TheUCI canned the trade team time trial at the Worlds, but plan store place it with a national event in 2019
Insight, opinion and interviews
This year marked the last of the UCI’s seven-year run of team time trials at the World Championships. Quick-Step Floors, who won the first edition in 2012 – and then again in 2013 and 2016 – beat Sunweb by 19 seconds. It was the team’s 69th victory of the year.
The UCI announced its plans to give up the event in May, and in Innsbruck many riders were happy to give a fond farewell to the race and question what its replacement event in 2019 might look like. The UCI is expected to confirm a national team time trial in which the men’s and women’s times are aggregated into the final medal ranking.
Anna van der Breggen, who won the TTT with Boels-Dolmans in 2016, said: “It’s a big disappointment that this is the last team time trial. This discipline is one of the greatest in cycling. You are riding with this team the whole year, and for me, it’s a way to do a victory that is really together as a team – you all win together or you all lose together.” Quick-Step’s Bob Jungels said it was a “pity” it was the last event, while Tom Dumoulin said the replacement sounded “weird.”
Marco Pinotti, who guided BMC to back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015, and podiums in every other year apart from 2013, said the event had particular resonance for him because it was also the last year of the BMC squad before it morphs into the classics-orientated CCC-backed team. “You could make the story that we closed the team because there was no team time trial next year,” he joked. “We have dominated the discipline since the end of 2014 and other teams have committed to the discipline. I feel this edition does have a special meaning.
“It’s the quintessential event that shows cycling as a team sport. People see it as an individual sport but they don’t see the help of the team. When you win something as a team, it’s a totally different feeling.
“I don’t know why they took it away. Especially for the women’s teams it’s one of the biggest events and it gives something to the sponsors that invest in women’s cycling. It’s good exposure and I don’t see how this will happen again with national teams,” he added. However, those speaking in Innsbruck were from a selfselecting group of teams that made the TTT a key target of their season. It was also a closed shop: just six teams ever appeared on the podium in the men’s race. Canyon-Sram
also dominated the women’s event: when they beat Boels-Dolmans by 22 seconds this year, it was the team’s fifth win.
In fact, the Worlds TTT became a bone of contention between the UCI, who made racing it compulsory, and those managers whose squads were not competitive but who were still obliged to cover the costs of sending riders anyway. Matters reached a head before the 2016 Worlds in Qatar, when teams threatened to boycott the Championships because the UCI refused to assist with the costs of fielding teams in the Middle East. The UCI was forced to make a climbdown and it has not been compulsory to participate in the TTT since. Six WorldTour teams, including FDJ, Lotto Soudal and Bahrain-Merida opted not to race in Innsbruck.
However, the UCI plans to maintain a national TTT at the Worlds next year. A national team trial was part of the amateur programme between the 1960s and 1990s. The twist in the resurrected, professional version is that the final result will be based on an aggregate of the men’s and woman’s times. The idea was met with a cool reception in Innsbruck. Dumoulin said: “Suddenly we will have to go with our national team-mates, and two days before the event we say, ‘Hey, let’s go do a team time trial together’”.
Pinotti was sceptical too, suggesting that the UCI may also meet resistance from national federations on the question of finance and resources. “The federation will end up using the resources of the team anyway,” he said.
“I think the problem is when you involve professional bike riders then it becomes impossible to have a national
TTT. In the road race, you have riders being team-mates and then racing against each other, and that works. But in the team time trial you need more time to really prepare. We work for maybe weeks or months on the TTT.”
Pinotti suggested the event could instead be suited to U23 riders. “Maybe not 100km though,” he said. “It’s a way for the teams to see what’s available in the talent pool.”
Pinotti may have to wait until the UCI’s latest experiment runs its course before suggesting it to administrators, however.
Quick-Step added another TTT title in Innsbruck, as their 2018 gets even better Canyon-Sram win their ifth TTT gold, making them the event's most proli ic women's team