Chloe Dygert

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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Chloe Dygert breaks world record, keeps perfect record with another world title

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Chloe Dygert extended her perfect world track cycling championships record with another world record, winning the individual pursuit in Berlin on Saturday.

Dygert, an Olympic team pursuit silver medalist, has entered seven career track worlds events and won all of them — all individual and team pursuits. The individual pursuit is not on the Olympic program.

In Saturday’s final, Dygert crushed German veteran Lisa Brennauer by 6.282 seconds, lowering her own world record for the second time on the day. She clocked 3 minutes, 16.937 seconds over 3000m.

“Last year I kind of had a goal to set [3:15] or a [3:16],” said Dygert, who missed last year’s worlds after a May 2018 concussion from a road race crash. “Today, I really wanted to get a 14, so I’m a little bummed, but I mean, to be able to win, is always good.”

Her career goal is to break 3:10 in the event.

“I’ve only been on the track for a short time now,” said Dygert, who won the world title in the road time trial on Sept. 24 to qualify for the Olympics on the road. “There’s some good gains to be made.”

Earlier in qualifying, Dygert broke her world record by clocking 3:17.283. She took nearly three seconds off her previous mark from 2018. Dygert has lowered countrywoman Sarah Hammer‘s 2010 record four times by a combined five seconds

Track worlds conclude Sunday.

NBC Olympics senior researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report from Berlin.

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MORE: Track cycling worlds TV, live stream schedule

U.S. dedicates women’s team pursuit world title to Kelly Catlin

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With “KC” stickers on their bikes, the U.S. women’s team pursuit team took gold at the world track cycling championships. They did it in remembrance of former team member Kelly Catlin, who died by suicide last March.

“This one is super special,” said Chloe Dygert, who earned Rio Olympic silver on a team with Catlin. “This is our first world championships since Kelly. To win here, for her, it means a lot. It’s very emotional. We had her in our hearts this whole time.”

Dygert, Jennifer ValenteEmma White and Lily Williams clocked 4 minutes, 11.235 seconds to defeat Olympic champion Great Britain by nearly two seconds in the final in Berlin.

A new-look U.S. pursuit team is jelling at the right time, five months before the Olympics.

“This is an accomplishment, but we’re going to put it behind us,” said Dygert, knowing the U.S. has never won an Olympic women’s track cycling title. “We have way more to do. This is a stepping stone. Olympics is what matters. This is training, basically.”

The team pursuit is a 4000m event where heats have two teams positioned exactly opposite of each other on the track. Times are determined by a team’s third finisher.

The U.S. — world champion in 2016, 2017 and 2018 — dipped to seventh place in 2019 without key team members Catlin and Dygert.

“We don’t talk about it every day, but if there’s something going and it reminds us of Kelly, we’re not afraid to talk about it,” said Dygert, who missed part of 2019 after a May 2018 road cycling crash that caused a concussion. “Kelly, bring her up, there’s jokes, everything. Kelly’s here. Kelly’s with us all the time.”

The U.S. team that prevailed in Berlin included two newcomers in this Olympic cycle in Williams and White.

“I’m 25, and I’d like to think that I’m still young, yet somehow I’m the oldest on this new team,” said Valente, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Colorado. “Because of all the new faces, people don’t really know what were capable of, and we think that works to our advantage.”

White started riding track in March 2018 after experience in road cycling and cyclo-cross. She made her track worlds debut last year as part of the seventh-place U.S. team. The Americans clocked 4:23.721 in 2019, more than seven seconds slower than in the same round in 2018 and 12 seconds slower than the American record set in Wednesday’s qualifying round.

Williams, this year’s rookie team member, converted from being a mile runner at Vanderbilt.

“We do have great relationships on and off the bike, and that’s huge for this time around,” Dygert said. “I feel like before Rio, this environment wasn’t as healthy as it is now. And that’s definitely a game-changer.”

NBC Olympics senior researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report from Berlin.

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MORE: Track cycling worlds TV, live stream schedule