Kirby: Vasil Kiryienka can benefit from bike change chaos to threaten Chris Froome's world title bid
Eurosport's voice of cycling Carlton Kirby previews the men's Time Trial at the World Championships in Bergen that could be decided by the tactics surrounding the bike change.
The benefits of a smooth bike change
The 31km time trial in beautiful Bergen is fascinating because it is going to require a bike change for many of the leading men.
There is a steep climb of 3.4km at the end that carries you up to the top of Mount Floyen, and finishes overlooking the Norwegian city.
Having a bike change factored in adds a key dimension to the race and tactics.
Because it is so obvious that so many are going to be doing it, they are going to allocate a bike change zone on the route at the foot of Mount Floyen.
You can’t pick where you want to change your bike. There is going to be a designated zone where you must come off your time trial bike and on to a normal road bike.
As a general rule, there are a lot of people who are a bit weird about the bike change scenario taking place in a time trial.
The point about the bike change is that you were able to choose when or if you made the change. But the quality of the bike change is the big thing. It is a really foggy area.
By this I mean, how much assistance are you allowed to give the rider on the push off?
Every second counts
Let’s say you make your bike change on the hill. If you have a really strong guy who can sprint fast, that is a huge boost.
Imagine if you had Usain Bolt giving you a push off rather than Dave the mechanic sending you on your way, you are going to enjoy a massive advantage.
It is a grey area at the moment, and it is one that could be exploited if a team can afford to bring in a bike change specialist who can run like Bolt.
If Usain Bolt wants a retirement job, you could hire him as a bike pusher.
Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men's 4x100 Metres Relay heats during day nine of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 12, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.Getty Images
I’ll be fascinated to see if Sky have recruited someone like Bolt to push off a rider. Unless they ban it completely and you have to go from a standing start, you could get a really slick team benefiting from the situation..
It could be the difference between five and seven seconds on a bike change which is massive. It is an area that needs to be cleared up.
Is change as good as a rest? Not for Kiry
Most people are going to change their bikes, but I have got a feeling Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus won't.
Which will save him about 20 seconds because by the time he has slowed down, got off the bike and got back on a new bike before setting out it roughly costs about 20 seconds. Kiryienka is the guy with the biggest core strength in the peloton.
He stays absolutely planted when he is going up a mountain. His shoulders and forearms don’t move.
Nobody has thought about this, but I think he has to be among the favourites because he will power into the mountain. He has also won this event two years ago in Richmond so he won't buckle under pressure.
There is a possibility he won’t change the bike which means he has a time advantage. If he can generate what he wants from the bike going up the climb, there is every chance he won’t change.
Tony Martin can go uphills, but he will probably go for a bike change. Then again he might be think along the same lines as Kiryienka.
Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin will fancy themselves, but will go for a change.
Guys who can stay planted in their seat no matter the gear might not opt for a switch.
A knighthood won't be enough if Froome wins here
Chris Froome will do exceptionally well on the time trial. He’s done everything he needs to do across the planet this year.
If he goes and wins the world title time trial, plenty of riders will be thinking they should go and make bonfires of their bikes. This guy is just tearing it up.
There is Froome at the moment in the elite cycling world, and there are several layers underneath him.
If he does the Tour de France, La Vuelta and World Championships time trial, it would be fabulous.
He is already an OBE, but I’m waiting for him to be knighted. Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Sarah Storey have one so why is Froome waiting?
If you do a pyramid in the world of this sport, at the very top it is him.
There is nobody else with him. This could round off his greatest year in the sport.
Follow Carlton Kirby @carltonkirby and LIVE from the World Championships in Bergen