Are you a time trialist?

Can you endure extreme discomfort and constant pain while pushing your body to its absolute limit for as many as 65km? Excellent, you may be a time trialist. Both sprinters and climbers rely on bursts of speed they can put into use at exactly the right time in the race. Such is not the case with the time trial rider. They have to produce constant power for the entire race, against the clock and at the highest power rate possible for their bodies. Some call time trials the purest form of cycling: there are very few tactical distractions, so the best rider wins. One of the main characteristics of the time trial rider is their ‘big motor’, meaning the ability to deliver consistently high power for large periods of time.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin: time trial maestro. Credit: Cor Vos

Power metres¬†are one of the tools to have revolutionised this discipline and you can train for it by first establishing your Functional Power Threshold (FTP) (which is effectively your highest power number for a one-hour time trial). The ‘race of truth’, as it is sometimes known, is often the speciality of rouleurs who have the ability to endure extreme discomfort. Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin are good examples of these types of time trialists, although Dumoulin has become a better climber recently. Good climbers can also be great time trialists, with Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins being obvious examples. Some say the best way to train for a time trial is to ride a time trial, but if you love those FTP tests, then perhaps this discipline is for you.