Jul 5, 2005

tdf - stage 4

Very very interesting stage. There were 4 checkpoints on the stage today - 25km, 45km, 62km, and the finish. All the primary contenders were up front on each of the checkpoints with CSC coming through in the lead for checkpoint 1, 2, and 3. Discovery pulled out at the end though beating CSC by 2 seconds. How demoralizing for CSC (the raced last) to come down the final gate and see they are unable to make up that 2 seconds before crossing the line. But behind the absolute numbers at each checkpoint was an interesting story that foretold the final results.

If you look below I've graphed the average velocities over each of the 4 stages of the 4 top finishers. Note, the scale of the velocities does not begin at 0 to make it easier to see the differences. Note also that the each leg is not the same length as the others. In length they are respectively, 25.0, 20.8, 15.7, and 6.0 km long. Note also that the big differences in average speeds between different legs has a lot to do with the gradients. The 3rd leg was uphill and the last leg downhill.

While it's clear CSC went out and took an early lead time after the first checkpoint, it's also clear that Discovery upped their speed relative to the others for each of the last 3 legs. In other words CSC may have gone out a little too quickly. Lance usually paces his teams on the first leg of any time trial in order to really turn it on during the last leg. This trial was no different. Hats off to CSC though. I assumed that Discovery would come in a good 15 seconds faster than CSC. It'll be interesting to see some of the after race commentary from Discovery to see if everything went as planned.

Other interesting notes:

  • Lance now wears the maillot jaune. Zabriskie (CSC) would have lost only 2 seconds to Lance (and thus have the same time) if he had finished with his team. But he was dropped near the end after falling and ended up 1'28" behind Discovery. Unfortunate. We'll have to see what happened there but initial reports suggest he crashed hard and did a lot of damage. That would be a shame. It is however meaningless that Lance has the yellow jersey. He will almost undoubtedly lose it in the next few days.
  • Number 2 on the general classification (standings) is Hincapie also of Discovery and also American. Hincapie has ridden for Lance since the first Tour win. It's nice to see him up on top like this. Without Hincapie it's questionable whether Lance could really have won 6 (and maybe 7) in a row. He's someone to watch next year.
  • CSC and Discovery were fast! Average speed 57.3 km/hr. Old record? 54.9 km/hr. Blazing!

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