It was an amazing thing to see: ITT national champions Matthias Brändle and Alex Dowsett (Austria and Great Britain) preparing for their individual time trials simultaneously.

They both started early for their individual efforts in stage 14, and fought against each other for the hotseat.

Brändle was up the road a few minutes in front of Dowsett. At the first intermediate, on top of a very steep climb, it was Brändle six seconds ahead. Afterwards, Dowsett started closing in on him: 3 seconds at the second intermediate, 1 second at the third.

In the end, it was Brändle who won the ISN-battle for the hotseat, beating Dowsett by six seconds. He could not enjoy the moment at all though: he had to go straight to doping control.

There were a few ITT-specialists from other teams who performed extraordinarily well on today’s challenging parcours. Brändle got himself the nineteenth position in the end, Dowsett finished twentieth.

Dowsett called it a ‘decent ITT’ after the finish. “The bike was solid, and handled like a dream”, he said. “The climb was quite a sting in the start.”

For the mechanics between us he revealed the following set-up: “I ran a 56/36 chainring and 11-32 cassette which was great on the climb but later in the TT I needed a 58 or 60 big ring – more than I’d expected, which came as a surprise.”