Road World Championships 2023: elite women's time trial contenders and prediction

There's a handful of leading contenders for the 2023 world time trial title – but can an outsider upset the favourites?

After a thrilling opening weekend to the 2023 UCI Road World Championships that saw Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) triumph on the streets of Glasgow, all attention now moves to the time trials.

After the Mixed Relay event on Tuesday, the next elite riders in competition will be the women, who take on a 32.6km course in the individual time trial on Thursday (August 10).

Unlike the road race course, which is defined by a complex and challenging circuit full of corners, the time trial route is relatively straightforward in comparison. It’s by no means flat, but it features long sections of straight roads that will allow the more powerful time trialists to make inroads on anyone lighter-weight. The sting in the tail is the tough climb to the finish at Stirling Castle, which could easily make or break the race for any rider who hasn’t paced their effort correctly.

With 49 women set to take to the start line, here’s the favourites amongst them to win the rainbow jersey in the time trial.

Marlen Reusser (Switzerland)

As such an accomplished time trialist, it’d be easy to make the mistake of thinking Marlen Reusser had previously won the time trial world title. While the Swiss has regularly gone well at the Worlds, her efforts have each time been undone by the Dutch. Two consecutive second places in 2020 and 2021 saw her take silver behind Anna van der Breggen and Ellen van Dijk respectively, while in 2022 Van Dijk retained her title with Australia’s Grace Brown beating her to second place on that occasion.

Those aforementioned Dutch riders won’t now be an obstacle for Reusser (Van der Breggen is now retired while Van Dijk is currently on maternity leave), and the varied course in Stirling should suit her. Powerful enough to beat most of the field on the flats, Reusser is also a very strong climber and so should be able to gain an advantage on the final ascent.

Marlen Reusser

Photo by Thomas Maheux/SWPix

The 31-year-old has won both WorldTour time trials she’s entered this year, including the final time trial at the Tour de France Femmes just over a week ago. If she can carry that form over to Scotland, she’ll be a strong favourite for victory.

Grace Brown (Australia)

Like Reusser, Grace Brown is remarkably consistent when it comes to time trials. A multiple national champion, she’s almost always within the top-five in any race against the clock. Outside of National Championships though, a Commonwealth Games gold is her biggest victory, having yet been unable to convert her high placings into a major win in time trials.

Grace Brown

(Photo by Thomas Maheux/SWPix)

Second place in Australia last year was Brown’s best result in the Worlds, and the course should be well suited to her in Stirling. An excellent climber – particularly in the shorter, punchier climbs of the Classics – the final climb to the finish shouldn’t pose a problem, but another podium seems like a more realistic result for Brown.

Chloe Dygert (USA)

Chloe Dygert absolutely decimated the field when she won the World Championships time trial in Yorkshire in 2019 as a 22-year-old, beating a start list of experienced and decorated road riders who probably didn’t expect quite that level of performance from the American.

Chloe Dygert

(Photo by Getty Images)

After suffering a gruesome injury while defending her title in 2020, she spent months recovering and really only launched her road career in Europe in earnest this year. Dygert has looked in scintillating form already this season on the road, as well as on the track, having already won the individual pursuit world title in Glasgow earlier this week.

She’ll be much more suited to the flat power sections of the course, but the climb may prove to be less of a disadvantage to her than it may have previously been given her rise in form on the road. A powerful and exceptionally strong time trial specialist, if Dygert doesn’t win a second rainbow jersey we could certainly expect her to be on the podium.

Demi Vollering (Netherlands)

She’s the superstar of the women’s peloton and has been almost all-conquering on the road this year, but Demi Vollering has perhaps yet to show her full potential in time trials. This year’s Worlds will be her first ever appearance in the elite time trial, given she’s previously been overlooked with former champions Anna van der Breggen, Ellen van Dijk and Annemiek van Vleuten picked ahead of her in the past.

Though Vollering has only ever won one professional time trial (in the Women’s Tour in 2021), she’s looked in strong form in the discipline this year finishing second in each race she’s competed in, including against a field at the Tour de France Femmes that featured many of the favourites for the World title.

Demi Vollering

(Photo by Thomas Maheux/SWPix)

Her Dutch teammate Riejanne Markus is one of the riders to beat Vollering this year, getting the better of her in the National Championships in June. They both could achieve a strong result on Thursday, but given Vollering’s continued progression, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if she pulled off another remarkable victory.

Vittoria Guazzini (Italy)

Italy’s Vittoria Guazzini is already one of the peloton’s stand out time trialists, and looks on course to become one of the next star specialists against the clock. At just 22, she’s already conquered the European Championships and World Championships in the under-23 category, and finished fourth in the elite category at the Worlds last year in Australia.

A fourth in the Italian National Championships earlier this year was perhaps below her expected level, but eighth in the final time trial at the Tour was an impressive result; Guazzini was the only under-23 rider to make it into the top-10 on the final stage.

Vittoria Guazzini

(Photo by Getty Images)

A win in the Worlds is perhaps a tall order for Guazzini this year, but she’s already shown she has the potential to make it on to the podium if she has one of her best days.

Other contenders

The 2008 and 2016 world champion Amber Neben is back competing again for the USA at the age of 48, having skipped the time trial in Wollongong last year. She’s been competing in the World Championships time trials since 2002, but still remains one of her nation's top riders in the discipline, finishing third in the US Nationals this year. A third career win would be an astonishing feat, but a top-10 after such a long and distinguished career would still be a unique achievement.

Former French national champion Juliette Labous, has looked in rising form this season and is a strong time trial rider, but she’s yet to really score a top result so far against the clock and a top-five would be an impressive result for the 24-year-old.

Britain’s Anna Henderson and national champion Lizzie Holden seem relatively evenly matched in their time trialling ability given their head-to-head record. A win seems like a long-shot, but a top-10 for either is a real possibility, and would be only the third time in 10 years a Briton has achieved that.

The 2020 Olympic road race champion Anna Kiesenhofer is four-time Austrian national time trial champion and has recorded two fifth place finishes in the European Championships as well. She’s not quite pulled it together at the Worlds just yet in four attempts, but a first top-10 last year demonstrated progression for the 32-year-old.


We think Marlen Reusser will win her first World Championship time trial title.

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