One day in, predictions out

July 3, 2011

For weeks volumes are written and Gigabytes are filled with analysis on what will happen in the Tour. Now thanks to one douchebag spectator, all that can go in the trash. I love it. So I will repeat what I have said earlier on twitter and in the comments section of this blog: Talk about Contador and Schleck finishing 1-2 (in whatever order) and the rest fighting for 3rd are premature. Those two will NOT finish 1-2.

My prediction last week was not borne out of some incredible insight into relative fitness or ability, but just the odds that something unexpected will happen. Cycling is dangerous, especially in a peloton with 200 fresh riders crashes will happen and they will affect the outcome. For the Amstel Gold Race this year I predicted one of two riders would crash, and I caught a lot of flak for wishing ill on them. But I wish none of the riders any ill, it’s just an inevitable part of the sport. And coincidentally, I was right.

But don’t think just about crashes; mechanicals, fitness, illness, hunger knocks, a lousy hotel the night before the key stage, any of this can affect the outcome.

That’s also the reason why my prediction didn’t include WHO would swoop into the top-2, as that is far too difficult to predict. Evans may seem a likely candidate, especially after yesterday, but there are still 20 days left and his track record when it comes to luck in the Tour isn’t great. So let’s hope for the best.

P.S. My usual Tim Krabbé Zoetemelk clause applies to the above prediction.

19 Responses to “One day in, predictions out”


  1. Well the Tour is nothing if not a random sequence of events, that can twist the race on its head.
    Look at the crashes and the way the race jury decides who loses time & who does not….

    Now, that is a subject you should tackle…..

  2. spanielsson Says:

    At least Riis didn’t have the power to shut the race down like he did last year on stage 2. Who would have thought it could be so interesting this early on?!


  3. I was wondering the last time a race favourite to win, was ‘handicapped’ by an error – Delgado ?

  4. Gadi Says:

    well,you put some money on the Ausi ?
    I see it differently: Evnavs will lose big time(it will happen right away) when they get to the high mountain.
    Higgins as well.
    Basso is not in the best of form anyway.
    How many minutes will Andy lose in the TT- at least 2!
    So maybe it’s the time for VDB and Gesinc ?!

  5. Wilson Says:

    “Now thanks to one douchebag spectator…”

    Very, very harsh. I’ve seen this footage many times. To me, she was standing on the grass by the side of the road, innocently applauding the riders. She wasn’t on the asphalt. And it’s not like she ran onto the course or did any of the other hugely irritating things we see – sprinting alongside waving a flag, jumping about trying to get on TV, stepping out to take a photo at a stupid moment…

    In a peloton that was already spread right across the road, the Astana rider rode *really* wide, to the point where his wheels were barely on the asphalt, and half his body was over the grass. That’s why his shoulder hit her shoulder. She was standing in a similar position to a number of other people along the route and just got unlucky.

    Plus, I’ve not seen one report that asks how she was, or whether she was even badly hurt. (Admittedly each time I’ve seen it has been on French TV – maybe elsewhere they’ve covered this.)

    But your branding her a douchebag is a little disappointing, in an otherwise intelligently written and thoughtful blog.

  6. chickeee in Vancouver Says:

    You are right as usual. With 21 teams fighting it out on the narrow road anything can happen. Weather – rain, heat,wind – is a big variable as well. AC has had a bad start and his team is not the strongest. Maybe an American will win this year


  7. The one race I’ve always watched this mindset is Paris-Roubaix. I find the pre-race analysis laughable because there is so much good luck needed and so much bad luck to be avoided to even be contending for the finish. You would think a three week grand tour would be that much less predictable, but it always surprises me how accurate the odds-makers are. With such an important prize do you think team tactics are too conservative and careful sometimes?


    • In general yes, I think tactics are too conservative. Just think about it, 10 guys are gunning for the win, 9 will lose. And many of these 9 know (or should know) they have a very small chance, so trying something crazy is the best chance they have.

      Yet riders rarely do. Compare that to Thor’s tactics the last two years for the green. That was a proper combination of analysis and guts. It worked once, and it almost worked twice (don’t remind me of the points lost on stage 2).


      • I just looked back on this after thinking about Thor’s mountain day. Being in a break with a couple of guys chasing polka dots, I thought it was absolute genius for Thor to attack the group with them, (motivation to climb, and they might be cool with just the KOM points) when it happened I imagined JV in the car, assessing the guys in the break and feeding him the idea, but after the race he said “My tactics worked 100 percent”. Whoever it was, they played it brilliantly.

  8. Chris Says:

    I don’t think spectators should be allowed to be on, or near, the road during a race. Too many idiots available to ruin a cyclist’s chance of winning.

  9. RacePace Says:

    I was surprised by Evans and Wiggins in the TTT, they seem to have really come into form at the right time…

    Berty seem to have got what some will call Karma – although I reckon the UCI & WADA will introduce a minimum leave just above his leave for Clenbuterol (or however you spell it) and he will be cleared in August – which will look like a proper cover up even if it isn’t!

    I struggle with the Shlecks apparent innocence in all of this too in sight of what is to be read in the past – which again maybe be utter rubbish!

    Going back to your comment on not being sure if you are excited over this years tour I agree that I have a certain amount of trepidation at the thought of investing time and emotion in something that may later be bogus… I feel most for the clean athletes that I doubt because of the users – at time I doubt everyone, I only want to support the clean guys.


    • Wiggins and Evans were certainly strong in the TTT, but then again that’s usually a good discipline for them (the same can’t be said of some other time trialers, who struggle to do a TTT in a way that doesn’t kill their team mates). That said, I think Evans and Wiggins know that their moment of truth will be in the mountains, not in the TT. If they can hang in on the climbs, then the final TT will be interesting for them.

      Karma aside, I think there is such a thing as attracting problems. There are riders who often seem to suffer setbacks, and those who never even get a flat tire. But it might be wrong to attribute that to Karma or even luck. Being in the right spot, reading the movement of the peloton, looking where you’re going, it’s all part of the game. In 2009 Contador had a similar setback (the crosswinds saw him lose time to Armstrong) but once in his element the tables were quickly turned.

  10. Patrick Says:

    How much of the conservative tactics are down to the directeurs sportifs? Do they control too much, not letting the riders just go for it?

  11. RacePace Says:

    I certainly hope that Evans and wiggins strong showing in the TTT is glimpse to a tour that is not a 2 horse race, if they can hang on in the mountains then it will make it very interesting…

    If Bert’s clean I feel very sorry for him, the governing bodies are not helping the sport with the delay in coming to a conclusion


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