Category Archives: Grand Tour

MMT’s Analysis of the TDF 2016 – Part 3: Chris Froome

 

Dear Rouleurs

This is MMT’s third instalment of highly irregular analysis of the TDF 2016.  This one focuses on the general classification winner, Team Sky’s Chris Froome.  So MMT’s take on Chris Froome’s third win focuses on aspects of his performance that cycling fans just wouldn’t have expected to see.  MMT believes the old adage of a picture being worth a thousand words and has picked out four images, carefully stolen from various reputable online publishers.

Chris Froome is clearly more flexible and just plain nuts that MMT had previously believed.

Chris Froome is clearly more flexible and just plain nuts that MMT had previously believed.

The first thing MMT never expected see Chris Froome do, was attack on the decent on stage 8.  Lets face it Mr Froome is a very tall and skinny man, who  looked fairly ungainly whilst wrapped around his bike whilst pedalling.  Rumour has it the the ASO picked out a number of down hill finishes to neutralise Froome’s attacks in the early mountain stages.  Clearly, that tactic didn’t work.

Chris Froome nearly beats Peter Sagan in a sprint..WTF??? :-)

Chris Froome nearly beats Peter Sagan in a sprint..WTF??? 🙂

The next thing that MMT never expected to see was Chris Froome attempting to out spirit the eventual green jersey winner Peter Sagan.  I reckon Peter Sagan got the shock of this life when he saw out of the corner of his eye, the lanky Brit in yellow on his six on Stage 11.  Apparently a spirit finish between the yellow ands green jersey holders has never happened before.

Chris Froome dragging his broken bike up Mont Ventoux, Stage 12.

Chris Froome dragging his broken bike up Mont Ventoux, Stage 12.

However, the biggest shock for cycling fans would have been the sight of Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux in stage 12.

Chris Froome wins the Natourcriterium in Aalst, Belgium and receives a very big beer and a very silly hat.

Chris Froome wins the Natourcriterium in Aalst, Belgium and receives a very big beer and a very silly hat.

Finally, whilst not strictly related to the TDF 2016, Chris Froome winning the Natourcriterium in Aalst, Belgium less that 24 hours after the tour finished is pretty phenomenal.  Presumably, the Team Sky medical team must have told him to have a rest and some downtime.  What is remarkable is this ridiculously hat that the race organisers made him wear as part of the awards ceremony.  There you have it Chris Froome TDF 2016 Winner in four unexpected moments.

Now to balance out the reporting I should say a big ‘Chapeau’ to  Chloe Hosking of the Wiggle High 5 Team for winning the La Course 2016.

Chloe Hoskings crosses the finish line of La Course, much to her surprise, in first place.

Chloe Hoskings crosses the finish line of La Course, much to her surprise, in first place.

With multiple crashes and breakaways, the 89Km race came down to a bunch spirit with the Australian beating out some very big names.

  • 1. Chloe HOSKING, WIGGLE HIGH5, in 2:01:27
  • 2. Lotta LEPISTÖ, CBT, at :00
  • 3. Marianne VOS, RABOLIV WOMEN CYCLING TEAM, at :00
  • 4. Joelle NUMAINVILLE, CBT, at :00
  • 5. Roxane FOURNIER, POITOU-CHARENTES.FUTUROSCOPE.86, at :00
  • 6. Pascale JEULAND, POITOU-CHARENTES.FUTUROSCOPE.86, at :00
  • 7. Tiffany CROMWELL, CANYON SRAM RACING, at :00
  • 8. Joanne KIESANOWSKI, TEAM TIBCO – SILICON VALLEY BANK, at :00
  • 9. Lotte KOPECKY, LOTTO SOUDAL LADIES, at :00
  • 10. Maria Giulia CONFALONIERI, LENSWORLD-ZANNATA, at :00
    Read more at

Until next time, ride safe

 

Marv

MMT’s Analysis of the TDF 2016 – Part 2

Dear Rouleurs,

This is part 2 of MMT’s analysis of the TDF 2016.  Last time MMT focused on those that didn’t finish the TDF.  Afterall, its a hug achievement to finish, even if a rider finished in the bottom ten.  Which segues nicely into this blog, the analysis of the race for the lantern rouge, otherwise known as last place.  So first a few facts and figures about the big race.

Nationality of riders finishing in the bottom 10 of any stage

Nationality of riders finishing in the bottom 10 of any stage.

36 riders from 20 different teams featured in the bottom 10. France had the best representation with 7 riders, which is hardly surprising as 38 starters were French.

Teams with riders finishing in the bottom 10 of any stage.

Teams with riders finishing in the bottom 10 of any stage.

