5 tips to success at the TBC prologue

Elite cycling and triathlon coach Marilyn Chychota has consistently placed top three at the Tucson Bicycle Classic prologue as a pro cyclist. As a decorated former pro triathlete and pro cyclist, the Tucson-based coach won Ironman Malaysia and competed in USA Cycling’s National Road Calendar circuit, Canadian road and TT nationals, Australian road and TT nationals and the Women’s New Zealand Tour and World Cup. 

The TBC prologue is only 3.2 miles long but it can pack a punch vs. your run-of-the-mill, out-and-back 20k time trial. As one of my favorite time trials on the Arizona circuit, and with some successes along the way, here are my best tips to riding fast on this unique time trial course.

1. Pre-ride the course

Because this TT is short, it’s easy to think to go max effort the entire race. This TT provides and interesting terrain. You start out on a very fast downhill. Through this section I’ve found it works best to ride technically very well, taking the fastest line and being very aero. It helps to pre-ride the course to find that fast line through that entire first section.

2. Manage effort on the downhill, crank it up the climb

Manage your effort a little through the first section on the fast downhill. It will allow you to get to that last section with enough gas to really go for it. This race is won by the rider who can stay very strong and build to max on the rollers and the final climb of this TT.

3. Select the right gearing

Gearing will be especially important. Having a big gear for that first section will help you get high speed. A 53/11 or for the very experienced maybe even 55/11 are good gear selections. Don’t forget to make sure you have good gearing for the back half that will allow you to stay on top of your gear in the climbs. A 36/28 or 39/26 combination could do the trick. 

4. Road bike or TT bike?

I have done this race on both a road bike and a TT bike. I have always had a better result on a time trial bike. Use good aero wheels, but be sure they are your lightest set. Wear an aero helmet and use TT bars. Being extremely aero and technically fast in that first half makes a huge difference. Stay aero up the early climbs working your gearing. Save the standing max effort for that final climb.

5. Do a good warm-up

This is a tough TT. Show up to the start with your engine hot and ready to go. Pay attention to detail and read the road to work your gears and keep your speed high as the terrain changes.

Lastly, have fun! It sets you up for the remainder of the weekend to gun for that podium position.

Find out more about Marilyn Chychota Coaching