29 June 2013

Less than 1% off Stage 1!

German Marcel Kittel took this year's first Tour de France stage win, which also happens to be Kittel's first ever stage win in cycling's greatest race.  A big crash marred the end of today's competition, knocking out favorites like the Manx Missle, Mark Cavendish.  A bit of serendipity helped Kittel escape the crash.  Below is the comparison between Kittel's winning time and our prediction.
  • Stage 1:  4h 56' 52" (actual), 4h 59' 17" (prediction), 02' 25" slow (0.81% error)
I think we'll take that start for this year's race!  We were glad to see the winner come in under five hours.  About halfway through today's stage, my student, Brian Ramsey, contacted me and informed me of headwinds reaching 10 kph (6.2 mph).  I told him that we might be fast with our prediction if headwinds continued to dominate the action.  Instead, racers found themselves aided by tailwinds at the end of the race.  We were lucky to have the weather average out a bit for us.  We aren't good enough weather forecasters to include wind, rain, fog, and/or massive fluctuations in temperature and humidity in our model.  The inclusion of crashes is obviously something we can't do either.

Kittel's average speed is given below.
  • Stage 1:  11.96 m/s (43.05 kph or 26.75 mph)
Tomorrow's Stage 2 picks up in Bastia and finishes 156 km (96.9 mi) away in the French commune of Ajaccio.  The medium-mountain stage takes riders southwest through the heart of Corsica.  Along the way are two category-3 climbs, followed by a category-2 climb to get to the 1163-m (3816-ft) peak at Col de Vizzavona.  A great downhill sprint on the other side of the mountain gets riders thinking about one final category-3 climb before a relatively flat finish.  Below is our prediction.
  • Stage 2:  3h 51' 28" (prediction)
I hope the three big climbs don't tire riders out too much.  The best of the best should finish in under four hours.  A great downhill awaits the cyclists and we fans tomorrow!

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