Only Astana and Trek-Segafredo had no riders finish in the bottom 10 of any stage.

Only 1 rider managed to start, stay and finish in the bottom 10, take a bow Lars Ytting Bak of Lotto Soudal.

So here’s the bottom ten as they finished on stage 21:

1 174 Sam Bennett (Ireland) BORA-ARGON 18 +5:17:14
2 173 Lars Ytting Bak (Denmark) LOTTO SOUDAL +5:01:18
3 172 Leigh Howard (Australia) IAM CYCLING +4:55:13
4 171 Bernhard Eisel (Austria) DIMENSION DATA +4:51:07
5 170 Daniel Mclay (Great Britain) FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT +4:50:14
6 169 Marcel Sieberg (Germany) LOTTO SOUDAL +4:40:24
7 168 Davide Cimolai (Italy) LAMPRE – MERIDA +4:39:37
8 167 Vegard Breen (Norway) FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT +4:38:27
9 166 Marcel Kittel (Germany) ETIXX – QUICK STEP +4:35:06
10 165 Jacopo Guarnieri (Italy) TEAM KATUSHA +4:34:45

Congratulations to Ireland’s Sam Bennett who entered the annals of cycle sport history by finishing last in the 2016 TDF.  He can quite rightly claim that he was better than the 22 riders who didn’t finish.  Keep in mind he had a horrible stack on the first stage which left him bruised and most tellingly for a sprinter, a broken small finger.

The unlucky Sam Bennett shortly after a horrible crash on stage 1.

The unlucky Sam Bennett shortly after a horrible crash on stage 1.

So lets look at how this race for the lantern rouge progressed for these ten riders over the 21 stages of this years race.

This is how the bottom 10 got there.

This is how the bottom 10 got there.

No surprises that most of these guys were sprinters. I feel a bit for Marcel Kittel who couldn’t take a trick on the spirit stages and then limped home on the final stage. Leigh Howard must be considering himself lucky as he nearly went the double, backing on his last place in the Giro this year.

Well that’s enough pretty graphs and sniping 😉 until next time ride safe.

Marv

2016 Giro Italia…what a race!!!

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Dear Rouleurs,

Unfortunately, MMT is currently off the bike and out of action with what would have to be the worst ailment a cyclist can possibly have, bar bulging disks in the lower back, broken bones or face planting on Belgian pave and knocking out  all your front teeth.  Notwithstanding that piece of whingeing, how about the Giro 2016 edition??   With nine different race leaders and a thrilling last week in the mountains, that was epic.  Man I can’t wait for the centenary version next year.

Estaban Chaves crosses the finish line of Stage 18.

Estaban Chaves crosses the finish line of Stage 18.

Estban Chaves take a bow, to achieve second behind the wily Vincenzo Nibali was an incredible result.  MMT once wonders how long before he becomes a naturalised Australian citizen.  My guess is that Columbia won’t be too keen to let him go.  Neither will Orica-GreenEdge, who for the first time in their team’s existence, have a genuine General Classification (GC) rider for the Grand tours.

Chaves, Nibali and Valverde on the Giro Podium in Torino.

Chaves, Nibali and Valverde on the Giro Podium in Torino.

Speaking of genuine GC riders, chapeau!!! Vincenzo Nibali.  I thought Nibali was gone after a horrendous mechanical failure on  stage 15’s  uphill time trial, and again in Stage 18, both Kruijiswik and Chaves put time into Nibali.  So Nibali’s comeback in  winning stages 19 and 20 back to back was an astonishing effort.  I guess it’s the old adage of never write off a champion. Also, he showed genuine sportsmanship in greeting Estban Chaves’s parents at the stage 20 finish line.

I also had to feel for Stephen Kruijswijk.  If he had more support through the mountain stages and hadn’t had such an awful crash on stage 19’s descent on Colle dell’Agnello. He may well have beaten  both  of them.  For example, if had rider like Astana’s Scarponi, up the road and able to assist the eventual stage winner Nibali, this could have been an against all the odds Dutch victory.

The dreaded Maglia Nera as designed by Pinarello.

The dreaded Maglia Nera as designed by Pinarello.

Finally, I would like to talk up the return of the Maglia Nera, the jersey awarded to the last placed rider in the GC.  The jersey was only awarded to riders between 1946 and 1951.  As there was a prize,  riders  would sometimes deliberately waste time in order to become last overall.  More importantly, it’s a really cool looking  jersey that those of us drafting at the back of the peloton would happily wear.  This year the unofficial title was ‘won’ by Australia’s own Jack Bobridge of Trek-Segafredo.

Bring back the Maglia Nera!!!!

