A memorable first day of Nationals Championships in Italy, the Netherlands and Latvia
The traditional week dedicated to the awarding of National titles (in most countries around the world) started in the best way possible for Trek-Segafredo. Out of six competitions, the Team’s riders won no less than five titles: Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen Van Dijk, Bauke Mollema and Toms Skujins are the new Elite National time trial champions while Shirin Van Anrooij is the best among the U23s.
For the third year in a row (and sixth overall) Elisa Longo Borghini took the Tricolore jersey.
“Winning is always a great feeling. What makes today’s success special is the level of the performance, moreover on a course that did not suit my characteristics. Among all my TT races at the national championships, this is undoubtedly one of my best. The time trial is a specialty I like, but for which I have never applied myself to the fullest, partly due to lack of opportunities. Luckily, however, the next Giro d’Italia will start with a prologue for the first time and I will be able to show it [the tricolore] off, with great pride. I believe that, for the future, improving further in time trials can become an interesting test.”
Elisa also equalled the record for the number of victories in the history of the the Italian Women’s TT, tieing with Tatiana Guderzo.
“I found out today, to tell the truth. To leave a mark in the history of Italian women’s cycling gives me a great satisfaction. Needless to say, I will try, in the future, to consolidate it.”
World champion Ellen Van Dijk claimed her fifth national title, 15 years after her first.
“It was a really great day because we had a very nice team here from Trek-Segafredo. We were here with only four riders but everyone has seen the results now. It was really amazing! It’s special to experience a day like this together, especially when everything is running so well and so smoothly. It’s super nice.
“Personally, I am happy with my time trial. Maybe it sounds or looks quite easy to win the national championships when you are world champion but it never is and for sure, there was some pressure to win. I also, of course, wanted to win so I am happy I could ride a smooth time trial. Even though I have achieved a lot already, in a time trial you always want to get the maximum out of yourself and that is always stressful. Times never lie.
“I am very happy with my effort today and it was also cool to see Shirin riding so well. Our youngster was second fastest today and first U23 so it’s safe to say the future is coming and it’s really cool to see especially because she is from our team. All in all, it was a very nice day and we really made it a good one with the team.”
Meanwhile, Bauke Mollema became champion in his very first appearance (in his 15th year as a pro) at the national TT championship and was accompanied on the podium by young talent Daan Hoole, who took the bronze medal)
“I was really not expecting to win today and actually, that might make this one of the most beautiful wins of my career. My TTs have been going well and I really wanted to go for it but I was expecting that if I had a great day maybe I could finish on the podium, take third place or something like that. I just went full gas, I didn’t have anything to lose so I started pretty fast, like I always do actually in TTs. I was able to keep more or less the same pace all the way to the finish and keep a really good aero position. I think that was also important on this fast course.
“I had the fastest time at intermediate checkpoints and I knew the split times from Daan, who eventually finished third and doing a really good TT also. It was really good to hear that I was 10 – 20 seconds in front at those points, it was good for the motivation.
“The course was only two laps, nothing really technical at all, just four or five corners every lap so it was more about staying aero and pushing a lot. I surprised myself with how many watts I was able to push. I think I did a really good performance. This is first TT champs I’ve done since U23 in 2006 probably, so a long time ago.
“During my career, I have done some good TTs in Grand Tour and stage races but never been really a specialist. I should say I’ve also done some bad ones every now and then too. However, I’ve been feeling good on the new Speed Concept we starting using last year and I’ve got a good warm up schedule, and way of approaching a TT now. All of that gave me more confidence for today.
“Over the last two years or so, I’ve been thinking about doing the TT championships but because of various reasons, I didn’t do it. Today I just wanted to give it my all and luckily I could hold my power. So overall, I’m surprised but super happy.”
A great performance in the Netherlands was capped off by Shirin Van Anrooij, second behind Ellen but still the fastest among the Under 23s.
Toms Skujins defended the title of National champion after last year’s success and winning his first in 2018. In third place shone teammate Emils Liepins.
“I was hesitant about coming for nationals because it’s always tough to bring all the equipment, it’s a lot of planning and it can be a headache not getting the same support I have when riding with Trek-Segafredo. At the same time, we have a great relationship here with the local Trek dealer and they’re always happy to help – if not for them perhaps I would not come. It’s always nice to get the jersey, so if I do come, then I give it 100% to win. It’s never easy, every TT you do you go full gas”
“I did what I could, I think I started out too fast but at the same time I had the feeling that I had an advantage at the midpoint, so I just had to hold on as much as I could and luckily, I had enough in reserve to manage. I’m happy that my teammate Emils is standing on the podium with me. Of course, it will be nice to have the jersey for another year, representing the Latvian colors in every TT I do, and hopefully we get to keep the Latvian colors in the team in the road race on Sunday. I know Emils and I will start with targets on our backs but fortunately, we have each other to rely on and we will do our best to win the jersey between us.”