Monday, March 26, 2012

Riding to Victory: Ronde van Vlaanderen 2002-2011

As analysis nerds and classics dorks, we are intensely interested in learning how races are won and how victories are earned. While we realize that the route of Ronde van Vlaanderen (RvV)'s route is changed for this year, we think that a narrative graphic of how recent editions have been won is insightful. After all, the argument for change was that it was becoming predictable. We mourn the loss of the Muur de Grammont, which many call the hand that shuffles the cards through which the game of racing is played.

The Muur and the RvV route had stayed fairly constant in the past decade. In the following, we show how the winner of each edition progresses to victory as each race is run: the height of the bar goes up as the winner's chance of victory is increased with each move. Without further ado, we offer the following graphic.

Ronde van Vlaanderen: 2002 to 2011.

The epic way through which Fabian Cancellara won the 2010 edition is clearly remarkable. But many a time, the Muur de Grammont does re-shuffle how the race was ridden up to that point. A preceding break is caught, a few attacks are mounted and lost, and a winning group emerges.

Seeing the above, do you think that the organizers' reason for changing the finale is justified? Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for similar plots for Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège ...

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