|Yellow color of the sun, yellow color of the fourth line on the rainbow jersey, yellow color of the cheese. Swiss cheese representing the two Dutch women who sided the world champion Zoulfia Zabirova on the podium of today's time trail. Both did surprisingly well. Nicole Brandli most of all surprised herself. She did want to prove that she too could do well on a course different to the one last year in Lisbon. When being asked where she gained time she burst out in laughing and answers in juicy Schwietzerduuts: "I mostly gained time in the second part of the race, the part where the little climb was." Even more surprised was the number three on the podium, Karin Thuerig. Like she never did another thing so far in her life she tells the assembled press at the press conference she really had no idea where she would end up. She knew most of the girls she had to compete with by name but had no clue whatsoever where she would finish in this field. At the national timetrial championships in Switzerland she noticed her legs were not going that bad and she started to look forward to this race. It was, in her opinion, not to her advantage or disadvantage that she had to start as the second one. But both Braendli and Thuerig never expected to even win a medal.
The American women in the persons of Amber Neben and Kimberly Bruckner both were satisfied in their race. Both telling the same story, that is was really difficult with the tailwinds, to tell what pace best to go. As for the womens road race Amber tells that at the meeting of the team the day before decided what the tactics will be in the race. "And since we do not have any great sprinters I guess we will be going for the attack-tactic. I take this as a dry run for next year, for Hamilton. My European experience really made me a lot stronger. Races over here are so much more hard, so many strong riders, it sure has been all a bit overwhelming. I get adjusted really well, stay with this team too the next year." Neben finished 15th, Bruckner 16th. Another rider who starts with mentioning the tailwind is Australians Alison Wright. In the final standings she is found at the 13th spot. Allison did expect worse when hearing the World Championships would be held in Belgium: "We expected snow and rain and all sorts of bad weather." But much to her surprise the sun managed to warm up the coldened eastern wind and made it a pleasant day to be outdoors.
The Swiss happiness was joined by gold medallist Zoulfia Zabirova. She keeps on smiling her head off, keeps on joking around with the present Russian press. She starts answering in English, finds that too difficult to put her emotions in words and goes on in fluent Italian. When being asked if she is surprised by the bad times noted down by the main favourites like Zijlaard-Van Moorsel and Longo she answers very down to earth, that she feels they are the ones that are surprised by her doing so well. "I started really bad in the first couple of kilometres. But as a result of that I could finish very strongly. My preparation was doing 5 timetrials so far this season, winning both the national championships and the timetrial in Reims, France. Last night the in Lugano, Switzerland, living and originating from Moskwa Russian, she spent the whole night dreaming of this race, a day which started even better when she opened the curtains and saw no rain pouring down. This and the flatter course with less curves gave her more and more the feeling this could be her day. A day on which she really wanted to win, to win to let the bad feelings over two times missing the gold medal (once in Valkenburg, once in San Sebastian) go away.
Zabirova's warming up was coloured by the news her countryman Mikhail Ignatiev beat his ever lasting rival from Oz Mark 'Jammo' Jamieson in the juniors timetrial. Italy once again grabbed a medal with Vincenzo Nibali. Ignatiev and Jamieson know each other through and through via the Austrailian track competition. Jammo explains: "When he first was around he did not speak English whatsoever, and my Russian too is not that good. But after a while we really got acquainted, too because we seem to be running into each other lots of times when it comes to winning." Ignatiev originates from Saint Petersburg but currently has his residence in Spain. He tells: "I prepared for this race as efficient as possible. I did some stage races, won some stages, did a training session in Spain but came back to the colder northern Europe. Being from Russia I'm used to this sort of temperatures." He still not trusts himself in speaking English in front of all the international journalists but answers very consistent when being asked if this meant a lot beating Jammo now after Mark beat him at the World track championships in the pursuit event. A confident YES fills the air.
As for Mark, he did not know that Mikhail would be his main opponent in the race today. "I only found out he was too competing when I saw the starting list late yesterday afternoon. Before I knew that I thought both Thomas Dekker and Rabobank junior Jukka Vastaranta would be the ones fighting for gold. And now I added Ignatiev to that list. Seeing this result I think the best one won and I am very happy with my silver medal. I keep on focusing on the road races next year, but wanna do some track races too, if just because we in Australia next year have such a great programme for that. In that way I mirror myself to riders like Stuart O'Grady and Bradley McGee, being great in road AND track." When Ignatiev is being asked if he has a role model, an idol he names Vatcheslav Ekimov, the Russian rider in the US Postal team who surprised the world in winning the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics.
One swear after another, three letter word pops out of the mouth of Dutchman Huub Duyn. After his timetrial he really is really really disappointed. "I didn't even feel my legs, they did not hurt at all, I was doing soooooooooooo lousy, had problems breathing. Guess I just was too nervous being at the Worlds for the first time. Yesterday my legs felt really good, so I had great hopes for today. But no." Duyn finished 20th.
Wednesday in Zolder added some unexpected colours to the day and to the week of the Worlds.