Monday, June 25, 2012

FdJ: A Classics Powerhouse in the Making?

The win of Nacer Bouhanni in the French national championship road race, with teammate Arnaud Demare in second place, further reveals the worth of Francaise des Jeux's investments in their many young guns. All season long we have pondered the apparent friendly competition between Arnaud Demare and Yauheni Hutarovich, both having finished in the top ten of Kuurne-Brussels-Kurrne, and now Bouhanni has emerged as a contender for the sprints himself. Fans speak of Hutarovich as if he were "over the hill", but the fact of matter is that Hutarovichs is still 29 years old, Demare is merely 20, and Bouhanni is only 21.
Photo by Laurie Beylier under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Andy Schleck's Exit: Good News for Some, Bad for Others?

With Andy Schleck's misfortunate meriting coverage even on mainstream media, we have to revise our Komentaar of only days ago. All the non-starters reminded us of the start of the spring classics season, with injury list ever-increasing.

It seems generally agreed that the GC race is shaping up to be a two-horse race between Cadel Evans (BMC) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). Notably, both of them are roleurs who excel at time-trials but can keep up with most climbers at the high mountains. Both are in excellent shape, with Wiggins fresh off a dominating performance in le Dauphiné and Evans a consistent performance plus stage wins and near-wins. Team Sky may be the stronger team compared to BMC, unless Team Sky's super-sprinter Mark Cavendish shows up and brings a few riders specifically to support him in the sprints. More importantly however, both Evans and Wiggins appear very confident as the Tour de France (TdF) approaches.

With all the above consideration, what does this mean to stage hunters, sprinters, and GC contenders?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sagan the Żagań

Nowadays, few riders make news the same way Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) does, that is by not winning a race or a stage. So complete is Sagan's domination of stage-hunting in short stage races from the Tour de Suisse, Tour of Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico, to the Tour of California and the Tour of Poland.
Given his punchy characteristics, and his performance in the last edition of Milano-Sanremo, is Sagan a credible classics contender?
From Brendan Ryan, shared under CC BY-BC-SA 2.0

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Komentaar - 13 June 2012

With the biggest race of the season - the Tour de France (TdF) - looming just over the horizon, here in the ClassiquesKlassiekerClassiche headquarters we ponder the usual: how will our classics warriors fare in this year's TdF?

We start with the route and stages, and we finish with short comments on riders.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Is the Maillot Blanc a Good Predictor of TdF Success?

The Maillot Blanc of the Tour de France (TdF), or the White Jersey, is awarded to the highest finishing rider under 25 years of age. It suggests that that the winner has high potential of doing well in the future. In this article we attempt a quantitative analysis as we did in the Rise of Nations article.

As we are interested in the White Jersey as indicator of future performance, we examine the GC rank of a rider when he wins the White Jersey, versus his top GC performance since winning the White Jersey. We hope that this penalized one-hit wonders.
(c) Julius Kusuma
We limit the scope up to 2006: we think this to be a good stopping point, as many white jersey winners since then still contend actively. We realize that increasing one's rank on the GC of the Tour de France is an exponentially difficult endeavor, so we show a log-log plot, that is, both the x-axis and the y-axis are shown logarithmic-ally.

What insights were able to gleam?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Andy Schleck and Jan Ullrich: a Comparative Study

It is no doubt that Andy Schleck and Jan Ullrich are some of the most naturally talented cyclists of all times. Despite Ullrich's well-known issues with motivation and weight control, and Andy Schleck's lack of coach, they seem to have uncanny ability to get fit just in time for the Tour de France. Both name the Tour de France as their single most important goal of the season, although to be fair Andy Schleck occasionally produces a win in the Ardennes classics.

In a previous post we examined Andy Schleck's superhuman ability to get fit for le Grand Boucle in no time, leaping and bounding ahead of competitors. Unfortunately, winning the TdF on the road seems to be a challenge for both of them. We think that examination of these riders' performances in the warm-up race leading up to the TdF, be it Critérium du Dauphiné (CdD) or Tour de Suisse (TdS), is illuminating.

We now chart GC performances of both rides in the Tour de Suisse - the favored race of both riders excepting this year (arguably, this year's choice was made by Johan Bruyneel) -  and GC performances in the Tour de France.
Jan Ullrich and Andy Schleck: from Tour de Suisse
to Tour de France, in linear scale
 Read on as we share our analysis below.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Road from Tour de Suisse, or Can Andy Schleck Deliver in le Tour de France?

With much discussion on Andy Schleck's lack of form as we approach the Tour de France, we take a quick look at his performance, and that of other contenders, as they go from the Tour de Suisse to the Tour de France. 

Below we show the 2010 and 2011 comparison of performance in the Criterium du Dauphine (CdD) / Tour de Suisse (TdS) versus performance in the Tour de France (TdF). GC rank in CdD/TdS and GC rank in TdF is plotted on the y- and x-axis respectively.

We can clearly see that unlike other contenders, Andy Schleck has uncanny ability to literally bound ahead of competition, significantly improving himself from the TdS to the TdF.

This year's preparation is a bit different though, with Andy Schleck racing the CdD instead of TdS.

What do you think his kans is for the Tour de France? Share your thoughts below.