World Championships Time Trial Preview

A dual between Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis? Most likely although it’s late in the season and there’s room for a surprise.

The Course: 52.5km and 654m of vertical gain according to the race website, 775m if you trace the route yourself. The route rides up the Inn valley and it’s not totally flat, the road rises and falls as it passes through the towns and villages and. A few seconds can be gained by taking the right line, be it in the corners or tracking the smoothest parts of the tarmac. The climb of the day is as significant as it looks, 2.5km at 9% and with steeper sections as it twists up through woodland, this is a hard climb and will ruin the hopes of many a heavy-set rider and then there’s a false flat afterwards meaning the effort goes on. The descent is more gradual and fast with only three sharp corners.

The Contenders: Tom Dumoulin won last year and by almost a minute on his rivals. Today’s course is perfect for him, the flat valley roads are good for his refined aerodynamic position and the climb is ideal too, after all few in the world can go uphill faster than him. The question is over his form and fatigue, with the Giro and the Tour in the legs he’d be excused for going on holiday by now but if he’s here it’s to contend.

Rohan Dennis is the challenger. He was flawless in the Vuelta’s two time trials including the Torrelavega stage which had 590m of climbing, including a pronounced ascent mid way. Today isn’t a copycat route but the similarities are enough to suggest the climbing should be ok.

Who else? It can be hard to see past Dumoulin and Dennis but remember Richmond in 2015 when they were fifth and sixth, behind a podium of Vasil Kiryienka, Adriano Malori and Jérôme Coppel, a trio that surely nobody picked. Tony Martin gets a mention for old times’ sake and he hasn’t won an international-level TT since the Worlds in 2016 and even before then his win rate has been slender. But if he hasn’t won the story is he’s been close so many times so a bronze medal quite possible. German team mate Max Schachmann is probably here for the experience, a potential future winner because as good as he is, and the form seems excellent, he’s never done such a long distance course before. Wilco Kelderman has youth and experience and should set a good reference time for team mate Dumoulin.

Michał Kwiatkowski‘s versatility includes being one of the best time triallists in the world as we saw in the Vuelta and if he was fifth in in the Torrelavega and 51 seconds behind Dennis this was after time spent defending the race lead and then battling in the breakaways for a stage win. Counting against him today is the steady nature of the course – valley, climb, descent, valley – if it had more corners, more hills to sprint up then he’d be a stronger pick.

Next comes a list of riders who are near-impossible to separate this morning. Portugal’s Nelson Oliveira is a strong and underrated TT rider who can do the occasional upset. Spain’s Jonathan Castroviejo resembles a missile when he’s in full flow, he’s very good but has been better on shorter courses. Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) is a stalwart but feels like one of those riders who has had their win and aged 37 he’d be the oldest rainbow jersey winner since Joop Zoetemelk. Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) is a TT specialist but should find the hill too much for him today. Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) is very strong and flying under the radar at the moment.

Rohan Dennis, Tom Dumoulin
Tony Martin, Michał Kwiatkowski
Jungels, Kiryienka, Kelderman
Schachmann, Oliveira, Campenaerts

Weather: calm conditions, sunshine, 21°C and almost no wind.

TV: the first rider is off at 2.10pm CEST and the last due back just before 5.10pm CEST. It’s on Eurosport and other channels. It is on the UCI youtube channel but if you visit and it’s blocked that means it’s (notionally) on TV elsewhere in your country.

76 thoughts on “World Championships Time Trial Preview”

  1. How about, as a dark(ish) horse, Jos van Emden?
    He looked in great nick in Lotto Jumbo’s TTT victory on the climb up Whinlatter in the recent Tour of Britain?
    Or is this climb too far / too steep?

  2. Its the diesel Dutchman all the way. Dennis is overhyped and those touting his wins this season never seem to factor in that in the Vuelta he had no serious competition and was really only there to race the ITT stage and use the race as training and in the Giro, where he beat Dumoulin and Froome in the one serious ITT test of race, he was racing against two men trying to win the race while his own GC challenge was, at best, a mirage. The fact remains that Dennis, so far, has not a single Olympic or World ITT medal to his name where even Froome, who only seriously races ITT as an afterthought, has 3 bronze medals (two Olympic, one Worlds). Dumoulin, on the other hand, is the reigning champ and makes being the champion a season goal. Head to head, I see no way the Australian is victorious. In fact, I expect Dennis’s imagined prowess to be comprehensively contextualised by a superior Dumoulin.

