Specialized-Lululemon power to women's road world team time trial win

Team averaged more than 50km/h to take the win

This article originally appeared on Cyclingnews.com.

The Specialized-Lululemon team won the first world title of the 2013 world road race championships in Tuscany, dominating the women's team time trial to secure a second consecutive world title.

Specialized-Lululemon set a time of 51:10 for the 42.7km course, riding at an average over 50km/h. The Rabo Women Cycling Team was second at 1:11, with Orica-AIS finishing third fastest at 1:33. The Australian outfit had suffered a crash in training on Saturday.

Trixi Worrack, Eleonora Van Dijk, Evelyn Stevens, Carmen Small, Katie Colclough and Lisa Brennauer rightly celebrated their second consecutive world title with a group hug and huge smiles on the podium.

"Now we have a double rainbow," Steven said.

"This was a huge objective for the team. It's a great way to end the season. We were nervous coming into the race because when you're the one who is supposed to win, you feel the pressure."

The women's team time trial was not shown live on television, instead it was broadcast as a recap prior to the men's race a few hours later. "That's a disappointment," Steven said.

"We did a 51km/h average speed and showed the beauty of women's cycling. Hopefully this will help get more coverage in the future. Women's cycling is on the up. This is a demonstration of how dedicated, strong and powerful we are."

Wiggle-Honda finished sixth, 2:33 behind the winners, Argos-Shimano was surprisingly only seventh at 2:50, while Hitek Products was 13th. Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies was eighth at 3:03.

16 teams in action

A total of 16 teams lined-up for the team time trial at the start in Pistoia early on Sunday morning. Speed, power and the combined strength of six riders would be the keys to victory on the flat course, with only the final three kilometres in the centre of Florence, in the shadow of the Duomo and along the banks of the Arno river, expected to test the team's TTT skills.

The Rusvelo team lacked smoothness but was aggressive on the flat roads and the technical finale, setting the fastest time and enjoying a long spell in the hot seat for much of the race with a final time of 53:13.

However the intermediate time splits indicated that the Russian team was only the fourth fastest team out on the road and that Specialized-Lululemon, Rabo and Orica-AIS would go on to fight for the medals.

Both Orica-AIS and Rabo were well drilled and disciplined, with their six riders in a tight team pursuit-like line on the long straight roads. But they did not have the speed during the whole distance to match Specialized- Lululemon.

At the first time check after 9.7km Orica-AIS was only 1.87 seconds slower than Specialized-Lululemon with Rabo at 11 seconds but by the second time split after 27.7km, following the long, flat and very straight section of road, Rabo was 53 seconds down, with Orica-AIS at 50 seconds.

The final kilometres in Florence would be important but Specialized-Lululemon had the experience to keep their cool and negotiated the turns, narrows roads and cobbled streets without losing time or riders.

Rabo crossed the line first, stopping the clock in 52:21. It was fast enough to beat Orica-AIS, who came in behind them and set a time of 52:44 but Specialized-Lululemon was flying and stopped the clock in 51:10.

Marianne Vos accepted defeat, knowing it was virtually impossible to beat Specialized- Lululemon.

"We wanted to race our own race, and do as good as we could," she said.

"In Sweden we were second, so of course we were aiming for silver or even gold, but we knew it was going to be hard. You see the difference was big, this was the max we could do."

"The final technical part in Firenze suited us, we knew we had to do well there and we could gain some time."

"We had no idea we were down on the first check and we didn't hear anything about the second check, probably because we were third there. Our coach just said to keep going, that this was our part of the course, and we tried to ride that part as smooth as possible."

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