The Road World Championships has started in Doha, Qatar and it’s everything we worried it would be. The heat is brutal. We’ve seen more vomiting and collapses over the finish line than we would ever wish to see. There have been incidents on closed roads that just should not happen anywhere, let alone at a flagship event. Add to this the fact there are hardly any fans in evidence and yes, we are angry it was ever allowed to go ahead.
Yet, the riders are there. They have trained hard and are ready to compete. Women and men who will race through an inferno in pursuit of their rainbow dream. We may not agree with the venue or the politics, but surely they have every right to be celebrated. After all, if we don’t cheer from the sofa, who the heck will?
Day 1: Women’s and men’s TTT
No rainbow jerseys on offer, just peloton bragging rights for 2017 as the swiftest, most synchronous team in a timed effort. Both women and men took on a challenging and technical 40km route in temperatures touching 40°C. Six riders per team with the time taken on the fourth rider over the line.
In her last race before retirement, Evelyn Stevens led the Boels-Dolmans squad to their first world title victory. The Dutch team covered the route in 48:41, 48secs faster than defending champions Canyon SRAM. Cervelo-Bigla rounded out the podium at +1:57mins.
The men’s race came down to a thrilling finish between defending champs BMC and arch rivals Etixx-Quick Step. It was nip and tuck all the way, but the added firepower of Marcel Kittel and some beautiful lines through the tricky finishing corners saw the Quicksteppers take gold by 12secs. Orica-BikeExchange were rightly thrilled with their bronze.
Day 2: Women’s U19 ITT
Karlijn Swinkels of the Netherlands rolled off the ramp and attacked the 13.7km course with panache. Fastest at the intermediate split, she kept powering all the way to the line to take the gold by 7secs from Italy’s Lisa Morzenni with Juliette Labous at +21secs.
The 17 year old Dutch rider has worked so hard for this after her 6th at the European Championships, and it was a joy to see her emotion on the podium.
Day 2: Men U23 Individual Time Trial
Least fancied of the powerful German TT trio Marco Mathis claimed gold, the rainbows and surely the award for the longest time spent in the hot seat. Second rider to start, he stormed around the course and managed to stay upright after a close shave with an ambulance. Team mate Maximilian Schachmann ran him closest at +0:18secs, and only a gutsy ride by Aussie Miles Scotson prevented a German podium clean sweep as pre race favourite Lennard Kamna placed fourth. With three riders in the top four German time trialling has a very rosy future – who’d bet against Tony Martin later in the week?
Over four hours in the hot seat makes for nerves and tension.
Header image: Karlijn Swinkels (Netherlands) – © Getty Images Bryn Lennon / Staff