Tour de France 2019 stage two preview: Team time-trial set to test Ineos’s Thomas-Bernal balancing act

This particular stage isn’t an especially long route – only 27.6km – but there are enough lumps to make it a testing ride from the Palais Royal to the Atomium on a sweeping route around Brussels

Lawrence Ostlere
Sunday 07 July 2019 11:32
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Tour de France 2019: Final kilometer of Stage 1

The team time-trial is crucial. Anything up to a couple of minutes can separate the GC contenders, a sizeable gap which can make or break a Tour de France bid before it’s barely got going.

This particular stage isn’t an especially long route – only 27.6km – but there are enough lumps to make it a testing ride from the Palais Royal to the Atomium on a sweeping route around Brussels.

The strongest teams are likely to be Ineos (Geraint Thomas is a strong time-triallist), Deceuninck Quick-Step (Yves Lampaert has form at the discipline), Jumbo-Visma (Tony Martin is four-time world time-trial champion), and Sunweb (Chad Haga won the individual time-trial which closed the Giro d’Italia in May).

Ineos could be particularly interested to watch, as they balance the priorities of Thomas with his co-leader Egan Bernal, who is capable on a time-trial bike but is not nearly as strong as the reigning champion.

GC riders like Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) will be desperate to limit any damage on the clock, and likewise Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) should he be fit following his crash on the opening stage.

Saturday’s stage one winner Mike Teunissen will wear the yellow jersey, while Peter Sagan will wear green following his sprint points raid and Belgium’s very own Greg van Avermaet will wear polka dots following his early dash to collect King of the Mountains points.

How does a team time-trial work?

Each team of eight riders takes it in turns to hit the road as a group, and ride in a draft to get to the finish together. The first four riders are all awarded the same time, so there is no advantage in zooming away on your own and teamwork is vital.

The last four to cross the line are given the times they clock individually, meaning a team’s strongest riders must decide whether or not to lag behind and help a straggler or leave them to fend for themselves.

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