I'm reading the Magowan book on the 1978 Tour. Stage 5 was a 96-mile team time trial. Not kilometer, MILE. The final ITT was 46 miles. I'm not defending doping, but it's important to understand that the origins of it were guys cheating not to win, but to survive.
I haven't gotten to the chapter on the rider strike, but I have a feeling it has something to do with these distances.