Saturday, May 31, 2008

Giro d’Italia Stage 19 and Predictions

Giro d’Italia Stage 19

Stage 19 (Friday) and Stage 20 (Saturday) represent the last chance for the mountain specialists to make their move on taking the overall in this year’s Giro. Stage 19 was run in terrible conditions, with rain for most of the day. Danilo Di Luca (last year’s winner) made the most of the conditions, and at one stage was the virtual leader on the road. Contador fought back, and closed the gap at the end, and now has a 21 second lead over the Italian. Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) also made his move on Contador, up the final climb of the day, but wasn’t able to do quite enough, and is now only 4 seconds behind.

Vasil Kiryienka ( Tinkoff Credit Systems) took his biggest win to date, attacking the day’s 7-man breakaway group at the base of the Passo della Presolana to finish solo, with 4:36 over Di Luca in second. The big loser of the day was Gilberto Simoni, who battled in the cold, wet conditions, and fell back to 10th on GC at 7:18.

Giro Prediction

Three men are in contention for the overall victory on Sunday. Their current positions on GC are:
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana                      82.29.10
2 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott 0.04
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes 0.21
Taking the Stage 10 Time Trial over 39.4km, and using those average speeds to predict their times over the shorter (28.5km) Stage 21, the following time gaps can be predicted:

Predicted Stage 21 Time

Stage 21 Predicted Time Difference

Actual Time Differences After Stage 19

Final Predicted Time Differences











Di Luca





A couple of questions remain:
  1. Riccò took 0:37 out of Contador on Stage 19. Can he take more than 1:28 out of Contador on today's Stage 20?
  2. Riccò is not a great Time Trialist. Will he be able to repeat his Stage 10 Time Trial performance on Sunday?
  3. Di Luca took 1:45 out of Contador on Stage 19. Can he do even better than that today?
My answer to the above is simple. No. No, I believe Alberto Contador has this Giro firmly in his grasp. He doesn't have to do anything extra to win it. It's up to the other two to try and do something special to take it away from him.

My Condition

Sadly, not much better this morning. I had a restless night, but did manage to get some sleep. Unfortunately, the closest I'm going to get to a bike this weekend is watching the Giro on TV.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Still Sick and the Giro d'Italia Stage 18

Did I mention I was sick? Actually, today I'm worse - now I've got a rasping cough to go along with the rest of my ailments. Every time I cough it feels like my legs are going to fall off! Ever had that feeling? So I'm home, but with no chance of rest 'cos the young 'un is home with me, and being sick doesn't slow him down much!

Looks like my training is on hold for the weekend now - I wonder whether I'll still have a place in my Time Trial team.

Training Stats
I've added a graph to the right hand margin (I hope you can see it). This shows my training distance for the last seven days. The red column is the target for that day, and the blue is my actual km's. This is actually rather meaningless, because it doesn't show the type of training I was doing on that day. For example, the ride might have only been 25 km, but we might have been doing hills that morning. Similarly, a long weekend ride might be really slow (LSD). A decent graph would therefore have to show distance, ascent and average speed, at least.

I have used Google Docs (Spreadsheets) to create this graph. They have a brilliant feature which allows the addition of 'gadgets' which can then be published on web sites or blogs etc. Unfortunately, they are fairly limited, so unless you a bit more tech-savy than I am, the standard graphs they offer can't be modified to include all the features I would like.

Giro d'Italia
Hardman Jens Voight escaped 36 km's out and won by more than a minute from the breakaway group that had been away the whole race. No effect on the overall, but there are a couple of mountains in today and tomorrow's stages, and of course there is still the final time trial in Milano on Sunday. My money is still on Contador!

Firefox 3 is in the final stages, and should be ready for public release in the next couple of weeks. I have used the Beta versions, and it is awesome. Firefox are going to try and set a new Guinness World Record for the number of downloads in 24 hours, so if you want to get involved, click the link on the right of my page. And seriously, if you are still using Explorer, give Firefox a try - you won't look back.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Down In The Dumps

I hate being sick. I have flu, and I hate the sinus pains and the blocked ears and the aches in my joints. I want to climb into bed and only surface when I am well again. I hate dragging myself around at work and trying to concentrate on what I'm doing when I feel at death's door. And I hate missing training, because I know I can't afford to, and everyone else is out their getting fitter and stronger, and raising the bar even further.

