Scoreboard journalism (Revenge Mark Cavendish-style)

July 5, 2011
  • Fact: In 2008, Mark Cavendish did not win until stage 5
  • Fact: In 2010, Mark Cavendish did not win until stage 5

Scoreboard journalism means basing your judgement solely on the outcome of a race or game rather than the processes within.

Cavendish doesn’t win the sprint of stage 3, so he’s considered “not in form”. But if you’re going to engage in scoreboard journalism, at least look at the right scoreboard. I would suggest it’s the one I wrote above. Better still, forget the scoreboard, look at the process, and you’ll see that yesterday he came from nowhere to finish 5th. He probably had the fastest final 100m of any rider. So opponents beware.

More bad news for the competition, it seems that Cavendish is already getting fed up with all the arm chair experts. His “interview” with Belgian TV yesterday was rather telling:

Q: “Mark, can you take us through the roles for all your teammates in the lead-out train”

A: “They all ride in one line to the finish full gas”

Q: “But the individual roles, for example what will Eisel do”

A: “Yeah, he is one of them”

Q: “Who are your biggest opponents”

A: “We only look at ourselves” (for comedic effect, it would be perfect had he said “Hushovd is 1 meter 90 I think”)

It was actually really funny, though the commentators couldn’t make much of it. But a fed up Cav also means he needs an outlet for an X-rated victory salute or just to show the critics who’s right. So look out (except if you’re a commissaire, then you may want to look the other way).

How many stages do you think the various sprinters will win, and who will take home the green jersey? LEt me know in the comments section or via twitter @gerardvroomen.

From the legal department: I had no actual journalist in mind while writing any of the above, I love you all. And no sprinters were hurt in the making of this blog.

22 Responses to “Scoreboard journalism (Revenge Mark Cavendish-style)”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Have to say, I like the blog posts almost as much as I like the bikes. Kudos.

  2. John Says:

    Well said. Cav must have ridden like he had a rocket up his…er, I mean, on his bike to finish where he did, and if he does the same in any other final sprint there’s still no cyclist out there who can catch him. The critics will be silenced before too long.

  3. Cavendish is a man of extremes.
    The interviews he gets walloped with, seconds after a stage has gone wrong (or right) usually deliver every emotion !

    Yesterday, the most brain dead questions were heard from the ‘journalist’ who thrust a microphone under his nose (for ITV) whilst he was sitting on the bus step holding court.

    Sycophantic fawning dribble was frequently uttered, and then we heard Cavendish’s opinion.

    Yesterday, HTC likely made their own mistakes, and they know it. They’ll be back and watch out.

    Meanwhile ‘us’ sofa experts, will continue to mutter opinion.

  4. Norman Says:

    I agree that it’s silly to criticize Cav for lack of form, but I have other complaints about scoreboard reporting. I’m sure HTC knows what they did wrong, but I don’t – I’ve only raced at the local level and I’ve never been a sprinter. I love watching sprints, but I need to know more to appreciate them. I do know that it’s more than the last 250m that counts. From what I can tell, HTC came to the front too soon, at 25km out – why? Because they’re the dominant team and everyone was counting on them to reel in the break? Commentators were suggesting the train looked a bit slow (Martin was looking over his shoulder etc) Is that right? What was that look that Martin gave Eisel when he peeled off? Was Eisel really going sooner than expect, like Liggett suggested? Why exactly did Cavendish lose the wheel going around the corner? His twitter feed suggests he intentionally let some riders in when he saw his train was short – is that right, or did he just get crowded out because the speed wasn’t high enough? These may be dumb questions, and I’m sure I haven’t even asked all the right ones, but that’s the point – I need someone to explain it to me. I’d like to see a journalist go around and interview a bunch of riders and come up with a coherent story of how the whole thing unfolded.

    BTW, brilliant riding by Garmin-Cervelo to take advantage of HTC’s mistakes (whatever they were). A sprint isn’t just about the fastest man, as Stage 3 demonstrates. To me the image of Thor leading out the sprint in the yellow jersey should be one of the iconic images of the Tour. It symbolizes teamwork like nothing else.

    • I think you’ve got the hang of it pretty well. If someone is a clear favorite, it obviously helps if you can wear out his team by not helping them close the gap. So HTC used up its people to catch back the break, especially when the two final guys didn’t have the word “quitting” in their dictionary.

      It would be tough for a lead-out to do a kilometer or more on the front, so Martin was probably disappointed to see himself up there so early. He then slowed down the tempo to last a bit longer, but of course that meant that others trains could get organized with fresher legs. And hence the advantage they had (check back on the 90 degree right turn, HTC goes through there in front and everybody else has to work pretty hard to keep up) disappeared.

      That said, Garmin-Cervelo lead the peloton for 140k but still had some fresh legs, so I don’t know exactly why GTC ran out of steam. 25k is a good distance, but they’ve done much more than that in the past and still delivered Cav to the front perfectly. Maybe it’s as Renshaw said, others have studied them and come better prepared (Farrar’s lead-out is certainly better with Thor on it) and maybe some of his teammates are not in as exceptional a shape as they were last year. It’s not an exact science.

