Tour of California: Time trial still in Huffman's sights after two long days in the break

Early in the week, Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) had high expectations and pointed to Friday's time trial in Big Bear as his primary objective at the Amgen Tour of California.

"To be honest I think I can win," Huffman said on Monday. "That'd be good. I'd be pretty happy with a top five, but you know in a time trial you go as fast as you can, and either way I'm going to go as fast as I can and hope for the best."

Huffman, the under-23 US national champion against the clock back in 2012, had several good time trial results in 2016 despite significantly changing his position that spring. Huffman's 2016 results included fifth at Nationals and fifth at the Tour of Alberta. Huffman started this year off strongly with a win at win at the Tour of the Gila in April.

"I've been riding that same position we changed quite a bit ever since," Huffman said. "I think that has been one of the big reasons I've started time trialing really good again this year, is having the same position to train on over the winter."

Rally Cycling spends a portion of the team camp each year dialing in riders to their positions and equipment. Rally brings in Hed Cycling's Chief of Products Christopher 'Dino' Edin to work with riders on their positions. The training camp sessions include time evaluating rider positions on the trainer, video during 10km efforts and, if needed, wind tunnel testing.

Rally Cycling director Eric Wohlberg pointed to the attention to detail that will help Huffman compete in a WorldTour field.

"Evan's a fast rider. He can ride with a big sheet of plywood in front of him and still do a good time trial," Wohlberg said. "But when it comes down to shaving those tenths of seconds here and there, that make a big difference over a 15-20km time trial, we feel pretty good about our equipment choices and support we've got from Hed."

Huffman won stage 4 after a daylong breakaway, using up some of the energy he had originally earmarked for the time trial. He then joined the breakaway in stage 5, which finished on top of Mt. Baldy. After two days of hard riding, Huffman admitted he may have used up his gas for the week, but he's still hopeful he could turn in a top 10 ride at the time trial in Big Bear Lake.

Despite feeling fatigued from two days on the front, Huffman was still putting in the preparation to contend for the win. Huffman planned to trail a teammate in a follow car before warming up, and he said time splits from the team's other strong time trialists, Danny Pate and Matteo Dal Cin, would provide useful intelligence for when he was on the road.

After Thursday's stage, Huffman was more circumspect about his chances in the time trial but believed he had nothing to lose. He pointed to several WorldTour riders as favorites before readjusting his goals for the race.

"For contenders to win, Talansky I would put as number one favorite especially after he won today," Huffman said. "I know that he's trained a lot at altitude and on his TT bike and then I think Bodnar on Bora is a strong time trialist, but there's not a lot of TT specialists here. Maybe Jack Bauer, who was in the break with me. There is always one or two WorldTour guys who will just do a standout rider, so we'll see.

"I'm optimistic. I hope I can be top 10. I'd be really happy with top 10 after how hard I raced yesterday and today."

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