World Championships Team Time Trial Preview

This Sunday’s team time trial world championships is the odd one out on the calendar for several reasons, whether it’s the trade teams gathering for the worlds which is 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 in Richmond 2015.

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 team managers because they can handpick teams, work on the drill and please sponsors with the collective effort. However only a few teams are in contention and some resent this race as they must fork out a lot of money to fly their entire team including support staff and excess bike just to be humiliated by the big budget teams.

Team Size: six riders per team, small compared to the nine we’re used to seeing in a stage race. The time is be taken on the fourth rider. Smaller teams of six 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 after the race. 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 could move or retire from the winning team but come 2016 the continuing team can sport the UCI logo.

The Course: and a vertical gain of 240m. The course starts north of Richmond, heading south and through the city to go back out towards Richmond Heights and then turning back again for a finish downtown. Along the way there are long straight sections to suit teams capable of holding 60km/h.

The Contenders: BMC Racing won last year and return with four of the winning six from last year with Taylor Phinney instead of Peter Velits, arguably making an even stronger team. They won the Vuelta’s beach race and the Tour de France an Dauphiné stages too and Rohan Dennis is probably stronger than ever. Manuel Quinziato and Silvan Dillier might not be famous for time trialling but they are powerful engines and very well drilled.

Etixx-Quickstep have won before and come with a very strong team. Tony Martin counts for two riders while Rigoberto Uran is in good shape after a win in Canada. Yves Lampaert, Niki Terpstra, Tom Boonen and Michał Kwiatkowski are all strong and capable of working well together.

The third pick is Orica-Greenedge. The team’s DNA is full of the Aussie team pursuit programme and this forms the base for the squad. Svein Tuft is 38 but if anything the squad is young with room for improvement with the likes of Michael Hepburn and Damien Howson fresh out of the U23 ranks.

Movistar have a strong team with proven TT specialists Jonathan Castroviejo, Alex Dowsett, Adriano Malori backed by German rouleur Jash Sütterlin, the powerful Andrew Amador and odd man out Winner Anacona, no slouch when it comes to riding tempo but the others all look faster.

Team Sky have some strong rouleurs in Richmond but it’s not their A-team, especially with Elia Viviani in the mix, a handy rider but covering for absent riders like Geraint Thomas. A podium is just possible.

The course looks too flat for Astana. If it had more climbing then their more versatile selection would be a great pick to challenge BMC and EQS’s bulky classics riders. At pixel time the team isn’t confirmed but looking among their provisional list Rein Taraamae, Lars Boom, Andrei Grivko, Jacob Fuglsang, Alexei Lutsenko and L-L Sanchez are all good picks.

Tom Dumoulin stretches his legs with Giant-Alpecin and this time he’s got a team in support. Nikias Arndt, Chad Haga, Ramon Sinkeldam, Georg Preidler and TT specialist Tobias Ludvigsson all look useful but it’s hard to see them as world-beaters. Dutch rivals Lotto-Jumbo lack an obvious TT star but have a mix of solid TT riders like Jos Van Emden and Wilco Kelderman alongside classics powerhouse Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Tjallingi.

Tinkoff-Saxo have to make sure Peter Sagan doesn’t rip things up. Maciej Bodnar, Michael Rogers, Michael Valgren, Manuele Boaro and Christopher Juul-Jensen are all strong against the watch and if they can get the drill right a medal is there.

IAM Cycling are well drilled and come with some strong, often underrated time trial riders like Mathias Brändle. A win seems impossible, even the podium seems unlikely but as one of the World Tour’s more modest teams they should punch above their weight. Cannondale-Garmin have some good engines in Ramunas Navardauskas, Moreno Moser and Dylan Van Baarle. Finally they’ve had some bad experiences this year but reduced to six Ag2r La Mondiale don’t have to carry non-specialists like they do in a stage race and their core of riders should stave off humiliation from the lesser teams.

