World Championships Time Trial Preview

A duel between Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome, this season’s grand tour winners? Wednesday’s course features the tricky climb of Mount Fløyen with steep slopes and tight hairpin bends.

The Course: just 31km. A start in Bergen and then a lap of the shorter circuit used so far by other races and then another lap again but just before the Bryggen tourist/wharf area there’s the mountain railway to Mount Fløyen, a clue of what comes. They flick right and start climbing up Mount Fløyen.

It’s 3.4km at 9.1% which is plenty enough already but to make it harder still it has 19 hairpin bends and some of these are very tight which makes it harder to climb at a level pace.

The Contenders

Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) is the prime pick. He’s become a time trial specialist who can climb fast and this is his big goal after winning the Giro, he’s structured his season around this race. The form looks good too following his performance in the team time trial. He gets the nod ahead of Chris Froome. Note when they’ve gone head to head recently on comparable courses the Dutchman has the advantage like the Pont d’Arc time trial or the Rio Olympics, both in 2016. They’ve not raced against each other this year.

Chris Froome (Great Britain) is the big rival. He might be running on fumes by now having done the Tour-Vuelta double but still looks strong, he was calling the shots for Team Sky in the time trial. A rainbow jersey would be a fine addition to his palmarès and if this won’t make him pedal harder it does add to his interest to collect this title which is within reach given his Vuelta form.

Rohan Dennis (Australia) quit the Vuelta to focus on this event. This hasn’t been his season after crashing out of the Giro and a discreet Vuelta, at least when measured against higher expectations than being part of the winning team on the opening stage. His problem is the final climb, if it was a steady ascent he’d have a better chance but the irregular climb isn’t his natural, powerful style.

Primož Roglič (Slovenia) is excellent in hilly time trials too but still far from a strong pick. Lotto-Jumbo had a good team time trial with seventh place but otherwise there are no visible signs of form, 12th in the Tour of Britain’s flat time trial stage doesn’t tell us too much.

Two outsiders for a medal are Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands) and Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) as both are powerful and agile enough for the final climb and maybe we can add a third in Tobias Ludvigsson (Sweden) who has thrived on time trials ending up a hill but a top-5 would be a surprise. Stefan Küng is powerful but like the other specialists such as Tony Martin or Maciej Bodnar surely Fløyen is too much?

Tom Dumoulin
Chris Froome
Rohan Dennis
Kiryienka, Roglič, Kelderman, Küng

Bike changes: there’s a pit zone and riders can change bikes for the final climb. The idea is to adopt a lighter road bike for the final ascent, the hope being that the weight saving helps for gravity and cornering through the hairpins enough to save time lost during a bike change. Will they? Some have been testing it but I wonder. For starters bike sponsors may not like the imagery of riders abandoning their time trial bikes the moment a hill appears. We’ve seen riders change bikes, for example in the TT stage of the Tour of the Basque Country this year and last. Equally Chris Froome didn’t change bikes when he won the Sallanches-Megève time trial in the Tour de France last year and that had some long climbs and very steep parts, in fact he hardly got out of his aero tuck.

Weather: showers and cool conditions with a top temperature of 13°C.

TV: it’s live from 1.05pm to 5.25pm 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.

98 thoughts on “World Championships Time Trial Preview”

    • It can be done but must be a designated pit area. Riders must also complete the course under their own efforts… which implies no pushing allowed but apparently teams have been told a mechanic can push if they are standing still.

      • If a rider has a well timed “mechanical” they can change bikes any-time/where.

        There was a course in a California stage race a year or two ago I provided some technical advice on whether a bike change was worth it.

        – time lost to bike change
        – difference (if any) in power output on each bike due to different riding position
        – any technical / handling issues (can choose an alternative base bar set up on TT bike for this)
        – equipment weight difference
        – aero difference (even on a climb this steep)

        For some equivalences, for a rider capable of ~7W/kg on such a climb (we are talking approx 9.5 minutes) then:

        1kg less weight ~= 6 seconds faster (at same power and aero)
        6W more ~= 6 seconds faster (at same weight and aero)
        if you add 0.043m^2 to CdA as a result of less aerodynamic equipment and position, then 6 seconds are lost.

        So if by swapping from TT to road bike you drop say 1kg in equipment weight, gain 10W in power but worsen climbing aero by say 0.03m^2 then the net time benefit is a bit over 12 seconds, to be offset by the time lost due to a bike change. If it’s a well drilled bike change, then that’s a worthwhile gain.

