To sit and watch a time-trial, right through, takes commitment. It also takes an almost implausible interest in the finer details of the laws of physics and cycling technology.
I have studiously refused to engage in any debate with anyone about whether the aerodynamic bobbles on the Team Sky skinsuit are legal or not; a debate which reared it’s head when much of the team rode rather quickly during the opening time-trial in Dusseldorf.
Never mind whether said bobbles offer the rider time gains.
Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but there’s nothing like a deep tech debate to suck the romance out of my favourite sport. And such deep tech is the shiny, lightweight core at the centre of the time-trial.
To sit and watch a TT also, often, requires an alibi.
If you’re caught in front of the telly watching a succession of skinny men ride individually along a road against a stopwatch, you’d better have nothing pressing that needs doing.
The race organisers understand that, of course, and do their best to design a route where the final time-trial contains jeopardy, and tension, and has a say in the outcome of the entire Tour de France.
This year, the spectacle involved a start and finish ramp inside the Stade Velodrome football stadium – and the added crowd noise was great (though Chris Froome might disagree…booed again).
As for the jeopardy and tension; the very moment ITV co-commentator David Millar uttered the words “look at Chris Froome – he’s flying!” early in his ride, it was gone.
Millar knows what a fast time-trail looks like.
From then, we knew that Froome only need stay upright to retain his race lead before the ceremonial jaunt around Paris. Which he duly did. To leave Mick Jagger lookalike Uran in second, and French waif Roman Bardet clinging on to third.
And the French cycling public, no doubt, to gnash their collective teeth at another Froome/Team Sky Tour de France win.Embed from Getty Images
For me the tension, such as it was, came at the sight of man-of-the-race Warren Barguil in his polka dot King of the Mountains skinsuit.
After wearing that jersey with class for much of the Tour, by pairing it with black shorts and taking a stand against the current fashion for polka dotting everything that moves, the skinsuit provided by the race organisers left him with legs clad in disastrous red and white.
What a shame
This stylistic affront clearly had Barguil feeling tense too, judging by the fact that for the podium presentations he’d managed a quick wardrobe change and reverted back to his classic understated look.
Well…as understated as anyone can look when wearing a white jersey covered in polka dots.
Well saved Warren, well saved.
(Image: via pixabay.com)