Van Vleuten leads Dutch women to world time-trial sweep wearing lucky earrings

Damian MCCALL
Netherland's Annemiek Van Vleuten, pictured September 2017, completed the 27.7 course in 34mins 25 sec

Olympic champion Annemiek van Vleuten defended her world championship time-trial title on Tuesday as compatriots Anna van der Breggen and Ellen van Dijk completed an-all Dutch podium.

Van Vleuten completed the 27.7km course in 34mins 25sec, with Van der Breggen second at 28secs and Van Dijk third at 1min 25sec.

The Dutchwoman shot to fame at the Rio Games when she won gold in the road race despite falling several times.

She later admitted she had covered the whole course at least ten times and then watched her own video of the course at nights on her phone.

"We came in May and covered it four or five times on 'recon', then I covered the entire course every day since we got here with the team," said Van Vleuten.

"I know every single corner."

She added: "I usually make up time on the climbs and I put the pedal down on the climb, I went out fast and I know I had an amazing second part but then I just died at the end, I had no energy left.

"So I was exhausted and unsure If I'd won so I was surprised it was 28 seconds," she said.

-- 'No dancing tonight' --

Van Vleuten also revealed she had been wearing 'lucky' earrings her recently-deceased father had given her before the Rio Games.

"After what happened in Rio I wasn't sure they were lucky, and said so to my mum but she was like 'no, no, they're lucky'," she said.

"But I wore them last year in Bergen (where she won the 2017 world time trial), which was a a new chapter and now I wore them again today so I think now we can say they are lucky."

Looking ahead to Saturday's road race, Van Vleuten said there was plenty of time to rest up.

"I won't be going dancing tonight," she joked. "So don't worry, I'm in really good shape."

Van der Breggen also finished second last year in Bergen and said: "It's nice we made history with the 1-2-3, which is great for Dutch fans, I just wish it had been in a different order."

Bronze medallist Van Dijk, 31, said: "Unfortunately this was not the team time trial, it was the individual one."

All three will now line up for Saturday's women's road race over the same pristine Tyrol roads with their dramatic Alpine backdrop.