        A bike change is a risk though. Think of it as a motor racing pit stop to change tyres.

      • Couple of questions – if you or anyone else knows:
        How come we’ve never seen this ‘pit area’ in other TTs where riders have changed bikes?
        I’ve never liked the pushing because – as you say – ‘Riders must also complete the course under their own efforts’, but it always happens. So, why is it allowed and will these pushes be as extensive as they normally are?

  1. Love this summary. It’s short but sweet–everything we need and nothing we don’t. Froome looked a bit out of it in the TTT; not sure how much he has left after (by his own admission) a very difficult Vuelta. But his being a bit out of it is still impressive.

    p.s. “duel” rather than “dual” in the opening sentence, no? Unless I missed something. Excellent write-up!

  2. Walked the entire TT course and it is very hard. Salmon hill shredded many in the ITT. Mt Floyen is much tougher than depicted. The hairpins at the base are perhaps only only 30/50 mts apart making a rhythm hard to achieve. Then pretty remorseless.

    • Salmon Hill hasn’t featured yet but Birkelundsbakken has given many problems. Salmon Hill is a silly name but I guess the sponsors want something back for their money.

      I live in the area and have done the climb many times. The first part is steep and the hairpins come fast. After the first hairpins you arrive at the old fire station, and there you’re on a proper road which is wider and more regular. After a couple more hairpins they enter a residential area which is flatter. They then turn off the road and out of the residential area, onto a narrow road that goes up all the way to the Fløi Station. The climb here is somewhat irregular and near the top it goes up by a fair bit, through the last couple of hairpins. After that it flattens a bit so you’ll recover just enough to sprint the last few meters.

      It should be a very interesting time trial and I bet there will be a lot of people up on the mountain, even though the weather forecast isn’t too promising.

    • “Salmon hill” didn’t seem too hard on my visit but Fløyen was a surprise choice, the sustained long climb and all those hairpins. Knowing the climb well will really help, whether to accelerate out of a corner or not bother knowing the next bend forces you to brake etc.

  3. This is going to be really interesting. Though I don’t get the whole allowing bike changes, it seems weird.

    It’s funny. If Contador were to have started this race, he might even have been a contender for the podium! And that does say a lot about the oddity of this course.

    I don’t like the moaning of some riders about the hilly course. A lumpy course is much harder to pace perfectly than a flat out and back course, so it requires something more than pushing megawatts. It’s a part of time trialling and just a different challenge.

    • I’m sorry, but they have a place. It’s called diversity. I like the Bergen Worlds, we already had too much sprinterfriendly courses the last years fro RR and rollerfriendly for TT.
      No point in the ruleset says ITT have always to be on boring flat wide roads. If the point would exist, UCI could hold the TT Worlds permanently in Doha.

  4. I don’t have any problem with the bike change as long as no push is involved, I’ll be rooting for Hamish Bond shame there are no river crossing where his rowing prowess would give him an advantage.

    • The names Bond, Hamish Bond! Think he might surprise a few, a real ITT specialist, he loves it because of the lack of variables, similar to a rowing skiff.

  5. I’ll be rooting for Froome but I’d love to see Moscon do well today. I have a feeling it’s Dumoulin’s to lose today though. Hopefully everyone makes it through the pits without any issues. May the best rider win!

  6. I am not entirely sure why there is this fixation on a bike change being against some code of conduct. It’s just a tactical equipment descision like any other and adds quite a bit of interest.

    I am not sure bike sponsors will be too upset, its well known that an aeroframe and disc wheel trades weight for CdA and the manufacturers they get to show off potentially two frames. The Trinity is heavier than the Bolide (although not sure by how much) so Tom may get more advantage changing than froome. A Cyclocross background will help the speed of bike change and being Dutch tom must have done some Cx races as a kid / junior (perhaps someone knows). Froome could loose a fistful of time clambering from one bike to another (thoughtful face with slight smirk)

    • Modern TT bikes at this level are at the UCI weight limit so the bike change makes no difference on the weight issue.
      I believe it is more a question of balance and handling through the hairpins. Your road frame will respond a lot faster through these than the “relaxed” geometry of the TT-frame.

      • They really aren’t on the UCI weight limit, not usually at least. From memory Tom Dumoulin’s TT bike is around 9,4kg and Froome’s around 8,6 (as per GCN).

