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Belgian and U.S.-backed teams win world time trial crowns

(Reuters) - Belgium's Omega Pharma-Quickstep won a thrilling men's team time trial while American outfit Specialized-Lululemon cruised to a comfortable victory in the women's race on the opening day of the world road cycling championships in Italy on Sunday.

The favorites in the men's race, Sylvain Chavanel, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra, Kristof Vandewalle and Peter Velits clocked one hour 4:16 over the 57.20-km course from Montecatini Terme to Florence.

It was just 0.81 of a second quicker than Australia's Orican Greenedge (Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Daryl Impey, Brett Lancaster, Jens Mouris and Svein Tuft) with Britain's Team SKY (Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Chris Froome, Vasil Kriyienka, Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Geraint Thomas) third, in 1.04.39.

Specialized-Lululemon retained the women's crown in emphatic style.

Trixi Worrack, Eleonora Van Dijk, Evelyn Stevens, Carmen Small, Katie Colclough and Lisa Brennauer set a time of 51:10.59 for the 42.79-km course leading from Pistoia to Florence.

Rabobank (Marianne Vos, Ennemiek Van Vleuten, Roxane Knetemann, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Thalita De Jong, Lucinda Brand) finished second 1:11.09 back with the Australian team Orica - Ais (Amanda Spratt, Emma Johansson, Melissa Hoskins, Loes Gunnewijk, Shara Gillow, Annette Edmonson) third at 1:33.83.

"We knew the other teams were working hard, so we worked harder to win the title again," said Stevens. "This is why we ended the race together: living and practicing together helped us a lot. This is a special way to end the season."

(Writing by Tom Bartlett in London; Editing by Rex Gowar)

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