New TTT format for 2009 Tour de France?

A typical exchange for the relay format

A typical exchange for the relay format (Image credit: Mark Zalewski)

By Kirk Mawlazes

The organizers of the Tour de France apparently not too busy fighting with the UCI to come up with new developments for upcoming editions of the Grande Boucle. A source inside the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) disclosed today to Cyclingnews that the race is considering a new twist on the team time trial format - something that was inspired by seeing the Little 500 race at Indiana University, made famous by the 1977 movie Breaking Away.

"We were really interested in the 'bike exchange' that the teams are required to do," said the source. "We are contemplating a team time trial that is run more in a relay fashion, with four members of the team each riding a separate portion of the course - possibly even on the same bicycle."

The talk of this new format is so new that most team directors were unaware of it when asked by Cyclingnews, other than to ask where they could rent a copy of the film for research. Slipstream-Chipotle-H30 director sportif Jonathan Vaughters was encouraged by the news, having served as the grand marshall of the race in 2004. "Yeah, I saw how they did the exchanges, so I think we would have an advantage in that regard," said Vaughters. Also working in Slipstream's favor is the fact that the team's operations director Chris Gutaowsky is a former winner of the race and elected to the Little 500 hall of fame.

"I would love the chance to show these pros how to throw a bike exchange," said Gutowsky. "But it's too bad he wouldn't be riding on the fixed-gear, coaster brake machines we used!"

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