    • I’ve nothing against a bike change. Riders should ride what they want – but they should ride it, not be pushed. If it’s a close race this could even be decided by who gets the best push.
      (Take the pushing out and let’s see who does it.)

    • Sky’s bike change back in the 2013 Tour mountain ITT was hailed as groundbreaking, F1 efficiency. Not sure TD can do much better there. That said, this is Team GB mechanics not Sky mechanics.

      Also, Froome would probably be riding Cervelo rather than Pino today?

    • I’d love to but if I enjoy the women’s races, I just don’t follow the women’s side of the sport as much to be able to write previews I’d be happy to put online so hopefully readers find other websites, blogs etc offering better content. Similarly for new readers there’s no cyclo-cross coverage here at all.

          • You’re talking about Pidcock I presume. I was referring to Van De Poel and Van Aert, the two current CX powerhouses (both still in the early 20’s) who are eyeing road success in the next few seasons. Van Aert, mentored by Nick Nuyens, probably has some good results in the Flemish classics in him and VDP is such a great talent, he can stick it to anyone on any parcours (most likely the Ardennes though)

  7. Just checked the start list, Eddy Bo-Ha is racing the TT too, I have him pegged as nr1 contender for sunday but he’ll probably do well on this TT course too no? But I guess not for the podium. What about Jungels’ chances?

  8. I’d love Sky to let Vasil Kiryienka have a season racing just TT. Just to see what he can do. Could he regain his former TT prowess? I’m sure it would benefit the team as whole the next season, when he sits on the front powering the Sky train up the lower slopes at an asphyxiating pace.
    Sky have such success with the TT: Wiggins, Froome, Thomas, Kwait, Kiryienka . . . Moscon?

  9. It seems that this parcours has generated a lot of complaining, Tony Martin for one has been very vocal. My question, how long has the course been known. I have not seen the profile until couple of days ago. Still don’t know how the road race will look like.

    • Ah Martin complaining is sour grapes – in previous years I expect rivals of his wondered what the point of turning up was. For me it’s a nice change from the flat power courses that we’ve had over the past few years and we should see a handy battle between Dumoulin and Froome with the potential for others in the mix too.

  10. I used to come here for the very good analyses, previews and insights of The Inner Ring. I still do, but I can add ‘the awesome comment section with math loving cycling geeks’ to this list. Keep it coming guys!

  11. Is the bike change zone like a cyclocross pit – where the bike is already waiting – or do the mechanics have to do the usual TT rule of following the rider and having to grab the bike off the roof when the car has stopped?

    • The Belgian team put out a video yesterday (?) where the mechanic was waiting with a bike cyclocross style for Victor Campanaerts (although he wasn’t as good as getting on it as a crosser) – although it might just have been a bit of fun. Who knows.

  12. I Like how the UCI have combined the World TT Champs with the World Hillclimb Champs, its different I’ll say that. Just witnessed the first “bike change” bit of a horlicks and all on the red carpet too.

  13. I understand the arguments against including a hill or bike changes to ITT. But I gotta admit that I’m loving this novelty.
    It’s interesting to see the decisions of the riders about changing the bikes, the execution of actual “pit stops”, the awkward positioning of the riders going uphill with their TT machines, the difference in the times based on their selections…

    This all may sound silly to all the purists, but I believe it’s good to have a “break” from traditional formats every now and then. Next year, get back with a “normal” ITT event.

  14. Not sure how anyone could think the result would be any different – fully expected Dumoulin to win, very interested to see what route the Tour gives.

    If they revert to more TT’s – a full 35k+ and a bumpy 19k – I can see Dumoulin taking 30sec-1min on both from Froome. Then it’s all down to what Froome has on the climbs… have a feeling Dumoulin would win.

    If it’s the 29km TT with a hill like this year, who knows…

    Feel like the route really gives us an insight into what the Tour is after…

    I wonder even if they really go TT heavy whether Froome would consider the Giro.
    Even if Froome has never raced Dumoulin outright on a TT, he’s consistently lost time for the last two years when they’ve ridden the same course, and upwards of 30secs…

    • Froome wouldn’t dodge a race simply because someone might beat him though. After the Vuelta/TdF double the concern would be continued motivation: Dumoulin’s challenge should help him keep motivated.