Until next time,

MMT

Mt Ventoux vs Mt Wellington

Dear Rouleurs,

This will be the first of three blogs inspired by Team MMT’s recent holidays in southern Spain and France.  This one focuses on our recent visit to Mont Ventoux, which has close proximity to the the old Papal city of Avignon.  Avignon has been on our collective travel bucket list for a while now. Besides being endowed with seemingly endless medieval architecture and history, Avignon is only 30 minutes from the iconic Mont Ventoux.  Initially when Team MMT drew up its holiday plans, a half day was allocated to attempting ascent on the summit.  Leading up to our departure, the realisation that a more serious preparation was required set in.  Consequently the attempt was jettisoned from our holiday itinerary.

Whilst we were in Spain, its was announced that stage 12 of the 2016 Tour de France would finish at the summit. From that point I was determined that we view the ‘Giant of Provence’ first hand.

MtVentouxMap

Initially as you drive towards Mont Ventoux, it looks like it has a snow cap, particularly in the afternoon light.  This optical illusion is provided by the famous ‘bald’ peak. The ascent from Bedoin starts at the 0km marker and winds its way through the town and nearby villages.  Once you enter the forest, the hard work starts.  As we visited in mid-autumn, it was ablaze with green, yellow, red and amber coloured leaves. It is easy to see why Paul Cezanne made his home in Provence. Most the climb is sheltered by this forest. In some ways it must be disheartening to riders, as the pinnacle isn’t visible until the last 6 km.

Whilst we were early, a number of riders were on their way up, mostly riding by themselves.  I was surprised to see a spritely 60 something year old on a modern Bianche making steady progress. Many riders were using either mountain bikes or eBikes. The road is well cared for and has many names and messages spray painted across its width.  Some of the hairpins turn were ridiculously steep.  Finally we emerged from the treeline and and had the ‘oh wow’ moment.  TV coverage doesn’t do the view up to and from the summit any justice it was spectacular.

In some ways it reminds me a bit of Mount Wellington in Hobart Tasmania.  The comparison isn’t as silly as it sounds.  Depending on starting  point, that an ascent of Mt Wellington is about 21k with an average gradient of 6.7%, but has a much lower pinacle at 1270m, compared to Mt. Ventoux.

Mt-Wellington_profile

Having driven up both peaks within 4 weeks of each other, Mont Ventoux is consistently more difficult, especially from the Bedoin side. From an asthletics perspective I think the east facing view from Mount Wellingon, overlooking the city of Hobart is superior.

In hindsight, having driven to the summit from Bedoin, deciding against an ascent was a smart move.  Quite frankly it would have been foolish given that my only riding had been on flat roads.  If I had come directly from Australia, rather eating and drinking my way around southern Spain and France with Team MMT, an attempt form the Sault side may have been doable.

From Bedoin the gradient profile is, quite frankly, intimidating.  A rider commencing their ascent from Bedoin, starts about 300m above sea level and climbs about 1600m over approximately 22km.  The basic math provides an average gradient of 7.5% with two really nasty sections over 10%.  However, its worth pointing out that this is an average and that there a number of sections over 12%, ‘hiding’ inside the orange sections….shudder!!!

Ventoux Bedoin profile-1

From Sault, the gradient profile is benign by comparison.  A rider commencing their ascent from Sault, starts about 690m above sea level and climbs about 900m over approximately 26km.  The initial approach is much easier.  The first 20 or so kilometres has a average gradient of about 3.6%.  However, the final 6 km is the same as the Bedoin route.

Ventoux sault profile-1

So onto the photos.  I’ve chosen 6 of the better ones. I have to point out that Team MMT was really lucky with the weather. It was both crystal clear and still at the summit. Prior reading indicated that Mont Ventoux experiences high winds for about 120 days of the year and has the highest recorded windspeed in Europe at its summit.

 BedoinSign-01
 ForestRider-01
 The sleepy village of Bedoin.  An intrepid rider ascending through the forest.
 SummitMarker-01  SummitSign-01
 The official highway marker.  Yours truly, with the famous sign.
 WeatherStation-01  SouthView-01
 The iconic ‘lighthouse’ at the summit.  View to the south.

so, where does this leave me now? Well I think I’m going to have to try Mount Wellington next time I’m in Hobart.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to source a decent road bike with a third inner chain ring.  After that well, I would love to return to Europe and have go at the ‘Giant’.  I had been thinking about doing the L’Eroica of Gaiole for my 50th birthday, may I’ll be able to add this as well.

Continuing on with the travel theme, in the next blog I’ll be writing about the visit Team MMT made to the famous Otero Bicycle Shop in Madrid.  Until then ride safe.

Marv