Blazin' Saddles

How about a downhill ITT?

Blazin' Saddles

View photo

We all like a good mountain time trial; Angelo Zomegnan, the Giro director, clearly does - he's included an uphill race-against-the-clock in the past seven editions.

Of course, this year, Zomegnan might as well have just had another rest day and gifted with win to Alberto Contador; or maybe he could have set up the signing-in desk just outside the Spaniard's hotel room and sorted out the prizes on a first-come first-served basis.

Such was Contador's dominance on Tuesday - he didn't even look to be riding well, let alone coasting 34 seconds quicker than his nearest rival - is it perhaps time to introduce a different type of time trial format.

For all the punishing ascents we've witnessed so far on this year's Giro, the moment which really got all our hearts beating was Vincenzo Nibali's audacious descent of the snow-capped Passo Giau on Sunday's ridiculously barbaric seven-and-a-half hour slog that masqueraded as stage 15.

Over the tight, precipitous and narrow bends, Nibali built up a lead of 35 seconds over Contador in what was perhaps the only time we have seen the Spaniard flustered since Lance and his Astana cronies joined HTC and split the pack in the 2009 Tour de France, taking advantage of the windy conditions to take a handful of seconds from their 'team-mate' Bertie.

So how about Grand Tour organisers take this all on board and introduce a new downhill time trial, starting at the top of a huge kick-ass mountain and ending 40km down the other side in the valley below.

It would be new, it would be fresh, and it wouldn't play into the hands of the guy who will go on win the whole thing anyway.

Granted, there would be serious questions of safety to be raised: getting 160-odd riders to go as fast as they can down a steep descent could hardly coincide with the race doctor's day off.

But surely riding downhill on your own is safer than in a huge peloton - while a negative gradient, as opposed to a 'positive' 18 per cent one, might make some of those pansy sprinters reconsider and kick around for a little longer. It would be quite a spectacle too - provided Nibali or Fabian Cancellara were present.

If such a suggestion is deemed too outlandish, then Saddles has another offering: how about banning race radio for time trials?

The use of race radio has been in the news quite heavily over the past few months - and there can be no denying that it serves a purpose with regards to safety on the road.

And yet there is absolutely no use for a radio in an individual time trial - except to tell riders how far down or up they are on their rivals. If no one on the road was privy to this information, it would make the whole thing much more unpredictable and exciting. Contador would still win, mind.

View comments (0)