Ponferrada sees the third running of the team time trial at the World Championships, after it was reinstated in Valkenburg in 2012. Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Specialized-lululemon both go into the event looking to take their third consecutive titles on Sunday.
The women will kick things off in the morning, with the men rolling out in the afternoon. Both the men’s and women’s courses follow the same route out of and back into Ponferrada, however, they take very different routes in the middle sections. From the start, the teams will head south west, with two sharp turns in the opening kilometres that could end someone’s day very early on. Another two 90 degree bends bring the riders north.
It is at the town of Carrecedelo where the two courses deviate. The women will carry on straight over the autopista (A6) towards Carracedo del Monasterio, whereas the men will turn left and ultimately join the A6 further up the road. From here the men take on a larger loop up to Villafranca del Bierzo, where they must negotiate a technical section through the town before doubling back on themselves.
The routes come back together briefly, before splitting again at Camponaraya. Again, the women will head straight on, towards the finishing stretch, while the men take in yet another detour. They rejoin the women’s course with nine kilometres remaining, where both follow the same lumpy route back into Ponferrada. The various deviations add almost 21 kilometres to the men’s course, but just 188 metres of climbing.
The small technical sections, especially as the teams return to Ponferrada, could make or break the day for the teams. Power will be key for both the men and women, with large stretches of straight road. This is where the likes of Tony Martin and Ellen van Dijk will come into their own. They will have to be careful not to drop their teammates, like BMC did in 2012, as that could cause them to lose time rather than gain it.
As time goes on, the competition for the team time trial grows, with teams sending stronger rosters each year. Get the lowdown on who to keep an eye on this Sunday with our top five teams to watch.
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