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The trade team time trial went out with a bang Sunday in Austria.
Quick-Step Floors and Canyon-Sram roared to victory in the final TTT world championship in what is expected to be the last event of its kind.
Is that the end of the road? Maybe not.
The event might have legs. Team officials told VeloNews that the WorldTour squads are hoping to continue the pro team TTT event in some capacity, perhaps as early as next season.
“We’ve been talking about a new concept for all the teams,” said Richard Plugge, vice president of the AIGCP and manager of the LottoNL-Jumbo team.
“We’d like to have a nice team time trial event for the trade teams but it is a big expense for the teams,” Plugge said. “We’d like to create a weekend event for all the teams but by reducing the costs.”
This spring, the UCI confirmed this year’s world championships would see the final edition of the trade team time trial event. Officials say the team time trial will be featured next year, but it won’t be raced in professional trade team colors. News is expected to be announced perhaps as soon as this week about what a team time trial event would look like as part of the schedule of events for next year’s world championships in Yorkshire, England.
In the meantime, Plugge said he hopes there is room for discussion with the UCI to create a parallel event that would allow the top pro teams an opportunity to compete against each other in the highly tuned team time trial discipline with undue travel or financial burdens.
“Everyone likes the team time trial,” he said. “It’s a big expense for the teams. We’d like to organize something in Europe.”
The road racing team time trial is one of cycling’s oldest and most prestigious events, and it’s had different iterations over the decades in world championship competition.
A four-man team time trial was first introduced at the road worlds in 1962 under national teams and was held annually — except in Olympic years starting in 1972 — through 1994. It discontinued as an Olympic-level sport in 1992. A women’s event ran from 1987 to 1994.
The event was re-introduced in 2012 as part of world championship competition as a trade team event open to all categories in the men’s and women’s peloton, but only WorldTour teams have ever won the men’s title. Though the race is often a battle between the top four or five teams, it has emerged as one of the most important titles for bragging rights among the top men’s and women’s teams in the peloton.
The inclusion of the event allowed race promoters to sell the world championships as a two-weekend-long affair, with competition stretching from one Sunday to the next.
What sent the latest pro team edition off the rails? Money.
Teams complained that it cost from $30,000 to $50,000 to travel with staff, material, and riders to far-away world championship destinations beyond the realm of Europe. The issue reached a breaking point in the Richmond 2015 worlds when an agreement could not be reached about covering some of the travel costs.
Plugge said the teams are hoping to organize something in central Europe to reduce expenses but still provide an opportunity for the teams to race against each other.
“We think it could work somewhere around Belgium, the Netherlands, or northern France,” Plugge said. “A lot of the teams have their service course in that area and it would be relatively easy to move all the bikes and personnel to a central location.”
Whether any future pro team time trial event would have UCI-sanctioned world champion status or where it might fit on the schedule remains to be seen.
Riders, meanwhile, relished the chance to compete in the final trade team time trial at the world championship level, at least for now.
“It’s special to win the last edition of the team time trial world championships for trade teams,” said Bob Jungels of the winning Quick-Step team.