The World Championships organiser welcomes back the team time trial for a second year after a hiatus. The course runs west to east through Tuscany to finish in Florence, but there is more to it than that...
Though the road circuit takes in three climbs, one of four kilometres, the team time trial from Montecatini Terme to Florence is flat. The only rise over 57.2 kilometres is 1.29 kilometres long, midway between Montecatini and Pistoia.
"It could be more spectacular," Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "They could make it eight-man teams instead of six and limit it to 50 kilometres; 57 is too much."
The final kilometres of the course cuts through one of the world's historic centres. It cannot take it in all, Ponte Vecchio or the Uffizi Gallery, but it does wrap around the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or duomo, before heading to the line near ACF Fiorentina's stadium.
The speeds should be higher than last year when the race finished on the Cauberg in Valkenburg. Omega Pharma-Quick Step covered the 53-kilometre course in 1 hour 3 minutes 17 seconds, averaging 50.532kph. BMC Racing placed second at three seconds and Orica-GreenEdge in third.
Organiser UCI only brought back the team time trial to the Worlds last year, so comparisons are hard to come by. In Nice this year, Orica set the fastest Tour de France stage time by going 57.841kph, but that was over 25 kilometres. Sky went 46.275 to win the 17.4-kilometre time trial at the Giro d'Italia this year. CSC set the fastest time at the 2006 Giro, going 56.86km/h in 35 kilometres.
This event appears regularly in stage races, but not in the Olympics or Worlds. In the World Championships, it was a four-man amateur event over 100 kilometres from 1962 to 1994. Italy and the Soviet Union collected the most medals, Great Britain zero. In the Olympics, it ran from 1912 until 1992.
Velo Club Sovac kicks off the 2013 men's team time trial at 14:00 and Omega Pharma, at 15:59, go last - 35 teams of six riders each, or 210 starters. Officials clock the team's time on the fourth rider over the finish line.
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