FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The UCI has unveiled plans for an overhaul to the team time trial format at worlds.
Instead of professional trade teams, national teams will race for the TTT rainbow jersey in 2019 in Yorkshire, England. And they will be mixed teams of three men and three women, with the men racing first and then relaying to the women for the second 14-kilometer circuit.
Some are skeptical of the new format.
“For me it’s ridiculous,” Quick-Step Floors team boss Patrick Lefevere told VeloNews. Quick-Step topped Sunweb and BMC Racing on Sunday in the final running of the event for trade teams.
“If you have a marathon, it’s the men’s results and women’s results together, even if they run together. This will just be an exposition, it’s not a real competition.”
The new event will open Yorkshire worlds. Nations may draw from their under-23 and elite riders to fill the roster. It is likely they will use those who will be in town for the individual time trials and the road races.
“Without the trade time trial, The UCI has taken away from the women one of the biggest events on their calendar when they are trying to push women’s cycling ahead,” BMC Racing’s performance coach Marco Pinotti said.
“I would have preferred the WorldTour team time trials like we’ve had, but I’m talking from a perspective of a men’s team who did well. Maybe the other teams didn’t feel that way.
“Let’s see how this is organized for 2019. Maybe it’ll be better for television. The UCI is trying many ideas. Maybe they are trying to pull together the federations, using younger riders.
“We always participated over the last seven years, but when several top teams don’t participate for diverse reasons, you need to look into it,” Trek-Segafredo team boss Luca Guercilena said. “This new idea seems like a good solution, something new.
“Anyway, I’m in favor of the worlds only being raced by national teams, and not trade teams.”
The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Great Britain should field strong national teams for the event.
“For some trade teams it’s a pity that you can’t have a time trail at the worlds to show off the TT bikes and gear,” said Dutch national coach Thorwald Veneberg.
“But for a lot of teams, I know it’s expensive. I see it from both sides. For the national team, we have a chance to develop for a new event and a new challenge for logistics. I hope it’s not too much on the federation’s budget.”
Cycling’s governing body this May eliminated the trade team event from worlds starting with 2019. The main issues were the cost and effort that the teams had to make on top of an already busy racing schedule.
Only 11 of the 18 men’s WorldTour teams took part in the last event on Sunday. The weaker teams did not attend. Professional Continental teams and some local Continental teams filled up the remaining spots.
“The mixed relay team time trial reserved for national teams is the latest step towards greater gender equality in cycling,” said UCI President David Lappartient said overnight.
“The new format will shine the spotlight on the national federations and their riders while promoting equality between men and women.”
Several insiders, however, see the new format as a clear push in the wrong direction.
“For gender equality, it’s not valid,” Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White said. “The women don’t need to do it with the men to highlight their event.
“They had their own event, the best women in the world competing against the best women in the world. You don’t need to see women tagged on to a men’s team in a relay.”