WorldTour Wrap: Totally terrific team time trial tweaks - Road Cycling UK

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WorldTour Wrap: Totally terrific team time trial tweaks

How to spice up a TTT, plus Stevo smashes it back home

This weekend saw the return of the Grand Tour racing to our TV sets – hurrah! The Vuelta, the final three-week race of the season is looking like being a real belter, with mountains sprinkled liberally through the parcours – Chris Froome moving into the red jersey after Monday’s first mountain stage.

But while the climb-laden stages have fans high on anticipation, the opening weekend probably did not – not least with how the first road stage begin…

Totally terrific team time trials

The Vuelta began with a team time trial on Saturday through the beautiful city of Nîmes. The stage was won by BMC Racing, who got their man, Rohan Dennis, into the red leader’s jersey.

Team time trials do not make for the most enthralling spectacle, but at least they’re much briefer than their individual equivalents. Still, we thought perhaps there were some ways to liven up a TTT, so that it really gets the heart racing for those of us watching at home.

Yeah, it’s not bad… but imagine this with more lions (Pic: Sirotti)

Lions

Actual lions. Why? Well, on stage one of the Vuelta, the TTT course in Nîmes actually routed through the Roman amphitheater there – and we all know what used to go on in Roman amphitheaters, don’t we?

Introducing a few hungry jungle cats to the parcours would keep all the teams on their toes, as well as creating some interesting tactical decisions about how much armour to wear…

Secret results

You do the TTT as normal, but you set it up as a sort of secret ‘stage zero’, rather than one of the televised ‘proper’ stages – and you don’t reveal the results until way, way into the race.

On the second rest day, maybe, the times are announced and all the riders’ GC positions are adjusted accordingly. This would have the wonderful side-effect of making all the GC teams race like lunatics for the first two weeks, trying to guarantee themselves a lead that isn’t going to ‘vanish’ overnight because of a poor showing in the TTT.

One team of normal guys

One of the reasons TTTs are dull is that it’s hard to gauge how fast and technical the event is, because all the teams look to be going roughly the same speed. What would really bring it to life, we think, is one squad formed of blokes picked from the crowd, who are then placed onto top-spec TT bikes and forced to pin on a set of numbers. For context.

As a sweetener, if they place top ten, they get to compete in the next day’s stage as well.

And maybe if our team of spectators had been involved in the first road stage of this year’s Vuelta, we might have been treated to a little more action too…

Taking a break from breaks

Believe it or not, the entire first weekend of the Vuelta passed without a single breakaway forming.

Granted, you wouldn’t expect an escape on a TTT stage – even if you really hate your team-mates, we’re sure you can stick it out for the 15 minutes or so of racing – but Sunday’s route, 200 flat kilometres before a sprint finish, was absolutely ripe for it.

And yet, nothing happened. You’d have got very short odds before the stage on – at the very least – Manzana Postobon chucking someone into a move, but that’s not how it turned out.

The selfish decision of the riders not to flagellate themselves in the sun for four hours meant the teams’ social media personnel were largely bereft of things to say…

 

Perhaps the Postobon riders saw what happened to Wanty Groupe Gobert’s Guillaume Van Keirsbulck in the Tour de France and got wise.

Stevo rolls back the years

Our favourite viral story of the week would probably have to be Steve Cummings, professional bike rider for WorldTour outfit Team Dimension Data, who went home to his native Wirral this week. We know he was at home because, while he was in the north west, our Stevo decided he’d pop down to his local club TT and win it, just for kicks.

Imagine being there on the start line, all psyched up to perform your best. You’ve been training hard all season for this and – looking at the field around you – you think you could be in with a shout.

Then, Steve Cummings shows up, the actual champion of TTing in the country where you currently stand, resplendent in his striped jersey and sat astride a regular old road bike. The champ goes on to blow the whole race apart, all while recovering from a couple of fractured vertebrae. Talk about demoralising!

Cummings’ presence at the TT was not a surprise, with his participation being advertised in advance and a bumper attendance at the Birkenhead North End CC TT as a direct result.

He also spent a lot of time after the ride with members of the club, hanging out, chatting and signing autographs. All of which kind of makes us think how lucky we are to have a sport where the best athletes in the world mix so freely and easily with the amateurs.

You wouldn’t get Lionel Messi pitching up to a Sunday League football game, would you?

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