The final three-kilometer wall with several pitches over a 10% grade at the end of the individual time trial, stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California is making many riders think of switching bikes, going from their time trial to lighter road bikes.
“The idea of switching bikes is interesting to me, it all comes down to what is legal in the bike changing world. A cy clocross-type change could really save a lot of time but I don’t know if we can do that.” Optum’s Chad Haga told podiuminsight with a laugh.
Haga raises a good point. The UCI rules forbid a cyclocross-type bike change. Rule No 2.4.027 clearly states “equipment for the riders may be prepared or held ready outside the following vehicle.” Therefore, any new equipment or bike must come from the follow car.
Ben Jacques-Maynes of Jamis-Hagens Berman, estimates a possible 20 to 30 second time gain when using a lighter bike setup. “That might definitely worth it, hopping off and getting on the better suited vehicle. I think you might see some people getting tricky and getting technical with stuff like that.”
He added, “If you’re good at bike changing … even if you totally botch it, it’s going to be a benefit.”
Other riders have decided to stick with their tried and true time set up. “I think I’ll just stay on my TT bike because I think that’s 3 km and looking at the profile, by the time you get off and on your bike, your position feels different so I think just staying in the same way you’re use to, try and keep your rhythm going.” said Jeremy Vennell, the 2009 New Zealand time trial champion on the Bissell team.
Francisco Mancebo of the 5-Hour Energy team was not sure about changing bikes. His approach to the time trial is fairly simple. “A TT is a TT, if you feel good then it’s not a problem.” he said with a smile. “If I feel good, it will be good. But this year I’ve only done two tine trials. If I feel good in the climb, I can recover time.”
But before the racers even face the climb, they’ll have to deal with the rolling 28-km course with multiple climbs including the Bailey Climb which comes soon after the start.
Bay Area native Jacques-Maynes was quick to point out that the final climb is not the only difficulty of the day. “Everyone is talking about the climb to the finish and not the other three or four climbs on the course. It’s definitely a rolling course and there is one good long flat section on Santa Teresa, it’s not a straightforward time trial, it’s a technical descent, many climbs. The pacing is going to be a strange thing anyway even without the final hill, you have to work at your pacing just right in order to have something for the hard headwind section.”
Haga who reconned the course after racing at the Merco Cycling Classic in April agrees. “I think it’s just a good time trial course. There are technical sections for sure but it’s not decisive so really it’s just all about pacing and thinking about the best way to do that.”
Vennell concurred, “I think you definitely have to (keep something in the tank) because if you loose it on the climb you definitely lose more time than anywhere else. You have to pace yourself really well.”
Though the final climb is new, the first three-fourths of the 19.6-mile (31.6-km) course was used for the 2006 Tour of California time trial.
Jacques-Maynes has been thinking of the best way to approach the time trial, though he would not share any of the details. “I’ve got my own strategy and plan, and if they film me on TV then I’ll be able to show off and if not, then I can at least give some critical information back to Janier (Acevedo) for his run later on which is more important in the grand scheme of things, and the reason why I’ll be going still pretty hard for the time trial.”