10 July 2013

Tony Martin Blows Away Time Trial!

We continue to be stunned by speeds at this year's Tour de France.  German Tony Martin won today's Stage 11, an individual time trial.  He was 12" faster than second-place finisher Chris Froome of Great Britain (Froome retains the yellow jersey) and 01' 01" faster than third-place finisher Thomas De Gendt of Belgium.  That is quite a gap between first place and third place!  Below is Martin's winning time compared to our prediction.
  • Stage 11:  36' 29" (actual), 39' 23" (prediction), 02' 54" slow (7.95% error)
Below is Martin's average speed.
  • Stage 11:  15.08 m/s (54.27 kph or 33.72 mph)
Let's try to put that average speed into perspective.  Today's time trial took place over 33.0 km (20.5 mi).  Last year's Stage 9 was an individual time trial over 41.5 km (25.8 mi).  Bradley Wiggins won that stage with an average speed of 13.46 m/s (48.44 kph or 30.10 mph).  When today's winner, Tony Martin, won Stage 20 in 2011, an individual time trial over 42.5 km (26.4 mi), his average speed was 12.75 m/s (45.90 kph or 28.52 mph).  Granted, those two time trials were over distances more than 25% longer than today's time trial, so we fully expect today's average speed to be greater than the two aforementioned time trials.

Well, what about Stage 4 in 2008, an individual time trial over 29.5 km (18.3 mi), about 89% the length of today's stage?  Stefan Schumacher won that stage with an average speed of 13.76 m/s (49.53 kph or 30.78 mph).  That stage was run in the French commune of Cholet, which sits at an elevation not much different from today's stage.  Winds with tailwind components switched to headwind components as today's action moved along.  Even with a tailwind, we are immensely impressed with Martin's ride!

Our predicted time was beaten by 37 cyclists; 145 came in slower than our prediction.  We thus predicted a time that about 20% of the cyclists beat.  Martin not only beat our prediction, he crushed it.  He and Froome also crushed the other 180 riders today.

Tomorrow's Stage 12 is about as flat as flat can be.  Starting in the northwest French commune of Fougères, the 218-km (135-mi) stage takes riders southeast to the city of Tours.  Below is our prediction.
  • Stage 12:  5h 02' 54" (prediction)
The way stages have turned out so far, we certainly won't be surprised to see a cyclist cross the finish line in under five hours!

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