The team time trials in the Tour de France have undergone quite an evolution over the past 100 editions. In the 1920s, the race instituted a staggered start where teams would begin stages at different times in order to force the team leaders to ride hard every day, but by 1929 these endless days of teams riding together became so boring the discipline vanished from the race, with one exception, until 1954.
The team time trials back then were very different from what we see today, but a more modern version of the discipline emerged in the 1960s, and from 1962 until 1995, the team time trial was a part of every single edition - in 1980 and 1982 there were two!
Excitement over the years ranged from Stephen Roche famously missing the start of his team's race in 1991 to David Zabriskie crashing during the test while wearing the maillot jaune with CSC in the 2005 Tour.
After the dominance of Miguel Indurain in the 1990s, the team time trial was removed from the Tour from 1996 through the year 2000, when the team test from Nantes to Saint-Nazaire was won by the ONCE team, putting Laurent Jalabert in the maillot jaune, even though the team was given a 20 second penalty because directeur sportif Manolo Saiz helped block the crosswind with his team car.
The discipline has been included in the Tour de France nine times since its post-Indurain renaissance, and has helped to shape the general classification. While a complicated set of new rules were instituted in 2004 and 2005 to try and limit the time losses for the stage, the experiment was deemed a failure and reversed to the natural order of events we see today.
By keeping the team time trial to just 25km in length, the test in Nice shouldn't be too devastating to the smaller teams.