World Championships Team Time Trial Preview

Saturday, 16 September 2017

This Sunday’s team time trial world championships is the odd one out on the calendar several times over, whether it’s the trade teams gathering for the Worlds which is otherwise all about competing nations or the presence of a team time trial race outside of a stage race, a rarity these days. Here’s a look at the format and the contenders for the first title of Bergen 2017.

A team time trial during a stage race can offer a challenge and added significance for the overall classification too but Sunday is all about one collective effort in search of the world championship title. You might not be that excited by this event but it really matters to some team managers because they can handpick teams, work on the drill and please sponsors with the collective effort and hopefully the world champion title. However only a few teams are in contention and many managers resent this race as they must fork out a lot of money to fly a team, including support staff and excess bike luggage, just to be humiliated by usual big budget teams. In fact this year many have not bothered with Bergen with only 11 of the 18 World Tour teams starting.

Team Size: six riders per team and the time is be taken on the fourth rider to cross the line. Smaller teams of six compared to the habitual nine, like we saw in the Vuelta, means much less rest per rider and punishes any teams trying to make up the numbers with non-specialists.

No Rainbow Jersey: There’s no rainbow jersey for the team time trial world champions. Instead the six riders and the team manager get a medal for their efforts. Next year the team gets “the distinctive logo” on its jersey (pictured). This is not for the six winning riders on the day but for the whole team to sport the following year. Indeed it is theoretically possible that all six winners this Sunday could retire or move to other teams but come 2018 the continuing team can sport the UCI logo on its kit.

The Course: the same 42.5km route for men and women and surely the most scenic course since the event was (re) introduced in 2012. Teams will depart from Ravnanger and head south. This part is flat. Thereafter the course turns east and takes the teams out to the fjord. The course will then follow the fjord into the Askøy centre at Kleppestø and cross the giant Askøy Bridge. Some suspension bridges climb but this one is more level, it is exposed to the wind.

On the Bergen side of the bridge the course will have a 4km technical section before the riders face the first climb at Loddefjord. The climb is at 600 metres at an average of 10%. The next 10km is flat as the course takes the riders along Lake Nordåsvannet and the Royal Residence Gamlehaugen.

Then comes the second climb of the day up towards Birkelundsbakken. It is 3km with an average percentage of 6%, but some parts will have 16%. A rather flat part follows until the riders will face a 600 metre section of urban cobblestones. The last 1.5 km will see the teams battling for the seconds around the harbor and the historical buildings at Bryggen. The finish is at Festplassen in the middle of the City. [NB: course description lifted and abridged from the Bergen2017.no website]

The Contenders: Team Sky are the prime pick this year but only just. The hillier route gives them the nod because it’s not just about having powerhouses, it’s getting over the climbs at speed and the likes of Froome, Kiryienka, Moscon, Thomas and Kwiatkowski are obvious picks with Doull formerly of the GB gold winning track team in Rio too.

It should be very close. BMC Racing are regular winners of this event with a cohesive team that includes Rohan Dennis. They won the Vuelta a España’s opening stage with a similar squad.

Quick Step have won the title before but don’t seem quite as solid as previous years but are still part of the first four teams likely to get on the podium.

Normally it’s these three but the fourth? Team Sunweb have an impressive team and are having an impressive year. Dumoulin backed up by Kelderman and Kämna as well as Matthews but just how cohesive will they be and Oomen has his work cut out to mix it with the other powerhouses on the team.

In contrast Orica-Scott have tended to lose their TTT focus in recent years as they’re recruited more climbers but they still have a segment of the roster built off the Australian team pursuit squad and Durbridge, Edmondson, Hepburn and Howson fit together well but can they power over the hilly course?

Among the others there are some strong outsiders, Movistar bring their TT specialists and strongmen, Katusha have Tony Martin but are outsiders and Lotto-Jumbo look solid on paper and could be dark horses.

Team Sky, BMC Racing
Quick Step, Team Sunweb
Orica-Scott, Lotto-Jumbo
Movistar
Bora-Hansgrohe, Katusha

Women’s Race: it’s on between 12.05 CEST and 1.55 CEST. If readers can suggest a good preview to link to in the comments I’ll gladly update.

Weather: 16°C and some sunshine with a light breeze of 5-10km/h.

TV: the women race’s is from 12.05 and 1.55 and then men go from 3.35pm to 5.25pm, all times CEST. You’ll find it either live via the UCI Youtube channel or if that’s geo-blocked then supposedly on TV where you live and the likes of cyclingfans and steephill can point you in the right direction.

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NB September 16, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Correct me if i’m wrong but the course profile and description given by the organisation seems to be not fully right. For instance, the profile shows a steep little climb at km 12.5 but that’s the bridge/tunnel part. And the ‘4km technical section’ is a long straight with exactly zero bends.
And where exactly can I find the 600m 10% climb?

Peter Pan September 17, 2017 at 1:26 am

I’ve ridden the course and I don’t understand the description from the organisers’ website. To me, the profile looks to be correct though. There’s a climb up to the bridge, but I can’t remember a 600m section at an average of 10%.

The hardest part of Birkelundsbakken is near the top. You get some respite before it kicks up again. Here’s the Strava segment and as you can see recon riders have taken over the leaderboard: https://www.strava.com/segments/3638999

They’ll pass the Salmon Hill, go under the hospital through a tunnel and then head towards the city center. From Årstad the course is fast, and in the city center there’s a bend onto the cobbled section that can be tricky if you mistime your turn.

