Cervélo Bigla produced yet another convincing performance in a season packed with highlights by winning the bronze medal in the women’s team time-trial at the World Championships in Bergen, Norway.
A talented, six-woman line-up, in which half of the squad are national time-trial champions (South Africa, Finland, and Denmark), finished less than half-a-minute behind gold medalists Team Sunweb and just 12 seconds behind runners-up, Boels-Dolmans. By matching last year’s achievement, but with a significantly changed line-up, the Endura-backed squad, racing in the Eurobike Award-winning Encapsulator speed suit, crowned a season that had already brought 20 victories. Team manager Thomas Campana hailed his young team as a “golden generation”.
“I’m very proud of this team. It’s a development and evolution of the team from last year. Last year we had more than a one-minute delay on the world champions, and this year we were leading the race for almost two thirds of the distance - what a great improvement. If you consider the age of the team, we have a golden generation here.”
The team time-trial caps a long and successful season for Cervélo Bigla. With victories in the most prestigious Spring Classics for Lotta Lepistö, more stage race wins for Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (most recently at the Giro Toscana), and overall victory in the season-long campaign for supremacy in the UCI Women’s WorldTour youth category for Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, it’s been a season to remember. National titles too have not been in short supply, with Swiss champion Nicole Hanselmann and Lisa Klein, the German women’s road race champion, adding to the haul of the aforementioned trio. Klein contributed to Cervélo Bigla’s team time-trial performance and Hanselmann will represent Switzerland later this week.
Campana’s challenge next year will be to build on the success of 2017, but with shrewd signings (British time-trial champion Claire Rose, Danish road race champion Emma Norsgaard, and Poland’s Daria Pilulik) the future looks bright.
Movistar Team, Endura’s presence in the men’s UCI WorldTour, were also in action in Bergen, finishing a creditable sixth place in the men’s team time-trial, a competition increasingly contested by squads comprised of specialists.
The Spanish grandees included Britain’s Alex Dowsett, the reigning Commonwealth time-trial champion, and Jonathan Castroviejo, the reigning time-trial champion of Europe and Spain, among its six-man line-up, but the absence of Portuguese time-trial champion Nelson Oliveira, who just a week earlier had finished the three-week La Vuelta España, left them at a disadvantage.
A courageous performance however, made in the Encapsulator suit, saw the Pamplona-based squad record a time of 49:09 on a technical course in Bergen. With team leader Alejandro Valverde recovering from injury, and former Italian time-trial champion Adriano Malori retiring mid-season, the Blues fielded far from their strongest line-up, but can be content with a strong performance.
Many of the riders both of Cervélo Bigla and Movistar Team will remain in Bergen this week to compete in their national colours in individual time-trials and road races. Seven days of racing reaches its climax at the weekend with the road races for elite men and elite women. The winners of both races will win the right to compete in the coveted rainbow jersey for the season ahead.