PRO­LOGUE

TheUCI canned the trade team time trial at the Worlds, but plan store place it with a na­tional event in 2019

Procycling - - CONTENTS -

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

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