During the Tour de France, teams’ routine can go out the window at short notice, when the team time trial is coming right up. Preparation, procedure and even meals deviate quite radically from the standard schedule – an enormous challenge for each of the teams. We take a look behind the scenes of the BMC Racing Team, current team time trial world champions.
Team Time Trial, Stage 9, 28 km, Vannes — Plumelec
What’s so special about a time trial?
A time trial day is special because the program is different. The team time trial of stage 9 is even more important because all the riders are starting at the same time. And the other special factor today is that the BMC Racing Team is the reigning world champion.
What is the BMC Racing Team doing on a time trial day?
A time trial day has many different aspects. We have had many trials already this year and have gathered a lot of data and information from those races. However, it is a new day and everything needs to be adjusted to the current course. Tire pressure, race fuel, chain rings, order of riders. There are so many varying aspects and we have a staff member assigned to every detail to make sure we cover everything. With the performance team around Marco Pinotti and David Bailey, we plan in great detail for the team time trial. I think the last results showed that we’ve been pretty good at this up to now.
Some of the riders go out on the bike in the morning after breakfast to do some easy spinning. Others prefer to go on the rollers for a few minutes and spin in the hotel. This is already part of the preparation for the time trial and every rider has his protocol that he is comfortable with. Because it is a team time trial day, there are no separate start times, so it is easier for Yon to plan the transfers. Everyone leaves at the same time and comes back at the same time. For an individual time trial you would need to plan several transfers because riders need to be at the start or come back at various times.
It’s easier today, but still a challenge.
Is there anything special about the preparation?
Before a time trial you usually have a second breakfast or a lunch because the start times are later in the day. If you have your breakfast in the morning and aren’t starting until 4pm, you need to eat again. The menu is the same every time. Some riders eat pasta, others have rice. Some prefer an omelette with the carbohydrates, others only eat pasta. Every rider has their own pre-time trial meal and they don’t change it just because it is a team time trial or because it is the Tour the France. You eat what you know works for you. Because the time trial is a fixed set up, every staff member has a specific role – at the start, at the finish or in the hotel. This way we can ensure we think of everything and the rider gets the best support. The rider needs to focus on the warm-up and on the race, the rest is our job. We prepare the meals, the bottles, we set up the bikes, and we prepare the race clothing. Again, it’s about teamwork.
Do riders eat or drink during a TT?
Depending on the distance, it is not always necessary to drink or eat on the bike. During a prologue of 15 km, you don’t need the drink. If the race lasts for more than one hour, it is important to drink and consume some energy. But there are also other factors that can influence the choice to drink or not to drink: profile, weather, and course.
Judith Haudum is 33 and comes from Salzburg in Austria. The qualified sports scientist, lecturer and expert in sports nutrition works with the BMC Racing Team, which Powerbar supplies with high-quality sports nutrition as its sponsor.