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Chloe Dygert wins time trial at cycling worlds, caps comeback, qualifies for Olympics

Chloe Dygert

STIRLING, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 10: Chloe Dygert of The United States sprints during the Women Elite Individual Time Trial a 36.2km race from Stirling to Stirling at the 96th UCI Cycling World Championships Glasgow 2023, Day 8 / #UCIWT / on August 10, 2023 in Stirling, Scotland. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

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American Chloé Dygert won the world cycling championships road time trial, completing a comeback from a career-threatening crash in the same event three years ago.

“This is really special,” she said. “This means a lot for us. It’s just trusting the process and God’s plan.”

Dygert, a two-time Olympic medalist on the track, won the 22-mile time trial in Scotland by five seconds over Austrlian Grace Brown. The rest of the field was more than a minute back.

Dygert also provisionally qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic team, the only caveat being she stays in decent form through early next year.

Dygert, the 19th starter in the 86-rider field, covered the course in 46 minutes, 59.8 seconds.

She crossed the finish line coughing after a final climb over cobblestones. Dygert was not feeling well going into the ride.

“If the race was yesterday, I don’t think I would have started,” she said. “I spent the last four days praying to God that I’d be OK today. I’m still not 100 percent.”

She waited more than an hour for the rest of the field to finish, including all of the other favorites. Brown made up 19 seconds on Dygert in the last seven minutes.

Dygert also won the time trial at 2019 Worlds, a defining moment as she prevailed by the largest margin in history (92 seconds) and positioned herself as a Tokyo Olympic favorite.

After the Tokyo Games were postponed by one year, Dygert was leading the September 2020 World Championships time trial when she crashed over a guard rail, flipped over into a grassy area, lacerated her left leg (through 80 percent of her quad) and broke a wrist.

Dygert came back from surgery to place seventh at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 (plus earn a team pursuit bronze on the track).

She missed worlds in 2021 (after the Olympics) and 2022 due to follow-up leg surgeries as a result of scar tissue that developed after the initial surgery.

She also was diagnosed with the fatiguing Epstein-Barr virus in early 2022, had surgery last fall to treat an irregularly fast heartbeat and this year missed training time after a crash.

“What I physically had to go through for the injury itself, then mentally what I had to go through — all the personal things I won’t go into — my life at times did not matter to me,” Dygert said before worlds. “I didn’t care if I was alive. I did not care about things. People don’t see and understand, and I can say the same thing: I see people with injuries and things going on, and I can’t understand what they’re going through.”

Dygert showed her return to form last Thursday by winning the individual pursuit world title on the track (which is not an Olympic event).

She is the only woman who isn’t Dutch to win the world time trial title in the last seven years. The Dutch are in a transition period following Anna van der Breggen’s retirement in 2021 and Annemiek van Vleuten’s coming retirement after this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.