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December 14, 2017
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  • negativeconvexity

    Bet Oliveira wishes he hadn’t attempted a bike swap – it probably cost him the podium

  • Andrew

    Interesting how they said pushes weren’t allowed, yet that rider from Kazakhstan clearly got a few pushes….

    • jules

      it was allowed when it transpired the pusher was from another team ;)

      • DaveRides

        I suggested a couple of days ago that it would be best if the changeover was performed like a transition in triathlon, unassisted and with the discarded gear to be left neatly in place.

        I was wrong, the botched changeovers were far more entertaining.

    • DaveRides

      The word from Bergen is that the commissaires were seen huddled around a laptop watching replays of it late into the night … and laughing their heads off.

  • bryan

    Interesting that most of the “pretenders” decided to change bikes while, with exception of Roglic, all of the “contenders” stuck with TT bikes.

    • CyclingMe

      Very likely because real contenders have some sport science support… And they have been advised against bike change.

      • DaveRides

        I think the advice would have been very different if the climb was even half a kilometre longer.

        After the performance of Roglic, I think it would also be very different if they all did it again the following day.

        It reminded me of the occasional F1 race where most of the teams use one pit strategy and get beaten by the one driver who went for a different option.

  • CyclingMe

    The only discrimination was against riders without a good sport scientist.
    The minority of riders (most of them early starters) did change bike, possibly proving they did not model the race.

  • Mark Blackwell

    C’mon guys, a full feature article about “bike-exchange” without a single disclaimer about your fatcat corporate owner. Up your game, this is getting ridiculous.

    • Neal Rogers

      I knew I should have used their logo as the lead image! Dang.

    • jules

      n+1 – even the pros are on it

  • Gavin Adkins

    The red carpet was ridiculous.

    • Sean

      Yeah i don’t know….. i think it added some class to an otherwise boring event. We need more red carpet.

      • Michele

        Get Rebecca Twigley down there.

        • DaveRides

          Or Tania Buckley, if the cl in class is optional.

    • Agreed. It definitely should have been green.

      • jules

        I would have gone for something more bold, like floorboards or polished concrete.

        • DaveRides

          Quick-Step laminated floorboards maybe? It couldn’t be worse than the big Shimano cardboard cutout behind the hot seat.

    • Michele

      Should have had Richard Wilkins or Angela Bishop doing in-race interviews with riders as they swapped their bikes.

      • DaveRides

        I liked the red carpet interviews at the Allan Border Medal a couple of years ago where the cricketers were asked about what their partners were wearing and the partners were asked about the cricket.

        Every cricket fan in the nation laughed when Shane Watson’s girlfriend thought his batting average was 45.

        • Michele

          LOL. Watson is such an easy target.

          Read Jonathan Trott’s book last year, a funny read when he discusses Watson.

          Suffice to say Watto comes across as more than a bit thick.

  • jules

    I’m now trying to envisage if it’s possible to execute a bike change without your foot touching the ground

    also fascinating that Dumoulin took time out of everyone except Roglic on the climb, while riding a TT bike. this is a big story for me. how you out-climb riders on road bikes, on a TT bike? massive

    • xrt15fzd

      Well, he does have an uphill stage win in all three grand tours. Most time trialists have nowhere that kind of climbing ability.

      • jules

        I don’t doubt Tom’s climbing ability, I would have doubted it while riding a TT bike against others on a roadie.

        The position is quite different and not in a good way, and they’re generally heavier (does anyone know if you can get a TT bike down to 6.8kg?).

        • tanhalt

          The position with hands on the base bar isn’t very different than climbing on hoods on a road bike (or shouldn’t be if set up correctly)…and standing is no different.

    • Ssanchez
  • David

    “…some will argue that this happens in road races, or mountain-bike races…” I thought in a mtb race you have to finish on the frame you started?