BMC Racing
Etixx-Quickstep, Orica-Greenedge
Movistar, Tinkoff-Saxo, Astana
Team Sky, Giant-Alpecin
IAM Cycling, Lotto-Jumbo

Women’s Race: Boels-Dolmans, Rabo Liv or Wiggle Honda? See cyclingtips for a full preview.

Weather: warm and sunny with a 15km/h breeze from the north-east meaning a headwind on the final leg into town. The course is exposed in places and urban in others meaning. The are seconds to be gained from exploiting the shelter along the way but otherwise it’s a calm day.

TV: the women race from 11.30am to 12.55pm and the men from 1.30pm to 3.35pm local time. That’s EDT. British readers should add five hours to this and Europeans six.

49 thoughts on “World Championships Team Time Trial Preview”

    • …but definitely need to give a tip of the hat to Velcoio-SRAM who have won all previous additions of the women’s TTT as Specialized-Lululemon.

  1. Team Sky appear to have had a bit of an off while scouting the course judging by some pics on Twitter, and while it’s skin only that doesn’t help, so they might be heading towards the one ring category.

    • Yeh, sounds like Pate, Rowe and Viviani came down after hitting a pothole / sunken manhole cover at 60km/h. The same happened to one of the women’s teams – Optum I think.

      Sounds like they will start but getting out of bed this morning is going to hurt and that’s if they’ve managed to get any sleep!

  2. This time every year I have the same thoughts (as in Xmas). Trade team jerseys do not belong in the Worlds and this race would much more appealing if contested by national teams (aren’t we all trying to make the sport gain appeal?). Besides, the course is way too short. 65km would be much better. This is an endurance sport, not a middle-distance thing.

    • Full ACK. They don’t belong there.
      I grew up with national teams and the good old four rider 100km race. It was classy and I’ll never get why it was cancelled in the 90ies.

    • I agree. I’m against national teams in the regular season – that is what the WC is for. I can’t see any reason for not having national teams either – and it would actually mean something to people: no-one cares if BMC beat Movistar.
      Would also be good to have it as the four rider 100km race – something different to see – although the team bosses might not like it.

    • Agreed, it would be better with national team and much more appealing. The distance could be a little higher, but the main flaw is the lack of difficulty in the route, both in terms of elevation and of technicity.
      The 100km were run with teams of 4 riders (if I remember well) and were completely unpopular: it was a very specific effort and none of the best riders was up to prepare himself for this race.

  3. Think LottoNL-Jumbo might surprise. That said, Etixx look favourites to me. BMC not as strong as last year.
    And Sky had some big falls on their reco, so doubt they will make their potential count.

  4. The stench of trade team collaboration in the road races is bad enough. Think Rui Costa working over Rodriguez with the ‘assistance’ of trade teammate (at the time) Valverde. I agree that trade team jerseys don’t belong at the World Championships.

  5. The 100 km was a great way for powerhouse amateurs to get themselves noticed, compete in the olympics, and get a pro-contract. I’m not so sure (but there are more knowledgeable people commenting) whether the 4 man 100 km race was ever ridden by pros and given the obvious specialization and effort involved I wonder whether a lot of riders would be up for a 100 km TT with fellow countrymen they can hardly ever train with – when they have an individual TT and a roadrace a few days after.

  6. Interesting article on Tom Dumoulin’s release of his power data from La Vuelta.
    Perhaps for another day, but that guy can churn it out.
    Gabriele, Gabriele, where for art thou !?

    • … working too much 🙁

      Interesting, indeed. I didn’t comment about it since it was a bit OT. It’s in the nature of the blog to focus on what inrng decides day by day. These days there were other interesting news, say, Aru training with Contador or the Italian semi-classics, but this ain’t a forum and I appreciate it like this. I added some comment about GT riders and classics in the Vuelta final wrap, where the debate came out I think, but when a post shifts back, it’s hard to follow up.

