The 2015 World Championships get underway with the team time trial, and the showdown for the men’s world title this year should be a good one. The TTT is often a predictable discipline, but there is not one team that can claim to be the sole heavy favorite in Richmond.
The 38.8km course starts in Richmond’s rural suburbs in Henrico County, heading south into town along gently rolling roads. The teams will pass through Richmond but then continue south and reenter Henrico County, before making an about face on open country roads and heading back downtown for the finish.
Things will get a bit technical as the riders make their way along more urban roads towards the line, but all told it’s a pretty straightforward TTT without any serious challenges.
It’s rare for there to be multiple candidates with a decent chance of winning a team time trial, but three teams stand out as potential contenders for the TTT title this year.
BMC Racing comes in as the defending champion. Tejay van Garderen and Peter Velits are missing from that 2014 squad, but the riders taking their places are no slouch. Specialists Taylor Phinney and Stefan Küng should do just fine. BMC has done an excellent job of defending the title throughout the season and should be in the mix again at worlds.
Etixx-QuickStep is the squad most likely to challenge BMC. Always strong in the discipline, EQS could only manage 3rd place in 2014. Replicating that performance shouldn’t be too hard given all the firepower they have (especially with Rigoberto Urán looking very sharp right now), but they want to reclaim the world title. I think the Belgian team has a very good chance, but I might give BMC a very slight edge: QuickStep’s TTT performances have not been quite up to the team’s typically elite standard all year long.
The team time trial is a huge target for Orica-GreenEdge, a squad with several decent chrono riders who always manage to work together to churn out an impressive group effort. Svein Tuft doesn’t have quite the same power that he used to have, however, and while I see GreenEdge as the third contender here, it’s a clear third behind a neck-and-neck BMC and EQS.
Of the rest of the teams vying for the championship title in Richmond, Movistar looks to be the most likely to surprise the three top favorites. The TTT is about a lot more than just putting as many elite ITT specialists into one time, which is why an always well-oiled OGE machine can punch above the weight its collective parts, but there is something to be said for having several very powerful engines all working towards the same goal. Led by Adriano Malori, Alex Dowsett, and Jonathan Castroviejo, Movistar has just that. A podium performance could be within the reach of the Spanish squad.
I see Tinkoff-Saxo, Astana, LottoNL-Jumbo, and Sky as the other potential outsiders, though it would be a huge surprise if any of them could come away with the overall win.
Usually, VH names a full Top 10 of contenders in previews for stage races and one-day events, but since naming 10 teams would cover more than a third of the Worlds TTT field, naming a Top 5 seems like a more fitting approach.
VeloHuman Top 5 Race Favorites
Winner: BMC Racing
Podium: Etixx-QuickStep, Orica-GreenEdge
Other Top Contenders: Movistar, Tinkoff-Saxo
VH will be in Richmond to provide plenty of worlds analysis, so stay tuned for coverage throughout the week, and be sure to follow @VeloHuman on Twitter for more.