What is the purpose of the Tour de France Time Trials?



John Harlin

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What is the purpose of the Tour de France time trials? There are usually 3 very short time trials of 30 to 40 minutes included in that 21 day race. Why would they put such short time trials in the middle of a race that usually includes 6 hours per day of cycling?

Was the time trial included as some kind of training effect to keep riders from getting stale from the slower rpms of the longer races or was there some other training reason?
 

frenchyge

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John Harlin said:
Was the time trial included as some kind of training effect to keep riders from getting stale from the slower rpms of the longer races or was there some other training reason?

No, it's not for some training effect for the riders. The time trials are very much a part of the race, and are critical stages for riders hoping to do well in the GC. They test a rider's ability to ride individually rather than drafting in a large pack or being supported by teammates.
 

BikingBrian

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John Harlin said:
snip

Was the time trial included as some kind of training effect to keep riders from getting stale from the slower rpms of the longer races or was there some other training reason?

What frenchy said. + Why do you think that longer races necessitate slower rpms? In fact, if anything, many riders (but not all, there are exceptions) have *lower rpms* in a TT compared to a mass start road race, as they tend to use bigger gears.
 

daveryanwyoming

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John Harlin said:
What is the purpose of the Tour de France time trials? ..
+1 on both responses above, but here's another way to understand it.

Cycling is a sport with a lot of specialized skill sets including top end sprinting with or without a team to lead you out, climbing long mountain passes, the ability to initiate or survive repeated attacks and then sustain a breakaway and then pure solo time trialing against the clock.

Just as there are climbing and sprinting specialists there are time trial specialists and time trials often differentiate the lead riders and prove to be decisive among a few top contenders with good teams. It's pretty unusual to see a pure sprint specialist or KOM contender also win the individual time trials but GC contenders usually do quite well in TTs.

Anyway the grand tours test a lot of different skills including team work, top speed, climbing and the ability to physically and mentally ride solo against the clock.

It's not some sort of forced training plan, it's part of the competition and a part that tends to separate the best riders from the rest.

-Dave
 

John Harlin

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Oct 23, 2009
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That may all be so that the time trial is just another part of the race but at the same time, it would seem to me that such short time trials could have a helpful training effect. That's why I wonder if someone purposely incorporated those time trials knowing that they could be beneficial to the riders for the rest of their racing.
 

Enriss

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I think you have some misconceptions about training. Remember that you only get stronger by RECOVERING from training. I doubt that there's a whole lot of recovery going on at any stage of the Tour de France.
 

frenchyge

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John Harlin said:
That may all be so that the time trial is just another part of the race but at the same time, it would seem to me that such short time trials could have a helpful training effect. That's why I wonder if someone purposely incorporated those time trials knowing that they could be beneficial to the riders for the rest of their racing.

If you've ever raced or followed a stage race, you'll understand that the only time there are changes at the top of the overall standings is when there is a hilltop finish or a time trial. Someone purposefully inserted the time trials so that the the Tour GC would be about the best overall rider rather than the best climber alone. The length of the TTs is such that excellent TTers have a chance to get on even footing with the excellent climbers, but not so much of an advantage that they run away with the race. If the TTs were much longer (say, 100km), the time gaps would be so large that the rest of the stages would be pointless by comparison.

Perhaps if you could elaborate on the helpful training effect that you see as coming from the TT stages of a multi-week stage race, we could understand your position better.
 

doctorSpoc

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Nov 18, 2005
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John Harlin said:
That may all be so that the time trial is just another part of the race but at the same time, it would seem to me that such short time trials could have a helpful training effect. That's why I wonder if someone purposely incorporated those time trials knowing that they could be beneficial to the riders for the rest of their racing.

The short answer is NO!

Time Trials as "short" as they are actually take a lot out of riders... and are critical stages as riders can lose a tonne of time in those stages... a rider that can't time trial reasonably well WILL NOT win the TDF.. Timetrials are included in the TdF and other events to test yet another aspect of cyclist's abilities.. it test pure cycling abilities.. removing tactics, no drafting, no team etc.. it's just you against the wind and the road.. that's why TT are call the 'race of truth'.. there is no where to hide in a TT..

asking why a TT is included in a stage race is like asking why javelin or 110 hurdles or 1500m is included in the decathlon.. it's just another type of test for the athletes and is integral to the event.
 

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