• Annemiek Van Vleuten during the women's elite ITT a 27,8km race from Wattens to Innsbruck 582m at UCI Road World Championships (Getty)Source: Getty
Last down the ramp as defending champion, Annemiek Van Vleuten outpaced compatriot Anna Van der Breggen to take a second-straight world ITT title with Ellen Van Djik finishing third for a Dutch-only podium.
Cycling Central

26 Sep 2018 - 9:39 AM  UPDATED 26 Sep 2018 - 10:34 AM

The duel between Van der Breggen and Van Vleuten was a thrilling one despite the reigning champion finishing the 27.8km 30 seconds faster. 

Van Vleuten went out hard and fast early on, hitting the first time-check 19 seconds faster than her compatriot. Then it was all about the seconds for the Mitchelton-Scott rider who finished with a time of 34 minutes and 25 seconds, her final advantage not something she expected.  

"I was surprised by the gap when I got to know it eventually, I didn’t expect to win by this much," Van Vleuten said.

“The hard thing about this time trial was that it was uphill but in the descent you didn’t have recovery so you also needed to push. So, actually, your legs are screaming to stop pedaling in the descents but you have to keep on going otherwise you lose time. It made it almost a flat time trial with hills.

“I know I took some time in the first part but then I also felt I went out pretty fast. In the national championships, I went out too slow so I felt like I had to start fast and then die until the end, which is not nice to do. I was also a little in trouble in the second part, but that’s how you know you had a good time trial."

WATCH: Interview with ITT world champion Annemiek Van Vleuten

Van der Breggen could not hide her disappointment, despite the fully Dutch podium. 

“It’s nice...but I’d like to change the order a bit," she said. "We were all hoping to be the fastest. I’m happy with my time trial.

"I have another chance for the gold medal on Saturday. I’m feeling good, which is necessary ahead of the road race on a difficult course. We’ll be the favorites again. It’s hard to explain why we’re faster than other countries. Personally, I just try to be as good as possible.”

Ellen van Dijk also wished the order was a little different. "This has never happened before so it’s great for Dutch cycling but it’s an individual effort so I can’t be completely satisfied with where I stand on the podium.

"We have different personalities so we prepare for the same event in our own way. Annemiek trains a lot in altitude, many things bring her to her level, but we all have to think of what’s best for ourselves. There are good cycling infrastructures in the Netherlands and good support for women cycling. It’s been going on for many years.”

Van Vleuten's victory caps off a stellar season after she dominated both the Giro Rosa and Boels Rental Ladies Tour. She also picked off Anna Van der Breggen in the final metres of this year's La Course and it might be a tough ask for either to sit back for the other in Saturday's road race. 

WATCH: Van Vleuten wins a thrilling La Course

"The next goal is Saturday," Van Vleuten said. "I’m at the top of my game and we want to win with the road race for the Netherlands again on Saturday. But first, I am going to enjoy this one, but not for too long because Saturday is a beautiful course and I really look forward to racing on it with our team.”

How to watch the worlds with us
The hills are alive with the sound of...road bikes and cheering! The 2018 UCI Road World Championships kick off in Innsbruck, Austria this weekend with our coverage starting Monday 24 September including the main events - the women's (Sat 29 Sep 2000 AEST, on Viceland from 2255) and men's (Sun 30 Sep 1730 AEST, on Viceland from 2305) road races.