What I like about road cycling is what I like about cricket. Internal battles, man versus man, team versus team, A whole day of doing seemingly nothing and then exploding. Or a cat and mouse game where the underdog wins. Being able to drift in and out of proceedings without missing the bigger picture. Being able to figure out where the contest is heading over time.
So I was a little disappointed to find out that yesterday’s stage was a team time trial. This short stage is a strange race within a race. It feels a little gimmicky. But Maybe that’s because I don’t really understand. So I decided to learn about it.
The idea is that whole teams ride together as fast as they can. Yesterday it was about 25 km. A team has about ten riders on it and they take turns being in the front doing most of the work. When the pace slackens someone else takes over. At the finish line everyone on the team gets the same time and takes that time into the overall standings. The 5th rider to finish on the team sets the time so a few riders can drop off towards the end if required.
It’s possible then for individual riders to do well when the team does well. Say for example that you are 5 minutes behind your biggest rival in the overall standings and in your team there are a few time trial specialists. You could tag behind your team mates letting them do most of the work. Your team finishes 10 minutes in front of the team your rival is in and in one day you are 5 minutes in front.
Still, it’s a totally different form of competition and I enjoy it less than the regular stages.