The little things add up in time trials, and at the US national championships, held May 27 in North Carolina, a bevy of interesting little things popped up as riders, teams and coaches tried to squeeze out every last drop of performance. Some details had been set long ago; some adjustments by riders before they rolled down the start ramp, including men's winner Taylor Phinney.
With heat and humidity a factor, most riders employed some method of cooling before or during the event. Loose ice and ice bags were tucked into skinsuits, cooling vests were donned, fans were blasted and pop-up tents for shade were erected. Right before her start, women's UCI hour record holder Evelyn Stevens warmed up on a trainer wearing a cooling vest, with an ice bag on her neck. As she climbed off to ride her time trial bike to the start, her coach Neal Henderson sprayed her arms, legs and torso with rubbing alcohol for the sensory if not actual cooling effect.
One interesting thing to watch at time trials is how veteran professionals make adjustments on the fly. BMC rider Phinney, for instance, called for electrical tape right before he climbed up onto the start ramp. With the clock counting down, he taped over the screen of his SRM PC8 computer, hiding the data so he could ride on feel but still capture the power and other data for analysis later. Why was this decision made on the line and not before? Phinney also changed his aero helmet setup pretty substantially while on the road. He started with the full Zeiss sunglass shield on his Giro Aerohead helmet, but discarded it mid-ride, presumably for heat management.
While some tailoring of the bike setups were expensive and time-intensive — such as Kristin Armstrong's wax chain treatment — many were simple and along the lines of Phinney's 'just tape it' approach.USA Cycling officials were on hand monitoring bikes and gear, forcing last-minute changes of everything from Armstrong's skinsuit — no stars-and-stripes on national race day — to the rear wheel spacing.For a detailed look at the the gear used at the 2016 US national time trial championships, click through the gallery above. For complete results, visit Cyclingnews.com.