The UCI Team Time Trial World Championships is only 1 week away! I was asked to coach and direct the team for Champion Systems-No Tubes (a U.S Continental team based out of New York) and of course jumped at the chance. I ran a training camp for the squad at the end of August (with the help of Jon Tarkington) and wanted to share some of what goes into a strong TTT squad and effort.
I had the opportunity to recruit some additional riders to the team to compliment the existing roster. Here is what I looked for:
- Strength: Obviously you want strong riders that can generate high sustained power in a time trial position. What is less obvious is that a proper TTT effort requires the ability to make several efforts above anaerobic threshold and then recover quickly.
- Size: For aerodynamic reasons you ideally want everyone to be the same size. In a stage race team trial this is almost never the case and you would then try to put the smaller riders together and a stronger rider behind your smallest guy in the rotation. In a single stage team trial like World’s you get a bit more control – so everyone on this team is ~ 6 feet tall with big hips!
- Awareness: You have to quickly adjust to the terrain, wind, and other riders in a team trial effort. All while going flat out! I looked for riders that I new had good ‘pack awareness’ in their road racing and that I knew I could communicate well with. Rider communication during the effort is super critical to properly metering effort on a given day.
We went through several mock efforts and training drills during the camp. Here are some of the critical facets of a fast TTT we worked on:
- Speed: Number one rule of a TTT is to keep the speed up! That means stronger riders pull longer (but not harder), and weaker riders pull shorter (but not slower).
- Pull Duration: This seems to be the number one mistake riders new to this discipline make. Pull duration is constantly changing based on the effective windspeed of the front rider. In general you will be taking much shorter pulls on fast downhills and longer more steady pulls on climbs. Once our squad got this concept down, they were traveling faster for the same effort!
- Pace: In the Worlds TTT we start with 6 riders and finish with 4. Therefore the team’s pace is dictated by the 4th strongest rider on that day. Everyone’s job is to get that 4th rider across the line as fast as possible as that is what dictates the time for the team! (and that 4th man is in for a world of suffering)
- Communication: On a given day one rider might be stronger or weaker than usual. The ability to communicate that and adjust the team’s pacing, rotation direction, and pull strategy accordingly is key. The second rider in line will often call out when the front rider should pull off since they can sense changes in pace better than the rider in front.
- All the usual TT stuff: Warm-up well, don’t start too fast, don’t start too fast, and don’t start too fast.
Like a Swiss time piece at 55kph: