Road Worlds Day2 1130x600
Team USA

Amber Neben Places Fourth in the Elite Women’s Time Trial in Flanders

By: Tom Mahoney  September 20, 2021

Team USA scores three top-15 placings with Neben, Sheffield, and Thomas.

The second day of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships saw three top-15 finishes from Team USA. Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.; Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling) took the top spot for the U.S., earning fourth in the Elite Women’s field. Newcomer to the U23 Men’s field, Magnus Sheffield (Pittsford, N.Y.; INEOS Grenadiers), had a solid showing in his first World Championship Time Trial placing tenth. Finally, Leah Thomas (Santa Clara, Calif.; Movistar Team Women) pushed through a bike exchange to place fourteenth in the Elite Women’s event.

Elite Women

Neben pushed a tremendous effort to finish fourth in the Elite Women’s time trial event. She consistently hit the splits in the first or second position; she was guaranteed a top-five placing with just three riders behind her. Neben finished her ride in a time of 36:29.56.

Neben has a history of winning World Championship Time Trials in an Olympic year as she rode to gold in 2008 and 2016. This year it was different. Five weeks ago, Neben was in a bike vs. car crash, where she fractured her pelvis in three spots. Talking about the difference between this championship and the last time she won the world title, she said, “Today was a completely different world championship for me. You know, I've never come into a big event like this. Coming off of a pelvis fracture and no training and preparation like I normally do. So it was a completely different field. But, at the same time, it's still a world championship, and so mentally, I was really locked in. I know what it takes on the day and how to get ready to perform in that sense, even though physically it wasn't. I wasn't dialed physically, and the rest of me was prepped.”

Fellow Tokyo Olympian Thomas took to the 30.3-kilometer course in the race against the clock. Unfortunately, she had a mechanical on course and had to do a bike change with her mechanics. Even though she had to make up time with the exchange, she still finished 14th with a time of 38:55.79.

A bike exchange is never something a rider wants to do during a time trial. Thomas felt disappointed that she couldn’t perform like she thought she would, saying, “I am so disappointed. A bike change is not what anyone wants during a World Championships TT, and it left me unable to get the kind of time that I know I could have done. I think Mike and Aaron handled the situation great, so I want to thank them for that.” Talking about looking towards the future and her next time trial, she continued, “Today's ride stings for a variety of reasons, but I will take away mini-lessons from experience, like fighting and digging until the very end and not losing focus. I’m excited to come back stronger and have the opportunity to focus more on time trialing next year.”


1. Ellen van Djik (NED) 36:05.28

2. Marlen Resseur (SUI) +10.29

3. Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) +24.02

4. Amber Neben (USA) +1:24.28

14. Leah Thomas (USA) +2:50.51

Full Results can be found here.

U23 Men

Sheffield rode a solid race, maintaining the fastest split to the first intermediate checkpoint on the course for the day, in a time of 15:57.58. He would sit in the hot seat of the top-three riders for the majority of the race, not being bumped from there until the last 14 riders. Sheffield finished tenth, 58.95 seconds back from the winner Johan Price Pejtersen of Denmark, in a time of 35:28.70.

This is Sheffield’s first year as a U23 rider, missing last year’s Junior race because of the COVID pandemic. Talking about competing in his first time trial at the world’s level, he said, “This is the first time I’ve raced most of the guys today since a lot of them are two to three years older. The time trial was so individual; I focused only on the things I could control. The main factor to this course was the wind, given that the course was completely flat. I planned to start fast and ride at a steady pace throughout. I faded a bit towards the end, where the top guys could stay on the gas. I’m happy with a top-10, especially since it’s my first year as a U23, and after everything, we’ve gone through the past year.”

Also wearing the red, white, and blue in the U23 Men’s field was Matthew Riccitello (Tucson, Ariz.; Hagens Berman Axeon). Riccitello had a solid ride, stopping the clock at 36:26.62, placing him in 30th.

Next up for Riccitello is the U23 Men’s road race on Friday. When discussing the team’s strength for the event ending in Leuven, he said, “The team we have for the road race is really strong. It’s always nice to come together after racing on a couple of different teams for the majority of the year. I’m looking forward to putting a plan together and racing aggressively on Friday. I think with this team, we have a good shot at a solid result.”


1. Johan Price Peftersen (DEN) 34:29.75

2. Lucas Plapp (AUS) +10.24

3. Florian Vermeersch (BEL) +11.39

10. Magnus Sheffield (USA) +58.95

30. Matthew Riccitello (USA) +1:56.87

Full Results can be found here.

Coming Up

Juniors are the name of the game for Tuesday’s time trial events. The Junior Women will kick things off with Makayla MacPherson (Corona, Calif.; LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized) going first for Team USA at 10:52:30 CET / 04:52:30 ET. National Champion Olivia Cummins (Fort Collins, Colo.; LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized) will start her ride at 11:40:30 CET / 05:40:30 ET. On the Junior Men’s side, Alex Gustin (San Diego; LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized) goes first at 15:15:00 CET / 09:15:00 ET. Cole Kessler (Newbury Park, Calif.; LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized) will round out USA Cycling’s Individual Time Trial riders, starting 16:21:00 CET / 10:21:00 ET.

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