Perhaps the most telling race to watch in cycling is the time trial. While it does not feature multiple racers side by side jockeying for position, it is the true test of speed, strength and endurance. There are two types of time trials. one is the team cycling effort; the other is the individual time trial. They are sometimes featured as stages in a multi-day cycling race, but can also be a single one-day event. The course is traditionally either an out and back race or a Point A to Point B race.
This event features a number of riders under the same team or sponsor riding simultaneously. Each group leaves the starting point at designated staggered intervals. Depending on the rules of the exact race, the times of the average rider or the average time of the riders are scored to rank each team.
For spectators, this is one of the most fascinating race types to watch as the team members fan out in a long line, drafting off each other. Each rider takes a turn at the front, then drops to the end of the group. The team with the strongest riders and smallest number of mishaps is usually the winner.
The individual time trial is the truest test of a rider’s strength, speed, endurance and mental toughness. The riders leave one at a time from the starting point with no help from drafting along the way. They frequently cycle alone with no other riders in sight. These cyclists may pass or be passed by other riders on the course. There may be occasional helmet communication between a coach and the individual time trial rider, but no one on the course to ride with side by side to offer encouragement or assistance.