Friday Group Ride #7 Wrap

Oh, ye of little faith. The status quo arises to dampen future hope. But in that dragon of a peloton, slinking and slithering across the countryside, there is ALWAYS one who thinks he’s fast, who will test himself against the dragon’s might.

What am I talking about? No. Me neither. No clue.

So most of you expect Mssr. Cavendish to continue to blow the wheels off the competition, and you know, that’s probably a safe bet. He’s young. He’s hungry. He’s got things to prove.

I hold out hope that an angry Hushovd is a strong Hushovd, and that once Cavendish first sought to rattle the bars of that Cervelo Test cage, it was wholly and fully on. I also believe that Tyler Farrar will mature. Quite what that means for a guy who puts his head down and pedals like his ass is on fire, I’m not sure, but I think he’ll win more races this season.

What many of you pointed out was that a certain measure of the Manxman’s might is in his lead out train, and that without Big George Hincapie ®, the Columbia train will be somehow less strong. Further, it’s difficult at this early juncture to gauge the strength and organization of the Sky set up. It stands to reason that they’ll be good, but how good is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps Mr. Brailsford of Team Sky will force young Cavendish to leave Columbia-HTC by denying him the easy victories he must have grown accustomed to in 2009.

And finally, let me just address the contention that sprint stages are boring. They are. That’s my opinion. I often ask myself what the point of riding 170kms was if they were just going to finish in a humping, writhing mass at the end anyway. Without a hill of any sort, a flat stage abhors a breakway. I’d rather they just gathered at the race start and had a 400m drag race, myself.

Oh, I know, there’s more to it than that. Heinrich Haussler and Philippe Gilbert showed us that, but there are exceptions, and there are rules. Let the lead out begin.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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9 comments

  1. Eric

    Three answers to your 400m drag race v. 170k flat stage:

    1) You’re killing me man. My 401k has taken a big enough hit over the past few years and now you are going to finish it off by making my Amgen stock worthless when the demand for EPO plummits.

    2) I am all for it if carried out at the local level. Just think, with all the extra time of not running 45 to 90 minute crits, we can have more classes. In fact, I suggest that the age bracket classes be partioned by how many hours old you are. With that done, even State Championships are not likely to have faster riders. California Bear Flag jersey here I come. Padraig for President.

    3) I understand that for professionals at this level, making it through 170k is not as big a deal as it would be for me. Yet is it still a lot of energy and I would imagine that winning day after day on a tour is very difficult. Besides, if you just have the riders sit around for a few hours to follow it up with 15 seconds of real athletic output, you really just have baseball players on bikes.

    Gotta go. Someone at the door for me. A Mr. Selig and he does not look happy.

    1. Padraig

      Eric: Your suggestions merit serious consideration. They are innovative if a little silly at times (me for President?) However, I would recommend that you stick with your current career and not go into either PR or diplomacy. You might not find much success in bomb defusing, either.

  2. matty

    Those who find sprint stages boring are under no obligation to watch all five or six hours of them. I don’t expect people who don’t prefer them to change their minds, but realize that anybody with a little bit of lust for *being* in a field sprint might love to watch them because of the thrill they inspire. And because the tactics are brutally compressed into a brief handful of seconds – at those speeds, any hiccup sends you flying backwards. It lets one analyze a sprint like this – a whole race in under 30 seconds. Calling it a drag race, IMO, does a sprint a bit of a disservice.

    That said, my interest in the Tour this year – as in last year – includes simply waiting to see who’s going to beat Cav, and how. A dominant sprinter turns a climactic sprint stage into, somehow, an anticlimactic race. The irony of calling it an anticlimax at 45mph…

  3. Souleur

    To each his own, without doubt. I love mtn stages, I love spring single day classics, I love TTT, ITT, and sprint stages. They each are special. But to say ‘the sprint’ is anti-climactic is to me like saying the superbowl winner only won the game because of the last seconds of the 4th quarter, and afterall, thats a short little bit after 60 minutes of plays, I humbly submit.

    This all seems to miss the point. The way I view it is after 170k, or 240k (MSR), with sometimes 30k or more to go, to exercise this degree of control, the teamwork, the discipline, the appreciation of the power it takes to take over the peloton at 35mph+ and dictate a faster pace and this just keeps rhythmically occuring until hardened men fail, is no less than watching a long climb up the Alps and see men crack. And until the last 200m there appears a question of who…who will do it, when with swiss precise timing someone is catapulted to the finish line at nearly 50mph. This may look like a mass chaotic event, without a purpose, but it is far from that. To see it work is utterly graceful. And when they are done, its interesting, the sprinter always recognizes who got him there, because outside a breakaway group, the sprinter does’t typically do this on their own.

  4. Robot

    To say I think sprint stages are boring is an exaggeration. As a clown, I’m prone to hyperbole, and packing a lot of friends into small cars.

    I like sprint stages. I just don’t like four of them in a row. Or three.

    Two is just fine. I can enjoy two.

  5. rich_mutt

    sprint stages are like any other race- made boring by the fact that successful breakaway attempts during these stages are negated by the advent of race radios.

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