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|
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.