A unique team time trial to get things going

April 4 th 2024 - 16:00 [GMT + 2]

Some believe this is the most beautiful of the disciplines in road cycling – others consider it the cruelest. It demands the tighter of the units, the most powerful of the engines, the sharpest of the skills, the smartest of the strategies, the most optimized of the gears, the most millimetric of the preparations. And even if you manage to put everything together, a mere wind gust can frustrate your effort. It’s the team time trial, or TTT – equally loved and hated all over the bunch.

Dori Ruano is a former pro rider and current ambassador for La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es. She is one of Spanish cycling’s finest-ever time triallists, as her seven national titles on this discipline suggest. Yet, when it comes to TTTs, she considers herself “a survivor” from those grueling UCI Road World Championships from the 90s that featured 100-kilometre TTT races for the men and 50-kilometre ones for the women, both competing by national teams.

La Vuelta Femenina 2003 - 1st Edition - 1st stage Torrevieja - Torrevieja 14,5 km - 01/05/2023 - FDJ - SUEZ - photo Rafa Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023
La Vuelta Femenina 2003 - 1st Edition - 1st stage Torrevieja - Torrevieja 14,5 km - 01/05/2023 - FDJ - SUEZ - photo Rafa Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023 © SprintCyclingAgency©2023

“It was an exceptional format, quite special, and I’d say a non-repeatable one,” says Ruano. It disappeared from the event’s program in 1994 to later come back between 2012 and 2018 with trade teams instead of national squads and distances ranging between 34,2 and 54,1 kilometres. In 2019, the Worlds TTTs were replaced by the Mixed Relay, a new format on which three-man and three-woman squads from each country ride separately to later add their times together in the final standings.

Team time trials are hard to come across nowadays. This is why La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es 24 opener in Valencia is rare, and unique – the only TTT in this year’s UCI Women’s WorldTour, as was the Torrevieja one in 2023. Next April 28th, cycling fans from all the world will keep a close eye on this 16-kilometer race against the clock in Valencia, as they did with that 14,5-kilometre one in Torrevieja last year.

Why do TTTs capture the imagination from every cycling ‘aficionado’? “It’s the most demanding race in road cycling,” outlines Dori Ruano. “Pacing and strategy are key. The riders have to be very generous in their effort, yet at the same time they must set a rhythm that every cyclist in the team can stand. As for the technical side, you need to keep your front wheel very close to the rear wheel of the preceding rider. The squad must take every turn as a unit, and work together to limit the negative impact of the wind. Many team time trials have been decided by a mere second, and that second can be lost or gained in any meter of the course.”

These particular demands make team time trials harder efforts than the individual ones. “They are also very challenging in the mental aspect, because you don’t want to disappoint your team,” explains Dori Ruano. “You are not thinking of yourself, but of your teammates. If you have good legs, you take longer turns – and, if you are on a bad day, you commit to suffer and remain within the squad for as long as possible. The Valencia TTT is just 16-kilometre long, unlike those 50k efforts that I did on its day, yet this will only change the type of effort and harshness the riders will have to endure. Sometime, a short, explosive race like this one is way worse than a longer, steadier one.”

Participants of La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es 24 are aware that this team time trial in Valencia can well be decisive. “We will include riders in our line-up that can put our GC leader Mavi [García] in a good spot before going into the last few stages,” says Liv AlUla Jayco’s DS Martin Vestby. “We will come early to Valencia in order to prepare for the TTT with help from Marco Pinotti, our team’s expert in time trials. He knows all the small things and the planning going into these races. He is also really good with materials and has been working with our riders to optimize their position and their technique on the bike. All this work, and aligning everybody with a common goal, is what makes a team perform well on a team time trial.”

Every outfit in the first five positions of La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es 23 opening team time trial in Torrevieja later put a rider in the final top5 of the event. Jumbo-Visma (currently Visma | Lease a Bike) won the TTT and had Riejanne Markus in 4th position of the GC after the finale in Lagos de Covadonga. One second in arrears was Canyon//SRAM, the king of the discipline with no less than five out of the seven UCI Road World Championships ever ridden by trade teams on their track record, and it put Ricarda Bauernfeind 5th in the final GC. Trek-Segafredo (currently Lidl-Trek) was 3rd in Torrevieja, as 3rd stood its Gaia Realini in the Lagos’ podium. Movistar Team and SD Worx finished 4th and 5th, setting up Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering to be overall winner and runner-up after seven unforgettable stages. This precedent considered, whomever wants to claim La Roja in Valdesquí next May 5th will need to be in the mix already in Valencia on April 28th.

Follow us

Get exclusive information about la Vuelta Feminina