Britain’s Harry Tanfield hit a milestone his career this week, riding his first Grand Tour time trial at the Vuelta a España.
The Ag2r La Mondiale rider excels in the discipline, having been a stalwart of the domestic TT scene before joining the WorldTour last year.
But racing his first Grand Tour in Spain, Tanfield experienced a very different kind of race from village halls and dual carriageways of British time trialling.
Stage 13 of the Vuelta a España was a 33km solo test, which started with a rolling and rapid section before a brutal final climb to Mirador de Ézaro.
With the 1.8km-long, 14 per cent average gradient climb to overcome before the finish, the TT course suited the all-rounders and climbers, rather than a pure TTer like Tanfield.
The 25-year-old finished 21st on the stage after a good showing, but it wasn’t smooth sailing to the finish, as Tanfield almost missed the start, struggled to clip in after a bike change on the climb and then had to ride the first part of the ascent without his power meter.
In an interview with ITV, Tanfield said: “To be quite honest I nearly missed the start. I saw it was 30 seconds to go and I was chatting to Sam Bennett because he wanted to see the chainring I had on.
“We were looking at the chainring and the next thing the board said 30 seconds.
"Rotor made it custom for me, it’s a 1x with the name and the race and it’s got a picture engraved, it’s really cool. I’m going to stick it on the wall when I get back. I had that for morale.”
Tanfield said he may have gone too hard in the first 10 minutes of the TT, before he then had to negotiate a bike change from his time trial bike to his road machine at the foot of the climb.
On the change he said: “It was a bit of hash.
“I was on the bike and I was struggling to clip in because it was on cobbles. My feet were rattling around.”
Once he’d got his feet in the pedals, Tanfield said he had to ride the first 600m of the climb without his power meter as his Wahoo hadn’t picked up the sensor after the change, which resulted in him riding too hard on the early slopes.
Despite the drama, Tanfield put in a good time, saying on Strava that he was the fastest 80kg rider on the stage.
His Strava stats show how tough the 48-minute TT really was.
Tanfield pushed an average of 373 watts for his effort (even with the power meter dropout on the climb), hitting a maximum of 751w, with an average heart rate of 174 beats per minute, with a top end of 189bpm.
The power was enough to carry Tanfield to the finish with an average speed of 40.9km/h.
Once his power meter kicked in, Tanfield was pushing 437w average for the final kilometre.
In the early part of the course, he was among the fastest contenders, setting the seventh best time after 12km and the eight best climb at 24km.
But the climb took its toll.
Tanfield was the 19th fastest Strava rider on the climb during the TT, with a time of 9-01, while the fastest riders crested the climb in around seven minutes.
After struggling with injury and fearing he might not make it to the end of the Vuelta, Tanfield received a boost from his TT performance and hopes to be able to complete a Grand Tour at his first attempt.
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