Merckx day of execution: top tips

I am going to be doing a Merckx TT to start an Omnium in a couple weeks. What are some of your best race day execution tips and lessons learned?

Course is pancake flat out and back. The only turn is the 180. Aero helmet and disc acceptable but unfortunately I do not have a disc wheel. Going to bring silicon aero shoe covers, aero socks, skinsuit, TT helmet. Planning to slightly cant the hoods inwards 20 degrees or so to help keep my wrists straight.

Any advice is much appreciated :smile: is it worth it to also adjust saddle forward, slightly higher, and nose down if I didn’t have a stem to accommodate the length change?

Sustaining a TT position without aero bars is harder than you would think, so ride in your TT position a lot.

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Good reminder… I am gonna tape a small strip of sandpaper to the tops of the bars to help with sweat. Using the prime primavera that have an elongated airfoil shape, have got a few inches to work with

Find out if the puppy paws position is legal in the race as there is a decent chance it is depending on the sanctioning body. Not everyone outlawed it when the UCI did and many are still playing catch up

I personally don’t screw around with the saddle - but if you’re truly optimizing and have enough time to adapt to a more TT specific hip angle then yes go for it


Merckx TT as in no tribars? Surely Fignon would be a more appropriate name, as while he probably wasn’t the last pro to convert to tribars, he was the one that lost the Tour because of them.

If it’s a one-off I’m not sure Id change too much, certainly not saddle position unless you have plenty of time to get used to it (ie more than a couple of weeks!). Here in the UK there are plenty of folk building “road TT” specials with long stems (like 150mm+), narrow bars (35cm), and all the usual marginal gains stuff, but also a ton of riders just using there regular road bike because they’re comfortable on it. You’ll gain more from a good skinsuit and helmet than a small tweak in position - especially if changing your position takes away a few watts from your legs.


It is called a Merckx TT because you have to use a road bike, not a TT bike. Fignon used a TT bike.

As for the question, I would be wary of adjusting your saddle, especially if you can’t adjust your front end to compensate. First, you may find it difficult to get your saddle back to its original position and you end up compromising your fit for the whole event.

But adjusting your saddle forward without corresponding front-end changes will effectively reduce your reach, compressing your upper body into a smaller space. This could result in a humped back position and other aerodynamic compromises.

I would also see if someone has a wheel cover you can borrow, or just buy one as they aren’t terribly expensive.


Really I would just focus on practicing putting out sustained power with your body low and arms narrow. Doing a bunch of small technical tweaks is not going make you faster if it distracts from putting out power. Also, don’t do puppy paws unless you are sure you can do it safely at speed.

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If the turnaround is just a cone in the middle of the road I’d probably practice that a few times. Well executed vs not is probably worth a few free (ish) seconds and unless you’re routinely breaking away in a hot dog crit it’s not done very often (at speed).

+1 on the wheel cover (if there’s still time to procure it).

Personally, I wouldn’t change my position for it.

Good luck!

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As an aside, I’ve only done club Merckx 10 mile TTs where the rule was no special aero equipment. Therefore no skin suit, no TT aero bars, no TT helmet, and no disc wheel. In other words, a standard road bike with mid-aero 50-60mm deep or even 70-80mm deep wheels are ok, a regular aero helmet is ok, shaved legs and/or aero socks is ok, and nobody would say anything if you had a long sleeve summer jersey or sun sleeves.

Interested in how others define Merckx class TT, because I thought the basic idea was to show up with the same bike & kit you would use for a road race/crit, but do a TT instead.

Good point and thanks to everyone else about not changing position.

This is my first one for Newport News Omnium. They’re allowing discs and TT helmets but no TT bars.

Personally, based on what I know and have read on the homage Merckx TTs are for: I think road bike, 60mm wheel depth. Skinsuit yay. Socks yay. Overshoes maybe? TT helmet nay. Position is free to change around to include puppy paws but no bars

I’m going to take advantage of the TT helmet though. Calf guards and aero overshoe. Sandpaper on the bar tops. Definitely practice the U turn a few times.

I think the only constant is no aero bars and after that every event is going to be different. If I recall correctly the whole Merckx TT thing started after the UCI set the hour record back to Merckx in response to Boardman/Obree. Often it was just a category so people without all all the gear could show up and compete or for people who just wanted to use their road bike for whatever reason. I remember when some events would prohibit wheels deeper than 30mm and aero frames. Of course these days a lot of people wouldn’t even have bikes that meet that.

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Our club had TT Nerd class and Merckx class:

This finisher is clearly Merckx class and forgot to remove his water bottle at the start:

Sometimes a ringer would show up for the TT Nerd class:

now thats a chainring!

Duathlon age group world champion about to go woosh!


I’m pretty sure Merckx would’ve had a TT bike too. As soon as you change things to suit going as fast as possible rather than being an all-rounder (ie aero position and equipment over comfort/handling/reliability) then it’s a TT bike. But now we’re just arguing semantics.


Water bottles are certainly not Merckx compliant