BRUGGE, Belgium — Eight years after her first world championship title, Ellen van Dijk got over the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics by winning a second gold medal in the women’s time trial.
Taking advantage of a flat course through the Flanders region of Belgium, the Dutch rider kept the pedals of her bike churning in a perfectly paced cadence to beat her closest rival Marlen Reusser of Switzerland by 10.29 seconds at the road cycling world championships.
“For me, time trial is my favorite discipline,” said Van Dijk, who won her first time trial world title in 2013. “It’s something I love with all my heart, and it just feels like it’s my discipline. I knew it was going to be a really good course for me, and I put everything into this. It’s a dream come true.”
Van Dijk, who suffered serious injuries two years ago including a broken arm and broken pelvis, was not selected for the Tokyo Games this summer after she was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in the season.
“This was always a big goal of me, this time of the year, to be super good here especially after I could not ride the Olympics, which of course was a big disappointment,” she said. “And also my Spring classics did not work out because I got the coronavirus.”
Van Dijk signaled her return to top form this month at the European championships, where she won the road race and finished runner-up in the time trial.
While Van Dijk was able to keep a fast tempo over the 30.3-kilometer course, Reusser ran out of gas near the end and had to be content with a runner-up finish on the day she turned 30. She also claimed silver last year and was runner-up at the Tokyo Olympics.
Reusser led at both intermediate checks but faded over the last 10 kilometers.
“In the last couple of weeks she beat me in every time trial, so I knew it would become super, super difficult and I would have to ride the best, best ever time trial,” Van Dijk said. “When I saw she lost seconds in the end then I could not quite believe it. It has been a dream for so long.”
The Swiss athlete beat Van Dijk to win the European championship.
“It was also a big dream of mine to win today,” Reusser said. “It was the biggest goal of my season, I have to say I’m really disappointed.”
Van Dijk was so fast that she caught Lisa Klein with 9.5 kilometers left before the finish line in the historic center of Brugge, the city known as the Venice of the North for its picturesque canals and bridges. The German rider rolled off the starting ramp 1 minute, 30 seconds before Van Dijk.
Olympic champion Annemiek van Vleuten, another Dutch rider, was third, more than 24 seconds off the pace.
She said the flat course did not suit her but was graceful in defeat, saying the rainbow jersey will look good on her teammate next year.
Aged 46, two-time world champion Amber Neben of the United States finished fourth, just weeks after suffering fractures in her pelvis during a training ride.