Jul 16, 2006

tdf - stage 12-14

Drafting. Someone commented in a previous post about drafting and how it helps even the sprinters. That reminded me of a documentary I saw once on land speed records. One of them was the record on a bicycle. In terms of a draft-assisted attempt, the record is 269 km/hr! There's more information here. Take a look at that drafting car. Whoa. I think the effect of drafting isn't intuitive to most people because when we ride bikes behind other bikers we aren't going that fast so the drag reduction doesn't feel like much. At tour speeds though it becomes very very important. At 269 km/hr it's essential.

Stage 12. Nice win by Popo to at least recover some dignity for Discovery. Perhaps this will embolden Hincapie to take some chances in future stages.

Stage 13. A lot is being made of Phonak's (Landis) decision to let a 30 minute breakaway stay away and to let Pereiro take the maillot jaune after being down some 28 minutes. Some are taking the position that this is dumb and that it will come back and haunt the Phonak team. This was too much time to give to a competitor. Some are also taking the position that it was a downright disrespectful thing to do. The maillot jaune team is supposed to defend the jersey to imbue it with the respect it is due. To not even try to close a ridiculous 30 minute gap is disrespectful to the jersey and the tour. And then others are saying this is a smart tactical move on Phonak's part to save the team for when their energies will be needed most, the Alps. I guess I come out on the latter of all these views while holding that the first view is not necessarily incorrect. Time will tell. I like that there are honored traditions in the tour. Such as if your competitor falls you wait for them to get back up. But defending the jersey's honor can lead to really bad tactical decisions. And in this case Phonak doesn't have to team to defend and win the tour IMO. Pereiro won't win the tour. He'll lose it in the Alps. So I think in balance this helps Phonak because others will want to climb above Pereiro on the standings and will have their teams work hard to make that happen. In the process, this will allow Phonak to conserve energy. McEwen by the way also took more points from Boonen at the end of this stage.

Stage 14. Hincapie does try to break from the peloton on this stage but they don't allow him to go out. And Caisse d'Epargne (Pereiro) are indeed leading the peloton according to Phonak's plan. A breakaway gets out front but half of them are injured badly in a crash and the rest are picked up by the peloton before the end. Landis home safely.

By the way the best play by play out there is the text announcing over at the Daily Peloton. One because the guy knows his shit and two because he's very funny. Check out his nicknames for all the riders (e.g., Oscar 'The Grouch' Pereiro).


Chupathingy said...

The scariest thing about the speed record? The guy is 50, married with two kids. I suppose that that's one comeback no kid can respond to.

"Oh yeah? Well my dad rode his bike 120 mph. How fast can your dad ride his?"

Game, set, match, Rompelberg.

Anonymous said...

The debate about Phonak keeping or surrendering the yellow jersey is interesting because either side can be argued effectively and with merit, particularly when you just needed to extract a minunte or two. My take is that surrendering it (a) keeps the team fresh for when they are needed in the Alps (b) shows other teams that they need to take some responsibility for the peleton and their potential poduim spots as well and (c) helps an ex-Phonak teammate and his new team get some glory when you never know what kind of friends you may need down the road.

Is there not a groundskeeper of any kind on the Tour route? It's ridiculous, and obviously very dangerous, that there was that much gravel in the road on that downhill bend Sunday.

And my continued apologies to French cycling in general. They are having a good tour.

Regarding Disco and the decisive mountain stage: They lost too many folks early in the climbs and it was evident that they were 'every man for himself'. I blame the Director. To me it should have simple - At the end of last year you ask George and Savoldelli if their priorities are the Spring Classics and Giro (respectively) or the Tour. If they say Classics and Giro, you commit to Popo (or Ace) as the leader. Then you train the way you fight and go back to the book, which you wrote, on how to win the TdF as a team. Johan got cute and thought it would be fun to attack CSC and T-Mobile they way he had been attacked by them for years. Not his fault that other teams lost their leaders and the whole race strategy changed, but he could have gone with a single leader that could have reaped benefits down the road, if not this year. I think there was anarrogance in it too. Guess what Johan - maybe it was Lance after all, not you. The off season should be very interesting for everyone, not just Disco, as people restructure. Maybe we'll get a Discovery sprinter to allow for some first week glory !

Anonymous said...

Drafting makes a big difference, even to recreational riders like myself. I've read the effect is noticable around 18 mph; this seems consistent with my experience too. I've pulled up behind another rider and then had to force myself to pedal slower than him lest I run him over.

I think you're right that many recreational riders don't notice because they ride slower than 18mph. I also think most recreational riders are too scared to be as close to the lead rider as needed. I think the usable distance increases with speed, but conventional wisdom says that for most bike speeds, four inches to about a foot (and certainly less than two feet) is the range. 4-6 inches at 20mph is pretty darn close.