Is the Grand Tour team time trial a dying art?

Despite its long history, recent trends suggest that the team time trial is falling by the wayside when it comes to Grand Tour route design. We headed to the Tour de France paddock in Cholet to see how teams execute the perfect ride in a discpline that is far from the norm in modern Grand Tour racing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“For me the team time trial is the best stage you can win on a race like the Tour de France because it shows that all the work the team put in — from the directeur sportif, the staff and the trainers — has really worked. They really share the prize,” says BMC directeur sportif Fabio Baldato after his team’s TTT victory on stage three in Cholet — three years after they won the last TTT to feature in the Tour de France, in 2015.

Unfortunately, it appears the course designers of the Tour, and other Grand Tours, don’t really share Baldato’s reverence for the art of the team time trial. There have been just four team tests against the clock in the last 13 years. That’s vastly different from the unbroken streak of TTTs in the Tour from 1976 to 1995 — including 153km worth of TTT in 1978.

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Paul Knott is a fitness and features writer, who has also presented Cycling Weekly videos as well as contributing to the print magazine as well as online articles.  In 2020 he published his first book, The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide (Welbeck), a guide designed to help readers improve their cycling performance via cherrypicking from the strategies adopted by the pros.