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A Behind the Scenes Look at the Time Trial Stage
By Cathy Mehl
Date: 2/22/2006
A Behind the Scenes Look at the Time Trial Stage
The Time Trial stage at any race

The Time Trial stage at any race is always one of my favorites. The fans can walk among the team vans and see their cycling favorites up close and personal. The teams set up their training areas so the cyclist can come and go as they please as they wait for their start times, with some of them staying in their team buses if the team has one, while others hang out under shade canopies right out in the open. Some riders prefer to ride the actual course if there is time, while others spin away on the trainers. It was a beautiful morning with bright blue skies so some riders sat on their trainers in the sunshine instead of a shady area. Is it really February? we were all wondering.

Justin England and JJ Haedo of Toyota-United Pro warm up

Since there is some down time on the day of the Time Trial, the staff often take advantage of extra minutes to prepare drink bottles for the next day's stage. The staff for each team have long hours of hard work as they keep everything labeled and prepared so they are ready when the rider needs something.

Each rider has a start time assigned so the official Start List is important to each team, and you'll see these lists posted on the door of the bike trailer, on the window of a team car, somewhere in the team camp area. I've even seen a mechanic write the times on his arm with a Sharpie! The rider can't miss his start time or he's penalized with a running clock, so all the preparations in the team area revolve around this schedule. If the team has all later start times, you might walk by the team camp area and presume they riders are not there, when in reality they are just hanging out in their team bus because it's too early to warm up.

Toyota-United Pro start time list

As the time draws near to roll up to the start house, the soigneur will give the rider's legs a last rub down before they ride. I didn't see all the cyclists having this done, but enough that it appears to be a pretty regular occurrence. Check out the beautiful scenery in the background. The Time Trail was held out in the farmlands areas south of San Jose.

Mariano gets his legs rubbed down

Many of the riders are easily accessible for autographs and photographs and are willing to give you a treasured signature before they go about with their business of the day.

Aaron Olson makes a fan happy with an autograph

Helmets have to be tried on too. "Hey, does this one look like the right size?" Well, he would ask this question in Spanish, actually...

How do I look?

It is almost time to go, as this cyclist receives some last minute instructions from his director. If the rider is going late in the schedule, many teammates will ride back to the start and share route information with the riders that have yet to go.

J J Haedo gets some last minute instructions

The riders enter the sign-in and weigh-in area. Once they are here, they cannot leave without having their bike weighed again. Most of the riders seem to come only a few minutes before their start time. There were usually three to five riders inside the start area gates. They would continue to stretch to stay loose.

Jen Voight prepares to ride

Waiting around in the start house can also be a time to meet up with fellow countrymen that happen to ride for a team other than yours. A moment after this photo was snapped, a T-Mobile rider joined these two and German was the language of choice.

Voight and Andre Korff looked relaxed in the start house

With all but the last few riders going off at one minute intervals, the time seems to move along quickly. According to the start times, it must be twenty-two minutes into the stage as aToyota-United Pro rider flies down the start ramp.

JJ Haedo on course

Finally all riders are on course, and the tension mounts as the final GC riders start posting their times. Crowds line the finish line area and watch the clocks as the rider surges forward. If it's your day, you might look like this at the end of your ride--congratulations, Floyd!

Floyd Landis (Phonak), Stage Three winner

And another thing...

I wouldn't normally place cycling and horses in the same vicinity and expect things to turn out okay, but the San Jose mounted police were on hand all day and these equines didn't seem to mind the cyclists whizzing by them.

Crowd control

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