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Shimano-sponsored riders take two golds, three silvers and a bronze at UCI Road World Championships

If predicting winners were easy, there’d be no point holding the UCI Road World Championships anymore (or better, we’d all be rich). This year’s competition had it all: the good, the unfortunate and the totally unexpected. The tally for Shimano-sponsored riders? A medal in each of the six Elite category races, but not always the medal or medallist you’d expect.

The first Elite race was the women’s team time trial on Sunday 20 September. Many expected a mini-revolution here, with the Shimano-sponsored Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team having beaten perennial winners Velocio-SRAM in the UCI World Cup in August. But it wasn’t to be. Velocio-SRAM were good, and did what they had to do, taking the gold again. Bronze went to Rabo Liv, who will have to wait another year to dethrone their rivals.

The Elite men’s team trial was another tale of the expected, with the BMC Racing Team the first Shimano-sponsored team to take gold. Etixx-QuickStep, runner up by a scant 11 seconds, gave BMC a good run for their money though. Today’s tale of the unexpected was ORICA-GreenEdge. Contenders for gold, they lost two riders on the way and eventually fell out of the medals altogether. They will need to regroup and devise a new strategy to climb back up the ladder next year.

The women’s Elite individual time trial was a nail-biter, with New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen beating Rabobank Liv’s Anna van der Breggen by an agonizing 2.54 seconds. Initially disappointed – Van der Breggen told the media that losing by such a small margin feels more like losing gold than winning silver – she can hold her head high. Villumsen is a worthy winner, having taken three bronze and two silver medals in the individual time trial in previous years at the Worlds. Her time had come.

Tony Martin, Tom Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis – these are the names people were putting their hard-earned money on to win the men’s Elite individual time trial. But gold went to Shimano-sponsored dark horse Vasil Kiryienka. The Team Sky rider from Belarus put in a masterful performance, clocking the fastest splits and beating the next best, Italian Adriano Malori, by nine seconds. The accolade of unfortunate goes to Rohan Dennis. A shoo-in for a podium place, he had to settle for sixth place after a mid-race puncture ended his hopes.

Electrifying road races

The final weekend of the championships produced two electrifying road races in the Elite categories. Unfortunately for Van der Breggen, it was a sense of déjà vu as Elizabeth Armistead Liz passed her right before the finish to win the women’s road race by a wheel’s length. But with a third medal in her pocket at these championships, it looks like Van der Breggen is following in her teammate Marianne Vos’ footsteps.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, the standard set by the women a day earlier was repeated. There’s not a rider in the peloton or a spectator along the course that would deny Peter Sagan this long-awaited victory and a chance to shrug off his unwelcome reputation as ‘second-place Sagan’. Second place for now is Shimano-sponsored Michael Matthews, who was not able to close Sagan’s slim gap and came in three seconds behind the winner. But his performance was a statement of intent.

Kiryienka and Villumsen with gold around their necks, Ferrand-Prévot and Tom Dumoulin empty-handed. Who would have thought? As a Nobel laureate in physics once said, ‘prediction is difficult, especially if it’s about the future.’

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