Little 500 Individual Time Trials take place today, beginning at 4 p.m. on the track at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
ITTs are comparable to a cross-country meet.
Each individual rider will show how quick they are in a four-lap sprint without the help of a draft or the burden of an exchange to get in the way.
At its core, ITTs are a four-lap spring for bragging rights.
As for the value come race day, ITTs should be able to give an idea of how much depth each particular team has. The more riders a team puts near the top of the border, the more likely it is that team could end up being competitive on ?raceday.
But even then, there’s a ?caveat.
A four-lap run is a sprint. Riders could be riding around 20 laps or even more in some cases on a single run when it comes time to race. Some riders may be more comfortable keeping pace over time and struggle on the shorter run, which makes ranking teams off ITTs somewhat fuzzy.
In any case, this year’s men’s ITT field should ?competitive.
Six of the top seven from 2014’s ITTs are back.
That list includes defending ITT champion Chris Craig of Beta Theta Pi, runner-up Rob Lee of Phi Delta Theta and fourth-place Spencer Brauchla from the defending champion Black Key Bulls.
The defending champions reloaded this year with three riders returning who were in the top-12 last year. That gives them three of the top-eight returning riders.
Beta Theta Pi, who returns all four riders from last year’s race, has three riders from the top-17 in ITT’s last year. Phi Delta Theta has three of the top-14 returning riders, headlined by Lee and Ryan Romenesko, who was fifth in ITT’s in 2014.
Then there’s the names that may be a bit more unfamiliar to Little 500 fans.
Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Charlie Hicks, a freshman, finished 28th in Fall Series ITT’s to lead the way among true rookies. He’s just one of a few riders without experience who could show speed tonight.
For what it’s worth, Black Key Bulls were dominant in ITT’s last fall, which not all teams participate in.
The defending Little 500 champs had seven riders in the top-20. Nicholas Hartman and Lucas Kalbfell took the top two spots. Spencer Brauchla took ninth, and Tyler Hart finished in 15th to fill out their top-four finishes.
But that was back in October, when riders weren’t ?nearly as physically ready for Little 500 as they are now.
Black Key Bulls will likely face much tougher competition now that the stakes are higher, but based on the depth they have and the speed they’ve already shown, they certainly appear to be among the teams to beat.
A look at the top 15 returning riders from 2014
1 Chris Craig, Beta Theta Pi (1st last year)
2 Rob Lee, Phi Delta Theta (2nd last year)
3 Spencer Brauchla, Black Key Bulls (4th last year)
4 Ryan Romenesko, Phi Delta Theta (5th last year)
5 Nick Thiery, Cutters (6th last year)
6 Kyle Knight, Beta Theta Pi (7th last year)
7 Tyler Hart, Black Key Bulls (11th last year)
8 Nick Hartman, Black Key Bulls (12th last year)
9 Andrew Krahulik, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (14th last year)
10 Luke Momper, Delta Tau Delta (15th last year)
11 Joe Laughlin, Beta Theta Pi (17th last year)
12 Nick Torrence, Sigma Phi Epsilon (22nd last year)
13 Sam Anderson, Sigma Phi Epsilon (24th last year)
14 Joe Hanauer, Phi Delta Theta (25th last year)
15 Brian Depasse, Cutters (26th last year)