An interesting piece on statistics and basketball. - ty Andrew
ToC is done and I've heard some amazement at the fact that Armstrong was able to predict how much time that he would lose to Levi in the time trial. For those of you who still believe that bike racing is largely about guts and being "super-motivated" you may want to stop reading now. Predicting the outcome of the TT or for that matter, the outcome of a mountain finish isn't really that hard to do if you know a few things.
If you know the sustain wattage of the riders at threshold. ( which Lance would have as they're teammates)
If you know the drag difference between riders ( negligible on climbs and not significant between Levi and Lance)
The weight of the riders ( also known)
If you know the terrain and distance of the event ( known quantities)
and you assume both riders aren't sick or injured.
At that point its a matter of punching in sustained wattage at threshold over distance. Then factor in weight/terrain and if necessary drag. Then you'll have an approximation of what their finishing time will be. Even if some of your assumptions are wrong, you should have a decent idea of of the difference of their times relative to each other.
Dr Michele Ferrari may be guilty of providing riders with drugs, but he's not guilty of being an idiot. Years ago he created for his clients ( including one Lance Armstrong) a catalogue of VAM. VAM was a measure of riders rate of assent over various climbs. By establishing the VAM he could, essentially, back his way through the formula described above and figure out power output and projected climbing times for various riders. That's one of the ways that Lance knew to let Pantani go away during stage 15 of the 2000 Tour De France, Ferrari knew that Pantani would only about 30 seconds at the top based on his previous recent performances.
That might take some of the beauty and mystique out of the grand tours, but it also goes to show how Johan Bruneel and Lance Armstong's legendary preparation and attention directly contributed to his 7 victories.
Some other point the the same topic:
- The theory also reinforces the point that LeMond made, which was ignored and which I think eventually got Catlin bounced from Armstrong's team. Once you've established a baseline wattage/kg at threshold, riders shouldn't see a significant increase in that wattage unless there's something funny going on.
- Lance already has his team accumulating this wattage and VAM numbers on other riders. This of course includes the information he has the greatest access to...that on Alberto Contador. Lance will start the tour knowing whether or not he can outclimb and out TT Countador. Regardless of what he says, that will be the only factor in deciding who will be team leader.
- Classics, largely, are immune from this sort of scientific application. Classics races are too dynamic and unpredictable....which is why they remain my favorite.