IMOLA, Italy — Anna van der Breggen won the women’s time trial at the road cycling world championships on Thursday after defending champion Chloe Dygert crashed.
Van der Breggen was runner-up in the time trial at four of the previous five championships, and the Dutchwoman was in tears after finishing in Imola.
Marlen Reusser of Switzerland was second, 15.58 seconds behind, and Ellen van Dijk third over the 32-kilometre (20-mile) route which started and ended on the city’s auto racing circuit.
"Getting second for many years, I would say that I really can’t believe it yet," Van der Breggen said. "I had no idea, I just said to Danny Stam, my director in the car, `don’t give me any time splits. It doesn’t matter, I just want to go as fast as possible to the finish line.’
"I only heard on the finish line that I won."
Leah Kirchmann of Winnipeg was 21st and Karol-Ann Canuel of Amos, Que., was 22nd.
Dygert was one of the favourites and had a lead of nearly half a minute at the intermediate checkpoint but the American appeared to lose control on a small descent and crashed into a roadside barrier, hurtling over it.
The 23-year-old was treated by medical staff at the side of the road before being transferred into an ambulance. USA Cycling tweeted Dygert was conscious and talking, but did not give details on the extent of her injuries.
It added that it would give a further update once "we have absolute clear confirmation as to her condition."
Van der Breggen also claimed gold in the time trial at the European road cycling championships last month. She won gold in the road race and silver in the time trial at the Olympic Games in 2016 as well as world road race gold in 2018.
The 30-year-old Van der Breggen has already announced that she plans to retire at the end of next season.
The worlds were moved to Imola after Swiss host Aigle-Martigny backed out because of a government ruling limiting mass gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The revised event features only elite men’s and women’s categories, eliminating junior and under-23 races.
The men’s time trial takes place on Friday, the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s road race on Sunday — exactly a week after the Tour de France ended.