Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands produced a masterful performance in Bergen to claim the 2017 elite women’s World Time Trial title.
The highly-fancied Van Vleuten beat compatriot Anna van der Breggen by 12 seconds, with Australia’s Katrin Garfoot in third a further seven seconds behind.
“I can’t believe it,” a tearful Van Vleuten said. “To be world champion in the TT, I never thought it would be, but this year I’ve started to believe.”
A nasty climb at the end of the course was always likely to challenge the usual time trial specialists, but Van Vleuten negotiated the ascent in slippery conditions to claim a well-deserved world title.
The 34-year-old Van Vleuten suffered a horrific crash in last year’s Olympic Road Race in Rio de Janeiro, fracturing her back in three places and ending up in intensive care.
But less than a year later she stormed to victory in La Course (the two-day Tour de France for female riders) and has now added a rainbow jersey to her collection.
“The downs make the ups more beautiful, makes it really special,” the Dutchwoman added.
“It was hard because it started pouring with rain and I lost some seconds on the descents. I thought the weather would disturb my race form, but I focussed on what I do.”