Team Sunweb savour women's TTT world title
Team Sunweb riders Lucinda Brand, Leah Kirchmann, Floortje Mackaij, Coryn Rivera, Sabrina Stultiens and Ellen van Dijk were still on cloud nine as they entered the press conference in Bergen after winning the women's team time trial world title following a close battle with rivals Boels Dolmans.
In the hour since they crossed the finish line, the six riders had watched from the hot seat as other teams failed to beat their time of 55:41 and then celebrated as race favourites Boels Dolmans finished 12 seconds slower.
Team Sunweb and Boels Dolmans were locked in a close battle throughout the rolling 42.5km team time trial.
Sunweb were four seconds faster after 10 kilometres but then slipped to 15 seconds slower than Boels Dolmans at the top of the 1.5-kilometre climb after 30 kilometres on the course. However, they fought back on the flat road towards the finish and were 0.22 seconds ahead of Boels Dolmans after 38 kilometres, with 4.5 kilometres to go.
"We saw it was just 0.22 of a second but we knew we were ahead and that there was still enough time for them to make it up or fall apart," the USA's Coryn Rivera explained.
Team leader Ellen van Dijk described Team Sunweb as the underdogs for the time trial but savoured how they prepared and fought for victory.
"This year we didn't win any of the team time trials. The team was second in the Giro TTT, which is a good result. In the last test in Sweden [at the Crescent Vårgårda TTT], which is a very important test for the world championships, we were fourth, so we changed things and we practiced a lot. We needed a shit TTT there to win here," Van Dijk explained.
Van Dijk has now won four world team time trial titles but with three different teams. She is the anchor of the team and the voice of experience.
"We didn't expect to go for the title but when you do things in a good way things can work out. In the past we were favourites but here we were the underdogs, so it's great to have won," she said.
Team Sunweb has both a men's and women's WorldTour teams and a development programme. It seems an exchange of expertise and advice helped the women's team today.
"There's cooperation between the men and the women. We came here together, we flew together, we share the bus and the coaches," Van Dijk explained.
"It's a nice atmosphere to be with the men, they're an inspiration for us and I hope we can be an inspiration for them."
After a moment of celebration the Team Sunweb riders will join their national teams, switch colours and switch allegiances as they ride in the individual time trials and road races later in the week at the world championships.
Van Dijk will ride for the Netherlands and is a favourite for the individual time trial on Tuesday, while Rivera is likely to lead the USA team in the road race on Saturday.