Dame Sarah Storey won the seventh WC5 time trial world title of her career, while Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby, Katie Toft, Ben Watson and Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall also won medals on day one of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Emmen, the Netherlands, today.
Storey was the final rider to start in her category, reflecting her status as defending champion and overwhelming favourite. Despite some impressive times being recorded elsewhere, Storey’s progress throughout the two laps of the 10.4km course was serene, and she crossed the line in 29:41.90 - almost a minute ahead of silver medallist Anna Harkowska - to seal yet another world title.
Her team-mate, Crystal Lane-Wright, finished an agonising eight seconds outside the medal places as she took fourth, in 31:02.42.
Afterwards, Storey said:
“I wasn’t sure what sort of time it was going to take to win – you never quite know until the course is properly closed and barriered. I’m delighted – I was the only rider under 30 minutes in the women’s categories and to nearly catch Anna (Harkowska) on the line was good.
“I had the support of my children – Louisa and Charlie – here, and they both made me smile on the start line when they were cheering away. That definitely added to the experience, and made me even more motivated to do a good time for them.”
Tandem duo Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby’s defence of their title ended with a silver medal, as they were edged out by the Dutch pairing Vincent Ter Schure and Timo Fransen. Competing over three laps of the course, the Britons stopped the clock at 36:44.50 – 27 seconds outside the time of the Dutch.
Katie Toft also claimed silver – in the WC1 category - recording a time of 37:59.26 (two laps), which was just over 30 seconds slower than the winner, China’s Wangwei Qian.
Ben Watson and tandem pairing Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall then added to Britain’s medal haul in the final two events of the day, winning bronze. Watson replicated his achievements of last year by clocking 42:40.05 (three laps), which was enough for third. Team-mate Jaco van Gass was fifth after stopping the clock in 43:23.29.
“I was really happy – I think that’s probably one of the best time trials I’ve ever done. I rode it really well, despite a couple of dodgy moments where I was maybe pushing the corners a bit too much, but other than that I was really happy with how I rode it.
“To come away with third and be 50-odd seconds off the win is something I’m really happy with. Everyone in the world is stepping up, but I’ve made some big gains and had a really good season.”
Also occupying third place on the medal podium were Fachie and Hall, who added to their impressive world championships medal collection. The British duo registered a time of 42:11.54 (three laps), which saw them comfortably take third. The event was won by reigning champions Katie-George Dunleavy and Eve McCrystal of Ireland, who stopped the clock in 41:02.51.
Will Bjergfelt just missed out on a first road world championships medal, as he finished fourth in the hotly-contested MC5 event. Australia’s Alistair Donohue put down an early marker with a time of 39:22.52 (three laps), and although Bjergfelt was one of three other men to dip under 40 minutes, his time of 39:50.72 placed him just outside the medal positions.
Matthew Robertson was the first British rider of the day down the start ramp, and he recorded a 12th-place finish in the MC2 category, with a time of 30:52.44 over two laps. Australia’s Darren Hicks took gold in 28:24.53.
The remaining time trial events take place tomorrow, when David Stone and Craig Collis-McCann (MT2), Hannah Dines (WT2) and Karen Darke (WH3) will be in action for Great Britain. The road races across all categories will then take place on Saturday and Sunday.