    • It feels like Dumoulin has had a very long season and this could be a race too far but looking at their respective PCS’ profiles, Dumoulin has ridden a total of 9976 km so far this season, whilst Dennis has completed 10749 km.
      I was about to disagree with your summary, thinking that the situation Froome faced at the Bergen TT was akin to Dumpulin’s arrival. But now I’m not so sure.
      In a season where the rules on doubles and recovery have been re-written somewhat, and Dumoulin counts himself amongst this, it could be he has one last mighty hurrah in him?
      I’ve got the day off work to watch, so I hope it’s a crackerjack.

      • I did notice that while the medal winning time trial teams were waiting for the podium presentation Domoulin and Dennis looked pretty chilled, while their respective teams looked liked they’d taken a beasting. GVA in particular looked to be very sore. I thought “damn, it must be tough trying to hold the wheel of those two.”

        I think Dennis has focussed on today for the whole of his season and he seems pretty good at delivering his goals. Dumoulin exudes more genuine class, and appears motivated, but I can’t pick between them. But for the sake of being sporting, Ron, I’ll take Dennis.

          • I thought it would be close, but as you say, Dumoulin did look below his best and Dennis absolutely nailed it. The big surprise and proof to the points above was that Dennis took something like 25 seconds off TD on the climb.

            Be interesting to see whether he ramps up his GC focus or sticks to nailing TTs.

    • I think that’s a little unfair on Dennis with regards to his Giro win & GC bid – he had been in pink for 5 stages, and was sitting firmly in the top ten on GC until Zoncolan on stage 14. His stage 16 TT win then put him back up to 6th, before he finally plummeted on the infamous ‘Froome stage’.
      So whilst his Vuelta wins surely benefitted from a lack of competition and some strategic resting on his part, his Giro win was very much mano-a-mano against the best in the world…

    • Gosh, someone is cranky today. So the 10 World Tour level and multiple other time trials Dennis has won count for nothing? He’s beaten Dumoulin before, so he’s a fair best, it’s not as if INRNG is hyping a total outsider.

  3. What has happened to Tony Martin? He seemed absolutely imperious a few years ago. Is it just that better contenders (and time) have caught up with him or something else?

    • He’s often blamed a change in his TT position for his lack of victories (presumably when he’s changed teams/bikes). But it’s been a good few years now that he’s been saying this, so I’d have thought he’d have found a bit of spare time to change his position back by now…!

      • May not be possible to achieve the same position on a different bike/saddle combination. I do ride a Canyon and are fairly pleased with it. So I hope it is not the cause of demise for Tony.

        • Seem to remember Tony Martin doing bad things to his spine in a couple of crashes, is he unable to get the posture right, though he looked good today when we saw him on the BBC.

  4. Dumoulin and Dennis have to be the clear favourites in my book. Kwiatkowski can do almost anything, but I think the TdF/Tour of Poland/Vuelta triple might not be the best prep for the TT Worlds.

    For an outside podium bet how about Jonathan Castroviejo? He always seems to be there or thereabouts for TTs and is a pretty light rider so the climb should be to his benefit? He did the TdF/Vuelta as well though.

  5. I still think that Jonathan Castroviejo is a really good pick for a podium finish. He looked strong on that uphill drag in the TTT on Sunday – Kwiato seemed cooked on Jonathan’s wheel as they went over the top. It should be Dennis vs Dumoulin for the win, as the preview has it.

    • Martin Toft Mortensen was always the better pick, route proved o be a bit too hilly though, beeing a true amateur with a full time job 10th is outstanding,

  6. Latest odds:

    Tom 8/11
    Dennis 5/4
    Kiry 14/1
    Schachmann 20/1
    Tony Martin 20/1
    Jungels 20/1
    Castroviejo 25/1
    Nelson Oliveira 25/1
    Kwiat 33/1
    Kung 50/1
    Campenaerts 50/1
    Kelderman 80/1
    Joss van Emden 300/1

    My bookie is offering 1/4 odds on a top 3 so 5/1 on Bob Jungels looks tempting…

  7. Line 4: “ passes through the towns and villages and.”

    It does indeed seem like a race for the bronze for all but two riders. I don’t have a particular favorite but I would probably find it easier to cheer the one whose face all the ladies in my vicinity do not swoon over,

    Bob Jungels is both my best bet and my favourite to step on the one podium place that isn’t already reserved,

  8. Lazy boy here. Who is competing for GB? Would Thomas not stand a chance? I assume that Froome can’t be bothered and/or fancies his chances for the road race?

    • Actually neither can be bothered to turn up in Innsbruck at all.

      Can’t blame Froome after 4 GTs in a row and a newborn baby. As for Thomas, if Froome’s dismal performance in 2013 Worlds after his first TDF win is any indication, maybe it’s best that he’s not there.

  9. Really strong ride today for Dennis, he looked way faster than the others out there.

    A comment on the TV coverage. I’ve never sat down and watched a TT on TV before, but they barely showed Dumolin and Dennis. Showed Kung a lot and then would keep switching over to random guys with zero chance to podium at the finish.