      Brief exception, since you asked: I think the data confirm what more or less everyone was commenting here on the blog. That is, watts are fine but it’s often the same of what can be seen on the road. Dumoulin did great on 10′ efforts climbs. When things last more than 30′ his performances are still *very* fine but a bit less remarkable. Though, he didn’t show a specific fading in the third week, which can indeed be important for his future as a GC rider (Ferrari agrees 🙂 ). The *raising eyebrows* performance is essentially Ermita del Alba which isn’t that coherent with the rest. But a good day can happen, and circumstances weren’t that unfavourable, either. On Morcuera he put in another great effort, but it wasn’t as “out of the basket” – and we could see that he was rather blown up after that.
      A couple of points more to be remembered.
      Firstly, in the CN article I read only data regarding whole climbs were available, but a characteristic of this Vuelta was that even larger climbs were often approached with a slower or at least steadier – no attacks – rhythm until the last 3 km; it’s to be seen what effect may this situation have had on Tom’s performances, in a Giro/Tour perspective (as a TT rider you’d expect him to do better with sustained, steady pace – but OTOH he showed he’s very good on sharp efforts).
      Second, heavier riders tend to have – in average, ‘normal’ or ‘common’, so to say, conditions – worse w/kg than lighter riders. That is, the same exact w/kg ratio is more surprising or peculiar when observed in a heavier rider. Which could mean, among other things, that Tom’s options in a GC are indeed promising, but we should be going back to more TT kms. Something I’d appreciate: this year’s Tour course was too unbalanced, and the Vuelta was, too, even if not as much. Unless his ‘special performance’ on Ermita del Alba becomes the norm, which can’t be excluded in so young an athlete.

      • Yes, good points.
        However, given that today is a TTT and he is also a major contender in the ITT, it will be also interesting to see if the weight he lost prior to the Vuelta affects his performance here (presuming he hasn’t been on a diet of supersize-me McD’s since then !).
        His TT at the Vuelta was very good, but there was no Tony Martin, Rohan Dennis et al present to give it context.
        I suppose his Holy Grail would be to find a “sweet spot” range for his weight, where his power can be best utilised.
        I wonder where he is at on that quest ?

      • Gabriele, have you considered your own blog? I for one would be quite interested in reading it and you’d be able to choose your own topics?

    • All the watts/kg stuff bores the hell out of me, but it seems this guy may well be the “Dutch BigMig” (though not so big actually) in the mode of taking a big guy (big heart, lungs, etc.) and paring his “chassis” down to the bare minimum as they did with Indurain? Seems to make for a fearsome chrono package with watts/kg good enough to keep the pure climbers on a very short leash if all goes well…as it did (yawn) so many times for BigMig. I believe these big frame guys benefit more from the “aero” positions currently allowed in the chrono stages too, as any aero advantage a little guy has via his smaller “chassis” is negated by the aero handlebars/position, making the chrono much more of a pure power equation unless the course has a lot of ups, downs or technical aspects. Since “aero” bars came on the scene, little guys like Charley Mottet don’t win chrono events.

      • Have to say, I’d like to see them forced to ride ‘standard’ bikes for everything. The only thing Armstrong ever got right was that it shouldn’t be about the bike.

        • Agreed. The chrono thing has gotten out-of-control. The teams do just fine and the results don’t seem much different at the desert “fly-away” races where everyone rides their standard roadracing bike, so the only reason for the chrono machines is that the industry wants to sell ’em. I wonder what the sales numbers really are for a machine so generally useless? But of course it’s great for the maker (more like the importer/distributor/designer/marketer) to trumpet their brand as the reason Rider X won the chrono stage vs his rivals on other machines.

          • I don’t think it even matters for the average buyer whose everyday machine the Tour de France winner was riding, since the average buyer assumes the whole peloton is riding machines he cannot afford (or wouldn’t want spend that much money even if he had it), bikes that have very little to do with what he is actually thinking of buying.
            Let alone a TT bike…

          • I second the comment about triathlons.

            Down here a tri bike seems like a must have accessory for middle aged men who want to ride around slowly on Saturday mornings. Surely that’s a win for marketing.

            Although thinking about this did prompt me to look up the differences between a tri bike and a tt bike so at least I’ve learnt something.

