This week the Tour de France concludes 3 brutal weeks of racing. Tomorrow is the 40.5K Time Trial in Annency. Time Trials are unique in that they are the most individual part of road racing. Road racing is not a man against man sport. A smart team of decent riders can defeat a much stronger solo rider. Take the team tactics to position the best rider and combine it with the individual riders physical ability, mental toughness, and even a little deceptive acting and you have the ingredients of a road race.
Time trials on the other hand removes the team tactics. It is each rider solo against the clock. A rider and his bike battle the course, the wind, and himself. It takes strength, mental toughness, patience, flexibility, and dedication to the art. Many of the overall riders will be in the spotlight for what they can gain (Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins, and Lance Armstrong) or what they can loose (Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre, and Luis Leon Sanchez). However, the win on these stages usually go to time trial specialist such as current TT World Champion Bert Grabsch or Fabian Cancellara.
Let me express my man love for this specimen of a rider. His startling acceleration to beat the sprinters in the 2007 Tour, or his solo bridge to the lead group in the Bejieng Olympic Road Race and then still have enough to podium are just a few of his legendary moments. If I could adopt the skills, limitations, and results of any rider it would be Cancellara. He is an incredible time trialist with a mind blowing mix of power and flexibility that allows him to tuck himself into incredibly aero positions while crushing the pedals. It is he that inspired my love of the time trial. So in this stage in which someone other than the climber and the sprinter get to shine, allez Cancellara, allez!!!!