In Wednesday’s Elite Women’s ITT, Reusser lived up to her reputation as the best female time trial rider in the world with an impressive display of power riding. In winning her third European time trial championship in succession, the 32-year-old Swiss rider covered the flat and mostly straight 28.6 km course in 35” 53’, an average speed of 48.3 kph. And best of all, she did it on her birthday. “It’s really special to win it a third time,” she told Eurosport. “And today is my birthday, so it is really a special day.” Asked how she liked riding on the uncomplicated course, she said, “It was nice, but I prefer a more interesting [course].”
The SD Worx rider is having an excellent year, having won the Tour de France ITT and the Tour de Suisse GC and ITT earlier in the season. Reusser beat the second-place finisher, Anna Henderson of Great Britain, by a whopping 43 seconds, the equivalent of a trouncing on such a short course. Lotte Kopecky, the reigning world road race champion, finished fifth, 49 seconds adrift.
Later on the same day, and riding on the same roads, Tarling matched Reusser’s performance in the men’s ITT, racing the 29.8 km course in 31” 30’, 42 seconds ahead of defending champion Stefan Bissiger of Switzerland. The Belgian all-rounder Wout van Aert finished 1 second farther back in third. The winner’s average speed was 56.76 kph. In August, Tarling placed third in the UCI World Championship ITT, behind Filippo Ganna and Remco Evenepoel, and earlier in the year, he became the youngest-ever rider to win the British national time trial championship.
One of the big pre-race favourites, Stefan Küng of Switzerland, crashed late in the race when he lost concentration and rode into a side barrier. He managed to get back on his bike and finish the race, his face and arms covered with blood, in 11th place. “It was hard,” Tarling said after his victory. “I felt weaker today than I did in the Worlds. And the wind was really hard. Originally, it was a lot of over and under with the crosswind, but it changed to a more steady crosswind both ways and no headwind or tailwind. It was just about holding a high power all day.”
The young neo-pro rides for the Ineos Grenadiers team and would appear to have an interesting future, at least as a time trial specialist. After his impressive showing in the world championships, Ineos teammate and fellow Welshman Geraint Thomas said, “He’s a big boy. He’s got power and this is his forte. It’s unbelievable to see him riding so well so early in his career and he’s got a bright future.”
The third-place finish will have been a disappointment for van Aert who fell ill after winning the Tour of Britain earlier in September. “I don’t think a better result was possible today,” he said. “I started the way I wanted to. The first 20 kilometres went well, but then I lacked the power to fight for more. I am usually strong in the last part of a time trial but I was completely spent today. It’s a shame.”