BMC Racing Team completed their final reconnaissance ride on the World Championships team time trial course in Innsbruck on Saturday morning, quietly confident that they have the power and speed to win a final title in the event.
Team Sunweb beat BMC Racing Team by eight seconds in Norway last year, completing a double victory in the men’s and women’s team time trial. BMC last won the world title in 2015 but are competitive in every team time trial they ride and hope to sign off with a third title as a tribute to late team owner Andy Rihs before merging with the Polish CCC team.
Time trial coach Marco Pinotti and the team’s management have selected Patrick Bevin, Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis, Stefan Küng, Greg Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen, opting for riders who can handle the 4.6km Axams climb and ride in tight formation at over 50kph on the valley roads to Innsbruck. This year’s 62.8km route is 20km longer than in Bergen and so will be a test of pacing and consistency.
Dennis will ride for Bahrain-Merida in 2019 but is keen to sign off with success in Innsbruck. He is on form after winning both time trial stages at the Vuelta a Espana. He is also a favourite for Wednesday’s individual time trial.
“Obviously with this being our last TTT at Worlds, it’s important. It's also important to us that we try to win,” Dennis told Cyclingnews after passing through the finish area and quickly debriefing with his teammates.
Pinotti has worked diligently on every aspect of BMC Racing’s team time trial preparation and the riders and staff have been in Innsbruck for several days for final training.
“I’ve been thinking about this race since the day they presented the course. I was so disappointed to lose last year. We want to end on a high this time,” Pinotti told Cyclingnews.
“We’re ready, like every year. We know the competition is strong for this last-ever team time trial but we hope for a good result. This group of riders have been training well all season long and have ridden other important team time trials. We’re an experienced team.”
The climb is the key point
Pinotti understandably would not reveal BMC Racing’s race strategy but indicated the Axams climb – that comes after 40km and includes a kilometre at eight per cent, is the key to the race and eventual victory.
“It’ll be fascinating to see what happens to each team on the climb, such a long climb after 40km in a TTT can cause havoc,” Pinotti predicted.
“I can’t reveal our race plan but of course it all depends on the legs on the day. We have a plan but as we saw at the TTT at the Tour of Britain, sometimes the plan doesn’t always work out and you have to adapt to the situation depending on if riders are going better or worse than expected.”
Pinotti and Dennis are expecting serious competition from Team Sunweb, Quick Step Floors, Team Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo. During the Tour of Britain team time trial, BMC Racing lost key riders during the stage and then had to wait for Stefan Küng when the young Swiss rider struggled on the climb to the finish. That was an important lesson for the world championships.
“We lost in Britain recently, but our team has gone really well in the team time trial event this season. We have a really strong team here, for this course,” Dennis said.
“It's changed a little bit compared to other years because we’ve had to take into account the climb, to make sure that we can get at least four guys over it, and hopefully more. Then you have the climb and coming down it is really fast before coming into town.
“We've been dominant in the TTT for years and we don't want to end on a low, indeed we want to end on a high. It's also important to finish off. BMC are not with us next year and so it's not BMC next year, so it will be a good way to say thank you.”