Top-3 reasons for Plateau de Beille status quo

July 18, 2011

Few attacks amongst the leaders, no gaps in the end, what’s going on? I think there are three main reasons that led to this result:

  1. Aerodynamics. You should read this piece by Nice to see some logical analysis backed up by numbers. First important point they make is that the level of performance is still quite high but not as high as 5-6 years ago.Second, if the performance delta between the leaders is small, even on the climbs the benefit of drafting will keep a group together.
  2. Individual setbacks. While it would be nice to conclude that we now have a larger group of similarly performing riders, this may be too optimistic. Last year the Tour, Andy Schleck and Contador were way above the rest. Have the rest caught up or is it, by coincidence, reduced form for both of them? Andy Schleck has had mediocre form (by his standards) and several setbacks this whole season, to the extent that even his own team thought Frank had better chances this Tour. Contador has the Giro in his legs, the clenbuterol case in his head and the pain in his knee, so it is easy to see he won’t be performing at his 2010 Tour level. Maybe most contenders are simply riding as could be expected of them (except Voeckler) and the top-2 are struggling for their individual reasons.
  3. Brotherly love. Many people say that with the Schleck brothers, 1+1=3. I think it’s more 1+1=1.5. It seems neither wants to do anything to further their own chances if it may hurt their brother’s, and you can’t win the Tour that way. Andy did manage to gap most of the other team leaders on a few occasions up Plateau de Beille, but he always looked back where Frank was and then stopped. Maybe he couldn’t do any better, maybe he wanted to keep Frank’s chances alive. It’s unlikely you  can gap all other contenders on the same day, so you will need several breakaways with different “passengers” to create room on GC. On Plateau de Beille Andy may have been able together with Evans to gap Contador, and in the Alps he could try the reverse. That in itself is hard enough, to try and do it without allowing Evans or Contador to gap Frank on occasion is impossible. Their complaint that nobody else tried anything seems odd when they didn’t really commit to their own jumps 100%.
So who is in the driver’s seat now? Subscribe to the blog and you’ll receive my opinion tomorrow.

10 Responses to “Top-3 reasons for Plateau de Beille status quo”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You are not the only one who thinks this way

  2. Steven Nemeth Says:

    Agree on your assesment of Andy & Frank, but will add the following. Andy needs to mature psychologically. He is no doubt a phenominal talent in the mountains, but lacks the psychological make up of a true racer at this stage of his career. Looking around for your brother every 30seconds is not the sign of a confident and accomplished rider with tactical skills, unless of course the real GC choice of the team is actually Frank.

    In terms of who is in drivers seat, my choice into this event 3 stages into race was Cadel. He is showing more resolve and focus then any other GC contender. The fact he did not have a real agreesive attack on Plateau de Beille is not suprising as he has never made claim to being strong on the harsher and steeper mountain stages.

    Bring on the Alps and Grenoble TT.

  3. 4. the sport is cleaner ?

    I heard on the french radio… “congrats, the sport is cleaner, our french riders can finally compete with the others”… at the same time, there is the new floyd landis interview on yahoo… it’s a little distrubing we he admit that the contador’s coach is his former drug dealer…

  4. Julie Says:

    Great article. Your points about the Shlecks are dead on!

  5. Dale Newnham Says:

    The sportscience chaps make a pretty strong case that Alex’s point 4 might be a reason. I’m optimistic that this is true and perhaps this is also why some of the younger guys that have not been part of the dark side of the sport are able to compete:

  6. […] Top-3 reasons for Plateau de Beille status quo « […]

  7. RacePace Says:

    so far it’s been a great tour, but because of the break aways and solo efforts of the rest of the field rather than the leading lights of the sport…

    The brothers and Berty really need to make a move soon or they will get to the TT and Evans is going to steal the win at the last moment! the favourites seem to be trying to win the tour by not losing it, a strange tactic which is hurting them in my mind.

    Luckily we have Roy, Voekler, Thomas, Hoogerland and Thor in the race to keep things alive and exciting!

    Stage 13 was mega!

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