When Sunday July 12
Category Team time trial
Impact on overall: 4/5
Where are we?
We’re still in the scenic region of Brittany, in north-west France — a favourite destination for French and British holidaymakers alike. Having the Tour in town only serves to swell numbers even further.
Now, on the 28km route between Vannes and Plumelec, it’s time for the always-spectacular team time trial.
What’s on the route?
This team time trial stage has a real sting in the tail in the shape of the 1.7km-long — and spectacularly named — Côte de Cadoudal up to the finish line. The poetry-in-motion that is each team’s nine riders (minus anyone who’s already quit the race) rotating and manoeuvring as smoothly as possible on the flat will suddenly give way to ragged exhaustion as they hit the climb at the end. The gradient may be ‘only’ an average of 6.2 per cent, but those time trial bikes aren’t made to offer excellent climbing characteristics.
With such a stiff climb to come at the end, it will be interesting to see what kind of tactics the teams employ. Will it be a case of holding some riders back to keep them fresher for the finish?
Remember that the time is taken on the fifth man to cross the line, so ‘sacrificing’ four of your nine riders along the way is an option. Or will it be a case of one for all and all for one — in the hope that a sharing of the effort will make for a more consistent ride, in the same way that most teams tackle a flat team time trial.
After their win at the Giro d’Italia TTT in May, Australia’s well-drilled Orica-GreenEdge squad are hard to look beyond for the victory here.