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Racers who will don their respective national team jerseys next week in the UCI Road World Championships will race Sunday for the squads that pay their salaries all year long. The hotly contested team time trial race between the top men’s and women’s trade teams kick-starts worlds in Richmond, Virginia on Sunday. Teams will be racing for bragging rights before swapping out jerseys for their national federations later next week.
“We put a lot of emphasis on team time trialing, so the worlds event is big,” said Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White. “Not for just us, but all the top teams. It’s a big honor to win this event.”
The pro team time trial event, introduced in 2012, is growing in prestige and importance among the top teams. Squads take it very seriously, and often will send riders to race who might not otherwise compete in the world championships. Last year, Marcel Kittel used his power to help Giant-Alpecin, but did not race the elite men’s road race.
Since its introduction in 2012, only four men’s teams have reached the podium, meaning that only a handful of squads are competitive in the discipline (or, perhaps, take it seriously).
All 17 World Teams, racing with six-rider squads, are required to start the 38.8km race. Eleven other Professional Continental and Continental teams will also compete. Yet it’s been Etixx-Quick-Step, a two-time winner, defending champ BMC, as well as Team Sky and Orica-GreenEdge that have been sharing the spoils.
Etixx will be favorites, with three-time ITT champion Tony Martin in the mix alongside Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, and Rigoberto Urán. Two times second and once third, Orica also brings its heavy hitters: Svein Tuft, Luke Durbridge, and Michael Hepburn.
BMC Racing will miss injured Tejay van Garderen, but TT powerhouses Rohan Dennis, Taylor Phinney, and Stefan Kung are on the team’s nine-man long list. Team Sky won’t have Chris Froome or Geraint Thomas, but will count on Danny Pate and Vasil Kiryienka to step up.
Cannondale-Garmin will be counting on Dylan van Baarle Ramunas Navardauskas, but Virginia native Ben King and U.S. TT champ Andrew Talansky, who abandoned the Vuelta a España with illness, will not be racing. Matthew Busche will ride for Trek Factory Racing, likely one of his final days with the American outfit before he transfers to UnitedHealthcare next year.
Like the men, a few teams will dominate the event. Rabo-Liv, Boels Dolmans, Wiggle-Honda, UnitedHealthCare, and Velocio-SRAM are the favorites.
Some 13 teams will race on the 38.8km course, and the European teams, coming off the World Cup in Sweden in August, are expected to be in the hunt for the medals. The U.S. teams should be doubly motivated, racing on home roads. On a slightly longer course in Sweden, Rabo-Liv took a 26-second win over Velocio-SRAM, with Boels Dolmans taking third.
Many expect the medals to taken by those three; the only question is in which order.
The TTT will give the elite men and women their first taste of racing and what lies ahead for those sticking around to compete in the rest of world championships.
The course loops around Richmond, hitting some narrow streets, some lumpy terrain, with one relatively steep 300-meter-long climb at the end of the course Many teams and riders have already previewed the course, including Lotto-Soudal’s Greg Henderson.
“There are some technical sections, but also long, straight pieces of road where we will go very fast,” Henderson said. “On the circuit you get a couple of uphill parts that could potentially cause some trouble if you don’t attack them correctly, but we already did a few recons so we know where all the potholes are and what lines to take through the corners.
“The course really isn’t hard at all, because you attack the hills with speed,” Henderson continued. “You often hit the bottom of the hill at 70kph because you come from a downhill section. The result is impossible to guess, everything has to go perfectly for all of us. The difference at the top of the ranking will be very small, the usual suspects for the victory are BMC, Etixx-Quick-Step and Orica-GreenEdge.”
Forecasters are calling for ideal weather, with highs in the 70s, no chance of rain, and moderate breezes out of the north at about 10mph.
Last year’s podium
1. Specialized-Lululemon, 43:33.35
2. Orica-AIS, at 1:17
3. Astana BePink, at 2:19
1. BMC Racing, 1:03:29
2. Orica-GreenEdge, at 0:31
Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, at 0:35
Saturday: Team time trial training, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT
Sunday: Women’s team time trial, 11:30 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. EDT
Sunday: Men’s team time trial, 1:30 to 3:35 p.m. EDT