Swiss win world time-trial mixed relay as Van Vleuten crashes

Published September 22, 2022
WOLLONGONG: Switzerland’s (front to back) Mauro Schmid, Stefan Kung, and Stefan Bissegger compete in the team time trial mixed relay event at the UCI Road World Championships on Wednesday.—AFP
WOLLONGONG: Switzerland’s (front to back) Mauro Schmid, Stefan Kung, and Stefan Bissegger compete in the team time trial mixed relay event at the UCI Road World Championships on Wednesday.—AFP

WOLLONGONG: The Swiss team powered by European champions Stefan Bissegger and Marlen Reusser won the time-trial mixed relay at cycling’s road world championships in Australia on Wednesday in a race marred by Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten crashing heavily.

Bissegger, Stefan Kung and Marco Schmid set the fastest pace among the men before Reusser, Nicole Koller and Elise Chabbey brought it home in 33min 47.17sec, fending off a strong surge from Italy to win by just 2.92sec.

Australia came third and defending champions Germany were fourth around the 28.2 kilometre (17.4 miles) circuit at the coastal city of Wollongong, south of Sydney.

“We’re really happy, it means a lot to our country,” said Kung, who was second to Norway’s Tobias Foss in the elite time-trial on Sunday.

Reusser said their strategy in the 16-team race was to “go hard and finish hard”.

“But we wanted to go only so hard so that we could survive, so we really tried to be kind to each other and make it together. It was very, very good in this way,” she said.

But it was a disastrous day for the powerhouse Dutch team, the 2019 champions spearheaded by women’s world time-trial winner Ellen van Dijk.

National champion Bauke Mollema’s chain came off during the men’s leg and they finished 40 seconds off the pace after the opening loop as they handed over to the women.

In a terrible start Olympic champion Van Vleuten crashed heavily just seconds after rolling down the ramp with what looked like a mechanical problem.

Bruised and battered, she sat on the side of the road in shock with cuts to her leg as Van Dijk and Riejanne Markus tried to regroup, but could only finish fifth.

Van Vleuten, winner of the women’s Tour de France and a three-times world champion in time trial (2017, 2018) and road race (2019), is among the favourites for the elite women’s road race on Saturday but is a doubt after sustaining an elbow fracture.

“Back from hospital Wollongong... Stable fracture elbow, no surgery needed. I am allowed to ride my bike, but depends on pain and need to be sensible. Hope I can sleep,” the 39-year-old wrote on Twitter.

The time-trial mixed relay has only been a world championship discipline since 2019, and sees three male riders set off for a first lap of the course followed by three women coming down the start ramp to ride a second lap once the men cross the finish line.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2022

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