Phil's Blog

Phil regularly posts here with his opinion on current races, cycling politics, and updates from the ground at Le Tour de France, La Vuelta a Espana, and other major races.

Tour down Under - Underway

Posted on: Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The TdU isn’t just about the celebration of cycling as a sport in Australia. Watching some great racing and working, its my office for a week. Hard yards catching up with old friends and new. I have to dodge and duck around its so busy with loads of important people but eventually you get to the real news.

I am one of the few who didn’t stay on in the sport at some level of management. I yearned to get home and there was no industry in Australia back then. Despite what you see this week we are still in our infancy as a cyclo sport nation in Down Under.

A few folks about.

Yesterday I caught up with Italian Adriano Baffi who is now a director of the American Trek team. We raced through the second half of the 80s and into the 90 in the same peloton and we chatted lightly about numbers and the role of ‘data’ in teams these days.

Step one - selection, NRS Avanti Isowhey confirmed, “gotta pump the numbers first” then consider the attributes.

Baffi flashed up last years data on his phone, yesterday’s race from12 months ago. He knew what power outputs were required and how many pedal strokes from the final corner to the finish line. He knew that if the race was together with two laps to go, there was only a couple of riders in the field able to win.

Now all of that’s fine but you have to be in the right position, the team has to have done its job and there are so many other elements to a race including an almost, dare I say boring predictability.

Teams try and keep data private, that’s fair it’s really owned by the individual rider but it does leak. All interesting stuff, but does it take the thrill and intrigue out of bike racing?

Stats make everyone an expert and it won’t be long they are part of the coverage. But who owns the stats, the riders or the teams. Exploitation of riders by teams and race owners is a bit of a battleground at the moment with Velon’s ideas a bit murky.
The ASO are more than likely going to confirm they own riders stats during the Tour de France and will have a new sponsor to sit next to Go Pro. Strava!

Back to the hard work, I spent more than a few minutes strolling down memory later with Maurizio Fondriest. We rode together from the later 80 and into the 90s with Baffi. We spoke of the time during the Giro in 1990 when I was in a breakaway with himself(Maurizio), Gianni Bugno, Moreno Argentine(3 recent world champions) while they were all looking at each-other I attacked up the side of the road winning by 8 seconds. Never underestimate an Aussie!

Racing was great yesterday with record crowds turning up to see Wiggle Dream Team’s Nettie Edmondson smoke the pro women’s field and OGE’s Caleb Ewan in a display of class to win the mens 50k twilight event.

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Photo's Graham Watson and PA