14 July 2013

Froome is King of the Mountain!

Chris Froome gave Team Sky a huge win today after beating Nairo Quintana of Columbia to the top of Mont Ventoux.  Our prediction was just terrible.
  • Stage 15:  5h 48' 45" (actual), 6h 30' 17" (prediction), 41' 32" slow (11.91% error)
This stage is, by far, our worst predicted stage of this year's Tour de France.  Below is Froome's unbelievable average speed for today's win.
  • Stage 15:  11.60 m/s (41.72 kph or 25.92 mph)
To give you some idea of why we are stunned by what has been happening in the past week, consider a few more details about today's stage.
  1. As I wrote yesterday, today's monster climb began after 221 km (137 mi) of cycling.  When the lead cyclists reached that point today, they were averaging just a hair under 47 kph (29 mph).
  2. Knowing that climbing Mont Ventoux was ahead of them, cyclists had biked 30 km (19 mi) longer than yesterday's Stage 14, and the leaders had an average speed 2 kph (1.2 mph) greater than yesterday's winners.  Granted, yesterday's stage had more climbs than the first 221 km of today's stage.  Still, that is quite a pace for a distance that exceeds all but two stage lengths this year.
  3. My estimate is that Froome finished at 4:33 pm local time.  The Tour de France's website created three time schedules based on three average speed estimates.  Those estimates were, from high to low, 39 kph, 37 kph, and 35 kph.  The time schedule has the finish time for the fast average speed estimate at 4:58 pm local time, 6h 23' after the race started, and 5:41 pm for the slow average speed estimate, 7h 06' after the race started.  As I've noted in my last couple of posts, I hope those looking for live action in France are getting to various points along the route well in advance of the time schedule estimates.
  4. When Juan Manuel Gárate of Spain won Stage 20 in the 2009 Tour de France, which was a 167-km (104-mi) long stage that ended atop Mont Ventoux, his average speed was 35.87 kph (22.29 mph).
  5. When Richard Virenque of France won Stage 14 in the 2002 Tour de France, which was a 221-km (137-mi) long stage that ended atop Mont Ventoux, his average speed was 38.61 kph (23.99 mph).  Froome biked 21.5 km (13.4 mi) farther today, and it took him just five minutes longer than the time Virenque needed in 2002.
  6. When Marco Pantani of Italy won Stage 12 of the 2000 Tour de France, which was just 149 km (92.6 mi) long and also ended atop Mont Ventoux, his average speed was 35.03 kph (21.77 mph).
I joked with a few colleagues yesterday that if today's winner had an average speed over 40 kph, I should jump out my office window and see if I, too, can fly.  To see nearly 42 kph as the winner's average speed for this stage boggles my mind.  180 cyclists beat our time today; one did not.  Froome clearly retains the yellow jersey as well as the polka-dot jersey.

What has happened in the Tour de France this past week has been unprecedented.  Not only do the cyclists need a day off tomorrow, I need a day off to get my head to stop spinning.

Our sure-to-be-slow prediction for Stage 16 will be posted tomorrow.

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