Thursday, April 2, 2015

they don't get much closer than this... stage 3a of Driedaagse De Panne 2015

The final of the Three Days of De Penne will likely be best remembered as the last time trial Bradley Wiggins ever rides for Team Sky. And indeed he won the time trial with a strong 10-second margin: going out in style. Next on his to-do list is to win Paris-Roubaix. And I think he's going to succeed. Bradley Wiggins is almost annually underestimated and he's shown a remarkable learning trajectory at Paris-Roubaix. He obviously need to drop John Degenkolb to do it but he's an exceptionally smart rider and I like his chances.

However, this blog is about the morning road race, a short prelude to the concluding time trial.

I don't want to give away the result but I'm forced to do so. Kristoff just held off a late sprint by Greipel, the latter ideally positioned on Kristoff's wheel coming out of the final corner but delayed in starting his sprint by Guardini, who pinned him in. As soon as Greipel had a shred of a gap, Greipel went past. But it was 5 cm too late.

I blew up the video 8x and took the following photos. First, Kristoff:


And now, Greipel. Please ignore the green dots which are my fault:


The reference line is the same on both plots. You can see the pixels immediately to the left are slightly darker in Kristoff's finish than Greipel's, and that's why Kristoff was declared the stage winner. This isn't a win by a tire width, more like a tire tread. Photo finish cameras measure time on the lateral axis, not position, and the difference here is 3 milliseconds, I saw reported on a forum. But that would be 5 cm at 60 kph: there's no way that gap is more than 5 mm, since a typical tire width/depth is around 25 mm, and this is much less than a tire size. So I'm guessing 300 µsec. That would be 5 mm but that still seems like more than the gap I see there. But maybe.

In any case, it was freakin' close. I sort of like Greipel but the end result is Kristoff wins all of the mass-start stages, then finishes 3rd in the final time trial to dominate the overall. Wiggins by virtue of the final time trial win moved up to third overall, with Stijn Devolder of Trek showing he can still do what it takes by placing second.

It will be an interesting Flanders. My money's on Sagan, so to speak.


Grad student at IAE Aix-en-Provence, France said...

I just discovered your blog today, even if I have been reading your posts on Weighweenies for years.

Just wondering... Why is your money on Sagan? He seems overweight, undermotivated and most of all undersupported by a change in management staff within the team. We all know he doesn't have the chops yet to make savvy tactical decisions (unlike Paolini that was hugely impressive last weekend)

What makes you put your bets on Sagan?

djconnel said...

Thanks! I just think Sagan's shown his strength every year and you should be stronger @ 25 than @ 24. He's shown a tactical weakness in some cases but Flanders is a race where strength is most important. Guys like Degenkolb and Kristoff can outsprint him every time but they're not quite as strong as he should be on the short climbs. Stybar was clearly stronger at Strada Bianca but that race was already awhile back right now and arguably Sagan's better off being a bit fresher at this point. Certainly Sagan has more experience in races at this level than Stybar, and that's important at Flanders. Thomas may be a solid pick, too, but maybe Thomas has been spreading himself a bit thin. I feel like Sagan's lack of results are causing people to underestimate him -- he's really an incredible rider and he's obviously not too old.

Sakari K said...

Thank you for the response.

You bring out an interesting point about strength being the most important factor, and when I think about it, it makes sense.

I hope Sagan has the confidence to make a big move and stick it out. I can't help but to think that when Paolini at 38 clearly has incredible tolerance for lactic acid, that Sagan might just be a little less fond of suffering.

Good point as well regarding Thomas. It doesn't really matter what happens at Flanders and Roubaix from his point of view. He has had a phenomenal year so far... Maybe Wiggins, if it looks like Thomas isn't up for it.

ps. Great article in here