Road World Championships team time trial preview

This year’s Road World Championships are taking place from 16th-23rd September in the Dutch province of Limburg, home to the Amstel Gold race and whose finale will feature prominently in all of the elite, under-23 and junior races for the men and women.

The Championships start with the trade team time trial, which is making a welcome return to the World Championships after a four-year hiatus. Its predecessor, the Eindhoven trade team time trial, ran from 2005-7 over a circuit with six-man teams, expanded to eight in 2006. Conceived as part of the UCI ProTour it was open to the 20 ProTour teams and five wild-cards. The winning teams over the 48.6km circuit were as follows:

2005: Gerolsteiner 53:35

2006: CSC 52:28

2007: CSC 53:36

It’s worth remembering that the 2007 edition took place in the rain  – the other two were held in fine conditions – and the CSC teams included a number of noted exponents of the fine art of time-trialling such as Bobby Julich, Jens Voigt, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vandevelde.

How does it work?

Before digging back into the archives, it’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves of the basic principles. All the riders on the team – using the most aerodynamically advanced equipment and clothing – start together, quickly forming a nose-to-tail pace-line to maximise the slipstream advantage. Riders take their turns at the front before swinging aside and returning to the end of the pace-line to await their next pull. The team’s time is taken when the fourth or fifth rider (depending on the rules) crosses the line. So it’s imperative that whichever tactic the team uses, they keep a minimum number together. Well-honed teams are a beauty to behold while those who underestimate its importance handicap their star stage racers. Who can fail to remember the abject performance of some of the French teams in Montpelier in the 2009 Tour de France?

Here’s Fabian Cancellara explaining the key issues:


The discipline had been established in the Grand Tours as early as 1927 when the Tour’s organiser Henri Desgrange turned all 16 of the flatter stages into team time trials to force riders to ride flat-out. Unsurprisingly the formula wasn’t popular with either the riders or the spectators. The tactic was abandoned in 1929 and reintroduced along with national teams in 1930, which featured a huge 222km team time trial from Bordeaux to Hendaye. The Giro introduced team time trials in 1937 and the Vuelta followed suit in 1946.

The discipline was a feature for many years in both the Olympics and the World Championships using four-man national teams starting in 1960. From 1972 onwards, the event wasn’t held at World Championships during Olympic years. The distance was always approximately 100km.

Sadly the first event in 1960 was marred by the death of Dane Knud Enemark Jensen who overdosed on amphetamines, fell and fatally fractured his skull.  The maiden event was won by the Italians who were the most successful team in this discipline – winning nine out of 36 events – until the UCI disbanded the amateur championship in 1994.

What kind of race will it be?

The team time trials open the World Championships tomorrow (Sunday). The professional trade teams of six will race from Sittard – 53.2km for the men and 34.2km for the women – to the finish up the Cauberg climb, the same finish that will be used in all the road races later in the week. The clock will stop on the fourth team member across the line.

The UCI has had to adapt its rules as the teams will contain a mix of nationalities. It will play the national anthem of the winning team on the podium, where it will award each rider with a medal and the sports director a trophy. Riders will not receive rainbow jerseys, but the team will wear a distinctive logo on their jerseys the following year. The racing aside, it’s a good opportunity for teams to invite and entertain sponsors at the World Championships.

The race

The routes chosen for the team time trials are neither flat nor easy. The women’s 34.2km route includes two climbs; the Lange Raarberg, at around 20 km, and the finale on the Cauberg. The men’s 53.2km route adds the Bergesweg in Voerendaal before finishing just past the summit of the Cauberg. Teams must ensure that riders stay together to remain in contention, particularly on the challenging climbs.

Who to watch

With UCI WorldTour, Pro-Continental and Continental teams eligible, it’s likely to be a World Tour team atop the podium but it should prove an attractive spectacle for spectators.

Based on their performances in this year’s Grand Tours and stage races, Sky, Garmin-Sharp, BMC, Orica-GreenEDGE, Liquigas-Cannondale, Movistar and home team Rabobank should be among the favourites for the men’s title.

Certain teams are known to have set winning this event as one of their key objectives and competition to get into the set-ups has been fierce. Orica-GreenEDGE has held specific training camps, as it did before winning the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial in March, as have Liquigas-Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp who are both bringing star-studded teams.

