For the second year running, German veteran Judith Arndt netted the top spot in the womenâ€™s World Time Trial Championships, whilst Britainâ€™s Elinor Barker went one better than in Copenhagen to clinch the gold in the junior event.
Seven times a podium finisher on the UCI World Championships time trial since 1997 and as defending champion the last rider to start, Arndt was once again on another level. The German star clocked the best time throughout the 24.3 kilometre undulating course, a process which culminated with her ousting Evelyn Stevens of the United States from the top spot on the leaderboard.
Six seconds faster than her closest pursuers at the first checkpoint and 10 seconds faster than the American at the second, Arndt went from strength to strength to claim her second straight time trial title by a whopping 34 seconds over Stevens. The American was forced to settle for silver, whilst New Zealandâ€™s Linda Villumsen, claimed bronze, 41 seconds down on Arndt - her fourth medal in the discipline at senior World Championships level in four years.
A reference point for womenâ€™s cycling for over a decade, Arndt, 36, now has four World Championships golds in her possession, ranging from the individual pursuit in 2004 through to the Road Worldâ€™s the same year and two Time Trial titles. Silver in the London Olympics and now the gold in the UCI World Championships confirms that if - as she has said she will do - she finally retires at the end of the season, she could not pull down the curtain on her long and distinguished career in a better way.
â€śItâ€™s always hard to defend a title, but I did it and I can be proud of that,â€ť Arndt said afterwards. â€śHaving the Cauberg [climb] at the end made it difficult to calculate your strength. Itâ€™s painful, but itâ€™s just three minutes and you have to give it everything.â€ť
â€śIt was getting very hard to go on racing at this level, but Iâ€™ve done it. To be able to finish with a success like this is the best way to end it.â€ť
Junior Women's race: Britain's Elinor Barker takes victory
Meanwhile in the junior womenâ€™s time trial Elinor Barker of Great Britain followed up her silver in Copenhagenâ€™s World Championships with the gold medal by a slightly bigger margin - 35 seconds over Denmarkâ€™s Cecile Uttrup Ludwig, with the Netherlands Demi De Jong claiming bronze.
â€śI was under pressure after doing so well last year, so Iâ€™m delighted to have taken the win,â€ť Barker said.
â€śI was more surprised to get silver last year in some ways, because the course was so flat and thatâ€™s not my speciality. Here as soon as I got to the top of the first climb I knew I could do well.â€ť
One of the earliest starters, Ludwig waited for more than an hour as the top rider before Barker finally knocked her off the top spot, but despite losing her chance of a gold medal at the last moment, she said she was delighted nonetheless with her performance and taking silver.
â€śIâ€™ve not ridden so many international races, so this is a big step forward for me,â€ť she said, â€śitâ€™s a huge dream come true.â€ť
Wednesday brings down the curtain on the first half of the World Championships, with the elite menâ€™s time trial, a 46.2 kilometre effort between Heerlen and Valkenberg. With multiple time trial champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland not taking part, nor Britainâ€™s Bradley Wiggins - who claimed silver last year - defending champion Tony Martin of Germany looks like the stand-out favourite. But on such a technical, undulating course as the one which the Netherlands has to offer, it would be unwise to make too many predictions.