The team time trial is back! After 17 yearsâ€™ absence, the event returns to the UCI Road World Championships programme. And it is all happening through the province of Limburg, in the Netherlands.
With a unanimous vote from the Professional Cycling Council in 2010, the reintroduction of this event was devised in 2008-2009 by a UCI working group, charged with redesigning the format of the Road Worlds. UCI Sport & Technical Director Philippe Chevallier explains: â€śWe couldnâ€™t completely change everything, but we wanted to emphasise cyclingâ€™s fundamental elements: the road race, the individual time trial and then the team time trial.â€ť
Before being removed from the programme in 1994, the team trial was a real battle between Federations. Launched for men in 1967 and known as â€śthe 100km raceâ€ť because of the distance covered by the team of four, it was then opened to women in 1987. Riders from Italy and the Soviet Union were particularly strong in this type of team trial.
The difference in 2012 is that it is a time trial for trade teams. â€śThis decision was made because not enough National Federations would have been able to prepare for a time trial,â€ť explains Philippe Chevallier. It is also good news for the trade teams, which will benefit from the wide media exposure of the World Championships. All the other events on the programme are ridden by national teams.
On Sunday morning, 12 teams will take part in the womenâ€™s event (out of 20 qualified teams). In the afternoon, 33 (out of 40 qualified) menâ€™s teams will take to the road, including 18 members of the UCI WorldTour and representatives of the different continental circuits. For the UCI Europe Tour: Adria Mobil (Slovenia), Caja Rural (Spain), Cofidis and Saur-Sojasun (France), CCC Polsat-Polkowice (Poland), Itera-Katusha and RusVelo (Russia). For the UCI America Tour: Team Type 1-Sanofi, Team Optimum Presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies (United States). For the UCI Asia Tour: Tabriz Petrochemical Team (Iran). And for the Africa Tour: MTN-Qhubeka (South Africa).
Teams from all the continents
This list of teams does not only reflect the development of cycling throughout the world, but could also lead to some interesting surprises, with teams from the â€śthird divisionâ€ť (UCI Continental) dreaming of getting the better of the â€śfirst divisionâ€ť (UCI WorldTour) teams.
Suspense is guaranteed as this is something we donâ€™t often see on the calendar so it is difficult to predict an outcome. Certain professional teams manage to make the difference due to their experience and their taste for this kind of effort: Garmin-Sharp (winner of the team time trial at the Giro dâ€™Italia, the Tour du Qatar and the Tour of Utah), Orica-GreenEdge (winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Eneco Tour), Omega Pharma-Quick Step (2nd at the Vuelta a Espana, in Qatar and at the Eneco Tour). Even if they havenâ€™t won a team time trial this year, BMC, Team Sky and Katusha have very good podium chances as they have a winning formula: strong individual time trial riders and a solid team spirit.
â€śIt is also a very technical race and course,â€ť warns Philippe Chevallier. The men will race over 53.3km between Sittard and Valkenburg. The undulating course includes three climbs, the Lange Raarberg, the Bergesweg and the Cauberg.
The menâ€™s and womenâ€™s winners will receive a round badge featuring the rainbow colours, which are the UCI symbol. From 1st January 2013, all riders who are part of the winning team will wear a jersey with this distinctive badge for a period of one year.
In addition, Sundayâ€™s time trial will enable riders to win bonus points towards the teams rankings. If a UCI WorldTour team wins, it will recolt 200 points for its world ranking. Although this could not endanger Team Sky, which has a comfortable lead, the rest of the podium could change. All UCI WorldTour teams finishing in the Top 10 will receive a bonus of between 200 and 70 points, depending on their position. The womenâ€™s teams will have an equivalent system, which could also change the UCI teams rankings.
As for the Continental and Professional Continental teams, those finishing in the top 20 will receive between 200 and 3 points that will be directly credited to their teams rankings in the continental tour where they have performed best this season.