Saturday, September 21, 2013

World Championship - Team Time Trial Preview & Favorites

World Championship Team Time Trial in Florence.
The World Championship week in Florence starts out with a team time trial this Sunday. Last year Omega Pharma Quickstep won in front of BMC and GreenEdge and this time I expect the same three teams to make the podium. However, Team Sky has the manpower to change a repetition of the 2012-podium.

Unlike last year’s edition, this course is - except for a short climb of 4:30 min in the beginning - completely flat. This combined with a distance of 57.2 km means it’s all about the speed.

Therefore, we can expect the teams with big powerhouses to fight for the win. There are long and flat sections without any turns and guys like Tony Martin, Taylor Phinney, Fabian Cancellara and Luke Durbridge can really make a difference here. The last 10 km are a very technical. There are at least 10 sharp corners in this part and you can lose and gain a lot of time in these corners. It's very important not to panic in the corners. The last time check is right before the technical part so it's not certain the ranking here will be the same as at finish.

Looking at the teams this year, it’s clear that Omega Pharma Quickstep is the big favorite. The Belgian team sends five (Martin, Velits, Chavanel, Terpstra & Vandewalle) of the six winning riders from last year. Only change is Tom Boonen who is being replaced by season sensation Michal Kwiatkowski. The Pole has been in Top8 in all of the six individual time trials he’s been doing this year! While other teams may not look as strong as last year, OPQS is actually even better this time. I clearly expect the team to repeat their winning performance from 2012.

BMC came very close to winning last year but this time, I think they will have to fight hard just to get the silver medals. Time trial specialist Marco Pinotti is missing and so are Alessandro Ballan and Philippe Gilbert. Instead, Steve Cummings, Daniel Oss and Michael Schar are joining Taylor Phinney, Tejay Van Garderen and Manuel Quinziato. Both Phinney, Cummings and Schar were part of the BMC team winning the team time trial in Qatar earlier this year. However, BMC hasn’t performed well in the important team time trials the rest of the year and without a key rider like Pinotti, I think a silver medal - if even so - is the best they can get in Florence.

The biggest threat to BMC’s second place is GreenEdge. The Australian team did very well last year, even on a course not suited for their riders’ characteristics. With big engines like Luke Durbridge, Svein Tuft, Jens Mouris and Daryl Impey, GreenEdge will be able to extremely fast on the long flat parts. Add to that Brett Lancaster and Michael Hepburn and you really have a strong team for a fast course. All six riders live in Girona and they have been training together for this discipline the last two weeks. A team time trial is all about working together as one and looking at the riders and their training, I think GreenEdge is the best pick to win this race if something happens to OPQS.

The way I see it, it will be difficult for the rest of the teams to medal against OPQS, GreenEdge and BMC. However, teams like Radioshack, Garmin, Saxo-Tinkoff, Astana and especially Team Sky will all be gunning for the podium as well. Garmin used to be among the best in this discipline but it’s been a while since they have produced a great team time trial. Astana did very well in the Giro (third) and in the Vuelta (first) but without Vincenzo Nibali to lead them, I doubt they will be able to make Top3 this time.

On the last day of the Vuelta, Nicolas Roche said that Saxo-Tinkoff was very eager to do well in Florence. Bjarne Riis has always been very fond of the team time trial and according to Roche, the Danish team aims for a spot on the podium. Christensen, Boaro, Roche, Mørkøv, Sørensen and Tosatto are the six riders for Sunday’s race and it will be interesting to see if they can live up to their own expectations. Personally, I don’t think they will do better than top5 but it wouldn’t be the first time the Danish team surprises in a TTT.

Radioshack is another solid Top5 candidate and on a good day may even Top3. Fabian Cancellara is in excellent shape right now and together with Jesse Sergent, Hayden Roulston, Yaroslav Popovych, Markel Iriza and youngster Bob Jungels, the team should be able to keep a high pace. However, Cancellara’s big goal this year is the road race. He’s the bookmakers’ top favorite for the title and the question is; “how deep will Cancellara dig in the time trials?” None of the other favorites are doing all three races (TTT, ITT & RR) and if Cancellara isn’t pushing it to his limits, he won’t be able to carry the team like he did in the team time trial in the Vuelta last month.

Map of the 57.2 km from Montecatini Terme to Florence. Pay attention to the technical last part of the route.

In recent years, it would be a mistake not to mention Movistar among the candidates. Once again, they have a strong team for this time trial but I doubt they will be able to better than 7th-10th place. Rui Costa, Jonathan Castroviejo, Andrey Amador, Jesus Herrada, Ruben Plaza and Eloy Teruel are all good time trialists but as stated in the beginning, this race is all about speed. Had this been a hilly team time trial like the ones we’ve seen in the Giro and the Vuelta in the past, Movistar would have been one of the favorites. However, on a 57.2 km flat course, there are simply other teams with bigger engines.

As of Saturday afternoon Garmin still hasn’t released their final teams yet. Both have the firepower to do very well this Sunday but as mentioned earlier, Garmin hasn’t really been able to deliver a good team time trial on the big scene for a while. Still, judging from the eight pre-selected riders, this may be their strongest team in a long time. No matter which six riders they end up picking, they are all strong on a flat course like this one. The team time trial used to be their specialty and I’m sure Garmin will be eager to show the world they still have what it takes fight for the win against the best teams.  

On paper, Team Sky also has a very strong team. All of their six selected riders (Froome, Porte, Boasson Hagen, Kiryienka, Siutsou & Thomas) did the Tour de France this year and individually they are all great time trialists. Chris Froome is leading the team but just like Fabian Cancellara, Froome's main focus is on the road race next Sunday. Of course, both Froome and Cancellara will be a huge help for their teams but thinking of the road race, they may hold back a little or decide not to take any risks in many sharp corner in the last part of the course.

For live coverage of the team time trial go to - and click here to see the starting order.


  1. I was also surprised to see Pinotti not being selected. Finally, I have found out why:

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