      • Err… kinda more about Dumoulin, but in case you missed it… Froome’s quite big in cycling right now, a today is pretty big for hyping up the route reveal and the TDF next year, seemed like a fair enough comment?

        But fair enough – Roglic starting to also look very very good, we just don’t know whether he can last 3 weeks yet.

        Moscon’s a riddle right now – will he go GT, Classics or one week races… but he’s clearly a massive talent.

        Brilliant course, brilliant crowd.

        I thought Nicholas Roche put in a good ride.
        TVG way off the pace, what a shame, 2017 has been a disaster for him as a GC rider.

        • Don’t disagree with your analysis Dave (TD has the edge on CF in the TT) except you missed the mountain TT in the Tour last year where Froome beat Dumoulin. Tom’s margins of victory were also reduced in the second Giro TT this year compared to the first. So clearly a grand tour scenario changes the game a little. Its interesting for the future.

  15. Froome is not the outright favourite for the 2018 Tour de France any longer.

    Granted Dumoulin may not put 1-2 minutes into Froome on every TT at the Tour when both are preparing for it, but if he can mark Froome next year in the mountains, he will win. The one huge outstanding issue for Dumolin is his team… Sky could crush them.

    • re: team power, Off course Sky is the strongest team in the TdF, but. If Sunweb throws everything behind Dumoulin, they can be competitive. Oomen, Kelderman, both very strong GC riders and Ten Dam for the mountains, Kämna, Arndt, for the flats, Geschke and Matthews for the classic stages.
      After the season he as had, I don’t see why wouldn’t they go all in for TdF. Should be a vintage season.

    • I think what’s become quite clear, as Inner Ring’s Twitter feed attests to, is that Froome v Dumoulin has become THE big draw for 2018. The parcours and TT kms will be vital, so it’s a wait and see on that one?

    • A badly injured Geraint Thomas did well against Dumoulin in a 40 km TT in the Giro… at risk of stating the obvious, my point is that a Sky rider in a Grand Tour is usually a different proposition.

      I’d also add that the cycling community seems a bit fickle at times: few mention Quintana anymore but a healthy, in-form Quintana could still overthrow Froome before Dumoulin does.

      Anyway, as Ecky Thump says, let’s get the route first!

    • Let’s compare one race that Tom Dumoulin expressly prepared for all season and that Chris Froome raced on the off-chance he might get something from it after having completed, and won, two grand tours in a row…. and then extrapolate the result for a grand tour thats 9 months away. Because that sounds like a really logical thing to do.

      But, hey, I can do that too. Froome has won 5 grand tours, Dumoulin’s won one. Froome has won 4 Tours, Dumoulin’s won none. Sky have the best team at the Tour every year, including guys who shepherd Froome to the line some days, and Sunweb left Dumoulin exposed on occasions at the Giro. Froome will crush him!

      But you know what? Me saying that is as stupid and speculative as what you just did. I do think, on much more balanced and detailed evidence than one race, that Dumoulin will likely be the main challenger to Froome next year. But we don’t even know which races anyone will do yet. Or what the course is. (Several MTFs could make a big difference.) So let’s just wait and see.

  16. Slovenia is having it’s best year in cycling. A stage win in all three grand tours (Polanc on Etna, Roglič on Galibier and Mohorič in Vuelta), Špilak won tour de Suisse and now Roglič 2nd in worlds ITT. Honorable metion Jan Tratnik 10th in the same wc ITT – that’s no fluke, he was 11th and 9th in this years giro tt’s.
    Mezgec is looking good for the road race, fingers crossed.

  17. In a GT when they’re both focused on that – whereas here Dumoulin has been training solely for this – Dumoulin might gain marginally in the TTs over Froome. And that’s very much only a ‘might’ – he only got 80 secs here.
    We have, however, seen nothing this season that suggests that Dumoulin will not lose significantly more time than this in the mountains.
    Froome just won the Tour and the Vuelta – and still came 3rd in this TT days later – and yet the experts here are frothing at the prospect of Dumoulin being his equal.
    The Giro had 70km of TT and Dumoulin’s victory wasn’t that convincing. Froome was able to save himself in the Tour and tonk everyone in the Vuelta.

    • Fair to say that the game is on now between Froome and Doumulin. At the moment It is advantageous Froome in terms of both team & overall individual capability but this can change very quickly. Whoever come out on top next year, cycling will be better for it.

