Pocket Guide >> Mens & Womens Olympic Time Trial (TT)
The Time Trial (TT) is one of cycling’s defining events and it could deliver Britain’s first gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. ¬†One rider at a time, against the clock, around a set course. Each man for himself – there are no team orders in TT. It is said to be one of the best tests of a riders all round ability – endurance, strength and power are just as important as mental prowess and the ability to be able to sustain an effort over the full race distance. The key to a dominant time trial ride is¬†consistent¬†power output throughout your ride, something that Team GB’s obsessive attention to detail works well for.
This year’s Olympic TT will see the men take on 44km course, whilst the women will battle it out over 29kms of Surrey countryside. Start & Finish is at Hampton Court Palace. Both routes are pretty flat and feature no notable climbs, nor do they feature any¬†particularly¬†technical sections, so a powerful¬†specialist will be the likely victor.
Riders are set off individually at 90 second intervals, with the women starting off at 12:30 and men at 14:15. Unlike the track pursuit in the velodrome, catching the rider in front does not guarantee a win, merely a 90 second lead on that particular rider.
Road Race silver medal winnner, Lizzie Armitstead, and Emma Pooley will be flying the Team GB flag for the women with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome for the men. Both Pooley and Wiggins have made their names in the TT, with both riders also attempting long breakaways in the past, so the medal chances are very high.
Wiggins and Froome are both incredible time trialists, Wiggins won both TT’s in this year’s Tour de France on his way to his overall win, whilst Froome grabbed second on both occasions as well as in the overall. Both men are undoubtedly in the form of their lives and will be looking to show their form after dominating the front of the road race for over 200km. Time trial¬†aficionados Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and Tony Martin (Germany) will be looking to spoil the Great British tea party however – Cancellara is one of the greatest time trialists of all time, having won an incredible 4 world titles in the discipline, whilst Martin is seen as the heir apparent to his throne, having won the 2011 World Championship.
Cancellara crashed out of the Olympic Road Race on Saturday, with a spectacular fall after misjudging a corner, so could be carrying an injury. But he will doubtless want to put this disappointment behind him with a strong performance tomorrow. Martin withdrew from the road race as it reached it’s conclusion – spent force or is looking to conserve himself for tomorrow? Another rider who may feature is¬†Australia’s¬†Michael Rogers. ¬†As a member of Team Sky Rogers was a¬†consummate¬†performer in this years Tour, riding his heart out for trade team mate Wiggins in the high mountains, and the triple world champion is a great time trialist on his day. Dutch rider Lars Boom, Americans TJ Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney and Sweden’s Gustav Larsson are also ones to watch out for.
For the women, Pooley will be looking to fight off Kristian Armstrong, who recently came out of retirement claiming to miss the road so much she couldn’t stay away. Armstrong is a double world champion in this discipline, but Pooley and Armistead also have good TT¬†pedigrees. Lizzie’s from the track and Emma’s from triathlon and her world championship win in 2010. Elsewhere, expect German legend Judith Ardnt to feature, she was so strong inside the last 50km of the road race and is a very good TT rider.
Now on to my favourite bit about time trialling – the kit. ¬†Time trial bikes are specially designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, and tend to be a bit weightier than road racing bikes. All the tubing on the frame is sculpted to cut through the wind, and the best bikes are aerodynamic at lots of different wind angles – front, side, oblique etc… TT bikes also feature deep section wheels and disk wheels, both of which reduce the drag on a rider as they cut through the air. Many riders and teams spend countless hours in wind tunnels perfecting their positions and equipment set-up to gain an extra 1/10th of a second.¬†There’s a great explanatory picture here to have a look at.
Team GB have multiple chances of hitting the podium tomorrow , so get watching and spur them on!
Photo Credit Team Sky and The Fixed Factor on Flickr