Friday, July 19, 2024

Solid Kick-off


Solid Kick-off. Finally we’re underway! And what a start it’s been. Time trial days are always long periods of surprising quietness (and the quiet is always a surprise) punctuated by flurries of furious activity. As team mechanic-cum-philosopher Kris Withington (NZ’s finest mechanic) says, “it’s either full gas work or full gas wait.”

The core of the staff here have worked together on a number of grand tour time trials, and so the various intricacies of 9 different start times, specific prep protocol for time trials (compared to normal days, which take up to 6hrs, these 10min full gas efforts obviously require MUCH more significant preparation), and the heightened stress of a lot of extra people watching what we do don’t have such a big effect on how we roll.

It is, however, a day of high difficulty, and is always a great thing to look back on when things have gone well. And things did indeed go well across the board for the whole team, particularly for Millar and Tyler.

Solid Kick-off
The boys warm up for their TT efforts.

Millar describes his methodology when racing time trials as “controlled terror,” and having followed him in a couple of TT’s now, I understand what he’s on about. He pushes things to the limit on his corners — always trying to eke an extra second or two out of the course by running crazy fast (and risky) lines that his rivals don’t have the courage to take.

It is highly entertaining, in a heart in your mouth “oh Cripes someone make it stop BRAKE! BRAAAAAAKE!!!” type of a way.

Today’s course was not technical enough for David to work those lines to his best advantage, but 3rd in the prologue of the Tour de France is not so bad. He also wears the green jersey tomorrow thanks to his high place, which is pretty damned cool.

Tyler is a completely different athlete to Millar in the way he prepares physically and mentally for his major targets, and “controlled terror” is not an apt description for young Farrar! He often comes out of TTs thinking he’s undercooked corners and could have gone quicker. Today was not one of those days — he was still only mildly positive about the majority of his race, but singled out ONE particular moment for very high praise.

Self-deprecation is Ty’s fallback position when recalling performances, so it’s a sure sign something very good happened when he’s talking that big a game. 7th overall was in itself a great result, but more pleasing is that he has scored a little head start on his rivals for the green jersey by hitting the top 10 today.

And tomorrow? The proper race starts! A 223km shot from Rotterdam to Brussels, with dangerous roads and winds. It SHOULD end in a sprint finish. It’ll be a little weird to see the green jersey holder working on the lead-out, but that is certainly what we’re hoping for tomorrow.

Millar driving the train at a million miles an hour so Robbie and Jules can set Ty up to skip away from everyone and hit the line in 1st place. For this, and our boys staying in one piece, the fingers should officially be CROSSED.