Froome isn’t cheating

Last week, Chris Froome won the Tour de France General Classification by four minutes and five seconds.  When compared to his total elapsed time of 89:04:48, Froome beat second placed Romain Bardet by .0736% over the course of the race.  If that was found to be the statistical difference for a new training method or piece of equipment, even Dave Brailsford might scoff at it.  That’s less than a rounding error of difference.

When Sky started up in 2010, they set the goal of winning a grand tour within 5 years. With their focus on the marginal gains involved in the sport, they were able to win the Tour de France within 2, a truly incredible feat.  As I explained in my post on the strength of marginal gains, using a tactic that provides a small boost every day over large periods of time will eventually lead to large effects.  When we talk about marginal gains, we talk about finding that one percent extra in performance.  But in pro cycling, where everyone is already trying to find every advantage that they can get, one percent is massive.  If Froome had won the Tour by one percent, his gap to second would be fifty three minutes and twenty eight seconds, a huge margin (25th place in this TDF).

Team Sky’s reported budget for the 2016 season is 29.1 million Euro ($32.5 million), which is presumably the highest in the World Tour.  For comparison, Tinkoff’s budget is 22.8 million Euro and AG2R’s is just 14.1.  The average in the World Tour is presumably closer to the AG2R number but we are unsure because teams are not required to disclose these numbers to the public.

There has been a lot of speculation over the past several years as Team Sky has won four out of the last 5 Tours.  This speculation has included both mechanical and biological doping, neither of which I believe Team Sky participates in.  While this does have the air of US Postal, you can see from my calculations above that their winning margins are tiny.  One of the main pieces of evidence being pointed to is Froome’s data from the Alpe d’Huez climb where he seems to easily drop his opponents with an attack while his heart rate does not move.  This seems fairly easy to counter: have you ever had issues with accuracy of your heart rate monitor readings? Exactly.

Another claim that I have heard is that “there’s no new science that should be giving them this edge.”  With a 29 million euro budget and the help of British Cycling, which is funded by lottery money, they would likely be able to either conduct their own experiments or see things in research that others don’t.  That budget gives them the resources to try anything, including stupid stuff that no one else would try.  In addition, it buys them wind tunnel time, nutritionists, strength training coaches and physical therapists.  They will be able to hire the best of everything and in the end, that is probably enough to give them a 0.736% edge.

Spokes out.

 

Mi viaje en español

*I’m working to improve my spanish so this is going to be a quick rundown of my spanish education and a quick recap of my race this past weekend

He estado estudiando español encendido y apagado para diez años ahora. He tenido clasès comenzando en escuela de medio hasta nivel diez. En mi tercer año de colegio, estaba tomando demasiado clasès para continuar con español. No reincià con español hasta mi segundo semestre en la Universidad de Maryland.

La clase fue “Español intensivo intermedio” y la professora me disgustaba. Por accidento, ella tropecè sobre mi pie en el empiezo del semestre. Despues de esto, la clase fue muy dificil para mio. Nunca he sido bueno con la usa de acentos y este clase tuve mucho escritura. La problema continue en mi segùn clase “Gramatica en español”. Este clase tuve un foco en los acentos y tambièn la professor fue horrible.

Ahora, ha sido un año y medio desde la termina de mi ultima formal clase en español. Estoy inscrito en mi tercer clase de español en universidad para el verano, “Literatura en español”. Estoy muy excitado para estudiar una otra lingua de nuevo.

Kitchen Road Criterium
Este pasado sabado, fui a la parque aptitud de Bob Rodal en Trexlertown, PA para una carrera. La carrera fue veinte y cinco miles en un regazo de un mile. Yo era activo para los primero diez minutos antes de descanso para quince. Atacado varios veces antes de descanso en el pelotòn para diez màs. A quarenta minutos, un hombre al fremte de yo toca ruedas y chocò. Yo evitè el hombre pero alguien golpe mi cambio trasero y el rompiò. Allì, my dia termine.