    • Ssanchez

      Yeah mate, that’s correct with MTB races. No bike swaps allowed…

      “Authorised technical assistance during a race consists of repairs to or the replacement
      of any part of the bicycle other than the frame. Bike changes are not permitted and the
      rider must cross the finish line with the same handlebar number plate that he had at the
      start.”

      • Neal Rogers

        Correct. I was referring specifically to the 2004 MTB race where Decker used a road bike. Made sense in my mind, but I can see how that was unclear. Will go back in and tweak, thanks.

  • Paper Back Rider

    Well I for one was hoping for a quick marriage ceremony on the red carpet mid-race between at least one rider and a spectating fan, ah well, maybe next year.

    • DaveRides

      Time trialling and romance don’t go together.

      Victor Campanaerts went straight to the friend zone after his little stunt at the Giro.

  • DaveRides

    All the GC contenders swapped bikes during the uphill TT at the 2014 Giro.

    The curious thing that time is that they all decided to start on the TT bike, given it was only an 8km run to the base of the climb.

  • Ashok Captain

    Well balanced piece. Well written. Great comments – as well. : D

  • Patrick Murphy

    Admittedly there is a weight difference but the top TT guys spend an awful lot of time riding their TT bikes so handling isn’t really an issue for them. No doubt they would have calculated the potential time savings and then balanced that against what could go wrong getting on and off another bike. Losing momentum, losing concentration are variables that would be so much harder to calculate.

    • DaveRides

      It would be interesting to see what would happen if they ran the TT again tomorrow, with the benefit of everyone now being aware of the big positive split for Roglic.

      There have been other TTs where a larger proportion of the serious contenders have changed bikes, which would suggest it all comes down to the course.

      • tanhalt

        You’re forgetting the offsetting “negative split” from the change…see section between time checks 4 and 5.

        • DaveRides

          I’m not.

          Ignoring Dumoulin who was on a completely different level, Roglic blew away everyone else from time check 4 to the finish, including 8-10 second penalty of the bike change.

          You can also make a case for it providing Oliveira with an advantage, as he normally wouldn’t be up there in the top five contention on that sort of course.

          • tanhalt

            You are. Look at the split chart again. Between 4 and 5 he LOSES ~15-20s compared to the others (including Dumoulin). I’m assuming the time lost is mostly the effect of the bike swap. Then, between 5 and 6 he gains back around that same amount relative to everyone except Dumoulin, with whom he basically stayed even. BUT, he added the uncertainty of the swap. Sure, he did a good one, but as we saw many times, that wasn’t a “given”…

            • DaveRides

              No I’m not. The actual numbers on the UCI website don’t lie.

              Split 4:
              Roglic 25:24.45
              Froome 25:24.03
              Gap +0.42

              Split 5:
              Roglic 35:31.92
              Froome 35:20.72
              Gap +11.20
              Gap change from split 4: +10.78 (time lost primarily due to bike change)

              Finish:
              Roglic 45:38.79
              Froome 46:02.25
              Gap –23.46
              Gap change from split 5: –34.66 (faster climb)
              Gap change from split 4: –23.88 (net result of bike change and faster climb)

              The time gained back in sector six was 3.2x the time lost in sector five. That sounds like a pretty decent result to me, considering the ITT is a discipline where certain teams spend stacks of money chasing much smaller against than that.

              If you were talking about an ITT forming part of a tour rather than a winner-takes-all championship ITT, I’m sure the points about risk would have been given a bit more weight if Roglic was in a GC position worth defending.

              • tanhalt

                OK…I finally had a chance to watch the coverage. A couple of notes:
                -Unlike what was assumed above, the 5th time split was taken BEFORE the exchange zone, so the net effect of the swap is ALL in the final segment.
                – Roglic’s climb split is a complete outlier as compared to all the other riders, swap or not. In the top 5 shown in the plot above in Neal’s story, Oliviera (who also took a swap) basically held pace with the other top 5 riders besides Roglic and Dumoulin.
                – Of the top 10 fastest times over the final segment, only TWO (Roglich-fastest, Kelderman- 6th fastest) used a bike swap. There may have been a third, but they didn’t show Jungels in the swap zone or the finish, so can’t tell.