    • TD beat Quintana with 70kms of ITT by 31 seconds (poo included). We have to believe Froome would not have lost on that basis. If he had done even the first time trial Geraint Thomas had in the Giro and stayed with the GC riders the rest of the time then he’d have won by over a minute.

      Lots of people are very eager to rush and put the crown on Tom’s head. He may get it but he has to earn it first.

    • What no one has mentioned yet is that Dumoulin’s age and his growth curve makes it likely that he will continue to improve for a while whilst Froome is likely to at best remain at his very high level. When y0u take that into account and Sunweb’s efforts to substantially improve the team that will support Dumoulin in 2018 if he rides the Tour, we can realistically hope for a very close and exciting duel between the two. By the way, not many here mentioned Sam Oomen during the Vuelta but if he had not gotten sick he would have been a strong contender for the young rider’s jersey and he was one of the youngest contenders in the Vuelta. Imagine if he can make another big step next year, that would give Sunweb 3 riders at top 10 Grand Tour GC level + Ten Dam for the mountains plus some very strong riders for the other stages.

  18. Cookson’s claims of how great a job he has done border being Trumpian.
    As do his (evidence-less) accusations of Lappartient’s links to McQuaid.
    He describes the UCI as “a world class governing body which sets a global standard.”
    “I have delivered on my promises, and demonstrated that I am a man that can be trusted to lead the UCI with good judgement and calm integrity,” said Cookson.
    “We must look forward and build on our restored credibility”
    Wow. Just wow.

  19. That was the most interesting time trial race I’ve seen in ages. The course was really good. It shows that undulations make for more interesting races. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Dumoulin breezed it. It was a season target and he was as fresh as a daisy. I think he would have won anyway so the relative states of the contenders didn’t really make that much difference. Those suggesting it translates into Froome-destroying Tour glory though should hold their horses a little. We have reason to think that when both prepare for the same goal things are a little closer. Note the Olympics last year when the margin was only 15 seconds over a much longer course. Froome also beat the Dutchman in the mountain TT in the Tour before that as well although there is reason to think there’s about 1 minute between the two sometimes if Dumoulin is fresh and Froome has more than a TT race to consider. Froome clearly suffered in the end, climbing Mount Floyen half a minute slower. I’m sure he’s happy with any medal though. Its a bonus for him not the season’s aim. My rider of the day was Gianni Moscon, a rider some during the Vuelta were saying was a nobody who had come from nowhere. 5th in Roubaix and 6th in the world in the TT (and less than a second from 4th) suggest otherwise.

    • He did come from nowhere. A 5th in Roubaix does little to explain his efforts in the Vuelta. Clearly he’s on the rise as the ITT here would suggest – but you can’t tell me his form hasn’t been surprising in the last month.

      • Moscon did not come from nowhere, he was really good as U23 rider and slipper from a probably gold medal in the hard 90-degree righthand turn into the dam inn Ponferrada. Won the Arctic race last year (using his climbing skill.) Consistent good performances over several years in his classes, topped with a galacticos contract, his performances should come as no surprise.

          • If you mean by that, he hasn’t ridden the Vuelta like that before, you are right, because he hasn’t done it before. However, those who claim his performances are out of nowhere (as in “he is a classics rider, how come he can climb that well?” are disregarding his U-23 results. He won the Piccolo Lombardia and he had several top-10 finishes on Alpine stages in the Tour de L’Avenir.

            The Arctic Race in 2016 was perhaps not the most hotly contested (there was another race in Rio at the time) but Moscon won it on the Korgfjellet mountain-top-finish by being the best climber.

            He is a young and still developing rider and it is natural that his performances improve from year to year on the skills he is trying to improve. My point is that the claims that his performances this year come out of nowhere, are simply not correct, and I have backed it up by listing some past performances which underline his potential as a climber.

            I will say it once again, if he hadn’t slipped on that dam in Ponferrada the world would have been much more alert about his abilities.

  20. When I came back today, I instinctly knew RonDe would have told us that Dumoulin’s win isn’t worth as much as we think, cause Chris had only one leg or a bad hair day.

    • Well it’s big of you to stand up and admit you were wrong. I assume that’s what you were trying to say, since RonDe didn’t say any such thing, and instead only pointed out, correctly, that you can’t necessarily extrapolate from this to what might happen in a Grand Tour.

      It was also quite restrained of you not to call them out for rather unnecessarily calling CA ‘stupid’ for suggesting it might tell us something about the Tour.

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