Stage 2: Les Essarts – Les Essarts (23km)
The team time trial is one of the hardest – yet most beloved (by fans, at least) – disciplines in cycling. Every rider on the team has to give 100% to the team effort, and the team’s time for the stage is taken on the fifth rider across the finish line. That means you might have the Tour’s strongest time trial rider or overall yellow jersey favorite, but on this day you’re only as strong as your fifth rider. There’s a tremendous amount of strategy that goes into riding a good team time trial, from rider order to how long each rider spends at the front of the line. You also have to plan ahead for potential disasters, like a crash or a flat tire: who will the team slow down and wait for, who will they deliberately leave behind, etc.?
At only 23 kilometers, the team time trial in the 2011 Tour de France should not lead to massive time gaps between the overall contenders for the yellow jersey. Saxo Bank-Sungaard (Alberto Contador’s team) and Leopard-Trek (Andy Schleck’s team) with likely finish within 30 seconds of each other, and neither team is probably looking at the team time trial as the foundation of their Tour-winning strategy. But teams like Sky, Garmin, Radioshack, and BMC will look at this stage as an opportunity to get a very valuable stage win and potentially an early time buffer against Contador and Schleck.
Today’s Workout: 2:00 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Time Trial Intervals. Alternative workout: Hard group ride with a super-fast paceline, like your own team time trial! (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions)
How to do it: After a good warmup, perform six-minute intervals at your time trial race pace. Your intensity for these intervals should be about equal to the heart rate and power output you recorded during your CTS Field Test. If you haven’t done the field test yet, each interval should be feel like a 9 on a scale of 1-10. Keep your cadence above 90 rpm during your efforts. Recovery between each interval is only three minutes of easy spinning. This is going to be a hard workout, but it’s the most effective way to improve your ability to race a fast time trial in competition. Beginners should complete four time trial intervals, intermediate riders should complete five, and advanced six intervals.