Tour de France: Observations from Stages 4 & 5

You would think that there would be some minutiae of equipment choice from the TTT that I could have picked to pieces. But I couldn’t see anything that would form a compelling argument for a different result if different equipment was used.

So I’m just going to list a few of the things I’ve noticed over the last couple of stages

Stage 4: Nice Team Time Trial

One of my favourite events to watch, though I do feel that the broadcast would be improved by having the speed in the top left corner throughout – it’s hard to get a sense of the pace at which the squad is moving when the moto is keeping pace. Having a dial pointing to 65kph down the straights would add a bit of perspective.

Great performance from Orica Greenedge, I suspect Omega Pharma Quickstep are really ruing the fact that their big motor – Tony Martin was damaged in stage one. When you lose by 0.76 of a second there is a strong inclination to dwell on the small elements that form the basis of ‘might have beens.’

Both squads extremely well equipped – Scott Split Helmets and Specialized Maclaren both at the forefront of current tech. Scott Plasma Premium and Specialized Shiv bikes both known to be among the very best. Orica Greenedges Shimano wheels would once have been a liability but Shimano have lifted their game too. All the riders on both squads well positioned on their bikes. It would be fascinating to have power files from each team to compare progress around the course and where the race was won.


Contador still using the Specialized TT3 helmet rather than the MaclarenImage from cyclingnews.com– given the testing resources they have it’s fairly safe to take this as further proof that helmets are highly individual – even one that costs well in excess of $500 is not guaranteed to be the fastest option for you.

Also note that Contador (and other sponsored riders) prefer ski-bend extensions that consumers still (as far as I know) can’t get on the Shiv

Tony Martin also using a TT2 instead of the Maclaren and was fined for having his World Champs stripes on it

Ted King dismissal – unfair from the commissaires but also sloppy from the team – not having a transponder to get a proper time and not making the effort to adapt a TT bike so he could save precious seconds are examples of poor planning

Ted King performance – averaging 46kph on a road bike on his own is fair moving! Though it’s proof of how fast the course was that he only needed 365W to do so

FDJ helmets – some with very long Uvex models and a couple with stack hats. Hopefully they performed testing to validate those decisions

AG2R bikes – did anyone else spot the Avanti Chrono in Focus colours (Focus usually rebrand TT designs from others and have used Avanti before)

Sky performance – they would have been gutted to not have the extra firepower of a fit Geraint Thomas – TTT all about being able to go over threshold for short periods and recover – as an Olympic Track champion he would have great AWC (anaerobic work capacity) and would be invaluable for such purposes

Interesting that Movistar were not on the new Pinarello Sibilo TT bike – still stuck on Graals
Cannondale have 12 of the 14 extant Rudy Project Wing-57 helmets – finally a light, new generation helmet that has a fat head size (I can’t fit a Wingspan)

SRM provide some interesting data – Svein Tufts file shows that turns on the front are taken at over 600W – that’s getting in to the same range as a team pursuit on the track

Overall I’m a bit disappointed at the shortness of the event – I think teams that prepare well for all aspects should have the opportunity to punish less well drilled squads (this is not a participation event). However – I’d note that a number of the teams that have suffered in TTTs in the past (like Lotto-Belisol) have really upped their game. Understanding of the value of position and TT specific preparation has definitely trickled down over the last few years.
Stage 5: Sprint to Marseilles

Did anyone else notice that the gap to the break shrunk extremely rapidly just after the uphill crash. That would be because road cyclists, in the best tradition of kicking your enemy while he is down, sprint when they hear a crash – it’s an opportunity to put time into a rival who may have been caught behind the mess.

Thomas de Gendt is going to need to work on his descendingImage from cyclingnews.comif he wants to go chasing stages in the mountains later in the tour – was cornering somewhat gingerly in comparison to his companions

Trainingpeaks have gone lame with their rider files – using HrTSS instead of showing power data for Juan Antonio Flecha

Lucky that SRM are still up to the task and provide data from Aleksey Lutsenko – the breakaway member who defied the peloton until 6km to go. He averaged 266W for the 5.49hrs of the race, or just shy of 4w/kg

Most impressive performance in the sprint – Edvald Boasson Hagen – we’ve long rated him as one of the most talented riders in the peloton and he showed it with excellent tactics and a strong kick to take second behind the Missile

Speaking of the Missile – must be nice to be on Omega Pharma Quickstep and know that all you have to do is deliver him to the 200m to go mark at the front of the race and it’s all over for everyone else

Sagan has clearly learned from Gerrans beating him the other day and everyone pointing out that it was because of superior tactics – Sagan accelerated in the draft of another rider before popping out into the wind. Then he had the best acceleration of the 4 contenders. Unfortunately he is not going to beat Cav by starting one rider back. Plus Cavs Venge is worth ~1.5m over the 160m of that sprint
It’s been commented on before but it’s worth noting that Cav wins, not by having a huge engine, but by being really aero and preparing professionally

If Sagan studies Cav and does some work on tactics and equipment in the off season we could see some more hotly contested sprints next year

I shan’t hold my breath though – a Cycling Science webinar held by the University of Utah last week discussed what the other sprinters need to do to beat Cav (not drugs!) and that they’re not doing it mostly because of tradition.


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