Since March I have become obsessed with the weekly Team Time Trial… so I asked Eric if I could share my obsession with you all, in weekly doses.

Each week I will give you a profile of the upcoming route, guidance on bike choice, and some target times if you want to aim for the Premiere League (top-10 in each coffee class get to be in a special race televised on YouTube). 

If you can’t ride, or even if you can ride, but want more action, don’t forget to tune in to the live TV show on Zwift Community Live’s YouTube Channel at 6:15 (UK time). 

Thursday 22nd October – Three laps of Innsbruckring

After a few weeks of Watopia we are off to continental Europe – this time to Innsbruck, Austria. The name Innsbruck literally translates to “bridge over the river Inn”, which we cross six times in the three laps of the city center map. I’m excited for this race – last time in Innsbruck in a TTT was the first time my team (Rowe and King Hyenas) tried a paceline format rather than the surging blob strategy… it worked perfectly and we have stuck with it ever since. 

Three laps at 8.8km plus a tiny lead-in make this a short, fast 26.8km with one awkward little bump in the middle of an otherwise flattish (gently rolling) course. Top-flight Espresso teams will be in and out in just over a half hour, while an under-staffed Mocha team will be around 50 minutes. My team is targeting 40 minutes this week – that’s aggressive as it’s 2 minutes faster than last time we tackled the Innsbruckring. Winning here is about being fast on the flat, and not allowing Kleiner Hugel (affectionately known as the Leg Breaker) to slow you down too much.  

There is only one tricky stretch on this course. When you cross the Inn (5km, 14km, and 23km) you head up Kleiner Hugel then do a series of bumps down. Obviously, staying together on the main hill is important – but equally important is not getting separated on the descent. Communication alone won’t help you here – you have to have a plan, and ideally time to practice. Once you finish the descent (6.4, 15.2, and 24 kms) it’s all fairly flat again. My fastest time for a lap was in the Tour of Innsbruck at 13:30 – I’ll do better this time. 

Here’s the fantastic VeloViewer segment view along with a map. 

What to ride?

Bike recommendation on this route is pretty straightforward. Yes there’s a hill… but other than that it’s flat. Aero rules the day. For me it will be my trusty S-Works Venge and Zipp Super-9 disc wheels.

Bike choices are pretty boring of late… the Canyon Aeroad 2021 threw a speedy curveball but aero is a pretty straightforward choice at the various levels. Aeroad is so good I think it beats out the Tron on this course. Here are my recommendations at different levels for Innsbruckring:

  • Level 6 Zwift Aero frame and DT Swiss ARC 62 wheels
  • Level 13 Zwift Aero frame and Zipp 808s
  • Level 18 Specialized Venge with Zipp 808s
  • Level 23 Canyon Aeroad 2021 with Zipp 808s
  • Level 33 S-Works Venge with Zipp 808s
  • Level 35 S-Works Venge with Zipp 808/Super 9
  • Level 45 get those 858/Super 9 wheels and pair them with the S-Works Venge

I know I say it every week but I cannot stress highly enough that if you are racing you need to be working on Tron. It’ll take a while, but just set the Everest Challenge and forget about it for nine months… like having a baby.

Route Recon Rides

If you want to get out in Innsbruck this week you are in luck! You can pop to Austria on Zwift any time you like, as long as it’s Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday when Innsbruck is one of the guest worlds!

If you want something more organized there are so many rides and races, and even workouts. As always, Zwifthacks has the up-to-date events listing – all you need to do is click here.

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Race breakdown 

Regardless of how the official race-recon breaks the route up, I only see three sections:

  • Pen/Gate to the bridge at the foot of the Kleiner Hugel
  • Leg-breaker and the descent
  • Along the river, back across the Inn and home

Pen / Gate to the bridge at the foot of Kleiner Hugel

The lead-in is a short 200M – and the distance from the pen to the bridge is 4.7km. This isn’t flat exactly but there’s nothing taxing and nothing that will ruin your momentum if you’re paying attention. The most challenging is the long overpass over the River Sill (a tributary of the Inn) and railyards, but it is just a steady 600M at 1.5%. On the satellite view you can see it – the long straight at the bottom. 

Leg breaker and descent

Kleiner Hugel is the only meaningful hill on the loop. It isn’t a brutal climb by any definition, but it’s long enough to grind your heavy sprinters into the dirt. By the time they are at the top they will be gasping! By the numbers it’s 450M long and averages 6.8%, but the hill starts gently and ramps to 9% 100M from the top. You cannot afford to be timid on this bump – pick a speed on the edge of what the team can tolerate, and go for it!

After the hillcrest comes the descent. The problem here is that if you have a split going up the hill, the first guys over the top will accelerate down, while your slower riders can barely turn the pedals. A 2-3 second gap stretches to 10 seconds and you are done as a team. 

Here are two links for research – one is the initial hill, Kleiner Hugel, and the other is for the ascent and descent combined. Man, I love VeloViewer!

I can’t emphasize enough – your plan for going up and down Kleiner Hugel will make or break your ride.

Along the river, back across the Inn and home

Through the sprint and along the side of the river to the bridge, sharp turn and back again to the start/finish gate. This isn’t flat – it undulates – but mostly between 1-2%. This stretch is 2.5km long.

The ride as a whole

There are three laps to do. On the first lap you should be fine. By the time you hit the Kleiner Hugel on the second lap your heavier riders will be spent… you may have to choose whether you’re going to leave someone behind on the hill. At this point you’re only halfway through, their help on the remaining 12km might be invaluable… but you will have to slow down for them to catch up. Is it worth it? Only you know! 

The third time up Kleiner Hugel will be immeasurably worse! A half hour or more at threshold and everyone is on the edge. Again the heavier riders will struggle. Will you help them or leave them to the wolves?

Target times

Innsbruckring has featured a few times in WTRL’s schedule, but only once before in the three lap format. That was TTT #66 on July 23rd. Here’s how you did (in 11th place) for each Coffee Class then:

CategorySplit 1 (6km)Split 2 (12km)Split 3 (18km)Finish
R&K Hyenas9:5818:5928:3441:56

In July one of our Frappe teams, the R&K Gazelle’s set the PL pace in 11th place for Innsbruckring. This week they are heading into the PL again. Let’s hope they beat my time prediction for Frappe!

Last week we were almost back up to 600 teams. I think there will be over 600 this week and competition will be high. Here are my predictions for a PL spot this week:

CategorySplit 1 (6km)Split 2 (12km)Split 3 (18km)Finish

Wrap up

This race is all about one specific decision, probably played out twice – the second and third time over the Kleiner Hugel. Do you wait, or do you go?