Road Worlds Time Trial Training

Road Worlds Time Trial Training

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Time Trial Training Day at Worlds

September 23, 2009; By Larry Hickmott with the team

Tuesday, September 22nd, saw the British team in Switzerland concentrating all their efforts on getting ready for the Time Trials which will take place on 23rd and 24th of September. With six riders competing (see below), it was all hands on deck as the team’s staff got behind the riders for the only training session for the time trial held at 10am the day before the competition begins on Wednesday (23rd).

It was an early start for the staff to get everything ready for the 40 minute trip south to the circuit. Bikes had to be loaded into the team van after any last minute changes were required while the carers prepared bottles and food for the riders and staff for what was going to be a full morning’s work at the circuit. Post breakfast and everyone assembled the vehicles outside the hotel and from there, the riders and staff travelled to the course.

Coaches Rod Ellingworth and Paul Manning doing a spot of map reading before the team left for the circuit for the only training session on closed roads.

We arrived just as training was kicking off and it was chaos with the car park only being big enough for a few teams and the rest of the national team vehicles being parked all over the place as bikes were unpacked and riders got themselves ready for a few laps of the closed circuit. The course was barriered and closed to normal traffic but that didn’t stop every day cyclists sneaking on and getting in the way of the championships riders.

Each of the British riders set off to do their effort and I jumped into the GB car with coach Rod Ellingworth and mechanic Ernie Feargrieve who were going to be looking after Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. Not far from the start of the first lap and Ernie was called into action to adjust the seat height for Chris and we then had a long chase after Bradley Wiggins.

It was on the second lap following Wiggins that I was able to see just how meticulous Bradley Wiggins is in his preparation. After having only seen the circuit once, he knew the right time to come back to the car and ask Rod to take him up to a certain speed and let him attack one of the  roundabouts at race pace.

This he did many more times during the three laps so he could gauge the pace of the bend. The rider who was fourth in the Tour de France knew what he wanted from the session and was able to ignore all the other things going on around him whilst at the same being aware of other riders coming up to him and needing their own space as they raced parts of the circuit.

Whilst Brad went about his thing on a new Felt frame painted up in Union Jack colours, the rest of the riders attacked the course. Whilst Swiss favourite Fabian Cancellara flew past paced by a scooter and followed by at least two vehicles, Brad and the other Brits got on with what they had to do. Two laps in and Rod got a call from Emma  Pooley who had punctured a front wheel. Rod collected a 650 wheel and went to her rescue and the British Time Trial champion (women) was soon on her way.

At 11.30,  the course was reopened to normal traffic and while Brad and Chris rode back to the hotel, the other riders jumped into the team cars and headed back to the hotel. Before they did though, I grabbed a few words with the riders.

Wendy and Emma in a meeting with Rod Ellingworth the day before their big event.

I started with Wendy Houvenaghel who had won a few weeks before the Chrono Champenois - Trophée Européen, a UCI ranked 1.1 Time Trial in France. The race Wendy explained was a 33 kilometre Time Trial east of Paris where quite a few nations competed in the event. “I won the event quite convincingly by over a minute and it was a good race to do because it let me see where I was in the run up to the worlds and I came away from that race very happy.”

Asked what she thought of the circuit in Switzerland, the Olympic Silver medallist in the Pursuit explained “this World’s course is slightly different to the ones I have ridden in the past. It is the sort of course you can have a constant power output and you’re not having to concentrate on the lines around the corners quite so much. The course flows well and is physically quite challenging but also an enjoyable one to ride”

“I picked up the training for this event in June, early July and had a few markers along the way to give me goals to aim for and the form has come good at the right time. The road worlds is quite a different scenario to the track worlds and one that has allowed me to do something completely different to what I am used to doing which means it has been a very enjoyable experience and quite relaxing. To be selected to ride at the Worlds is always a great privilege and with time trialling being a strength of mine, I feel on this course I can do myself justice.”

Three time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins gets his shoes on prior to doing three laps of the course for the Time Trial on Thursday.

Bradley Wiggins
“This is a real time trialists course, rolling with big sweeping turns and I really like it and it suits my style as well as Fabian’s style too and on this course, he is still the huge favourite. I feel great though and know I’m in great shape and will be going out there to do my best ride and see where it gets me. If I can do that, I think I’ll be there or thereabouts and in with a chance of a medal and an outside chance of winning.”

“I was pretty hot in the Tour of Britain and came out of it at the right time. Everything has gone to plan since the National Time Trial championships. I’ve been doing nothing,  just resting, recovering and really easy rides on my time trial bike. I like to ride the bike just to become familiar with it and the handling of it, cornering at speed and things like that. A lot of people jump on the TT bike at the last minute… it affects different muscles in the body which means a rider has to adapt a bit.”

Finally, we talked about some of the comments that Rod Ellingworth had made about him in the car, praising Brad’s level of focusing on what needs to be done to prepare. “I just absorb everything when I go out there. I put headphones on but wasn’t listening to music – it just stops other people talking to me so I can focus.”

Emma Pooley gets a wheel change from GB mechanic Ernie Feargrieve after a front wheel puncture.

Emma Pooley
“The course for the women is not really hilly but rolling and a rouleur’s course. Our course is a little different to the men’s so it has some extra corners. The session this morning has been very useful. I managed to set off after everyone and was able to see the whole course which you couldn’t do when the roads were open because one section was a one-way street. I was able to take the corners at speed which is a key thing, getting used to that.”

The competition at the World Championships starts on Wednesday with the Time Trials for the Under 23 men and Elite Women. GB’s Andrew Fenn starts last in group 1 (Under 23) at 9.45 while Alex Dowsett starts in the final group at 11.35, almost two hours later. In the Elite Women's Time Trial in the afternoon, the first of the two British girls to race will be Wendy Houvenaghel at 2.43pm whilst Emma Pooley who won the Silver in Beijing in this event, leaves the start house at 4.07, fourth last rider to start.

Elite Men’s Time Trial
Chris Froome
Bradley Wiggins

Elite Women’s Time Trial
Wendy Houvenaghel
Emma Pooley

Under 23 Men’s Time Trial
Alex Dowsett
Andy Fenn,

The GB staff and riders at the start of the training session this morning, (Sept 22)

GB mechanic Ernie Feargrieve prepares the radios for the riders

Under 23 riders Alex Dowsett and Andy Fenn setting off on their training ride on the course.

Chris Froome

Emma Pooley

'Wiggo' giving it some through a technical section of the course

Not quite the A1 this section ....

Mechanic Rajhan cleans the bikes after the morning ride

Prior to dinner, the team staff get together to plan ahead for the first day of competition. This included when riders travelled to the course, breakfast. lunch and dinner times, which vehicles go down when and driven by whom and lots lots more.