Le Tour 2019 - Stage 2

Team Time Trial

If we started yesterday’s blog with the term chaos, then it’s probably correct to label the team time trial (TTT) as hate, as that’s what the riders generally think about this particular event. While there’s some riders who do enjoy this speciality such as Tony Martin, and Alex Dowsett (as well as others) there are many more riders who simply despise it.

Today’s stage was a very short 27.6 km, with lots of long straight roads, generally flat, with a tough finish inside the final km meant that speeds would be extremely high, and the results would show that the teams would be tightly packed. Less than 2-minutes separated all the teams, however, times for all the riders would be greater. This is because for each team, it’s the fourth member of the team who crosses the finish line and sets the time for the first four riders in each team (unless the whole team finishes together and the fourth member of the team records the time for the whole team). If any riders are dropped then their individual time is counts towards their general classification time.

With the average speed of the winning team being a fraction over 56 km/hr (35 mph) the TTT was extremely fast and this means that aerodynamic technology is hugely important to the riders. Many of the leading teams will have had their riders in the wind tunnel to make sure they’re aero optimised and they’ll also be using specialist technology to push the speed further.

From the TV coverage it’s a little difficult to spot all the tech they use (I’m waiting until there’s better photos available to see exactly what tech is used), but 3/4 length sleeves on their skinsuits, or full long sleeves, NoPinz race number sleeves, and special fabric clothing are all extremely important. Attention to detail is crucial to gain as much free speed as possible.

In terms of the actual event, the TTT is brutally hard. The riders who are aiming for a high GC position have to make sure that their team (e.g. Ineos) are able to keep them in contention, and there are also teams who just want the stage (e.g. Katusha Alpecin). Unlike an individual time trial where you aim to be at your functional threshold power (FTP), in the TTT your power will generally vary a little more. The rider whose turn it is on the front will be slightly above FTP, while the riders who are behind will be at a lower power, increasing their power output as they move through to the front.

As today’s stage is only around 30-minutes in duration then power output (if this was say an individual TT) would be about 5% more power than FTP. It’s likely that those on the front will be about 10% higher.

As the fitness of each rider on their respective team will differ, the best way of riding a TTT is to have everyone ride at the same speed when on the front, but to vary the duration of how long each rider will stay on the front. For e.g. an excellent TT rider such as Alex Dowsett will spend longer on the front compared to one of the riders who doesn’t TT as well. This allows those who are behind the rider leading to ‘recover’ (they’re still going to be going hard, and so complete recovery isn’t possible).

To date I’ve not seen any power meter files from either stage 1 or stage 2’s TTT, but hopefully, we’ll have more during the week.

In the meantime, I look forward to writing about stage 3, and if you have any questions or comments just drop me a note and I’ll be happy to help. i’ll personally respond.

If you’d like to get started with coaching to help you improve your speed, power and fitness, so that you’re crushing just give me a shout, or click here

Richard Stern