Who Are the Best Time Trial Riders in the Tour de France?
This year's Tour de France features a proloogue, a 41.5 km time trial from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon on Stage 9 and a 53.5km time trial from Bonneval to Chartes on the penultimate stage. The winner of the 2012 edition of the Tour de France will emerge from the ranks of the all-arounders – those who both climb well and time trial well.
Fabian Cancellera, Bradley Wiggins and Sylvain Chavenelle arrived on the podium after the Prologue on Day 1 of the Tour, but as Stage 8 to Les Planches des Belles Filles showed, only Wiggins is among the best climbers of the Tour, and therefore, in contention for the general classification. So, in analyzing the top time trialists, riders must either be considered in the category of contenders for the Tour de France general classification or pretenders – time trial specialists like Cancellera and Tony Martin who have no chance of winning the Tour.
Top Time Trialists among the Contenders
• Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky is clearly among the top time trialists in the world. Wiggins came in second in the Tour Prologue as well as second in the opening prologue of the Criterium du Dauphine in June. Later that same week on June 7, Wiggins won the 53 km time trial from Villié-Morgon to Bourg-en-Bresse.
• Cadel Evans of Team BMC demonstrated his ability to time trial well in the penultimate stage of the 2011 edition of the Tour de France where he finished second to Tony Martin on the 42.5 km Grenoble Time Trial and won the Tour de France. Evans finished 13th in the short opening Prologue of the Tour.
• Dennis Menchov of Team Katusha recently won the Russian National Time Trial Championship, and he came in 8th at the Tour prologue. He is better in the longer time trials and is the winner of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Italy.
• Levi Leipheimer of Omega-Pharma Lotto has won long Tour de France time trials in the past. While he has not showed the form that got him to the podium in 2007 (17th in the Tour de Suiss time trial and 80th in the opening prologue), Leipheimer consistently time trials well and demonstrates one of the most aerodynamic positions in the peloton.
• Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale is an all-arounder who is consistently near the top 10 in Grand Tour time trials. He finished in a respectable 14th position in the opening Prologue.
• Robert Gesink has shown that he can time trial well, having recently placed in the top 5 on the Stage 7 time trial at the Tour de Suisse. But Gesink is so far down the general classification now, it is hard to consider him a contender.
• Jurgen Van Den Broeck finished 11th in the Stage 4 Time Trial at the Criterium du Dauphine. Given that lost time due to a mechanical prior to the climb of Les Planches des Belles Filles, he will be particularly well motivated.
Best Time Trial Specialists among the Tour de France Pretenders
Among the pretenders, look for great time trial performances from Tony Martin, the current World Time Trial Champion; Fabian Cancellera, former World Time Trial Champion; Dave Zabriskie, the reigning U.S. Time Trial Champion; Michael Rogers, fomer World Time Trial Champion; Fredrik Kessiakoff who beat Cancellera in the ITT at the Tour de Suisse; and Maxine Monfort, who finished 3rd behind Cancellera at the Suisse time trial. Also, time trialing and riding well are Christophe Froome, David Millar and Luis-Leon Sanchez.