Our kids love being sick. They love the extra attention they get, and they love not going to school. And when they're not feeling well, they just collapse and someone will take care of them. I wish I was a kid!

Giro d'Italia

As predicted, yesterday proved to be another day for the sprinters, and young André Greipel took the honours for his High Road team, ahead of team mate Mark Cavendish, who has already won two stages in this year's Giro. Alberto Cantador maintained the race leaders jersey, and probably will until Friday when the next mountain stage might give some of the other challengers a chance to attack him. Todays stage finishes in Varese, host to the 2008 World Championship in Septembers, with two circuits on the 17.4-kilometre course. Watch out for the World Champion hopefuls like Paulo Bettini.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Major Blunder

I was reminded yesterday how careful we have to be in this wonderful digital age of cloud computing, instant messaging and even the lowly email. Our Fearless Leader sent an email to a friend b!tching about another member, and mistakenly copied the entire club, including the person she was b!tching about. I can only hope the fallout is contained, and does not spread through the ranks. There's definitely a lesson there though; if you really have to talk behind someone's back, make sure you scan through what you're emailing before you hit the send button!

The annual local Team Time Trial is coming up on the 22nd of June, and we've decided to enter a few teams of varying talent. Of course, given my current fitness levels, I am in one of the social teams basically on a hiding to nothing. We started our training this morning, although the route to Umhlanga and around Gateway was far from ideal - far too many twists, turns and hills to work on the required skills. The rules are 5 per team, with the time taken from the 3rd person across the line. If this morning was anything to go by, I'll have to sacrifice myself early and then leave it to the rest of the team to bring it home! Gotta work on my fitness...

Today the Giro gets under way again, with Stage 17 in the Northern Lombardy region, around Lake Como (refer the closing scene of Casino Royale). Not too many climbs today, so if an escape doesn't go all the way, it should come down to another sprint finish.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Giro Prediction after Stage 16

Today is a rest day on the Giro D'Italia, and after yesterday's Mountain Time Trial I am sure most of the riders will be grateful for the break. Although only 12.85 km, some sections were up to 24% gradient! If you've ever cycled, you would know a gradient of 12% is steep, and most of us would be quickly onto the granny gear. To make things worse, the top section of the climb was on gravel. Believe me, those guys earned their wages yesterday!

Alberto Contador finished 4th, 22 seconds behind the winner on the day, Franco Pellizotti, but managed to hold on to the maglia rosa (leader's jersey). My money is on Contador to hold onto the jersey all the way to Milano; he has something to prove after the announcement that his Astana Team would be excluded from the Tour de France later in the year. Last year's winner, Danilo Di Luca, is 6th overall at 2:18, and possibly the only one consistent enough to mount a challenge.

General Classification after Stage 16:
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana                        68.47.31
2 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott 0.41
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Serramenti PVC 1.21
4 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre 2.00
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 2.05
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes 2.18
7 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.47
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Group Navigare 4.25
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto 4.26
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group Navigare 5.25
I had my own rest day this morning, although I should have been out there doing hill training with the rest of the guys I train with. Do you ever have those nights where your mind just won't slow down, even if you're physically exhausted? I was awake past midnight, arbitrary thoughts racing through my head, and at some point decided I would need the extra 2 hours sleep more than the ride out to Cowie's. Tomorrow is another day...

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Lanterne Rouge

The Lanterne Rouge is the name for the competitor who finishes in last place in a cycling race.

I thought this would be a fitting name for my blog, as I spend a lot of time off the back of the bunch. This gives me plenty of time for reflection on my cycling abilities, as well as the ways of the world.

The Giro d'Italia is on at the moment, and at last they reached the mountains. After 14 boring stages the race looks to have livened up at last. This week has some incredibly tough stages, culminating with a time trial through Milano. Could go down to the wire. Now if only SuperSport would find a highlights package with some decent commentary...!

I got out on my own bike on Saturday, which is getting tougher to do as the winter months approach. My EMBA license has arrived at last, so I headed for the cane fields on my MTB. Awesome morning, as only Durban can be at this time of year. Cool and crisp as the sun came up, and warming up nicely, which is more than I can say for myself. I just had no legs at all. The bunch looked like they were heading for Balito for some last minute training before the Dusi Mfula next weekend, and soon disappeared into the early morning mist. 12 km's in I stopped chasing, and returned to the parking lot with my tail between my legs. I guess there are worse ways to spend a morning...

Thanks for reading.