    Can’t they do picture in picture or something to show the minor stuff, and then have a main screen comparing the relevant riders? From what I saw, it was really interesting seeing how much faster Dennis was to the others. It looked visibly faster at every point.

    Anyways, that’s just my two cents, it’s not worth much but there it is. Inrng, as always great predictions and preview.

    • The TV coverage is frustrating at times. I was thinkin about it, and it must be a very tough job to live edit the different cameras, with having to take approx 15secs of every 90secs at the start ramp, then trying to catch the intermediate checks for each rider, giving a fair amount of coverage to everyone, and then factor in star riders getting more interest. It’s a lot to fit in.

      Having said that, I’m not convinced that the directors are quite as educated as many of us fans when it comes to the nuances of a bike race and how to read it.

      • There’s a lot that could be done to make TT broadcasts more exciting, eg real time gaps between riders, split screens for the same stretch of road so we can see the same style. But cycling costs a lot of money to produce with the outside broadcasts, helicopters and the audience isn’t all that big.

        • At the end of the day a TT is people riding their bikes on their own one at a time. If it’s on a wide flat road like most of that TT was then the riders will never be going fast enough for it to look spectacular either. The only interest comes from the tension of who is going to win, and their wasn’t even that yesterday as Dennis was so dominant. You could’ve had Hollywood’s finest editors on that and they’d have struggled to make it more of a spectacle than it was. I still watched it, I just wasn’t expecting a massive spectacle like I will be for the road race.

    • They kept switching away to show riders finishing, which is actually a good thing. Getting that shot is important for showing the result and making sure they got proper footage out incase any of those riders ended with a good result.
      Eg. If Dennis and Dumoulin crashed on the descent they would need those finishing images to show of podium finishers who might not have had a TV moto.
      It’s something that looks strange after the fact, but if they didn’t show one of the podium finishers actually finishing there would be more hell to pay. And i can’t blame them for spending ages showing Brandle, every host shows more love to its own riders than others.
      There’s also a limitation of the course. The ITT was point-to-point, not Lap like the last couple of Worlds. This makes it almost impossible to cover every major rider with a TV moto, as either it’s too expensive to have 60 of them or it’s just not possible to get them from the finish back to the start for another rider.

      Then there’s the time gaps. These are taken off the best rider to pass a major checkpoint, not off the quickest rider on the road. Why? Because the riders GPS readouts are not entirely accurate, and this was shown a lot in the coverage where readings were coming through that were as much as a whole minute off from the official static time check. So it’s nice to see live-timing and gaps on screen, but they were so innacurate giving more of them wouldn’t have helped.
      More static checks would be an improvement. Instead of the 3 main ones i’d like to see one every 5km or 10km. These would be accurate and give a great sense of how the race is developing more often.

      • Broadcasting an ITT live is always going to involve compromises.

        The best way to improve things without spending millions extra on the production would probably be to do the best they can live, then release a video of the winner’s full run (using all the recorded footage of their run which wasn’t shown live) on the UCI YouTube channel.

        Unless something goes badly wrong with both a number of riders and the production, it should never be the case in an ITT World Championship that the winner did not have a moto assigned.

      • I have to confess straight away that I don’t watch ITTs. But is it really true that the timing and the time gaps shown on TV are based on GPS data? That would be eminently silly because of the huge error margin. It would seem to me that a system based on chips and mats with timing devices at checkpoints would work as near-perfectly in cycling as it does in marathon running and cross-country skiing.

        I have expressed my opinion on the TV coverage before, but here it is again: the main problem is that the director and the producer may know how to cover a normal road race, but TTs, being short races with individual starts, are a completely foreign ground for them and that’s why they never get it right.

        They should either go and study how they do it in those sports and manage to make it both informative and exciting – the two are definitively not mutually exclusive – for the TV spectators. Or they should concentrate on what they do best and leave the TTs for those who in all probability can do better, i.e. hire someone with credits from covering those kind of races. (Well, it would no doubt cost a bit extra but…)

        Kudos for the Inner Ring for getting 8/10 right – and of course for Campenaerts for outperforming our expectations!

        • It is true that the live gaps shown on TV are based on GPS data, and that there are only two intermediate timing lines on the route.

          If you want more, you need to pay more. The problem there is that ITTs are very boring when they don’t have the context of a GC battle in a major tour, and therefore the viewing numbers they get don’t warrant the additional expenditure.

          The grand tours have a bigger TV budget and consequently do a better job on the ITT stages with the use of split-screen vision, overlaid footage etc coming into play when it gets down to the GC contenders at the end.

