Bissell’s Tom Zirbel improved his time trial result by a whopping 58 seconds over last year’s showing in the Solvang Time Trial at the Tour of California. Zirbelicious finished in seventh spot at 39 seconds off the fastest time of Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and was the highest placed domestic rider.
Great showing by the Bissell team yesterday as they placed 3 riders of only 5 domestic riders in the top 20 of the Tour of California Time Trial which was dominated by ProTour riders. His team mates Ben Jacques-Maynes finished in eleventh and New Zealand Champion Jeremy Vennell was seventeenth.
Zirbel honed his time trial position during the past year where he changed the cleat position, crank length and the aero bars setup.
“It seems to have increased my timetrialing which is what timetrialing is all about. We’ll see, maybe it made a difference, maybe it didn’t but this game is so mental anyway so it doesn’t matter either way as long as I believe it.” said a laughing Zirbel prior to the race.
Zirbel raced in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January where he finished second on the time trial before being felled by food poisoning. It was perfect preparation for the big race in California.
“It was just about right for us to get back into it, it was a perfect segway to Tour of California to be honest, to get that first race out of the way, get the confidence back, okay I can still timetrial. We need to be constantly reminded.”
Time trialing is a mental game that Zirbel has been working on since his teenage years as a runner.
“I’ve been racing a long time, not just biking since I was twelve, I used to be a runner so I’m used to dealing with that and knowing how to get the most out of my body, it’s something you never perfect but I feel pretty confident that I can push myself to the limit when I need to, when I’m motivated to do so. That’s what timetrialing is you know.”
He acknowledged that time trial is all about the combination of mental strength and “the legs to back it up”.
“You look at a guy like Levi [Leipheimer], he’s very talented, he’s very strong but he’s probably the strongest mentally, you just see it. He’s so focused, that’s what you aspire to be because stage racing is hard, you have to take your lumps and do it again the next day. It’s a matter of not letting … not giving yourself an inch, always pushing, always going after it.”
The other two domestic riders that finished in the top 20 were Luis Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home) who was sixteenth and Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) in nineteenth position.