Updated: Mar 7, 2022
This month’s challenge is the team time trial, in a sport of individual performances KOMs and specialist roles the team time trial stands out as the best opportunity for a cyclist to show they are a team player and can work to get a group of riders across a set distance in the quickest time possible.
Unlike an individual time trial the team time trial is not about a hard constant effort but hard efforts followed by a time of relative recovery. Why relative hear you ask, well relative because even in other riders draft it’s going to be hard work and learning to recover actively in the draft is something you will have to get used to if you are going to be effective in a team time trial.
Typically, in a team time trial it’s the time of the third or fourth rider across the line which counts for the time. So there is no point the stronger riders going hard and breaking the group up, but also the weaker riders in the team know they have top push harder than they would usually because they want to ensure that they don’t get dropped by the stronger riders.
The bigger the time trial team the more recovery time is available and the more places there are to hide in the draft and hence the recovery effort can be somewhat easier. Those who have been riding the Zwift Time Trial on Thursdays nights (do shout if you want to join in!) know that even digitally riding effectively as a group is harder than it seems especially if the route is a bit lumpy and bumpy.
Whilst riding nose to tail as a group is going to be the quickest way to get from point A to Point B this cannot be achieved without a few key ingredients.
Knowing what the rest of the team are doing at any point in time is key for a successful team time trial, having faith that the riders in front will communicate obstacles in the road. Being aware if you are going too quickly or too slowly. Knowing if a rider is losing the draft.
Being flexible as a group of riders is also important, being able to do a longer effort so others can recover, ensuring you push a little harder than you would normally to stop the group from braking up on a short climb are all really important small things a rider can do for the betterment of the team. The ability to work as a team is as much about supporting the other riders as it is about your own strengths and weaknesses
If you can get the two above right, then its all about the team fitness. Being able to do repeat efforts at or above your FTP and then recovering quickly before another round of efforts is really important.
Training for the Team Time Trial
All the above is going to take time to practise and get used to riding aggressively on someone’s wheels. Next time you are out riding with another club member maybe try some short sections of time trial on a section of road you can ride as a group. Each rider should take turns on the front of the group and push hard 1 to 2 min at either 100-120% FTP or 90-95% of HR or 8-9 out of 10 on the perceived effort scale. Then recover in the draft until it’s your time again. Recovery is relative so you will probably find you will be recovering at 80-90% of FTP, of 6-8 out of 10 on the perceived effort scale. Make sure you hold the wheel in front whatever it takes, its only training so if you eventually blow up you know where your limits are!
Try and circulate the group so everyone spends time in all positions in the group i.e. first second and third rider. Make sure you communicate what is going on to each other. Even if its just to say the pace is good.
For those wanting to do some work on the Turbo or individually then the following Zwift files should be of use. Simulate repeat efforts at a high and varying intensity.
Zwift-Team Time Trial 1
A short warm up followed by 1 minute efforts with increasing intensity up to 120% ftp. Your average effort for each block of intervals should be your FTP
Zwift-Team Time Trial 2
A short warm up followed by Efforts decreasing in length of time the longer the session goes on. Starting at 3mins and ending at 1min efforts for each block you will average your FTP over each set of intervals