This year the UCI introduced the team time trial, which is open to trade teams, into the world championships week. I think it could helped the case to add the discipline to the program since the worlds are in the Limburg region in Holland this year, so the organizers and the cycling fans are happy to have one more race to enjoy.
Cycling is really part of the history and tradition in Holland. Everybody has minumum one bike and they use it to do sport or to go to work. It is incredible to see that at the traffic lights in Maastricht there are more rows on the bike paths than there re on the roads. In this region every year there is the famous classic Amstel Gold Race, the hardest race in Holland. It has 250 kms up and down the tricky dutch roads. Now they have the world championships week, I’m sure that the roads will be full of fans to watch the races live.
The team time trial competition is open to sponsored teams, while the rest of the races are run as usual with the national teams. The course starts in Sittard and finishes using the same finish as the other races, one kilometer and a half after the famous Cauberg climb. The top of the Cauberg marks the usual finish line for the Amstel Gold Race, but worlds organizers have decided to extend it beyond. The roads are good and, depending on the wind, there should be a good spectacle during the team time trial.
The winning team will be very compact and very evenly matched because the course has three small climbs. In my opinion the team that keeps up the speed after the climbs will win the race. And to do this you have to have the right guys on board. If you do the climb too hard there will be no more legs left for afterward.
There are teams in the World Tour that really care about this kind of effort, they do special training and choose their riders in base of their qualities of rollers. I always liked the team time trial because is one of the moments that you feel part of a team in cycling and those watching can understand that cycling is not only an individual sport.
In my career I have done a lot of team time trials and I have always been a key player form my team in the event. My good attitude towards the individual time trial has helped me a lot. Sometimes it was easier for me because I was used to doing an effort on my own. I remember in the Tour de France there where very long time trials and sometimes they were done full gas and other times it was a good day to save the legs for the following stages.
I think that the materials used by the teams are one of the main contributors to a good result. In fact, when the average speed is above 50 km/h the bike and wheels used can become a deciding factor of the race. Also in this discipline there are teams that really care about finishing on top. They test bikes, handlebars, wheels, helmets, etc in the wind tunnel and I can say from experience that it’s something that really makes the difference.