                So…just with that quick look, I think it’s fair to say that the net effect of the bike swap was either a “wash”, or a net hindrance. I’ll be digging more into the splits later…

  • Phillip Mercer

    I didn’t have an issue. It added to the intrigue in watching the variety of strategies in play. I took joy in noticing that Roglic rode the Oltre instead of Bianchi’s Specialissima. Then I remembered Steven Kruijswijk’s Oltre in the Giro was weighed by GCN and came in under 7kg.

  • DaveRides

    The courses for 2018 have now been released, and we’ll be having this discussion again in 12 months with next year’s TT course to include an even harder hill. Double bike changes could even be on the cards, courtesy of the climb being followed by 17km of descent and flattish run to the finish.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d5eb80deb4c5e3002e713c10956b65a7b0504262201c47cf8564321d2321d4d8.png

    One thing that needs to happen before then is a proper clarification of the rules, so they don’t need to be made up on the spot again.

    Unfortunately, once again it will only be a point to discuss regarding the men’s TT. I accept that immediately jumping to a 250+km full classic distance would be an issue for the women’s road race, but they should have the TT either equalised (like the prizes are) or at least be harder than the men’s U19 course. Starting the women’s TT at the town of Buch-in-Tirol for a 40km course without the small first climb would be a good compromise of being closer to equal but still substantially easier than the 54km men’s course.

  • Superpilot

    Interesting article Neil. I think for me, I must agree, the riders should be able to do what they see fit in order to complete the course in the quickest time. They are dealing with the course they are given.
    I understand the rationale behind wanting to minimise the impact on lesser competitors/team budgets, but I guess it is the F1 of TT races for the year, you have to pull out all the stops.
    What I do disagree with is the setting of the course. You can put hills in road races. But why have a TT with a hill? Isn’t the whole idea of the TT all about the rider with the biggest engine? Giving those guys a chance at something?
    Why allow the GC boys to get another trophy in the cabinet? They have the grand tours all year for that! Sure the TT’s in the tours have been taken mostly by the GC boys, because they mostly have hills now too!
    I see the modern TT racer as like Cancellara or Martin. Sure, Froome, Dumloulin are strong on the clock themselves, but a flat TT is the one place they can be beaten by the beasts of the peloton.
    It’s a shame in my eyes.
    Sure, I can see that it is much more interesting for the spectator as there is more risk, what are they going to do with strategy etc. But not every competition in the world is about spectating. If you want excitement, you should watch side by side racing of some description?
    I think it must be a drive to get the popular names higher in the rankings on the TT to get more general coverage and interest around the world from the regular sports/non-cycling fan. “Oh Chris Froome is expected to podium the TT as well, didn’t he do well at the Tour de France? Well I just might watch that, it sounds interesting.”
    But why? Those people don’t know van Aert, Vos, the Athertons, Schurter, or basically any other kind of world champion, so isn’t it ok if TT’s are left to the specialists?

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      With that argument for consistency, why is it a given that you can “put hills on road races” but not on a TT? Given that logic, there’s no chance that we’d have Cadel Evans and Mark Cavendish as WC’s.

      As it is now, flat, non-technical TTs favour guys with big engines and low drag – not just the obvious massive locomotives like Cancellara and Martin, but also guys like Castroviejo in a good day. But why does it have to be so? Posit a different scenario: a course with an urban setting where you accelerate out of the corners, slow down for tight bend, and accelerate again. Would the same guys win? Or does this reward a guy with strong engine, skill and nerve? Alaphilippe could have a crack at that, Kwiatkowski as well (podium in a “conventional” TT as well. Does that cheapen the event? I’m ok with variety in the courses – both for road and TT championships – and the variety of riders they favour. If we wanted simply the strongest rider to win we’d put them on Zwift.

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