Cycling Time Trials (CTT), the national governing body for time trials in England, Wales and Scotland, is hoping to get more people into time trialling by introducing a separate category for standard road bikes for all of its events. From today, riders can simply click the road bike option when entering a CTT-sanctioned event, and post-ride the results for the road bike category will be listed and scored separately from riders on TT bikes.
If you've ever turned up at a time trial and felt a bit envious of the high-end bikes and equipment on show, perhaps to the point where you may think the riders piloting them have a clear advantage because they've simply bought a more advanced bike, then this change appears to be aimed at you.
“If you have a road bike, even if it cost £150 off eBay, you can enter an open event," says CTT's chair Andrea Parish.
"Having a separate road bike competition and rankings system is very much part of the process of taking time trialling back to the “every person’s sport” that it once was - and to where it needs to be for the future.
"There’s still space for elite athletes, but we’re also creating space that people can occupy in different ways and we’re making sure that their achievements are properly recognised.”
It's not completely laissez-faire, however, as those entering themselves into CTT's new road bike category are not allowed to use clip-on tri or Spinaci bars, or disc wheels. The handlebars can be drop-style or flat, the wheels must have at least 12 spokes front and rear and those wheels can't be deeper than 90mm.
Before this change, a rider with the £150 eBay bike could have been listed on the same results sheet as riders who might have spent thousands on a time trial-specific bike, made purely for speed and perhaps even custom-fitted to the rider's ideal position.
As we've found out in bike fitting and wind tunnel visits in the past, the time you can save just by adding clip-on tri bars to a bike can be huge; and while a cutting-edge drop bar road bike will still offer more aerodynamic advantages than a cheaper one, there's good reason that time trial specialists use time trial-specific bikes in almost all circumstances.
CTT says that as of 18th April 2023, road bikes will be recognised as a distinct racing category, and results on its website will be filterable to show results from road bikes in each event. Organisers won't need to create a separate road bike category for their events themselves, as this will now be sorted at the point of entry when riders sign up for an event via CTT.
Riders can request to change bike types after the closing date for an event, with the organiser amending their details to reflect which type of bike they are using. Rider profiles on the CTT website will show separated personal bests for TT bike and road bike categories, with points and rankings calculated differently for each bike type.
CTT told members in an email that this change has come about mostly in response to its first time trialling community survey.
"Ours is a sport with a 100 years old history and rich heritage, a volunteer-led organisation that provides the most accessible way into competitive cycling for anyone," said Parish.
"The implementation of Road Bikes as a separate machine category with separate results and achievement recognition in all our events protects this accessibility for future years. We are back to the future."
The move is likely to be much less controversial than CTT's last major rule change passed in December 2021, that made cycling helmets and bike lights compulsory in all Type A and Type B events sanctioned by CTT.
As this included hill climb events, where competitors ride uphill and often strive to shed as much weight from their equipment and person as possible to improve their times, some questioned the need to make helmets compulsory for these events in particular, and lights for events taking place in the daytime; but at the time of writing, the rule still remains in place and is "non-negotiable" according to CTT.
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.