Ladies Road Race, London 2012

Ladies Road Race, London 2012.

Giorgia Bronzini flatted early on and eventually made it back in the field. Multiple crashes on the slick roads, the field stringing out on the narrow roads.  Kristin Armstrong spending some time at the back of the field, with about 75 km to go, performing what appeared as a trunk pelvic roll off the saddle. She would crash later on, and got nailed on her thigh by a front wheel while on the ground. Evelyn Stevens performed a solid Sidebend Hip Hike off the saddle, bridging to Emma Pooley (Great Britain). Repeated attacks by the Dutch team and Marianne Vos on the climb.

In time a break with Shelley Olds (USA), Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) and Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia). Shelley Olds performing a trunk roll along with a hike, Armistead seemed to restrict the roll to the pelvis. The group worked very well together building a 33 sec lead when Olds experienced a flat, returning to the field. The break would stay away and the field was unable to bring them back in the rain; some of the athletes who could have chased may have be well bruised, fatigued and half frozen, it was a very active race throughout. A nice job with the camera work.

O. Zabelinskaya performing quite a steady TPR off the saddle (15 mi to go), though she would be skipping turns in the break and seemed to bounce somewhat off the saddle with 1 km to go, and would not contest the sprint (Bronze medal). M Vos also seemed slightly out of control when off the saddle for brief moments.

The Cancellara corner proved slippery for the ladies as well, the rider in the lead lost and saved the front wheel slide, no one fell down.

With 8 km to go, Vos encounters a few bumps on the road, popping the pelvis off the saddle, and her movement pattern continuing in spite of that. Vos (Gold medal) took the sprint over Armistead (Silver medal); Vos appeared to bounce a bit off the saddle though the overall sense is that of a very precise sequence (sidebend hip hike) from the helicopter view from behind, though there is a built in drop of the pelvis towards the end of each pedal stroke (more so in climbing). So, provided the events are well timed and orchestrated with the path of the crankarms, it’s a good day. There was another view from above and ahead, which looked very interesting but it was too short for a good feel of the movement. Armistead appeared somewhat disorganized off the saddle on the sprint. In retrospect, Shelly Olds would have had an excellent opportunity to medal, misfortune.

The point of these observations is that the movement pattern is one major substantive reason for a quality performance, whether the need is to ride tempo, climbing or sprinting. By comparison, amateur performances would likely be unstable on the climbs and experience poorly developed movement patterns otherwise. The second feature is tactics, and the options that movement patterns allow, and impossibility for those who rely solely on the legs. The race was a good overall display of tactics and skilled performance from the ladies, good for television, so it begs the question: why not pick one race a year that is televised and highlighted?

Men’s Road Race recap

Men’s Road Race, London 2012.

Team Sky vs Team Sky. Rigoberto Uran took the silver medal, and Sergio Henao was also involved in the breakaway, both members of Team Sky. In addition, the Silver medal was the first for South America in these games. The British squad brought the breakaway within a minute or so late in the race and then ran out of riders. Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were spent; Ian Stannard tried to right the ship but ran out of gas. I would like to have seen each, especially the final km of their performance, and take a look at what their movement pattern looks like, in particular see if they lose the ability to tie the hike to the torso movement. The very brief look at Froome was of someone completely spent. The flat section was supposed to be the final scene in which the sprinters teams would take over, but the reality was that most nations with the exception of the British and Germans were already represented in the break and opted to take their chances in that smaller group instead of watching the Mark Cavendish (Britain), Andre Greipel (Germany) and Peter Sagan show. The Germans were limited to two athletes to work at the front. In the end it was Alexandr Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) on the medal stand.

The issue is that a large group is difficult under the best of circumstances to bring back into the field, and the British may have been just off their game in the aftermath of the Tour de France, the tactic that worked to perfection there was not effective in a one day race. A great effort.

Michael Rogers (Australia), a very nice sidebend with a hip hike for an acceleration. Gregory Rast (Switzerland) with a good sidebend hip hike performance. Tejay Vangarderen (USA) working selflessly to help the team in the breakaway, with Davis Phinney (USA) just missing a medal. It was very difficult to pick out the movement patterns with the movement of the motorcycle, shadows, narrow roads and a relative lack of contrast in the uniforms. Phillippe Gilbert (Belgium) gave it a good go with a Sidebend Hip Hike performance and good steady camera work. Did Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) slide the wheel on the painted road? A bit surprising for someone who is comfortable in the Spring Classics. He would have reacted immediately to Uran’s acceleration as he broke away from the group and Vinokourov the only one who recognized the risk.

At the finish, great sportsmanship in congratulations among the gladiators. A good feeling, athletes genuinely happy at the success of a longtime foe.

Road and Time Trials. London Olympics 2012

Road and Time Trials. London Olympics 2012.