    • I would agree about Kung and the following moto. Brian Smith called it in Eurosport when another rider flashed by and he said the moto should dump Kung and follow Oliveira(?) as a more interesting placing as Kung was well chopped by then. Obviously, the moto cams were given orders to follow certain riders regardless of their placing.

    • Bit of both, have to think

      By Doom’s own admission he’s fully worn out and not at his best but Dennis smashing the field is still pretty darned impressive – saw a graph of ITT winners’ time gaps vs. the average of their respective top 10s going back to 2005 and Dennis’ was the 3rd highest after Canc 2009 and Martin 2011 at peak Panzerwagon, obviously good company to be in.

      Also seems reasonable that focusing so heavily on climbing, and specifically climbing for GC context, would take something out of Doom’s TT, even if that’s just going from being absolute best in the world to getting beat by a form of his life Dennis at the end of a grueling season (someone commented upthread that Dennis rode like 1oo0 more race kms this year, but clearly they didn’t come near the brutal physical/mental strain of getting 2nd at back to back GTs).

  10. Just to put Dennis’ ride in some context: it took him 1:03 to ride 52 somewhat hilly kms. Merckx took an hour to ride 49.3 km on a track. So if my calculations are correct, Dennis had a higher avg speed than Merckx’s hour record ride.

    • Kind of an interesting comparison… until you start comparing the machines used. Wiggins’ 54.526 kms in one hour in 2015 was done on a machine much more like Dennis’ than the one used by Merckx in 1972. For me just another reason to ban these silly, mostly useless contraptions in favor of real bicycles.

      • I’d love to see someone attempt the record on a clone of Merckx’s bike. It would show just how much is about the bike/useless contraption, and how much is about skill/power/training.

        • Nobody was much interested in the “Athlete’s Record” or whatever it was called as most of the hour record stuff seems to be pushed by the bike industry these daze.
          Modern chrono bikes are useless contraptions. Nobody rides one down to the store or even around for fun, do they? They’re about as useful as an F1 car would be to take out for a Sunday drive on public roads. When they are banned for flyaway races in the deserts of the Middle East, the same guys win anyway, so why bother with all the expense for these things? How many do the makers actually sell compared to real bicycles? They jack up the cost of competition while adding little to the sport except bike porn for the equipment-obsessed. If all they care about is how fast someone can pedal, why not let ’em compete on fully-faired recumbents?
          But now that the UCI is adding e-MTB racing, it seems even they are abandoning the “primacy of man over machine” these days so I realize I’m on the losing side of this argument.

          • If you look at modern aero road bikes Larry, and the Canyon Aeroad would be a prime example, they’re pretty much an every day TT machine, made slightly more comfortable / stable?
            Personally I love them and they’re great to ride.

          • Ecky- If the UCI were to mandate you compete in the chrono stages on the same bike you use for the road stages, my guess is something “aero” like you describe would end up being the choice for most? My “useless contraption” moniker refers to the riding position, handlebars and frame/wheels designed for aerodynamic efficiency at pretty much the expense of everything else. In the end, what is the contest designed to determine?
            I have no issue with F1 or MOTOGP being about the best machine controlled (though that’s another argument these daze) by the best pilot. But in UCI-sanctioned cycling it’s (or used to be) the primacy of man over machine and efforts were taken to make sure the machine was a very minor factor in who wins or loses. Sadly, the UCI seems to be caving-in to industry interests more and more with e-MTB racing being the latest cave.
            Can a “constructor’s trophy” be far behind? More and more I’m starting to think the draconian Henri Desgrange was on the right track in many ways.

  11. Love the word ‘contraptions ‘, then the idea of swapping bikes between Merckx and Dennis’ . Or even attempt to hold the race outside European continent in September, along the line of changing weather conditions, road surfaces, … I have the craziest idea of riding BMC TT machine to a 7/11 store 800 meters away. Quick real quick! Theoretically a TT bike would be my choice, nothin’ but speed coz it’s fast superfast. (Just for a pack of cigarettes.!! and my condoms in need! )Why not? Aero bar, tunnel tests, aero helmets, skin suit, gel … I need my record hour to go back just in time.

    • If you’re riding a TT bike to the shops with a TT helmet, skinsuit, banned gel etc then you probably won’t need to bother with the condoms.

      • technically how true. Goes the saying ‘less is more’ biking used to be so much fun, until your doc says long time ‘saddle can hurt your …’ or flat back aero riding style creates pressure in T1,T2,T3,T4… riding on top tube while descending 85k/hr, riding both hands ‘dangling’ in front of handlebar …
        For the sake of hour breaking record? I say we only humans. How many more records to break? how about a pro record to kick soonest after retirement?

Comments are closed.