'Bicycles made for two' for Tour team time trial?
Thursday, March 31, 2005 11.00pm
Procycling can exclusively reveal that Tour de France organisers ASO are putting some serious consid
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM A tandem Tour team time trial may be on the cards for this year's race as organisers ASO look for ways to spice up the 'contre la montre par equipes' at this summer's 'Grande Boucle'. The team time trial on stage four of this year's race, between Tours and Blois, could be spiced up beyond all recognition if ASO decide for the riders to ride the 66-kilometre course on tandems. The quirky idea came about after the chaos of last year's team time trial, when the organisers experimented with time brackets where teams could only lose a limited amount of time to the winning team. Problems arose if a rider lost contact with his team-mates and was given his own individual 'real' time, as happened with Gilberto Simoni when he crashed in the last corner - his Saeco team losing 1-30 to winners US Postal, but with Simoni losing 2-42. A decision is expected my mid-April to give the teams' frame manufacturers time to produce the bikes in time for July. "The problem," one well-known frame manufacturer explained to procycling, "will be trying to get some even pairings of riders so that there is one fluid train like in a 'normal' team time trial, perhaps putting sprinters together with climbers to even things out. "Another difficulty will be trying to match similar-sized riders with each other," he continued, "although, thinking about it, you could build frames with a sloping top tube, with the larger rider at the front and the smaller rider as stoker." It would be an odd sight indeed, the Quick Step duo of the 6'3" Tom Boonen with the 5'5" Paolo Bettini behind. Bettini would, however, be nicely sheltered from the wind. "The ProTour team time trial in Eindhoven, Holland, on June 19, would be an ideal time to try some of the combinations out and see what works," the source said. Two riders who seem very enthusiastic about the idea are T-Mobile youngsters Bas Giling and Bram Schmitz, who have already been spotted training for the event in the hope that the event will be approved for July. "I saw them training on a tandem on the course just outside Tours last week," an eye-witness told procycling. And it would appear that there are no arguments there between the easy-going Dutch pair as to who should be 'captain' and who should ride at the back. "At the front, Giling seemed very willing, and was smiling," the eye-witness said, "with Bram stoker." Where the innovative suggestion of a tandem team time trial falls down, however, is when you consider that Tour de France teams consist of nine riders. "Each team having one three-man 'tandem' would just be ridiculous," the frame manufacturer said. "I've heard there are some pretty tight corners in Blois, and they might not get round." When contacted by procycling, ASO refused to consider either eight or ten-man teams to solve the problem, and said they would instead "have to go for some lunch to have a bit of a sit-down and a think".
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