Women’s road race. Brian’s crystal ball.

Gold: Giorgia Bronzini, Silver: Shelley Olds, Bronze: Marianne Vos.

I have had a chance to take a look at G Bronzini, S Olds as well as E. Stevens and Kristin Armstrong in action. If it comes down to a straight sprint, then Bronzini should take it, she has excellent technique. For example her movement pattern includes an excellent blend of the SBHH and the TPR, rides with great composure constantly sizing up the competition. S Olds has a comparable set of skills to Bonzini. The one event which may upset that scenario is foul weather and a breakaway, and any team with numbers will have the advantage. Athletes with great chances include Nicole Cooke, Ina Teutenberg and Evelyn Stevens. Great opportunity to watch the ladies in a road race, though the video feed was pure entertainment in the Beijing Olympics; and we will wait and see if there are movement patterns we can highlight. This may be the only race which is transmitted so it’s a disappointment that the talent cannot be displayed properly.

072812. Ladies road race. The forecast is for periods of rain at noon. We have a better idea of the course now, and endless feast of turns and narrow roads. The field may accordion on the turns and stretch out repeatedly, leading to a fair amount of attrition and a good opportunity for a breakaway of 5 riders. I would really like to take a look at the quality of their performance, the depth in the field and how well they resolve the climbs and any chases/breakaways.

Women’s Time Trial. Brian’s crystal ball malfunctioned.

Sorry folks but other than Kristin Armstrong and Evelyn Stevens, I don’t have a sense for who will medal. I did take a look at K Armstrong’s position from the side on the time trial bike, and I hope nobody is attempting to imitate it. It looks like a positional disaster, and I could only presume she is able to muster a movement pattern (SBHH), she performs very well in time trials and appears to have recovered well from her latest injury. 072812: Evelyn Stevens is not scheduled in the time trial.

Men’s road race.

Gold: Mark Cavendish, Silver: Andre Greipel, Bronze: Peter Sagan. The key here is whether Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will have anything left from the Tour de France. Motivating features will be friends, family and a sea of Union Jack’s to cheer them on, not to mention the race goes by one of the Royal residences. Sagan accelerates within a split second, he can bridge most gaps, but he seems to need space; busy lanes may make it more difficult for him. Dark horses will be Tyler Farrar, Mathew Goss, Fabian Cancellara, Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Freire. Farrar has something to prove, though his movement pattern appears at times disorganized much like Tom Boonen’s. Cancellara is fully rested but his mind will be at home. Valverde had a good Tour and if he sees an opportunity he will make someone pay, the same goes for Freire. Teams are small, in no mood to chase, so look for breakaways to emerge late in the race.

Men’s time trial.

Gold: Fabian Cancellara, Silver: Taylor Phinney, Bronze: Tony Martin. Of these riders, I only have a good feel for the movement pattern of Cancellara (trunk roll, hip hike) and more or less an idea of Phinney’s. As dark horses, I would put David Millar (who should be very motivated) and Tejay vanGarderen who rode an exceptional Tour de France and time trialed well. Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will perform well, but how much power will there be in the engine room? Finally, honourable mention to Sylvain Chavanel, who has time trialed well lately though at the expense of his ability to climb. Hopefully, the video camera perspective will be good and we can see some quality movement patterns.

Finally a note on women’s soccer, while all the attention is headed in the direction of Alex Morgan and Abby Wamback; one player who has been playing very well, disassembling the defense and creating opportunities for scores with great ball movement and vision.

Stage 19, Bonneval – Chartres (ITT)

Stage 19, Bonneval – Chartres (ITT) 53.5 km

A Vinokourov, quite stylish in his skin suit, performing a good hip hike motion.

A Brajkovic tends towards a more undulating version of the SBHH while A Kloden seems to rotate the torso, bringing the hip into a hike movement.

T van Garderen, certainly a SBHH movement pattern, though with frequent repositioning which he accomplishes by popping off the saddle and then pushing back. Very similar to the way in which G Hincapie did several years ago. The question is what the impact is over an hour for the time trial, working out to 60 repositionings. The second issue may be how stable he is in that position, especially if the road is not particularly level. He is more than likely too far forward on the saddle, and most riders are at the tip. Not meaning that someone in the learning phases of their development should imitate.

P Rolland, taking care of a trunk roll apparently bringing a hike into the mix. C Froome, also repositioning, though not clear how often. Quite active weight shifting on the aero pads, which is one important purpose for them.

B Wiggins clinches the Tour de France for 2012 with a SBHH which has greater clarity in this TT position. If the team remains relatively intact, Wiggins could manage at least another win, especially if surrounded with teammates who can time trial and climb. V Nibali rode a very solid Tour, challenged at every opportunity and gave it all he had. Will someone be able to create a break and sustain it next year? Perhaps someone like A Contador; who can also time trial effectively. Wiggins had the help of his team to bridge any early gaps, and able to take charge of things himself (by and large) by virtue of magnifying his SBHH movement pattern on command, on any gap, and moving about freely even when the group was stretched out. This was a supremely confident and effective performance from beginning to end. On the final stage in Paris, he and the team might be driving at the front for Cavendish rather than arriving within the safety of the group. Risky, but they came to race.