There are some fast sections on Askøy and the ride downhill from Birkelundstoppen should see some decent speeds as well.

John S. September 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm

This site (Danish) had a good overview of the course. It doesn’t mention a 10% section, but does say there is a portion at 9.1%.

http://m.feltet.dk/nyheder/optakt_vm_i_holdtidskoersel_2017/

Fourlegs September 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

Gorgeous day in Bergen today, Saturday. No wind, no clouds and I’d say 18 degrees. A great little city – 250,000 pop

The local weather forecast is pretty good for the rest of the week.

Let the racing commence and may the best win

Fourlegs September 16, 2017 at 11:30 pm

Gorgeous day in Bergen today, Saturday. No wind, no clouds and I’d say 18 degrees. A great little city – 250,000 pop

The local weather forecast is pretty good for the rest of the week.

Let the racing commence and may the best win

PS Only got here today so cannot answer above question.

AP September 16, 2017 at 11:53 pm

It’s a shame for the 7 teams who can’t go. It’s like being the poor kid who can’t afford to go on the school trip.

Alex September 16, 2017 at 11:32 pm

One thing’s for sure, the winners be Slartibartfast.

osbk67 September 17, 2017 at 2:57 am

Froome perhaps not fully focused on the TTT if his latest tweet is anything to go by. After seeing that, and it can’t be unseen, and BMC underperforming much of the season I’m picking Quick Step. Again.

Augie March September 17, 2017 at 6:34 am

By “underperforming” you mean with 48 wins so far this season (22 at WT level) and third on the UCI World Tour ranking? They’ve also won four team time trials this year. If that’s “underperforming” I can only say most teams would be happy to underperform to that level.

osbk67 September 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

Fair point, good fact checking. Perhaps BMC is happier with their season to date than I first thought. But will they win today?

Augie March September 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

They have a shot. In terms of raw horsepower BMC are probably outgunned by Sky, but having a look at the course on Google Maps it doesn’t seem like a straightforward drag race so skill in the discipline could count. One other thing in Sky’s favour is that their DS is Brett Lancaster who was a top TT’er as a rider, and was actually a part of many Orica TTT wins before hanging up the cleats. Would be nice to see someone who isn’t Quickstep or BMC win, so hopefully Orica and Sunweb can pull something out of the bag – Sunweb’s lineup is strong and Michael Matthews is probably one of the best stealth time trialists in the peloton, in that he’s really good but no one ever really rates him in the discipline.

Panda September 17, 2017 at 8:44 am
Tedba September 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

Had backed katusha as an outside bet… But now wondering if they’re focus will even be there or all backing Kristoff in the rr.

Tedba September 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

Their… Q_Q

Martijn Stolze September 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Pretty sure Sunweb included Oomen cause the course is very climby and he will probably be tasked with leading them up a few and then dropping back. Matthews too I don’t see being one of the four at the finish. Regardless of how they do today, this team has no riders older than 27, with the youngest three all under 23. For the future, this is an astonishing line-up full of potential. And with the TdF likely to have a TT, a good test for them as a unit.

Ecky Thump September 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Does Bergen and Norway have those voracious midges that swarm Scotland?

anon September 18, 2017 at 11:10 pm

No midgets in Scandinavia, only proper mosquitoes. But they are mostly gone by now.

Anonymous September 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Well, that was some day for Team Sunweb. Gold for women and men!

The Inner Ring September 17, 2017 at 5:51 pm

It’s been quite the year for them too. The season isn’t finished either.

Augie March September 18, 2017 at 6:07 am

Not to disparage in any way your always illuminating team victory rankings, but if ever there were a case of quality over quantity to determine how a season went, Sunweb this year would be the example. Compare this to the dozen or so wins a team like Movistar have racked up in 2.1 Spanish races alone….

AP September 17, 2017 at 9:23 pm

8 secs from 48 mins, it basically boils down to who corners fractionally better and who is in the right place when that gust blows in. Could almost claim there’s an argument for doing the race indoors.

osbk67 September 18, 2017 at 6:31 am

I’d agree more if the eight seconds was in fact accumulated evenly across the 48 minutes, but the UCI’s technical analysis is interesting:

http://www.uci.ch/road/uciroadworldchampionships/bergen/livetimingbytissot/

BMC lost 12 seconds to Sunweb in the last 4.4km, almost three seconds per kilometre. That’s not fractionally better cornering and wind gusts between teams minutes apart. It’s just decisively faster under pressure at the finish.

It’s also almost 27 metres per kilometre at the average race speed, or nearly three percent…

md September 18, 2017 at 9:17 am

Great result for Sunweb and the sport in general.

Good analysis oskb67. Thanks.
Rohan Dennis was pulling BMC through the fnal and looked strong enough to go very close to the win, but some of his team (not wishing to name names) couldn’t keep his pace.
Sunweb had an extra man through the final km too. Maybe that was the difference.

BigSigh September 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

Just a quick question regarding the individual time trials – I notice the U23 men did 37.2km but the elite men will only do 31km, is this correct? And if so, why?
Cheers

Martijn Stolze September 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

Because of the final climb

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