|Chro-no: TTs will be rare in 2011 Grand Tours|
If 2011 welcomes the Chinese year of the rabbit, for pro cyclists it looks like the year of the mountain goat. Why? Well none other that 2009 Dutch time trial champion Stef Clement has been busy with his calculator this morning and put his workings on Twitter:
yesterdays vuelta presentation showed that in 2011 in the 3 grand tours there are only 126 km ITT and 60 km TTT. Isn’t that a loss?
A little research shows that this year 1.2% of all kms are TT in the Grand Tours, 15 years ago (1995) they did 368,6kms = 3.3% !
Clement’s certainly onto something. The 1992 Tour de France had 137km of individual time trials alone thanks to an 8km prologue, a 65km time trial in Luxembourg and 64km from Blois to Tour. That’s more than the 2011 Giro, Tour and Vuelta combined. Plus the 1992 Tour included 63.5km team time trial.
What does it mean?
If the numbers fluctuate every year, there does seem to be a trend to provide greater suspense in stage racing. A time trial stage is critical to the general classification of a stage race but for spectators it can be boring to watch and it can quickly widen gaps between riders on the GC.
The spectacle of riders attacking and cracking on a summit finish is a gripping TV experience, something you can’t say when lone riders appear inscrutable behind visors and fixed in an aero position. Yet it’s not always dull, the duel between Contador and Schleck last summer was perhaps at its fiercest around Bordeaux. Modern aids like GPS technology can ensure the time gap is measured in real time, enabling viewers to watch riders in a head to head competition rather than waiting for the intermediate time checks.