Okay, I’m the last person on earth who should be giving tips on how to ride an individual time trial. However I can still pass on the "theory" behind a successful time trial. I don’t claim to be very good at them (in fact, I HATE them). It’s more that I don’t train for them rather than not knowing the strategy behind them. "Strategy behind them" you ask? There’s slightly more to a ITT than going as hard as you can.
Next time you go out and practice your TT over a set distance, try dividing it into four parts. This is advice from Dirk Friel – former professional cyclist and coach at trainingpeaks.com
The first quarter . Ride at less than what you are capable of doing. You’ll need to hold yourself back here. The tendency is to go out too fast in this quarter and struggle at the end due to a build-up of lactate that can’t be eliminated without slowing down considerably.
The second quarter. Ride at the effort that you want to average for the entire race. You’ll begin to feel the strain in this quarter. If you find yourself struggling, back off. It’s still too early to go hard.
The third quarter. This quarter is the hardest and most important to get right. If you went out too fast in the first quarter, you’ll begin to slow down now. If you controlled quarter 1, stay focused now as it will make or break your race results. Check to make sure that you’re still aero. Ride hard. It will start to hurt. Try shifting to a harder gear to see if you can maintain cadence. If not, shift back.
The fourth quarter. This is where the very painful portion of the TT comes in. The finish line beckons and there are only a few minutes to go. Work on maintaining cadence, effort and breathing. Don’t allow any slowing. Are you still aero? Are you riding with the hardest effort you can maintain?
When you see the finish line, try to accelerate. If you can, you held back too much. The perfect pacing leaves you completely exhausted and unable to continue when you cross the line.
TIP : Going harder up hills and resting on descents will save you a lot more time than going hard on the descents and wasting the energy you could be using to go up hills.