A time trial is a competition in which each rider competes separately from the others with the aim of covering the race course in the shortest possible time.
The time trial: a bit of history
It was created by Gaston Béna, publisher of the Paris-Soir newspaper in Paris, the most important during the period before the war in 1932. Together with their colleague Albert Baker d'Isy they took inspiration from the World Road Cycling Championship that had taken place on 26 August of the previous year in Copenhagen: that was the only time when the professional title was awarded in a time trial race. In fact, the line test was replaced by an individual time trial over a distance of 170 km.
In 1994 the World Time Trial Championship was born and the chronometer was introduced also in the Olympic calendar: from this moment on, the Grand Prix of the Nation lost so much importance that it was removed from the UCI (International Cycling Union) calendar starting from 2005.
How does a stopwatch work?
In stage competitions you can find one or more time trials (the number depends on their duration). Within the Grand Tours there are usually two or three time trial stages, one of which can be a team or a "prologue".
Individual time trial
Individual timer courses may vary even if they tend to be flat. One type is an uphill time trial where the entire route (or a significant part of it) is uphill. Arrival is usually at the end of the ascent. Athletes in this case are called climbers.
Team time trial
Many of the top stages have also been top performers in the individual time trial such as Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain, Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso, Bradley Wiggins, Alberto Contador, Chris Froome.
Time trial's equipment
These types of equipment are specialized and manufacturers spend a lot of time and money to ensure faster performance than the competition.
The handlebars are placed lower than normal road racing bicycles and the saddle is sometimes moved ahead of them.
- Lycra shoe covers that help improve airflow between the buckles and the straps;
- The long, pointed helmet that conveys air towards the rear of the runner's body (the position is essential, it must be as close as possible to the body so as not to let air through).