06 Jan 2021

Tips from the pros on how to tackle Trek Time Trial: Willunga Hill

"I’m going to be really honest here… This is probably one of the most difficult disciplines in our sport." - Stuart O'Grady

A 3km gruelling climb up Willunga Hill will set the stage for a small contingent of daring cyclists at the 2021 Trek Time Trial: Willunga Hill.

"Time Trials have always been called the ‘race of truth’, from my perspective, strategies and pacing are important but the mental preparation is the most important factor." - Kimberley Conte.

The exclusive opportunity will give 150 riders the chance to grind it out for the title of King or Queen of the mountain on one of South Australia's most iconic climbs.

For those 150 riders, our two race directors, Stuart O'Grady and Kimberley Conte have some wise words of advice.

Men's race director Stuart O'Grady says that any time trial is going to hurt, "but racing one uphill hurts even more! The most difficult thing to do in any time trial is not start too fast."

O'Grady is hammering home the message to cyclists that it's all about ensuring you don't blow out.

"After about one minute, reality kicks in - your heart is pumping, the lactic acid is burning through your legs and you begin puffing like a steam train and start going slower and slower.

"Once you go into the “red” in a time trial, it’s very hard, almost impossible to manage it. You have to focus on your breathing and remain calm and the key is to stay right on your “limit” without going into the red."

"My advice, especially on Willunga Hill, where the hardest part is the first kilometre, is to start easy. If you are feeling good, it’s much better to finish strong than explode and creep over the finish line."


  • You can do the intervals on any climb or even trainer, but there's nothing like the real thing.
  • If you have a 10 minute climb close to home, do 2-3 efforts just under your maximum effort.
  • Use smaller gears, so your legs are spinning more. Try not to push a big gear ratio on your bike as that will tire you out even quicker!
  • Carrying momentum up the climb for as long as you can-keep your output as stable as possible big spikes in power can be really draining and can increase leg fatigue.
  • Roughly half or two thirds of the way up the climb assess where you are, how you feel and what you have ‘left in the tank’-either maintain your pace or increase and push to the line. Once you’re halfway up, the finish line is your proverbial carrot, keep on focusing on the finish line.
  • Cadence is important, be sure your gears allow you to keep a high cadence throughout the climb, dropping your gears in order to keep your cadence high (85-90),
  • If you have the opportunity to ride the climb before the event, test out what gears and gear combinations and cadence you’ll want to use. Climbs often fluctuate in pitch/gradient, know where these changes are along the route and plan for them. Unexpected changes to your pace and/or effort can increase fatigue.
  • Try and stay seated whilst climbing when you can, your heart rate will be lower and you’ll use less energy.
  • Climbing out the saddle is only used on climbs with ‘mountain goat terrain’, climbing out of the saddle has benefits as you are using your body weight to increase power to your cranks but it can really sap your energy as you use your upper body to increase your power which in turn increases your heart-rate.


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