David Veilleux at the 2013 Tour de Dauphine being robbed with every pedal stroke. Graham Watson Photo
Picture the following scenario: You are a professional road racing cyclist. You have worked hard to hone your craft. You enter a major stage race, kick everyone’s butt on the first stage (‘cause that is what you are trained to do), amass a two-minute lead, which you hold through multiple stages, only to lose it all via an Individual Time Trial (ITT). Well, it happened to David Veilleux (Team Europcar) at this years' Tour de Dauphine. And, this was not the first time a TT totally altered the General Classification (GC).
OK, here is the logic in how the 2013 Dauphine played out. Because of the TT, a 1:58 second lead turned into a 1:09 second deficit. That is nuts. If the logic of leaving TT’s in a stage races is upheld, then the notion of bicycle racing being a “Team Sport” is complete nonsense. It is plain to see why. A rider attains a GC lead, the rider and team defend the GC lead (the team sport part of the equation), but the ITT rears its ugly head to sways the entire balance of the GC. A Team effort? Hell, no!
This makes absolutely no sense to me. Why would the Union Cycliste Internationale(UCI), and various other alphabet soup organizations around the globe, purposely sabotage their own competitors with a sideshow? I mean, is this a sport or entertainment for those who insist on a TT as part of a race? And, it happens all around the world, in large races, all the way down to locally sanctioned events.
And, even in the “Mother of all Races,” the Tour de France, it gets even worse. Not only is there a TT, but there is also a Team Time Trial (TTT). What the F**k? Is this cycling or a Football game? You know, you play your heart out, accomplish your task, but the Goalie/Kicker blows it, so all of the team suffers. Unreal.
World TT Champion Tony Martin winning the ITT at the 2013 Tour de Dauphine. Graham Watson Photo
Here is the bottom line: Though both disciplines are conducted on bicycles, road racing and the TT are two, totally distinct disciplines. Chew on this example: Much as swimming and diving are both conducted in swimming pools, the similarities end there. It is the same with cycling. Additionally, it has been said of many a racer that “If they would just become a better Time Trialer…” Well, the converse is true, as well. Why does the not TT’r become a better road racer? And besides, if they are such similar events, then why does the UCI offer two, separate Championship Gold Medals and Rainbow Jersey’s for each discipline? If they recognize separate championships, then why do they mix them into racers, thus deciding the race outcome more often than not?
If you are still not convinced about the absurdity of a TT in a stage race, just remember how the 1989 Tour de France was decided. Yeah, I bet many people forgot about THAT wholesale robbery.
Leave TT bikes where they belong - In Triathlons.
Editor’s note: As I write this, Mathias Frank of Team BMC holds a thirteen (13) second lead going into the final stage of the Tour de Suisse. And that final stage is... An Individual Time Trial.