Last night’s Men’s Team Time Trial at the World Road Championships from Tuscany, Italy was an absolute cracker.
Omega Pharma Quick-Step won by the slightest of margins, just under a second to Australia’s Orica GreenEdge. Sky came in third, 22 seconds behind the winners.
The day was beautiful and sunny and offered perfect weather conditions for the world’s best riders riding for their trade teams.
There are some who argue that this event should not be at the World Championships, but I disagree with this.
Yesterday’s race was a perfect start to the week long Championships. The racing was terrific and frenetic. Importantly having riders ride for their trade teams brings both casual observers of road racing and those of us who possibly spend too much time glued to the telly into the week long carnival.
There is no doubt that an appeal to a wide audience is the best way to assure the success of any event, sporting or not.
Obviously, it’s great to cheer along the juniors and under 23s and check out future cycling talents, but let’s be honest, seeing the professionals race is exhilarating.
And yesterday’s race was just that.
Rabobank Development Team set a handy pace early on and whilst there was no danger they would upset the grownups, they did keep the leaders’ seats warm and possible sweaty early on.
Lotto also enjoyed their time as the Kings of the race and I was rather amused to see the camera pan to Kiwi Greg Henderson giving Aussie Adam Hansen his assessment of how things went. Hansen didn’t seem in the slightest interested, perhaps because he’s a Croc Man as opposed to a Sheep Man. Sorry, Kiwi fans, but I couldn’t resist.
The leaders’ seats then changed fairly regularly as the fancied teams were still battling it out on the course.
Cannondale had a great run, leading most of the intermediate time checks. Peter Sagan captained his team to a great time, finishing +1:28 in seventh place.
Garmin Sharp finished the day in eighth place +2:01 after a quick beginning. In what was Christian Vande Velde’s last race, the American team may have been hoping for a slightly higher place.
Radioshack, even with Spartacus on board couldn’t manage better than fifth. They finished +1:17. By the end of their race, Spartacus could still breathe although I think some of his team mates were calling for the oxygen.
BMC couldn’t repeat last year’s podium place and by the final time check fourth looked to be the best they could place.
Sky came home for third with Chris Froome saving himself for later in the week. The Kenyan born Brit did struggle to keep up with his fellow men in black but will be satisfied with his ride, never-the-less.
As an Aussie cycling fan I was absolutely guttered for the Orica GreenEdge riders. Their faces said it all. The disappointment of coming oh so close. They finished a second faster than OPQS at the Tour de France team time trial in July. Sadly, the gap was the same last night but not in their favour.
In saying this though, it’s impossible not to congratulate the OPQS riders on their sterling performance.
Watching these boys hobble up the podium to collect their gold medals said it all. They rode their hearts out. They rode until they couldn’t walk.
To the victor, the spoils of gold.
Now that the team event is done and dusted, the riders can leave their trade alliances and focus on competing for their countries.
The scenery through Tuscany is stunning and if last night’s race is anything to go by, the rest of this week’s racing should be the same.