For the boys at the gritty end of the game though it’s a different story. Nothing hurts quite like an ITT. It’s a simple equation: man plus bike plus pain equals how fast you go. No hiding places. Quarter may be requested but none is given, no sir.
Some try to ride tactically, using information gleaned from teammates who go before them and set markers along the course, others go for the negative split, by which they head out a little easier then crank it up. And yet, in the end, the winner is invariably the guy who understands his body like a Zen practitioner, embraces the suffering and has huge reserves of power.
Today’s victor though is not, unfortunately for him, the man they will all be talking about, because that accolade goes to a certain Christopher Froome.
Why? Well we need to put what he just did into some perspective. Martin just blasted that ITT in 54.2km/hr over 33km, cracking into the top five of the fastest TTs ever witnessed by the good folk of France.
In first on that list is Greg Lemond, who in 1989 managed 54.545km/hr over 24.5km as he decimated the Maillot Jaune dreams of Laurent Fignon on the Champs Elysee.
Who could ever forget Greg Lemond’s record breaking ride in 1989?
In second is David Millar, prior to abundant apologies and an autobiography, who clocked 54.361km/hr from Pornic to Nantes over 49km in 2003.
(I digress a little, but did you notice that Orica GreenEdge smashed the TTT record earlier in the race? Their 57.841 km/hr average in Nice beat the previous best set by Discovery Channel Team, 57,320 km/h from Tours – Blois in 2005. Wowzers.)
So Froome was just 11 seconds down on Martin, which will position him, I would wager, pretty darned high up now on that fastest ever list too. In taking 2nd today Froome also destroyed his closest rivals for the overall GC.
Alejandro Valverde is no slouch and he lost 2.12. Contador lost 2.15. Kreuziger shipped 2.18 and the forlorn Andy Schleck lost a massive 4.44.
Incredible. Almost as amazing was the performance by Richie Porte, the Sky rider who had such a dog day afternoon on Stage 9 that he was starting to ‘whoop!’ like Al Pacino in his heyday. The Aussie came in 1.21 down in 4th, a great result for him.
I suspect the internet forums will be a-buzzing now with well-thought out and reasoned opinions on what just unfolded.
Race over? Yep. Froome now has 3.25 over Valverde with the under-the-radar Mollema of Belkin (who earlier in the race slipped like a cool hand into a velvet glove into third on the GC), 3.57 down.
Bauke Mollema has been quietly impressive so far this Tour.
The top four behind the Englishman are in fact split by just 22 seconds, so the race for the lesser places on the podium might be the one to watch, if complete and utter domination bore you any.
Another rider that rode up a storm was Thomas De Gendt who ploughed into third place just 1.01 behind the ITT World Champion. Brilliant ride there from the Belgian, who must now be seriously ruing his stinker early on in the race where he lost a lot of time. On the up side, he is young and can only take heart from his performance today.
Several riders spoke today of the incredible atmosphere along the course, with Simon Gerrans saying that he had in fact intended to take it easy but that he got carried away by the cheers from the crowd, who lined the course in throngs.
One rider though that might have a different opinion is Mark Cavendish, who was not only met with boos but also the contents of one gentleman’s bladder. The actual mechanics of that are a bit mind boggling really. Did he bring it with him in a cup? Or does he just have a very long natural arch? And was he wearing an Argos Shimano time trial suit?
We may never know. Anyway, deplorable behavior that needs to be thoroughly condemned. Cav’s teammate Jerome Pineau was one who was quick to criticize what went on along the route.
“Yesterday I was very proud to be on my roads and encouraged like that but today I am ashamed,” he said. “I’m ashamed that my friend MarkCavendish told me that he was whistled at and even sprayed with urine during the entire ride. It’s scandalous.”
Cavendish likes a joke I hear but when they say ‘he takes the piss’ (meaning, in the English vernacular, to like to tease people), well this wasn’t quite what he had in mind.
Another who mentioned the generally enthusiastic crowd was Andrew Talansky who also put in a very encouraging ride to come in just 2.08 down. Good work there, very good.
Two others worth a mention are Peter Sagan, who rolled in just 2.18 back, suggesting that he is working on his Tour GC contender credentials. Not bad at all for a sprinter!
The other is Kwiatowski of Omega Pharma-QuickStep. This young man looks to be jam-packed with talent. He took 5th, just 1,31 behind Martin and is now 34 seconds ahead of Qintana in the Young Riders category. Two horse race that one, as the next placed man, Bardet of Ag2r, is over 6 minutes back.
Still though, these modern riders are a bit soft. 32 km is nothing! Just ask Raymond Impanis who won the longest ever Tour ITT way back in 1947. The Belgian rode 129km (86 miles) that day.
Now that’s a time trial.
Lee Rodgers leads a double life as a pro racer on the UCI race circuit with the Lapierre Asia Cycling Team, competing in the UCI Asia Tour as well as some European events and the likes of the Tour of Qatar and Oman, rubbing shoulders with the best the WorldTour has to offer, whilst keeping up a day job as a cycling journalist. The highlight of his cycling career so far was winning the Singapore National Champs – road race and ITT – as well as claiming the Green Jersey at the 2.1 Tour de Taiwan in 2012, and naturally, writing for PEZ. His writing appears in several magazines and websites and you can catch up with him regularly on his blog, http://crankpunk.com/