Winners of both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France team time trials in the past, Garmin-Sharp has high hopes for the stage 2 Giro d'Italia on Sunday. The squad last won the Giro TTT in 2008 and 2012. Director Sportif Charly Wegelius said that victories in Grand Tour team time trials forms part of the squad's heritage and are part of his own past as a pro, too.
Wegelius was a winner of the Giro TTT with Liquigas back in 2007, a year before the American squad claimed a breakthrough victory in the same race and put Christian VandeVelde, who forms part of this year's line-up, in the lead.
The 2013 Giro team time trial is just 17.4 kilometres long. "In terms of the economy of the whole Giro, its value could be overestimated, because if there are time gaps, they'll be relatively small and the mountains will decide the overall classification. But having said that, winning team time trials here is part of the heritage of the squad, the you can see the guys are getting fired up for it days before, it's automatic here," said Wegelius to Cyclingnews,
"The length and the technicality of it do make a difference, but we've prepared for it, we've looked over it as best we can and we can go into it with some sort of serenity."
Wegelius agreed that his team has some heavy artillery when it comes to the TTT, but "as my illustrious career shows [not to mention that win in the Giro TTT in 2007], it's not all about brute strength there. The more technical it gets, the ability to use the right gears and technical ability matters as well."
Sunday's Giro TTT will take place on a fairly low island in the middle of the bay, wind is almost certain to be a big factor. "It's another element, there could well be sand on the road blown in off the beach, unexpected changes in camber, all things that can make a difference."
Some teams, such as Euskaltel-Euskadi, believe in putting two stronger time trial riders in pairs together for the team time trial - Samuel Sanchez, for example always goes with Egoi Martinez - then two weaker ones, followed by two stronger and so on . But Wegelius said, "That's just one way of riding a TTT. You can try and bunch good guys with slightly weaker guys, you can try and [do a line] anticipating what it'd look like without certain people in it, there are lots of ways of doing it, none of which I'm going to tell you!"
Rather than leaving no man behind in case of punctures or crashes, Garmin's strategy, Wegelius says, will be leaving "no Ryder behind - and that's Ryder with a 'y'." Other riders though, may be ‘sacrificed' if necessary.
"Basically a team time trial like this one starts the whole process," he said. "It's like shadow boxing."
"It's 17 kilometres, really technical, on an island, no way we can go and ride it before Sunday [when teams will be allowed to ride over the course once, in the morning]. It's a lot of stress for such a short period of time," said VandeVelde.
"Every time, it's just like a prologue, you're losing three or four seconds, you feel like it's the end of the world."
"But then, looking back at last year's race [which was decided by a handful of seconds] every second did count. So we'll be either trying to take as much time as we can over our opponents or limit our time losses."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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