          • Pierre-Jean – It must matter to the bike brands, otherwise why would the likes of Pinarello, Specialized and Trek spend the loot to sponsor pro teams? For example I couldn’t miss the PINAYELLOW marketing stuff at the recent Interbike show. Of course those brand’s marketing mavens will tell you they do this to test and develop their products in the crucible of top-level competition, but they take every advantage of any sort of victory to blow their own horn and pat themselves on the back. As Inner Ring pointed out, it wasn’t THAT long ago that all three guys on the TdF podium got there riding bikes made in the same factory, despite the three different brand names emblazoned on the downtubes, while punters I talk to confuse “Adrenalina Italiana” with Made-in-Italy. It’s all about marketing these days.

          • The top-end team issue bikes / framesets are known as “halo bikes”.
            Giant produce halo bikes in a ratio of 1 : 40 with their usual models.
            In the US, Scott sells halo bikes at a ratio of 1 : 10 on their standard models and the other major manufacturers all sell out existing stock of halo bikes (source : Bike Radar 2011).
            Affluent professionals in US, Australia, UK etc are the chief consumers.

            If you look at pictures from the recent Eurobike convention, there is no end to the new developments and models of every type of bike.
            Me being the cynic I am, it is all drip fed to consumers, little-by-little and year-on-year, so that it becomes the latest must-have. And people are buying them.
            They are beautiful though 🙂

      • +1. Very true. I also think tri-bars also penalize guys with wider skeletons and benefit guys with a more elongated build. Hinault would have a hard time against Zoetemelk on tri-bars.

  7. wecome to the usa, pro cyclists!!! i wish i was in richmond rather than new jersey this week… poor planning on my part… 🙁

    – i prefer the trade teams in the ttt… perhaps where i live plays into this, but i think it is more that “i don’t care” about nationality when it comes to bike racing… i only really care about having a good race…

    – as much as i love tt’s, going back to “4 man/100km” would only guarantee that we would see very few top riders compete… it would be a “once a year” event that no top riders would bother training for, it wouldn’t be worth the effort (not to mention taking training time away from other goals)… now, if they want to ADD a race like that to the world champs, go for it… give the amateurs their time in the sun… i’d watch it… 🙂

    – i’d agree with the 5 and 4 ring picks by inrng… and i will be pulling hard for eqs (tony and tommeke will almost always get my rooting interest), although i won’t cry if bmc wins…

    fwiw, they have an app for live streaming, as well as the ability to stream right from their website… it does not appear to be restricted in any way…

  8. “However only a few teams are in contention and some resent this race as they must fork out a lot of money to fly their entire team including support staff and excess bike just to be humiliated by the big budget teams.”

    Which trans are forced to come participate in the team time trial? UCI document seems to indicate who invitations go to, but no mention of trans being compelled to race. The unwritten expectation though for world tour teams is if the UCI gives you a world tour licence then you are expected to participate?

  9. As with most of these posts I agree with Larry ( he is from California Sac as I recall)

    Just sayin, My dentist has a $$ Cervelo TT bike for his venture into Triathlons. I ask him about going for road rides in the area with the local club? he laughs and says those guys are crazy!

    Most in the local club would just love to use his wheels!

    Pays to be a dentist not a pro road racer!

    • I must confess to growing up in “inferior” (in the eyes of most NorCal’rs) Southern California where there is no culture and everyone is a dumb-ass surf-rat, though I now divide my time between Italy and Iowa (how’s THAT for the yin and yang?) with the emphasis on being in the former as much as possible vs the latter. We have plenty of clients who are dentists and doctors and I’m sure many are familiar with the stories of how guys like Ben Serotta made (and lost) fortunes creating bikes to sell to these types. Cervelo, Parlee, Seven, etc. are mining the gold these days though Specialized’s mega-marketing efforts seem to snare plenty of these well-heeled types as well, based on what I see these days. Trek, on the other hand seems to be almost invisible in Italy and to most of our clients, though of course they made millions on the exploits of BigTex not-too-long-ago.

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