TTT Pull Order, top to bottom or mixed?

Curious if anyone has come across studies or knows of information about deciding your pull order depending on your team’s abilities and makeup. I see a lot of teams create a pull order for their team starting with the strongest / most experienced riders, to the weakest / least experienced riders. Binning riders into only two categories, strong and weak, in my mind (and I have no data, that’s why I’m asking) it would make more sense to go every other, aka strong-weak-strong-weak-strong-weak. The overall speed and pace of the group would be higher, compared with the fast to slow ordering, where I would think the group speed starts high, then gradually slows, then ramps up again.

Any thoughts?

I like it based on height since I’m 6’3 I don’t want to pull after someone 5’4” since I’ll be stuck the whole ride with no draft

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Well assuming you are doing a proper TTT then you’ll all be riding through and off - so the strength of the rider will dictate how much time they spend driving the pace on the front. If you have any complete passengers doing no turns there isn’t a great deal of point in them being there.

Valid point, I hadn’t thought about height at all

If you haven’t seen it, The Pursuit (Team KGF / HUUB Wattbike documentary) is awesome. It has a tiny bit of discussion about their run order and turn lengths around 12:00 in…

Putting man 1 on the front from the start until he blows up is probably not a good strategy if your TTT is more than 4K though… !

I’ve found it depends on a whole bunch of factors. Height and size (determines how big a draft there is), raw watts, W/kg, gradient, position, equipment. Also the context - is it a standalone TTT where the only thing that matters is getting round fast, or is it a TTT in a stage race and you have a leader who you’re trying to protect. As above, a 6’3" rider isn’t going to get much draft behind a 5’4" rider, but if that 6’3" rider is your strongest guy then it might be best for him to be the one that takes that hit as he can handle what may be effectively a double length pull and protect the rest of the team. On the other hand if the 6’3" guy is your biggest but not strongest rider, then having him there may just blow him up and mean he’s running on empty for parts of the course where you need him (like a nice gentle descent where a big guy on the front can give everybody some recovery time).

You also really don’t want your speed oscillating as you describe. Aim should be to keep a pretty steady speed on the front (obviously speed is going to vary with gradient and wind, but “steady power” isn’t quite accurate either as the watts everybody needs to lay down to go the same speed in the same conditions on the front are going to vary by size and cda). Weaker riders do shorter pulls at that speed, stronger riders do longer pulls. Accelerations are hard on everybody, especially at the back. E.g. if you agree everybody is going to do 1 minute turns and you alternate strong-weak-strong, then you have a weak rider slowing things down so that they can manage their full minute. Then the moment they pull off you have a stronger guy thinking “I’ve only got 1 minute, need to get the average speed back up and burn some matches” and he hits the afterburners just as the weaker guy (who is already gassed from doing their turn) is trying to reattach at the back. Net result - you either just lost the weaker guy, or he burns a load of matches to reattach, meaning next time he’s on the front he’s going to be even slower (and the strong guy is going to be even more rested and more likely to accelerate harder for his turn).

If you have a really mismatched team then your optimal pacing strategy may be for some riders to not really do pulls at all e.g. they hit the front for a couple of pedal strokes to keep the formation and then roll off again. This is usually easier on them than sitting on the back and having other riders rejoin in front of them, as that way they’re having to let gaps open, plus the back of the line is usually the worse place for any accelerations, so good chance of popping them off (and if they’re always at the back you might not even notice when they go!). That assumes you need them to finish and can’t afford to have them pop off.