The Tour de France is the world’s most demanding cycling race. For three weeks, the riders spend up to six hours each day in the saddle, with mountain stages higher than 2,000 metres.
Certain stages feature exciting races against the clock, known as Time Trials, where riders go flat out to gain valuable seconds on their rivals. In the Team Time Trial (TTT), the whole team of 8 riders cycle together, working as a group, with everyone’s time being based on the 4th rider going over the line. This makes it critical for a team like Team INEOS, wanting to win the overall General Classification.
Preparing for such a stage is difficult, so Team INEOS chose to use a Ford test track to specifically practise the TTT for the Tour, as Geraint Thomas vies for back-to-back victories.
Our proving ground in Lommel, Belgium, is where we put vehicles through all sorts of endurance tests. The 55 miles of roads include pristine straights without any traffic lights, stop signs or hindrances.
It provides the perfect situation for endurance tests of a different kind – eight riders moving in a smooth, aerodynamic line at speeds close to 40 miles per hour, with barely a centimetre separating each wheel.
“In a sport where every second counts, the right preparation can be the difference between getting on the podium or not. The test track allows our riders to go as fast as they can and to work as a team, all without the potential risks involved with training in an open-road situation,” said Servais Knaven, sport director, Team INEOS.
Stage 2 of the 2019 Tour de France was a 17.1-mile Team Time Trial through the streets of Brussels, where Team INEOS finished second, just 20 seconds behind the stage winning team, setting up Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, the joint team leaders, perfectly for the rest of the race.
“Cycling can involve a lot of solitary pedalling, but that makes the rewards of doing well in the Team Time Trial together even sweeter,” Knaven added.
Ford is the exclusive supplier of cars and vans for Team INEOS, after previously supplying Team Sky from 2016 through three straight Tour de France victories. The new fleet includes Ford Mondeo ST-Line wagons equipped with Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD), S-MAX with Intelligent AWD, Edge, Tourneo Custom, Transit vehicles, with a specially adapted Ranger Raptor as a Recon car.
Race fans can follow Team Ineos’s progress on Twitter via @TeamINEOS and by using the hashtag #TDF2019