Successful bike time trialing, whether in a bike event or triathlon, requires the same level of the "3 BIG P's": planning, preparation, and performance. Apply these BIG 3 to your biking, and in your life, and you will succeed!
Many athletes confuse planning with working out some of the details of the race before hand, and knowing the bike will be ready race morning. Proper planning requires pre-running the course repeatedly, physically first, and then in your mind, and having every moment in the race already known in your mind. For example, on a traditional 3 loop 20k bike time trial regularly held here in San Diego Ca at the spot for the fastest state bicycle time trial, the best performances are always produced by those competitors that know exactly how much time should have passed at any particular point in the course, particularly at the hills and turns. They check their heart rate monitors, cadence and odometers, and know exactly where they need to be at all points in the race to finish with a particular result. All of the details should be worked out in proper planning, long before the starting gun goes off.
The second BIG P, preparation, is best achieved by not just practice, but by "perfect practice". Preparation is best achieved by simulating the exact course you wish to excel on. Are the hills 30 seconds, 2 minutes or 5 minutes long? Is the cornering tight and frequent? Preparing, by knowing exactly how long you can hold a certain interval at what particular heart rate, and still finish in a total best race time, requires lots and lots of preparation.
The third BIG P, performance, contrary to the other two P's, is all about the present moment. Peak performance requires relaxed concentration, not undue stress, and race jitters. You must have the ability to talk yourself thru the painful moments, the negative speak that inevitably arrives during all out performances. Time trialing is called the race of truth for a reason. There are no excuses. It's just you and the clock. How well you can stay in the moment, and erase all distractions, will determine your outcome.
So remember the acronym, not the three little pigs, but the 3 BIG P's, and you will succeed in finding extra speed and shaving minutes off your bike time.