It’s become increasingly common for international stage races held outside of Europe to include time trials ridden on traditional road bikes. Call them Merckx-style TT’s, if you must.
The rule makes sense for races that aren’t on the WorldTour calendar, but are courting WorldTour teams. The big teams will save money and manpower by only bringing over road bikes from their service course's on the other side of the Atlantic.
When UHC Pro Cycling’s Gavin Mannion found out that both the 2018 Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic would include time trials ridden on road bikes, he and his team hatched a plan. The team had a number of Orbea Orca Aero road bike frames, predominantly used by UHC’s sprinters. And team mechanic Jamie Ritchie suggested that Mannion ride teammate Eric Marcotte’s aero road bike in the Utah and Colorado time trials.
Over the course of a month, Mannion fine tuned his position on the bike, which was a size smaller than his normal road bike and gave him a drop similar to his time trial bike. The preparation paid off. At the Colorado Classic, Mannion set the fastest time in the Vail time trial, beating a strong field of WorldTour pros. Then, he and his team held-on to win the overall.
In this video, Mannion outlines the customizations he made to his somewhat secret Colorado Classic time trial bike (“I definitely wasn’t advertising it,” he says). And he discusses what it meant to him and his team to win one of the U.S.’s most prominent stage races.