Riders lament loss of trade-team TTT at future World Championships

Quick-Step Floors and Canyon-SRAM secured victories in the elite men’s and women’s trade team time trial at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck on Sunday. They were feats that marked the end of the discipline, as the sport’s governing body moves replace it with a team time trial for national teams next year.

The team time trial was introduced as a World Championship event for the men in 1962 and the women in 1987, but at the time th even consisted of four riders representing their respective national teams. The discipline stopped after the 1994 edition and went on hiatus for 18 years before being reintroduced with six-rider trade teams in 2012.

During that time, Quick-Step won the title on four occasions: 2012 in Valkenburg, 2013 in Florence, 2016 in Doha and on Sunday in Innsbruck. BMC won titles in 2014 in Ponferrada and 2015 in Richmond, and Team Sunweb won it last year in Bergen.

On the women’s side, Canyon-SRAM added a fifth title to their existing four won under previous sponsors Specialized-lululemon (2012-2014) and Velocio-SRAM (2015) and in Innsbruck.

The UCI announced this summer that it would replace the event with a new team time trial, whereby each national team will be expected to field a men’s and women’s team that will race separately. In the end, their respective times will combine into one final time that will rank each nation.

The UCI felt the need to change the format after many of the WorldTour teams pushed back at the pressure from the UCI to ride the team time trial, with the weaker time trial teams seeing the race as a waste of their resources and rider. FDJ last competed in 2015. Few of the leading Professional Continental teams have ever taken part because they struggle to compete with the likes of Quick-Step Floors, BMC Racing and Team Sky.

Teams face costs of around $30,000 to prepare and compete at the World Championships, with the UCI reluctant to help cover all the costs. The team time trial has often been used as a pawn in the power struggle between the UCI and the WorldTour teams despite the prestige of winning a team prize.

Only 11 of the 18 WorldTour teams made an effort to travel to Innsbruck this year for the final edition of the discipline. In recent years, the UCI has been forced to fill the start list with Continental teams from the host nation. This year early starters included the Tirol Cycling Team, Team Hrinkow Advarics Cycleang, WSA Pushbikers, Team Felbermayr-Simplon Wels, Dukla Banska Bystrica of Slovakia and Sangemini-MG.Kvis of Italy.

In contrast, the trade team time trial has been highly beneficial to the professional women’s teams. Since the introduction of the event six years ago, many event organisers throughout the season have added team time trials to their stage race, and even as one-day standalone Women’s WorldTour events, such as PostNord Vargard, Ladies Tour of Norway and the Madrid Challenge, among others.

Following the trade team time trials in Innsbruck, Cyclingnews spoke with several riders, who have previously won the event, to gain a better understanding of how they felt about Sunday’s race being the last trade team event.

Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans)

“It’s a big disappointment that this is the last team time trial. This discipline is one of the greatest in cycling. You are riding with this team the whole year, and for me, it’s a way to do a victory that is really together as a team – you all win together or you all lose together. It’s really nice to train with the whole team, to be motivated together, and it takes a lot of effort to train for this discipline because it is so difficult and so hard.

“I hope it doesn’t affect women’s racing. It’s still possible to do the team time trials during the season in stage races, so I hope they will continue with those events. I like this discipline because it really shows the strength of the team.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)

“I hear that it will be a national team event with men and women racing separately and then combining the times. I don’t know. It’s even weirder. It’s just weird. It’s like having two team time trials in one day anyway. It’s not like we will be cooperating in one team event.

“Suddenly we will have to go with our national teammates, and two days before the event we say, ‘Hey, let’s go do a team time trial together’. It’s just weird, and it doesn’t make it more interesting.”

Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)

“I think it’s a pity that this is the last edition of the TTT for teams. I believe there’s a reason behind that but it’s going to be comical to have mixed national teams as we all have busy seasons; training is not going to be easy.

“I believe that the TTT is one of the nicest disciplines and one of the nicest races of the whole year. It’s really special to win the last edition, we can all, staff and riders, be very proud of what we achieved.

Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb)

“I hope this race comes back because it’s a beautiful event and it shows the true teamwork in cycling. This is such a cool event where everyone goes on the podium together. I think even in other races, the whole team should go on the podium because it takes a whole team to win a race.

Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors)

“I think the TTT should just be for teams. National teams pick the riders and it’s not going to be at the same level.”

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