form, being an important part of the gold medal TTT ride. The young German should be right up with the best.
Ellen Van Dijk (NED) was the 2013 ITT world champion, but has only won one TT this year, the European Games event. At her best, she is a powerhouse on the flat courses, and will appreciate the long flats here. She ran Brennauer very close in her most recent race, a good sign that she’s close to the form that saw her win two years ago. There were a few concerns from her TTT performance where her teammates had to sit up and wait for her on the final climb, it is a lot flatter here though.
All eyes are usually on the major contenders, but the TT is a good event to look at the other stories that make up the championships. two-time Olympic and world champion Kristin Armstrong (USA), Linda Villumsen (NZL) and Evelyn Stevens (USA) are all top professionals with a strong history in the time trials. These three riders, all pushing veteran status, could surprise, but it would be a big one. They will be trying to recreate their golden years and are certainly strong enough to set early benchmarks and sit in the hot seat.
Hanna Sovoloy (UKR) and Ann-Sophie Duyck (BEL) both took great results in last year’s championships, placing second and fifth respectively. This time around, both come in with good form in lesser races, which should be enough for them to place well again, but it looks unlikely that they will challenge for gold. It would be a triumph for riders from the lower teams of the sport that have to scrape by with meagre funding if they were to win.