When stage racing, especially in the U.S. , time trialing capabilities are crucial to a GC (general classification) rider/contender. Usually the time trial is where most riders really earn there spot in the GC.
I for one, have never been a specialist at the time trial. I definitely could improve on it, but tend to focus on other natural capabilities when training. Time trialing takes a great amount of patience, practice, and tons of experience on how your body works. You can have great legs the day of a time trial. However, if you are not in tune with your body’s efforts and really know yourself you can easily lose time. I have a huge amount of respect for the time trial as it is not easy for anyone.
Today’s stage was a 12 mile TT (time trial) course with a little bit of everything. What I mean by that is some flat surfaces, some slight risers, some rolling up hills, some wind, some bumpy terrain, and some downhill sections. From my past experiences at the Merco TT I have found that on the way to the mid point turn around is the part where riders tend to go a bit too hard. The way back is definitely a lot less climbing and you can reach some pretty high top speeds, but it is also where you can take advantage of a big gear and hold a strong high pace to make up some time.
Upon my arrival to today’s stage I had some minor complications with stage placing from yesterday’s crash and finding out my start time. When I spoke with the officials they gave me word that I would be starting last. This was usually where the prior days stage winner started but I was glad that I had some extra time to warm up and get ready.
Upon warming up, a few riders and managers asked how I was feeling from the crash and expressed how glad they were that I was okay and able to race. Michael Roecklin (Team Manager of Stage 17 evelopment) helped me out immensely by bringing my wheels over, helping with hydration, watching my personal belongings while I raced, and kept me calm with some words of encouragement. I rode around for about an hour and lined up behind overall leader Phil Gaimon. I began to think about what my coach prescribed me to do and reminded myself that I was there to do well in other stages and try and let my body recover from the crash.
I was all set and ready to go, when bamn! The fastest time just flew in by Tom Zirbel of team Optum Benefits at just over 24 minutes! I was called to the starting ramp and knew I needed to be in the 26-28 minute range to maintain a somewhat good placing in the GC after finishing a few minutes ahead with the front group on yesterday’s stage. I lined up and rolled off. I got to the turn around location and was a bit over what I’d like to have been. I was watching my efforts though and wanted to make sure I conserved for the next couple days especially because my body was trying to recover from the crash. I pushed a tad extra on the way back and clocked in at 28:49. I was a bit over what I’d like to have been but knew I did exactly what I needed.
Report by Anthony Canevari / SoCalCycling.com Elite Team
Photos © Frank Sarate / SoCalCycling.com