‘Time trials are boring!’ say the road men. But run it through the middle of one of Europe’s great cities, with the best ‘chrono men’ on the planet jousting for a rainbow jersey through dense crowds and it’s far from boring – spectacular! We got to the World Road Championships 2011 course early to see what we could see.
The teams were set up in a long tent in one of the side streets, the riders warming up on rollers, the mechanics making the last-minute adjustments – in the case of the Slovaks, this involved hack sawing the nose off the saddle and taping it up.
You would think that with the amount of stories flying around about the UCI and their horrible regs, the teams would all be gee-ed up on what’s required.
We had a few words with Michael Mørkøv before the start – it wasn’t a good day for him, but he was a late addition to the team after Alex Rasmussen’s exclusion and he hadn’t really prepared properly.
We watched the first few off the ramp and then jumped on the S Bahn train to have a look at other parts of the course.
The course was almost wholly urban and whilst it was one for the ‘power guys’ with wide, flat streets, there were a lot of corners – it was probably those which kept Grabsch off the podium.
Those ‘death gears’ are all very well for boulevard dragging but it’s hard to accelerate out of the corners and get back in the ‘cruise’ when you never take the chain out of the 11.
On a course like this, the riders go off in ‘waves’ so as the course doesn’t get over run with competitors.
The UCI seeding is generally good – this year again, the medallists all came from the last ‘wave’ albeit Dyachenko held the lead for a long time off an early number.
We were walking back to the finish as the big guns thrashed past on their first circuit.
Martin’s progress was simply astonishing.
Millar had just passed in that beautiful tuck of his – and there was Martin, breathing down his neck inside a lap – he was visibly moving faster than anyone else.
The crowds at the finish were huge, there was a journalists tribune set up on the line but we couldn’t get near it – instead we settled for the VIP area on the finish line.
There was a giant screen and a table to lean on, so no complaints.
Cancellara’s ‘ragged edge’ riding looked clumsy compared to the controlled power of Martin and full marks to Wiggins on a great stylish, silver medal.
Millar fan though I may be, I’d have given his place to Alex Dowsett; he’s the future for GB time trialling.
Millar and Wiggins don’t have too long left at the top – and the next generation of young ‘chrono men’ is closing fast.
Phinney, Porte, Fuglsang, Sergent are all ‘coming men.’
Thursday is a ‘rest day’ for us before the road races get in to full effect tomorrow.
We might even manage some of that ‘tourist stuff;’ we’ll keep you posted – and jings!, the sun has even come out!