What is an Individual Time Trial?
Introduced to the UCI Road World Championships in 1994, individual time trials are one of the most demanding and dramatic races in the championships. The 2019 Road World Championships will host five individual time trials ranging from Junior, Under-23 and Elite classifications. In an individual time trial, cyclists race alone against the clock, the fastest rider wins. To find out more about the different ITTs click here.
Unlike Road Races and Mixed Team Time Trials, in an Individual Time Trial, riders are by themselves, no teammates to support them. The riders are dependent entirely on their own strength and endurance, a discipline known as “the race of truth”.
Riders set off in equal intervals of one or two minutes in reverse order of UCI rankings, meaning the best classified riders set off last, the advantage being that they know the time to beat. It also offers more of a spectacle for fans as they watch.
During an ITT, depending on the average speed a riders achieve throughout the course, there is a chance of catching the rider ahead or being caught by the one behind. In this instance, it is against UCI rules to draft behind another rider, as this could be seen as an advantage, resulting in potential disqualification.
Special time trial bikes are used by the cyclists for these events. Aerodynamic bikes, clothing, helmets and handlebars are amongst the specialised equipment used in the attempt to reduce drag as much as possible. Riders who specialise in time trials work hard on their positions on the bike, to ride in a way they are as aero as possible. Maintaining a steady power output and controlled heartrate could be the difference between first and second.
When the event was first introduced to the UCI Road World Championships back in 1994, it was ‘Mr Prologue’, Chris Boardman who took home gold that year. The inaugural title was held in Agrigento, and Boardman went on to win by a staggering 48 seconds to Italian rival, Andrea Chiurato. Boardman went on to win another three medals in the discipline, in ’96, ’97 and ’99 but never stood on the top step of the podium again.
In 2001, David Millar, the Brit born in Malta and riding professionally for French outfit, Cofidis at the time missed out on the rainbow bands by just six seconds to German powerhouse, Jan Ullrich. Millar won a second silver medal nine years later down under in Melbourne before hanging up his cleats in 2014.
In 2010, the same year Millar won his second silver medal in the Individual Time Trial, Women’s National Road Race and Time Trial champion Emma Pooley took the world title by storm recording a time 15 seconds quicker than Germany’s Judith Arndt, bringing home Great Britain’s first gold medal in the discipline.
A year later Sir Bradley Wiggins and Emma Pooley both took a trip to the podium at the Copenhagen Road World Championships. Wiggins establishing himself as a real ITT contender, taking home silver, and Pooley doing a job in the attempt to defend her title by crossing the line third fastest.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, the current Olympic Champion and National Champion at the time, took the Individual Time Trial World Championships in 2014 after achieving another silver the previous year, shortly after becoming the first Brit to win the Tour de France.
Since then, Great Britian have had one other medal in the Men’s Elite ITT by none other than seven-time Grand Tour winner, Chris Froome in 2017, where he took home a bronze medal.