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Canada’s Whitten & Canuel Claim Top 15 in Elite Women’s TT for 2nd Spot @ Rio2016 – Gold at Last for Villumsen

by pedalmag.com
Tara Whitten  ©  Ethan Glading
September 22, 2015 (Richmond, VA) – Canada’s Tara Whitten and Karol-Ann Canuel raced to top-15 finishes in the 29.9km Elite Women’s Time Trial at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships earning an additional start in the same discipline for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen finally claimed the gold having won three bronze and two silver medals in the category.

Canuel  ©  Cor Vos

Reigning Canadian Junior Men’s TT champ, Derek Gee, hoped for more as he placed 27th covering the same distance as the women, while teammate Joel Taylor finished 46th as Germany’s Leo Appelt triumphed over the 57-rider field.

Derek Gee  ©  Peter Kraiker

Women’s ITT

Villumsen had netted a bronze medal in the Individual Time Trial in Mendrisio in 2009, in Australia in 2010 and in Valkenburg in 2012, as well as silver in Copenhagen in 2011 and Florence in 2013. That elusive gold medal finally arrived in Richmond Virginia, thanks to the 30-year-old’s slender but sufficient final 2.5 second margin over Holland’s Anna Van der Breggen, while defending champ, Lisa Brennauer of Germany, claimed the bronze.

Villumsen  ©  Cor Vos

One of Villumsen’s key rivals was American Kristin Armstrong, a former double World Time Trial winner who returned from retirement this year and who had taken gold in Mendrisio back in 2009, the first year that Villumsen made the Elite Women’s ITT podium. Armstrong’s early start in Richmond and resulting lack of references on her rivals did not stop her from clocking a powerful time of 40:50 – the one to beat for the fourth and final wave.

Canada’s Whitten, who is making her comeback to competitive cycling after stepping away from the sport following the London 2012 Games, posted an impressive time of 41:56.10 and sat on the hot seat in third for quite a while until Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) moved into second overall bumping Whitten off the podium.

Armstrong  ©  Cor Vos

Van der Breggen’s blistering start gained her four seconds on Villumsen to clock the fastest time at the first checkpoint. But the New Zealander’s steadier racing style subsequently saw her inch ahead of her Netherlands rival by six seconds at the course’s mid-way time check, with Armstrong now ousted down to fourth best position, at ten seconds adrift.

Van der Breggen  ©  Cor Vos

While Germany’s Lisa Brennauer, the defending champ and sixth at the first time check, dramatically upped her pace in the second half of the 30 kilometre course, Van der Breggen was looking increasingly like the only rider who could come close to Villumsen.

Brennauer  ©  Cor Vos

Villumsen’s excellent finishing time of 40:29, averaging over 44 kmh, was clearly going to be enough to net the New Zealander a podium position. Yet Van der Breggen’s late surge was impressive, finally falling short by 2.5 seconds as Brennauer pounded back to claim the bronze, just five seconds down on Villumsen in a close finale.

Canuel, who last year surprised many by posting the sixth fastest time at her first Road World Championships last year, was also part the final wave finishing her day in 15th. She clearly had less in the tank following her stellar run in the TTT where she and her Velocio-SRAM team claimed gold and the coveted Rainbow Jersey, repeating her 2014 accomplishment.

Canuel  ©  Cor Vos

Whitten finished the painful day in 13th. “I am definitely a little bit disappointed with how I rode today. I think I started out a bit quick, but I always do. It was my goal not to, so it’s a little bit disappointing to do that again. At the same time, I gave it everything I had and fought to the end. I have to be happy with that and just look at it as a first step in my comeback process,” said Whitten post-race.

Tara Whitten  ©  Ethan Glading

The last time trial Whitten completed at the World Championships goes back to 2011 in Denmark, where she finished fourth. This year, she participated in three UCI time trials, notably finishing second at the Pan-American Championships and sixth at the Amgen Tour of California Invitational.

With the performance, Whitten secured an additional spot for Canada in the elite women time trial race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Canada can thank the USA, Germany and the Netherlands for the additional start, with each country allowed the maximum of one additional starter for the Olympic Games. Canada was bumped to the 10th position.

Elite Women’s results here.

Junior Men’s ITT

Appelt gave Germany their first individual gold medal of the 2015 Road World Championships in the Junior Men’s Individual Time Trial, clocking a time of 37 minutes and 45 seconds, 17 seconds faster than silver medallist Adrien Costa of the USA and fellow-American Brandon McNultry.

Junior Men's ITT podiun (l-r) Costa 2nd, Appelt 1st, McNulty 3rd  ©  Cor Vos

A total of 57 riders took part in the 30 kilometre event where only two riders, Costa and Mcnultry, 59 seconds back, came within a minute of the winner’s time.

While Costa had already captured silver last year in the same event, a delighted Appelt said in the post-race press conference he was “surprised” to have taken the rainbow jersey. “I just did my own race,” he said, “I still can’t believe it.”

The eighteenth rider to start and able to set the fastest times on checkpoint after checkpoint the entire course, Appelt was able to oust Kazahkstan’s Ilya Gorbushin, from the provisional best spot by nearly two minutes. Gorbushin had gone under 40 minutes with a solid final time of 39:37, but when Appelt swept under the finishing gantry in 37:45, the German had clearly set a time to beat for the remaining 39 riders.

Adrien Costa  ©  Peter Kraiker

“It’s definitely a bitter-sweet sensation for me,” added Costa, who settled for silver for a second straight year. “one better place would have been great but two podium finishes in two years is good, too.”

Canada’s Gee posted the best Canadian time completing the 30-km course in 40:39.68. “It was a super hard course. I am happy with my performance, but disappointed with my finishing place. It got me more motivated for the road race on Saturday,” he commented.

Joel Taylor  ©  Peter Kraiker

The Elite Men will tackle their individual time trial Wednesday. Canada’s Hugo Houle and Ryan Roth will both be in action.

Junior Men’s results here.


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