The stars and stripes: part 2: electric boogaloo

I’m pretty annoyed that I forgot to write yesterday and broke my streak of Thursday posts. But by the time I remembered, I was in bed with the lights out so it just wasn’t gonna happen. Anyway, here we go:

I have now had a few days to absorb the end of my semester and the race at collegiate nationals. This year’s events were special because they were the last for my teammates Eric and Ryan. Next year, it will be my last as an undergraduate at UMD. It’s crazy to think that just three years ago, I was a wide-eyed high school graduate. That was the first year that I took up road racing seriously. I look back now and see that I have come a long way but after this past weekend, I realize how much farther I have to go.

image

The three amigos

In the road race, I was permanently dropped from the main group 25 miles into the 72 mile course. In the criterium, I was dropped after 3 laps. I finished 3 minutes slower than the winner of the individual time trial. And now, I couldn’t be more motivated.

image

Dying on lap 2

While there are some people who seemingly just “have it.” There are those with the tactical knack or the genetic ability to put out a sickening amount of power. But there are so many more who invested their time and worked incredibly hard to get where they were. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

image

Believe it or not, we started racing at the same age

My goals for the year haven’t exactly gone how I was hoping. An injury derailed my fitness in April, and as a result, I’m behind where I want to be physically. However, I feel much farther ahead mentally than I did at this point last year. Thanks to some philosophy lectures and a couple good books, the pursuit of life seems like it comes simply. Not easily, but simply. By taking care of the same, small things every day, I’ll be able to succeed where others have failed, even when the path seems unclear.

Spokes out.

Don’t stop believing

Over the past couple of months, I’ve started reading more self-improvement and motivational material.  Like I mentioned a couple weeks ago, my coach had me reading “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson, and onto that I’ve added “The New Toughness Training for Sports” by James Loehr and “Thrive Fitness” by Brendan Brazier.  The number one thing that I’ve taken away from each book is that success does not come from one herculean effort but from doing the same thing that has a positive effect every day.  As a kid, we are very consistently told that we can be anything we want to be.  However, you can’t be something just because you want it.  You can be anything that you believe you can be and that you work hard for every single day.

This brings me to this week and probably the most important lesson I’ve learned yet in cycling: positive thinking will take you places you never thought you could make it.  I have been pretty down on myself this week because of my lacking fitness after a month without structured training.  It resulted in a not-so-great showing at the NCSU Wolfpack Classic last weekend and the All American Road Race on Saturday, which was only a Category 3 race.  Yesterday, I was slated to do the Greenbelt Training Race A group, which regularly attracts some pretty strong riders.

As I rolled around before the start, my legs felt cold and dead even after a few hard uphill efforts.  Not ideal for facing the smattering of 1s and 2s who I’d be racing against that night.  The first couple of laps went OK as I was able to match the high-end efforts and even attempt to bridge to the winning break (unsuccessfully).  However, after the initial adrenaline wore off, I started to fall deep into the pain box.  The course is a 1.4 mile loop with a 70 foot climb, which put me the hurt on me each time.

About 9 laps from the end, I was gapped for the first time.  At NCSU just a week and a half earlier, I saw a gap form and let it go, I gave up.  I was demoralized from a poor showing in the first half of collegiate season and an injury during the second half.  But yesterday, something clicked.  My teammate Ezra won an early season RR on a flat tire and sent the team an email about how positive thinking allowed him to stay in it and win.  As the field roared away, I remembered it, powered forward and caught the group.  During the race, I was gapped 3 times but managed to claw my way back on each time to finish just behind the group sprint.

On a comparable course with a field nearly as strong as I’ll be facing in the USAC Collegiate Nationals criterium next Saturday, this result gave me a lot of hope.  My fitness is better than I thought but my disposition was holding me back from showing it.  If I hadn’t been thinking positive and believing in my own abilities to race, I doubt it would have ended with such a positive result.  From now on, whenever I get down on myself, I will make sure to remember to stay positive.  Otherwise, I’ll just be ensuring my own defeat.

Spokes out.