      Why Cav jumped from his train I couldn’t see, that last corner was pretty messy. But for sure if his train was too slow, better to hook onto another one. Thor is a master of this when he sprints for himself, he often prefers not to have his own train but rather to sit on somebody else’s.

      But either way, it’s a bit early to draw any conclusions based on one sample.

      • Anonymous Says:

        that’s why Thor never wins. he has no closing speed to come around people to do that.

        • And with never wins you mean the 8 Tour stages, World Champs, etc? When Cav is Thor’s age, his explosiveness will have diminished too. Not much one can do about that. That said, Thor was never the type of sprinter that Cav is, or Cipo was, or McEwen, or …

  5. Paul D Says:

    Not much wrong with Cav, glad to see him get a good interim sprint win to settle his head and answer some doubters, and as for the ‘bumping’ .. wtf do they want when they stage a sprint?

    I think sometimes ‘they’ have less cycling knowledge than a slug on Newcastle brown, or some ‘journalists’ … ;)

  6. Chris Says:

    It would be great if Cav, Ty or Thor would win the green jersey. If Cav is able get constantly good results than it’ll be hard to beat him. I watched yesterday’s final 3pm again and he’s really fast! He’ll get 3 or more wins. Ty, Rochas, Feillu, Petacchi, Greipel may win stages, too, but probably only if HTC are not able to control the final 3-4km or their team make a better leadout (as Garmin did yesterday).

    Btw on the webpage of German TV channel (ARD) is an article emphasizing the bad boy image of Cav and ‘warning’ him that he will get DQ if he continues to behave like at the intermediate sprint yesterdey (a picture of Cav’s head on Thor’s shoulder was shown with a big red circle around the scene)…
    They should have better talked with Thor or Cav about it before writing this or at least read Cav’s twitter channel…
    Chiarra Passerini (Cadel Evans’ wife) twittered yesterday that she’s not happy with journalist making faults and not checking the background, too.

  7. LS Says:

    1 meter 90, thats good

  8. Anonymous Says:

    How anyone can say Cav isn’t on form when he was able to finish 5th after where he was positioned at the last corner is completely thick. Good luck Cav, it’ll make your 1st win of the 2011 tour all the sweeter!

  9. Jimmy Dog Says:

    You seem to admire the kind of guy who gives x-rated salutes, and who (rumor says) spits on his competitors after he brings down the peloton.

    I don’t. Of course, that profane Cavendish guy’s ability isn’t dependent on my opinions. However, Feillu makes some good points in this story:

    I was hoping Heinrich would help humble that Cavendish guy, but Haussler’s year hasn’t turned out so good.

    Arrogance, in the long run, though maybe beneficial in the short run, usually helps bring about the downfall of a person.

    It’s all relative. Just because Cavendish and Lance have massive wins in the TDF doesn’t mean we have to like them.

    Contador, now there’s a man who we could take some lessons from. Even in spite of the doping cloud, I’m forced to get back to where I like him and root for him. He has nerves of steel. He’s gonna kill everyone in the mountains, unless he doesn’t.

    And Goss I like him, but Cavendish is a profane punk.

    • A.Check Says:

      Haters gonna hate!

      I love how you said:

      “(Contador’s) gonna kill everyone in the mountains, unless he doesn’t.”

      I can guarantee that you will at least be right about that statement there…

      Well done.

  10. Jimmy Dog Says:

    Lovers gonna love! Ambivalators gonna ambivalate!

    I hate how text requires that a person use smiley emoticons to make clear that attempts at dry humor are being attempted, which begs the question of how a smiley emoticon could ever properly represent dry humour.

    Haters gonna hate, especially trite sayings which ignore a complex scenario, which imply that we should always limit ourselves to a subset of the full range of emotions possible, which imply that moderates are always superior.

    It should have been obvious that my tautology meant that I know I’m not a prophet, unless it wasn’t.

    • A.Check Says:

      LOLZ! U R funny! :D :D :D

      I forgot that any moron could look up words on

      Well done.

      • WTF, do I have the writing equivalent of two Cavs on my blog now?

        I may have to DQ A.Check for not keeping his line (of thought) while Jimmy Dog is throwing his head (into a tailspin). Well done both of you!

  11. Jimmy Dog Says:

    Concerning dictionaries and morons, it must have slipped your mind that dictionaries aren’t particularly useful when a person has a word meaning but needs a fancier word, as opposed to being good for having a word but no understanding of the word.

    In the case of a moron wanting to sound intelligent by using “tautology” in place of “a statement that’s always true”, might be more useful, though even a thesaurus is not particularly useful for finding a synonym for a long sentence.

    No, Mr. Check, may be the best tool to help a moron sound intelligent by using big words. However, it’s not obvious that even Google could help a moron figure find “tautology” by searching on “What is a sentence called which is always true?”

    Bicycling, dictionaries, and morons. Obviously, they’re all related and this comment is on topic, unless it isn’t, and needs to be deleted, along with others.

  12. a krunchi Says:

    A check sounds a little TOO ‘Cav like’ to me, hey Aaron??? And there was me thinking that EVERYONE has a right to an opinion and not one person on this earth is right all the time. Wouldn’t life be dull if he were

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