Switzerland, featuring the powerhouse time triallists of Marlen Reusser, Stefan Bissegger, and Stefan Küng, became the first nation to retain the mixed relay team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships, overcoming Reusser’s mid-race crash to put themselves in rainbows for the second consecutive year.
The six-rider squad kicked things off with Küng, Bissegger and Mauro Schmid topping the timing table after one lap of the technical Glasgow city-centre circuit, leaving the women’s trio with a 19-second advantage over Italy to play with.
But things didn’t go fully to plan for the team, with Reusser going down midway through the lap, sliding out on a corner while racing in between Elise Chabbey and Nicole Koller. The 31-year-old, who along with her teammates was part of the winning squad last year, was quickly back up, though, helping to deliver her nation to victory by seven seconds ahead of France.
Speaking in the post-race press conference, Reusser joked that her fall wasn’t part of the plan to defend their title before thanking her male teammates for giving them the head start in time before the women set off down the start ramp.
“So, this was not the strategy,” Reusser joked. “I did what I shouldn’t do – I pedalled too early in the corner and crashed because of it. It was really stupid but we stayed calm and I was quickly back on the bike. We stuck to the plan and finished OK.
“We – the female cyclists of the team – are very happy that the men always put us in such a nice time. Last year we went out with a 22-second advantage, this year 20-second advantage, so they give us some time to do stupid things maybe [joke] so it’s very nice and thank you guys.”
Küng, who is in flying form after finishing fifth at the elite men’s road race on Sunday, shed some light on how his Swiss squad coped with the atypical time trial course, which included somewhere in the region of 60 corners as well as numerous rises and hills.
“I think it’s really important on this course to trust each other because if you do then you can stay on the wheel,” he said. “That’s the only thing we asked from our national coach in the car, to tell us if we’re on the line after each corner because we can’t look back – we have to focus on what’s coming next and pushing on.
“We also had a plan for how to finish. Stefan Bissegger did a good lead-out into the final climb and then it was up to me and Mauro to finish. I think the whole strategy worked out really well.”