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July 05, 2005

Stage 4 Preview: 67.5 km Team Time Trial, Tour-Blois

Bobby Julich @ Tour de Georgia
Julich, CSC will try to hold yellow
Photo by Frank Steele
We come to the next pivotal stage in the Tour: The Stage 4 team time trial. If Lance Armstrong and Discovery are going to control this year's Tour, they'll need a strong performance here. CSC can probably keep Dave Zabriskie in the yellow jersey for a few more days if they can outduel Discovery, but have they burned too much of their powder protecting Zabriskie the last few days?

Today's TTT is a 67.5 kilometer ride, about a 42-mile day. The TTT relies on careful orchestration of the whole team, as teams adjust the length of time that riders spend on the front of the pack to try to bring everybody in equally exhausted. Some teams will drop riders if they have a mechanical or if they just can't hang, but the leading group is given the time to the line of their 5th rider, so you can't drop too many.

Phonak is widely considered the third contender for podium space, and Gerolsteiner won the ProTour's team time trial at Eindhoven in June (but that squad was all specialists, no climbers along). It's clear that Armstrong and Discovery want to take the race lead with today's performance.

The team time trial continues a rule introduced last year that I hate as much as any sports rule other than possibly the NCAA football overtime rules: The time gaps between the teams are not actually the time gaps that will be awarded to the riders. In every other Tour situation, the time you earn is the time you get, but in the face of US Postal's domination of the TTT, organizers introduced a rule that limits the possible damage by setting maximum time gaps based on a team's placing in the stage.

The 2nd place team, for instance, will lose no more than 20 seconds on the leaders, 3rd is limited to 30 seconds, and so on, except that eventually the maximum gap between teams drops to 5 seconds. Cyclingnews.com explains the time trial rules or you can read it in the official rules (.pdf file). Don't spend too long thinking about this rule, or your head may explode.

Also:

Eurosport.com | Riis throws down the gauntlet

"We will leave as favourites, I think, along with Phonak and Discovery, but I am sure that we will beat them. If not, I'll be very disappointed," continued Riis, throwing down the gauntlet.

"If we can take back a little time, it will allow us to reduce Ivan [Basso]'s deficit on Armstrong (1'24" after Saturday's ITT)," Riis added, before admitting that "beyond keeping the yellow, Basso remains the priority."

procycling.com | Riis and Bruyneel tip each other

Quotes Bluesq.com that "Discovery ... their odds-on favourites, CSC at 7-4 and Phonak at 9-2."

Yahoo! Sport | Armstrong not sleeping easy over team time trial

letour.fr | Stage 4 Intermediate stage splits

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Dave Zabriskie, Lance Armstrong, Stage profiles | Permalink

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Comments


Anyone know where there is internet audio broadcast? OLN did it on their website last year, but i can't find it this year . . . i would appreciate any help.

nice blog

Posted by: dean at Jul 5, 2005 10:27:00 AM

Yes, TDFblog, I know you hate these TTT results rules, but does it surprise you that the tour organizers would implement them?

Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 5, 2005 11:23:24 AM

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