30 June 2017

Predictions for First Five Stages

I see that I made a mistake in my previous blog post.  I wrote that the Tour de France begins this Sunday, but of course it begins tomorrow, which is Saturday.  My research student has accumulated terrain data and I've run the data through my model.  I won't be able to watch the first few stages as I'll be traveling.  I'll thus put our predictions for the first five stages in today's post and then do my best to comment on the results when I'm able to do so.
  • Stage 1:  0h 16' 48" (prediction)
  • Stage 2:  4h 42' 08" (prediction)
  • Stage 3:  5h 04' 57" (prediction)
  • Stage 4:  4h 48' 37" (prediction)
  • Stage 5:  4h 04' 49" (prediction)
Stage 1 is a short time trial.  I always worry that we'll be a bit slow, especially when such a time trial takes place at the start of the race when cyclists are well rested.  Will a new time-trail record be set tomorrow?  I'll be checking in when I can.  Stages 2 and 4 are flat stages with a few small climbs.  Stage 3 is hilly and Stage 5 is definitely medium-mountain with a category-1 climb at the finish.

I will have to do a lot of reading and catching up when I finish traveling.  In past years, riders have taken the first couple of stages a bit easier than later stages.  We've been a tad fast early in the race on the flat stages.  I'll be curious to see if that's the case this year.

28 June 2017

Return to Blogging and Tour de France

It has been 281 days since my last blog post.  I have missed writing about the Cubs winning the World Series after 108 years of rebuilding.  A thrilling overtime Super Bowl passed without a word from me in this space.  I've missed a lot of opportunities to write.  Even the ongoing 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia has been off my radar (will Germany take it???).  The reason for my long absence is that a personal tragedy befell me just eight days after my last blog post -- nine months ago today.  Many friends, family members, and colleagues have kept me going during incredibly difficult times, but none more than my two wonderful daughters.  They remind me on a daily basis that I can survive inconceivable betrayal.

To those of you who have contacted me in recent months and asked about my blog writing, I offer a heartfelt "thank you" for your interest.   I hope to return to more regular blog writing, beginning with the upcoming Tour de France, the 104th edition set to begin this Sunday in Düsseldorf.  My former student, Chad Hobson, who helped me with the past three Tours de France, graduated Lynchburg College last May and is off to study physics at the graduate level at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  This summer I have Ryan Wainer, a rising high-school senior in the state of New York, working with me.  He has collected terrain data and I'll run them through the latest model that Chad and I put together after last year's race.

I will not be able to put the kind of detail into my Tour de France blog posts that I have inserted in the past.  But I will get predictions up soon.  I can't wait to see if anyone can knock off Chris Froome!  I also hope to get a blog post written that highlights my appearances on Star Talk Radio.  It's good to stroll my fingers across a keyboard once again.