The team time trial, as a discipline, is clinical. It’s all precision, pointy helmets and mirrored visors.
A well drilled team packed with on form riders who are comfortable oversharing their physique in a skin-suit will swish and swoosh around the course; taking turns, tucking in, and maintaining pleasingly perpendicular positions on the bike.
A team with one or two weak links, or even good riders on bad days, will find themselves – and I apologise in advance for my use of a technical term – all over the shop.
At one point today the camera cut to Belgian super-team Quick Step who were scattered asunder, up and down the road, and in pieces. That they managed to pull their dignity back together suggests they weren’t quite all over the shop, but they were certainly browsing different aisles and working from their own shopping lists.
One look at Team Sky, in their menace of black and white and counting three current national time-trial champions in their ranks, and you knew they were quick. Their skin suits a little shinier, their backs a little flatter, and their rear wheels a little, erm…disc-ier!?
They look like the very visual representation of clinical, is what I’m saying. They couldn’t be more clinical if they dressed in white coats and held a drop-in surgery at the nearest health centre.
Have I made that clear?Embed from Getty Images
Which makes the win for BMC all the more impressive; another team that are clinical in a TTT. I mean, they ride Swiss bikes for goodness sake. Clockwork precision is clearly at work (other national stereotypes are available).
All of which ultimately, in perhaps the most Grand Tour-y of all Grand Tour disciplines, put a one-day specialist in the Yellow Jersey in the form of granite jawed Belgian Greg Van Avermaet.
Deposing another one-day specialist, Peter Sagan.
And pipping a third – Philippe Gilbert – whose Quick Step team, to draw to a close a particularly clunky analogy, managed to reconvene at the checkout and pay for their shopping together.
Tomorrow, we sprint again.
Let chaos commence.
By Fotograaf Onbekend / Anefo [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons