99.5% to be pseudo-scientific. 200 riders line up, 199 lose. If you’re lucky, your teammate wins and you feel like a winner too, leaving only 191 losers. Still, that’s not a good ratio.
But it gets worse. The course has certain characteristics. Often those characteristics suit a particular type of rider, and often you’re not that type. Now you’re chances of escaping loserville become very slim indeed. In other words, you know that if this race follows the standard “bike race script”, you’ll be nothing more than field-filler.
What’s the logical conclusion? In my view there could be three:
- Have a teammate with an above-average chance of winning
- Stay in bed
- Hatch a clever plan
The clever plan isn’t really that complicated. If following the script leads to guaranteed loserdom, you need to disrupt the script. Don’t follow the standard plan, create chaos. The race will still have only one winner, but in the chaos, the chances of the real contenders diminish. In fact, your chances increase not just because theirs are reduced, but also because as the instigator of the chaos, you have an analytical and psychological head-start.
This applies to any race, but to none more so than races predicted to end in sprints such as the World Championships this year. It wasn’t so hard to predict the winners of the women’s and men’s race this weekend in case of a bunch sprint (even I managed to name Cavendish and Bronzini as the fast-twitch-champs). If there ever was a race that called for chaos, this was it. And with most teams having multiple captains, the opportunities were enormous.
Too bad everybody followed the script. Therefore, Bronzini and Cavendish are worthy champions. They made the most of the circumstances which were known to all. Maybe the course wasn’t worthy, maybe some competitors weren’t worthy, but they are.
What do you think of the tactics you see in general in cycling? Impressive or snooze? Let me know via the comments section below. Next week we’ll talk about minimum wages for women riders and about the fall-out from the new UCI points ranking, if you don’t want to miss that you can subscribe here.