HTC-Columbia and BISSELL set the fastest time in the only scheduled Elite Team Time Trial in the USA today in Merced California. For the first time in its long history, the Merco Cycling Classic started with a 4-rider TTT on a 20-mile (32.2km) out-and-back course with the team time set by the third rider crossing the line. Each team started at two-minute interval.
Powerhouse HTC-Columbia with Ina Teutenberg, Kim Anderson, Evelyn Stevens and Chloe Hosking, set the fastest time with 43:53.
The HTC-Columbia used the race for practice. “A few of the girls have only ridden maybe two TTT’s in their career so far, we were just learning to work together.” said Anderson. “We were getting comfortable, learn how to ride ‘em, where to be, and just have fun together. We decided to have Ina start off as she is really good at starting a good tempo. We don’t want to start off to fast and try to get in a good rhythm. Then we lined up by size. There was three of us coming in for the finish so I think it worked really well for us today.”
“This was just my second time out there and it was good.” said Stevens. “They are so experienced, it was great riding with them. There is a lot I need to pick up on. I need to start somewhere. It was great to have a TTT to practice.”
As always, Teutenberg goes straight to the point. “In a TTT if you come back feeling good then you did not ride hard enough. A TTT is painful because you go all out. The course today was nice. It was little hard today because it’s the first race of the year. It was high intensity the whole way, yeah it was good.”
The second women’s team was “The Other Team”, a composite team made up of Katheryn Mattis (Webcor), Jane Despas, Molly Van Houwelling (Metromint) and Cara Gillis.
“We kinda just winged it for starting order.” explained Mattis. “We thought Cara could start us off. She felt she was probably the weakest of all of us and she could get us up to speed but not too fast. It easy to go out to hard and not dose your effort. Number one concern today was safety. Fortunately it was not too windy. Number two was to just have fun. I love team time trials and I wanted to be here to support the promoter. Kudos to them for putting this on. It’s a new race and I felt it was really important to be here. Number three was to get a good workout in. We don’t have many opportunities to do TTT here in the states. I feel we accomplished all of the goals.”
Van Houwelling had fun. “I have never done a TTT, I do a lot of ITT races. It was hard to try to keep up with Katheryn Mattis. I am always racing against her so it was strange to see her right there in front of me. ITT you are always trying to be in the most aerodynamic position and in the TTT, when I was in the back, I could relax a bit. Since the four of us are not on the same team, we scramble about the start order on the line. We knew that the hardest position would be the person who went right before Katheryn because we expected Katheryn to be the fastest. Since it was tricky I let Jane do that.” she chuckled. “I wish we had more opportunities to ride a TTT. It was fun today.”
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team lined up their time trialists, Ben Jacques-Maynes, former New Zealand Time Trial Champion Jeremy Vennell, Andy Jacques-Maynes and Rob Britton to stop the clock at 38:37. The CalGiant team of Andrew Talansky, Steve Reaney, Jesse Moore and Jared Barrilleaux were second with 39:42 and Adam Switters, Ryan Parnes, Philip Mooney and Tyler Dibble of the Yahoo Cycling Team were 3rd with 39:49.
“I didn’t really scope it out I was just looking at the hub in front of me.” said B. Jacuqes-Maynes who led the team out from the start line. “Perfect pavement, it was all coordination and horse power as good team time trials are supposed to be. A couple of big rollers to really try to lay the smack on and then just like I said, coordination of the team to get over the hills as fast as possible and back up to speed on the other side.” He would be happy to have more TTTs in the US. “We have a team, BISSELL that were made for it. I can’t complain about having the ability to do more. I didn’t think that we were driving especially fast, we went fast in the last 5K otherwise it was just steady and work on that coordination side of things.”
Vennell explained the team rotation. “For us we’re really lucky that everyone is sort of the same size. If you had smaller guy you don’t want to have the bigger guy sitting behind him that’s really unfair so you try to sort it out through that, and you try to sort it out through who’s the strongest. All the strong guys one after another, the other guys aren’t going to like that too much so you try to spread it through but with four guys it’s not as vital.”
“A lot of yelling at each other, that’s good for your team bonding.” laughed Vennell when asked how the team works a TTT. “We tried to drop each other a few times, it didn’t really work, I think everyone did pretty well.”
With team time set by the third rider, A. Jacques-Maynes gave a final push before dropping from the rotation. “It’s the tactics, coming into a mile to go I absolutely slammed myself and it’s called the death pull. The last team time trial that I did, I won a National Championship, in 02, that was the last time I did a team time trial but back then I did so many and I remember, we really worked hard at it in order to win. I have all these tricks up my sleeve and that’s one of the tactics that you do, you have one guy just sell out, it’s almost like a leadout at a sprint.”
The suffering in team time trials and individual time trials is completely different. “In an individual time trial, you crawl into your pain cave and blow out the candle and you just sit there for a while and you just suffer and hate life.” explained A. Jacques-Maynes. “In a team time trial, it’s not a steady effort at all, you hit really hard and then you recover, you hit really hard and then you recover. We each took maybe nine or ten pulls, the rest of the time you’re resting pretty steady in the draft, it was nice you could recover pretty well. All of us are really evenly matched and that’s the biggest advantage that we have, you could have a guy that’s really stronger and he’s going to tear his teammates’ legs off, all of us being pretty strong, good time trialers and evenly matched, we rolled pretty good.”
“It was alright,” said Britton about his first ever TTT. “I’ve done team pursuit so this was a long more relaxing and these guys are just so smooth so you just stay relaxed and life is good. Until you’re on the front and then you’re just holding on, holding on until you go back. Everybody puts out a good draft and everybody’s really smooth today.” Britton was the first man across the line for his team, pulling the final 500 meters.
The Merco Cycling Classic continues with the Downtown Grand Prix criterium on Saturday.
Complete results here
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