Defending UCI Road World Champions in the team time trial, BMC Racing, are trying to 'keep their feet on the ground' ahead of their title defence, but are feeling confident after previewing the 38km route in Richmond.
Sporting manager Allan Peiper was with the team for their ride on Saturday, and thinks the course will challenge every skill needed for team time trialing.
"I think it's a good course," Peiper said to Cyclingnews. "It's nice and fast, it gives a few different aspects to it, with descents, tight corners, some fast straights, a little bit of rolling terrain, and then a final climb. It encompasses a lot of different aspects, so I think it will be quite testing for all the teams."
Last year's championships in Ponferrada, Spain was 57km long, and BMC's margin of victory was 31.84 seconds over Orica-GreenEdge, but Peiper expects the gaps to be much smaller this year.
"Everyone seems a little baffled as to why the individual time trial is 55km and the team time trial is 38km - the powers that be must have reasons for deciding that. It will make it even closer for all the teams. In the last months team time trials have been coming down to a second between first and second. I think it will be pretty much the same tomorrow. There is no room for mistakes."
Team Sky found the truth in that statement out the hard way, crashing heavily during the training session, with Danny Pate, Elia Viviani and Luke Rowe suffering a good deal from a 60kph spill. Peiper knows the path to success is on the very edge of control.
"Mistakes can be made anywhere, they can be lapse of attention, an overlapping of a wheel in a corner. I think going through the forest will be a little tricky, getting the U-turn right. There's more potential to lose there than can be gained. That's one critical point. For the rest it's a great course. It's testing. It's not just about going fast, it's about bike handling as well, so that's why it's a good test."
BMC are confident that they can defend their title, but Peiper's been reminding them to stay humble, because the team time trial has become a focus for more teams as the discipline grows in its fourth year as a world championship event for trade teams.
"I think we have a good chance, we have a great team but like I've told the guys this week already, we don't want to underestimate the opposition. The only thing that can beat us is ourselves. They're very much aware of that and knowing how fierce the competition will be tomorrow. The key words of this week has been keeping the feet on the ground. I think they're all ready for the challenge that is awaiting them."
In addition to having Tour de France prologue winner Rohan Dennis, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Silvan Diller, the team have recently regained Taylor Phinney, who came back in August after a 14 month lay-off from a leg injury, and Stefan Küng, who fractured a vertebrae in a crash at the Giro d'Italia. Peiper says the pair help to make up for the loss of Tejay van Garderen, who helped the team to its gold medal last year. Van Garderen is nursing a broken humerus and fracture in his foot from the Vuelta a Espana.
"Obviously [Tejay] is a key part of the team, and being a climber who can power on the flats was a loss. But that's part of cycling. You have to adapt to the circumstances. We have a strong team that's fit and on top of their game."
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