SAN DIEGO, July 12, 2015 – On tired legs after eight long stages, the 185 riders remaining in the 2015 Tour de France tackled the team time trial. Leading teams BMC Racing, Sky Racing, Tinkoff-Saxo, Movistar and Astana all had the chance to gain serious time for the overall contenders to win the Tour on the rolling 17.4 mile course.
Although the team time trial might appear to be a straightforward group ride at the greatest speed possible, it is far more tactical. The time of the fifth rider in the group is the one that counts for the whole team. Teams that start with their full compliment of nine riders can use several of them to lead the rest of the team drafting behind them, burning them out and letting them fall away like the booster stages of a Saturn V rocket.
This puts a team like Orica Greenedge at a big disadvantage. Three of its strongest riders were lost to injury, and the remaining six had little room for error.
In contrast, BMC Racing and Sky Racing have their teams intact with all nine riders together, pushing hard for GC contenders Chris Froome and Tejay Van Garderen.
Team Movistar set the standard among the top teams, good news for Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. World team time trial champion BMC Racing ended up coming to the finish line with only five cyclists but took the top stop by four seconds. Sky Racing had a 13 second margin on BMC and need to finish within that time for Froome to keep the yellow jersey. Sky Racing came in one second behind BMC Racing. Movistar took third, four seconds back in a good effort.
The Tinkoff-Saxo team with Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan came in fourth, 28 seconds off the lead to stay in contention. Vincenzo Nibali lost time to the rest of his rivals with Team Astana’s effort. Froome leads the overall ranking with 12 seconds over Van Garderen while Alberto Contador is at 1:03 back, Quintana at 1:59 back and Nibali at 2:22 off the lead.
Froome’s strong ride kept him in the yellow jersey. Peter Sagan wears the green jersey as the best sprinter and keeps the white jersey as the best young rider. He will yield it to Nairo Quintana who is now in second for this honor. Daniel Teklehaimanot of MTN-Qhubeka keeps the King of the Mountains jersey.
The competitors now get a welcome rest day on Monday before resuming the Tour Tuesday on Stage 10. They will need every bit of rest as the Tour heads south toward Spain and the Pyrenees. Stage 10 covers a brand new route including a wicked final climb up the wickedly steep he Col de Soudet at the finish. Cyclists who want to step on the podium in Paris must throw down the gauntlet here.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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