After Chris Froome recently suggested that TT bikes should be banned in the pro peloton following some high profile crashes and injuries in recent years during training rides, it got us thinking about what impact, if any, it would have on the UK time trialling scene, and the use of time trial bikes on open roads. How do you safely train when your vision of the road ahead may be restricted in an aggressive time trial position?
We thought that for this discussion, we'd like to involve someone who has plenty of experience riding a TT bike; and there are few who have as much as Michael Broadwith, the recording-breaking maths teacher who clocked the fastest time to ride between Land's End and John o' Groats in 2018. His time of 43 hours, 25 minutes and 13 seconds surpassed Gethin Butler's 2001 effort by more than half an hour, the strain of spending so many hours in the TT position forcing him to spend the final stages of the attempt with his head propped up with one arm due to neck pain.
Broadwith said that the position on TT bikes - where the most aerodynamic position for most riders will often see the hands in front of the face and the head angled at a downward tilt - "compromises the safety issues you have on a road bike" such as access to the brakes and road visibility, things that are crucial if you're riding on open roads.
"It's one thing to be looking at the road when you know there's nothing in front of you, it's another thing completely to not be looking at the road when you've got zebra crossings, you've got other traffic.
"You've got all the things that if you were sitting a Highway Code test, you would be clicking one the screen left, right and centre to point out where the dangers are."
He added: "As a time triallist you're going to want to train on a time trial bike.
"I think the onus would be you need to do that but still make sensible decisions about the road environment that you're facing.
"Yes we all want to prioritise aerodynamics... but we need to understand that we cannot responsibly prioritise that solely ahead personal safety. A because we don't want to hurt ourselves, and B, it's really important for the reputation of the sport that we're not going around ploughing into things and crashing, we need to be safe.
"You would never ride a bike with a blindfold on, even if someone told you it was going to make you go quicker.
"Just dipping your head down and looking at the floor is bad decision making, and you've got to train yourself out of it."
Also discussed was the link between the UK time trial scene, routed in history but often at the forefront of TT innovation, and time trials in professional cycling. What impact, if any, would it have if Froome got his wishes and TT-specific bikes were outlawed in the pro ranks?
"If they did decide that they wanted to be more restrictive on time trial bikes for the UCI, it wouldn't really impact on the UK scene because they wouldn't feel the need to make the same decisions in terms of equipment and position.
"The only impact might be that the value of used TT bikes might go up, because they would become scarcer."
Flanders? Milan–San Remo? Paris–Roubaix? After Tadej Pogačar's dominant performance at Strade Bianche on Saturday, it got us thinking about our favourite Spring classics. In our second podcast segment, our in-house racing nuts Simon, Liam and Ryan joining George to make cases for their favourites. What’s yours?
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Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.