Chloé Dygert had the most dominant ride in history. It still drives her nuts

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As Chloé Dygert stood atop the podium, after the most dominant time trial in world road cycling championships history, she had to remind herself to smile. The silver medalist, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen, wasn’t convinced.

“Are you happy that you won?” van der Breggen asked her on Sept. 24 in Yorkshire, Great Britain.

“I must not have looked or seemed very happy about it,” Dygert said recently. “I am told by several people that I don’t really show too much emotion, or not happy emotion, when I’m on the podium.”

Dygert let her bike riding leave the ultimate impression. She replayed her emphatic victory — by 92 seconds on an 18-mile course to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics — with NBC Sports cycling host Paul Burmeister for a special edition replay that will air on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.

It’s part of four nights of watchbacks:

2019 World Road Cycling Championships Special Edition TV Schedule (all 8 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel)
Monday: Women’s Time Trial (with Chloé Dygert)
Tuesday: Women’s Road Race (with Chloé Dygert)
Wednesday: Men’s Time Trial (with Rohan Dennis)
Thursday: Men’s Road Race (with Lawson Craddock)

Dygert, at 22, became the youngest man or woman to win a world title in the road time trial. But as she waited for the last riders to finish, and as she received her gold medal and rainbow jersey, she kept thinking about how she could have — should have — gone faster.

Not pushing enough on a descent. Being too conservative on a turn. Most vivid, the line she took with 1km to go, just outside her hotel, that took her way outside of the barriers.

“If I see it, I’m not even going to watch it because I just know how frustrated I am with it,” she said. “It drives me nuts. I get fired up talking about it.”

It fits Dygert’s personality. Growing up outside Indianapolis, she was moved from a girls’ soccer team to the boys. “I was a little too mean and aggressive,” she said. She played basketball but broke too many bones — her own and those of other girls. “Not on purpose,” she said, “but I was just so much bigger and naturally so much stronger.”

She wanted to be Larry Bird. Then she ran cross-country and wanted to be Steve Prefontaine. She picked up cycling in earnest around age 15. At 18, she swept junior world titles in the road race and time trial. At 19, she won an Olympic team pursuit silver medal on the track.

Dygert goes into races expecting to win and with a goal to hurt more than every other cyclist. It was evident at the end of her time trial on the wet roads of Yorkshire, collapsing on the pavement when she dismounted her bike.

“If I don’t perform and train how I should so I can be like that at the end of a race, it’s almost like it doesn’t count,” said Dygert, whose coach is three-time Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong.

Dygert’s intensity manifests in her warm-up playlist: There’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. But the majority being songs from “Rocky” film soundtracks. The crescendo is music from “Rocky IV” when Balboa is fighting Ivan Drago.

“So every time I hear that song now [outside of racing], I have to turn it off because I can’t handle it,” she said. “It’s amazing, the power of music.”

Cycling is the rare Olympic sport with a world championships every year, including Olympic years. The 2020 World Championships are still scheduled for late September.

Dygert could get the chance to defend her title and better her fourth-place finish from the road race in 2019. She missed the breakaway last year when her chain dropped, and she had to manually remount it.

Then in 2021, Dygert is expected to race three events in Tokyo — road race, road time trial and team pursuit on the track. She will try to succeed Armstrong as the time trial gold medalist and lead the U.S. to its first women’s Olympic title on the track.

It would be historic. What it might not be is completely satisfying.

“Even when I win, I’m still not happy,” Dygert said. “It’s very hard, and I bet it is frustrating for those girls [other cyclists] to see that, especially when they bring it up to me. I do feel bad. That’s who I am. That’s not going to change. I want to be the best at anything and everything. I want to beat the boys. I don’t care.”

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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