Garmin-Sharp on their way to victory in the Giro d’Italia 2012 team time-trial (image courtesy of Garmin-Sharp)

We shouldn’t overlook the benefit of home advantage. Rabobank, Vacansoleil-DCM and Argos-Shimano are all hoping to shine, demonstrate a solid team ethos, raise their profiles and replicate the success enjoyed by other Dutch teams in earlier reincarnations of the event.

In the women’s race, there are fewer teams taking part. The Specialized-Lululemon squad looks particularly strong with Ina Teutenberg but we shouldn’t discount the ladies’ defending individual TT champion Judith Arndt and her GreenEdge-AIS team, nor local team Dutch AA Drink.

The Road World Championship team time trial events take place on Sunday 16th September. Live coverage and highlights will be shown by Eurosport in the UK. For other live coverage check

Link: Official website

Who’s moving where for 2013? #1

From the sublime to the ridiculous, sporting transfer gossip offers no end of opportunities for speculation and distraction. Suffice to say, cycling is no different. This weekly column will bring you up to speed with the latest, greatest (and downright absurd) cycling rumours for your own examination and contemplation.

Joaquim Rodriguez – Katusha to terminate contract?

Image courtesy of Katusha

According to reports in Spain, Joaquim Rodriguez’s future at Katusha is uncertain, and is considering at a contract termination unless he is offered terms which he feels reflects his achievements this season. It is believed that Purito is unhappy with the deal being offered by the Katusha management, with his representative Angel Edo stating new terms must have ‘better economic conditions’ and last until 2015. Source (in Spanish)

With such quotes being attributed to his agent, there’s clearly some fire beneath all of this smoke. But with Purito having had such a strong season – possibly the best of his career – alongside already having a contract for 2013, it is unlikely we will see him leaving Katusha in the near future. The behaviour of his manager smacks of classic bargaining, trying to squeeze every last penny out of the management for his client’s new deal. Needless to say, Katusha would be daft to let their only true Grand Tour contender leave, and their management aren’t exactly strapped for cash.

Pippo Pozzato – Farnese Vini to Katusha or Movistar?

Image courtesy of Farnese Vini

Pippo Pozzato’s step down from Katusha to Farnese Vini-Selle Italia prior to the start of this season came as something of a surprise. He remains only 31-years old, and his podium and top ten at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Milan-San Remo respectively this season demonstrates he’s still a rider capable of winning the biggest Classics. Now he is being linked with a move back to the top flight with a return to Katusha or Spanish outfit Movistar. Source (in Spanish)

I’d certainly rate a move to one of these teams as likely for a rider who is simply too good to ride for a Pro-Continental team. The question is, which one? Pozzato has prior experience at Katusha, and it is possibly they who are better suited for supporting him in the northern Classics. However, should he want a change of scenery, Movistar would be a very interesting switch.

Jack Bobridge – Orica-GreenEDGE to Rabobank?

Image courtesy of Orica-GreenEDGE

It is being reported that the talented 23-year old Australian Jack Bobridge is attracting the attention of Rabobank. The talented time-trialist was the Australian national champion in his preferred discipline last year, and could replace compatriot Michael Matthews at the Dutch outfit, with the sprinter heading the other way to the Aussie-backed squad for 2013. Source (in Dutch)

It’s certainly an interesting rumour, but isn’t necessarily likely. Bobridge is believed to have signed a two-year contract at GreenEDGE which extends into next season, and could prove to be a stumbling block. However, Bobridge – who was heralded as a huge talent when at Garmin a couple of seasons ago – has had a relatively quiet campaign, and may be growing frustrated.

Marzio Bruseghin – Movistar to Saxo Bank?

Image courtesy of Movistar

Italian veteran Marzio Bruseghin is reportedly attracting the interest of the Saxo Bank team and, more specifically, Alberto Contador. The 2012 Vuelta winner has apparently requested that Bruseghin be signed, despite being 38 years old. He is nevertheless excellent on the climbs, finishing 14th in last year’s Vuelta, and 17th in this year’s Giro d’Italia – a race in which he won a stage and finished on the podium in 2008. Source (in Danish)

Bruseghin would be a help in the mountains for a team who are short on good climbing domestiques. Alberto Contador’s struggle at last year’s Tour de France was largely as a result of having a weak team, while he was also often isolated in the recent Vuelta. Bruseghin’s signature would sit alongside Nicolas Roche’s as one which could be the difference between winning and losing a Grand Tour.