The most unpredictably brilliant (crashes excepted) opening phase to a Tour de France is capped today by an equally challenging team time trial. They are a thing of beauty and just hearing the whirring hum of the disc wheels is enough to make me smile.
Sunday 12th July: Stage 9 – Vannes to Plumelec, 28km team time trial
In the 28km of sleek, synchronous rotations, the only thing that matters is laying the power down as smoothly as possible. Most teams can manage this on the flat, but the length and rolling parcours make this stage extremely tricky. Then, just as the team are on their limit, they have to manage the finishing climb on the Côte de Cadoudal: 1.7km at an average of 6.2%. Judge this one wrong and the time losses could be huge. Expect hoarse shouts and ragged rather than silky momentum.
A team time trial this late in a grand tour certainly raised some eyebrows during the route announcement and with the tough stages and crashes we’ve seen already some teams are going to struggle. Orica-GreenEDGE are traditionally strong at this discipline, yet they start with only six riders. My tips are BMC, Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky at the top, but I worry about Ag2r and Monsieur Bardet.
Link: Official race website
Header image: Clock faces in Vannes – Brian Smithson https://www.flickr.com/photos/smithser/6926020527/