National time trial championships: The Big Preview

Bradley Wiggins heads a quality field in the British Time Trial championships on Sunday [September 6] in a whole day of racing in Buckinghamshire.

The huge field starts with David Barry at one minute past nine and finishes with defending champion Michael Hutchinson facing the timekeeper just after half past four.

Hutchinson will have his work cut out against the fourth-placed Tour de France finisher. Wiggins is fully focussed on preparations for the World time trial championship in Mendrisio but Sunday’s event is important for the Londoner in its own right.

“I’m riding the nationals because I really want to wear the British champion’s jersey in next year’s Tour de France,” he said.

“Since the Tour de France, the World time trial championship has been my big goal of the season and the national champs is a step along the way and will be an important test. I’ll be going full out.”

The Garmin rider has ridden the Eneco Tour since nearly reaching the Tour de France podium and transforming into a real major tour contender. Now he has swapped over to the lo-pro machine.

“I’ve been doing a lot of time trial work,” he said. “Five days out of seven I’ve been riding my time trial bike and the other day did four hours on it with two good efforts.”

Wiggins caused a kerfuffle back in June when riding the Kent Valley ’10’ with a deep-section Zipp 1080 front wheel, deemed to be breaking Cycling Time Trial rules. He recorded 18 minutes dead, just two seconds outside his own competition record, but was subsequently disqualified.

CTT rules do not apply on Sunday, however, so Wiggins is free to ride the wheels of his choosing. “It’s a UCI-sanctioned event, so they [CTT] can’t touch me this time,” he joked.

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 18 TT

Wiggins in full flow: UCI-legal Zipp 1080 leads the way

Hutchinson, meanwhile, came within four seconds of Wiggins’ competition record in last week’s Team Swift ’10’ and missed Chris Boardman’s ’25’ record by the same amount the previous weekend. The defending champion is obviously in good shape and will give Wiggins a run for his money.

“Yeah, I’m OK. I have had better form this year, but I have been riding the kind of events where you get close to records – I think that has as much to do with it as form – but I’m not bad,” he said.      

Hutchinson knows the course and will be keeping a close watch on the weather forecast, with rain threatening to add an interesting dimension to the afternoon’s proceedings. “I would much rather not ride that kind of circuit in the rain: it’s just unpleasant! I raced on it a few years ago. It’s not terribly difficult, I don’t think. There is one short, not tremendously steep, climb on it, and that is about it,” he said.

Michael Hutchinson Brit TT champs 2008

Hutchinson on the way to 2008 crown

It is far from a two horse this year, though, and Hutchinson will have his eye on the other likely contenders for his crown. “Chris Newton will be there or thereabouts, and Rob Hayles,” he said. “Phill Sykes has been well up in the ’25’ the last couple of years. I am not sure he is going to beat Bradley Wiggins, but he ought to be OK.”

Sykes punctured last year when sitting in second position and deserves better luck this time round. One man out of luck this year is Ian Stannard, who confirmed to Cycling Weekly that he will not be facing the timekeeper on Sunday due to injury.

“No, I won’t be riding the tt,” he said. “I have broken a bone in my foot. I can ride my bike but my fitness isn’t great because I haven’t ridden for two weeks.” The unfortunate Stannard is also set to miss the Tour of Britain having not been named in the six-man ISD squad.

Olympic time trial silver medallist Emma Pooley is in the form of her life.  A season where she has worn the pink jersey in the women’s Giro d’Italia, won the Grand Boucle and soloed to victory in the Montreal World Cup, was topped off with another classy lone-break win at the Grand Prix Plouay.

“It wasn’t a fluke this time: I had to try quite hard. And the team was pleased,” she said with typical understatement, when Cycling Weekly spoke to her en route to check out the course for Sunday’s race in Buckinghamshire.

Presumably the Cervelo rider would like to wear those national champion’s stripes as much as Wiggins? “Of course I would, but so would everyone,” she said. “I haven’t come back assuming I am going to win it. I have never done the nationals before. Last year it clashed with a race I was doing with my team in Europe, and the year before it clashed with the Tour of Ardeche. It’s a long way to come for one race, but I am taking advantage of it to visit the family.”

Defending champion Sharon Laws does not ride on Sunday and neither does Nicole Cooke. As for the rest of the competition, Pooley is not familiar with too many names on the startsheet. Fellow Olympic silver medallist Wendy Houvenaghel is one obvious contender. “I think she is very strong, but she is always very strong. And I have been told that Julia Shaw has just broken competition record for the ’25’, so everyone is there to beat. Because I don’t time trial in the UK, I don’t really know the start list apart from those two,” said Pooley.

Sarah Storey looks to be in with a shout after fine performances in the recent World masters championships in Austria, taking the rainbow jersey in the time trial and silver in the road race. Storey broke the course record in the time trial to confirm she is in good shape for the Paracycling World championships starting September 10.

Pooley worlds TT

Pooley:favourite for women’s title

Sunday September 6

HQ: East & Botolph Claydon Village Hall, 65 Botyl Road, Botolph Claydon, Bucks, MK18 2LP

START on Botolph Claydon to Calvert Road (Orchard Way) approx 1 mile west of Botolph Claydon opposite large lay-by.
PROCEED west along unclassified road through Calvert to crossroads where left to Edgcott (M).
In Edgcott turn left (M) along unclassified road signposted Quainton (Lawn Hill).
Continue along rolling road where climb hill  to re-enter Botolph Claydon.
Turn left at top of hill (M) and continue past start point to complete lap – 10.8 miles.
Repeat to complete almost one further lap (Disabled, Junior, Women and Veteran riders – 20.8 miles) or two further laps (Senior Male riders – 31.2 miles) to FINISH point in Orchard Way adjacent to picket fence at exit to Botolph Claydon village

 2009 British time trial championships route

9am Masters
1.31pm Juniors
2.10pm Espoirs
2.47pm Women
3.28pm Men

2.08pm Joe Perrett (Glendene CC)
2.43pm Russell Hampton (Magnus Maximus)
2.45pm Alex Dowsett (100%ME)
3.22pm Emma Pooley (Cervelo)
3.24pm Julia Shaw (Utag Yamaha)
3.26pm Wendy Houvenaghel (SiS)
4.06pm Wouter Sybrandy (Sigma Sport)
4.11pm Phill Sykes (VC St Raphael)
4.21pm Chris Newton (Rapha Condor)
4.25pm Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut)
4.27pm Matt Bottrill (I-Ride RT)
4.29pm Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream)
4.31pm Michael Hutchinson (In-Gear Quickvit)