That's ITTT, for short. Tomorrow, the riders at the Critérium du Dauphiné will race a 42.5 kilometer time trial in Grenoble. (Hey! Eurosport! The race name, it's new and different!) The course matches exactly the final time trial in this year's Tour de France. The capital of the Dauphiné region of France, Grenoble is conveniently located near the mountains. Conveniently for bike racing, that is. The Tour de France last held a time trial in Grenoble in 2002, but this course covers only two kilometers of the same roads as that edition.
This year's time trial races over rolling terrain around a single loop course. Over at Letour.fr, Bernard Thévenet says, "This is not a time trial for climbers, but instead for complete riders." Take that climbers! There are two climbs at kilometer 9 and kilometer 27.5, but they are gradual and never gain more than 300 meters. This course should suit the all-arounders, but come July, the climbs won't do much to slow Fabian Cancellara, who really loves him some time trial. Here is your stage profile. Because profiles never lie.
Riders I'll be watching come tomorrow:
Alexandre Vinokourov, well, he's winning the general classification at the moment, so I suppose I should watch him, but I might get up to get another coffee instead.
Cadel Evans has won a long time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné and views the race as a test for the Tour de France. He'll go all out for this one, because it's the best way to learn the course.
Bradley Wiggins, currently sits third in the general classification, and I hear he's not bad against the watch.
Janez Brajkovic, he doesn't look like he can ride a good time trial, but he can. And did he win this race before or did I dream it?
Robert Gesink, currently sitting 2:29 down on race leader Alexandre Vinokourov, has the mountains dialed, but if he wants to win the big stage races he'll need some time trial to go with the climbing. How's he doing? I'll be watching to find out.
Lars Boom, he won the prologue. Why not a long time trial, too?
Edvald Boasson Hagen, I hear this kid's fast and stuff. He's 4:44 down on Vinokourov, which may not be exactly what he had in mind.
David Zabriskie, he just won the U.S. National title again, and he's 10 minutes out of the general classification. Surely, he's under orders to test this course at speed. Why not a stage win while he's at it?
Tony Martin, also ten minutes out of the general classification. Maybe it's all about July? Right, it's all about July.
The Critérium du Dauphiné is always a mix of hard-riding and riders who are thinking anxious July thoughts. Really, this dynamic makes it impossible to know what will happen. Which, is maybe good. Because who wants to know the winner before the bike race even starts?
Here is your current general classification.