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19-09-2022 | Wouter Fioole

UCI WC ITT: much more than just a side event

Sunday, September 19, the road race was the main goal on the program for most participants in the UCI GF World Championships. However, the program included a side event each day starting Thursday. Saturday night there was a climbing time trial up Monte Bondone for anyone who attended but did not qualify for the World Cup. Friday night was an unofficial World Cup Country Teams Relay race. And on Thursday there was individual time trial (ITT). Fun for me personally to ride and get the experience, but also no more than a side event on the way to the GF on Sunday. That this was a huge error in judgment quickly became apparent.

Impressive gear

I had qualified for the time trial at the event in Perpignan where I managed to hold off the number 2 by almost 1.5 minutes. However, that time trial was 10 kilometers uphill, just on my normal road bike. The time trial course now was on 20 kilometers of pancake flat roads through the valley just outside Trento. For the occasion I had dusted off my old triathlon bike and brought it along. Arriving at the start, my bike turned out to be a bit like an old Porsche competing against the latest F1 cars. Clearly not a side event for the guys whose helmets already cost more and provide more aerodynamic advantage than my bike. I feasted my eyes on all the equipment. Helmets, quick suits with slip-in sleeves for the back number, the fast wheels that really didn't go in until just before the bike inspection, aero socks that were just pulled up too high. Just think what equipment the top professional teams ride with, it was there. Awesome to see! But what I had set as a fairly realistic goal of "not coming in last," suddenly began to become more difficult than I had thought.

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Failed the bike check

After doing a warm-up on a stretch of specially marked road, I went to the bike measurement neatly 20 minutes before my start time. For the warm-up most riders had brought their own trainers and rollers, but the organization also provided these. My bike was measured by 2 officials and it soon turned out that my bars were 5 centimeters too long. For someone over 1m90 no problem, but it did not pass the inspection. I explained to him that I would certainly not become world champion, but if I did he could still disqualify me. The official happily agreed (laughing), adding that in total my bike would have more disadvantage than those few centimeters, considering all the other gear. The official then checked for mechanical doping by waving an iPad in front of my bike. Then it was just waiting for the final start.

Off we go!

Once off the stage, we went straight out of town on the course below.

Tough pacing

The course runs mostly on the roads where last year's TT was also for the pros. After about 4 kilometers the Frenchman who started 30 seconds behind me (whom I had beaten in Perpignan uphill) passed me. After 4.05 kilometers, so did the competitor who started one minute later. By then I had completely blown myself up. Without a power meters it's so hard to pace, and especially with the enormous adrenaline rush from the start and the strong wind against me, I had already blown myself up completely. I continued to ride 16 kilometers all out, but I was suffering like hell. Fortunately at the finish my time was just good enough for me to indeed "not finish last": 41st out of 42. But I'm not going to approach this event as a side event next year and really focus on it. What an experience!

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