Stage 18, Blagnac – Brive-la-Gaillarde

Stage 18, Blagnac – Brive-la-Gaillarde 222.5 km

A few notes from this stage; in an earlier note I noted the trunk pelvic roll of A Hansen, and this was apparent on one of the final “climbs” nearing the finish. The flavor of his movement may have included a hike motion, all well enhanced on that climb, meaning that the adjustments to changing conditions need to come from the movement pattern. This does not mean that one can suddenly transform the sprinter into a climber, but perhaps extend their reach somewhat without affecting their primary skill set.

At some point I saw D Millar, in the breakaway, off saddle-hands on the hoods, performing a very fine set of hip hikes, with an apparent absence of sidebending motions. I am not saying the trunk is still, but that movement is not clear from my vantage point (the TV broadcast).

B. Wiggins made a brilliant bridge, leaving it to E. Boasson-Hagen to lead out (he somehow found some energy after spending much time in a breakaway) and M. Cavendish to deliver brilliantly, who performed a TPR to the finish. When his sprint is discussed only in terms of aerodynamics, positioning and equipment in the coming weeks, the root cause for the performance will be ignored. Power has to come from somewhere, right? To reduce everything to a simple muscle twitch does not cut it, there is such a wealth of movement that goes unappreciated. The essence of the performance is in the well orchestrated skilled movement of the torso and pelvis, with the physiological environment to support such a skilled movement.

L Paolini was seen performing the SBHH off the saddle, though the impression that as the race conditions changed he adapted his movement pattern to the situation. One rider with a very clear TPR off the saddle, was A Kloden, on a very tight axis of rotation.

The Wiggins lead out is remarkable especially at this stage of the tour, when the team would have benefited from an easier day. How they were able to pull that one off is remarkable, though the chances of success are good and the opportunity to lead Cavendish out is a unique opportunity. Teams with divided leadership tend not to accomplish much; it’s generally one goal or the other.

Stage 16, Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon

Stage 16, Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon 197 km

The riders are on the Col d’Aspin, overall the special movements of the torso and pelvis do not appear to be very smooth at all. Certainly, the sense of the overall movement pattern remains intact; for all I know the effort on the “downstroke” in relation to the remainder of the pedal stroke remains about the same, but you can’t rely solely on the downstroke. So the need is (from the view point of the athlete), where else can I apply effort in the pedal stroke where I can maintain pace with the group as well as transition from one quadrant of the pedal stroke to the next. Relying on the “downstroke” the so called power area of the pedal stroke is the greatest misconception since the discovery of the wheel. The solution is related to the direction of the “line of pull” of the pelvis, and the hip hike in this case, and the relationship to the path of the crankarm. This provides not only power but also dynamic stability.

That was a bit of an editorial, but need to place things in context. Back to the athletes, J Voigt certainly his usual dangly self, a roll motion combined with a hip hike. B. Feillu, quite a fluid movement while riding with Voeckler: off the saddle climbing with a nice combination of the sidebend and a hip hike/roll of the pelvis, which riders can match with the path of the crankarm. These movements are not exclusive and they can be cobbled together. Something the amateur athlete is generally unable to do. On the descent he appeared to exaggerate the pelvic roll for some quick spurts of acceleration.

C. Evans spending much time off the saddle, though unable to accelerate or go faster than seated. We later learned he had an intestinal issue. Sorensen riding with quite an exaggerated sidebend motion, he certainly has his own unique style, and quite effective at it.

On the Col de Peyresourde climb there is a nice overhead view of Voeckler off the saddle, hands on the hoods, and a nice fluid sequence of the sidebend hip hike-textbook. Off saddle and hands on the drops the sequence changes to the roll motion, again a nice display. Though with Voeckler, you really don’t know how his technique will look, one moment it looks like the most uncoordinated display, the next things look good. Regardless, he gives it the best effort, and this tour he has succeeded twice, I don’t think we will see much of him tomorrow unless he wills himself across the stage. Feillu lost it on the climb, unable to generate a crisp movement while seated, and as Sorensen went by he could muster two off the saddle pedal strokes before dropping back down to the saddle. There was a sighting of Basso leading the peloton, or what was left of it, not a clear view of his movements but appeared to have put some life into the SBHH? I do think the way athletes move within a team are contagious, they see someone moving in a certain way and may be quick to adopt it (without realizing it). This can be used to advantage if it fits into your personal way of doing things, but if you look at the wrong person you might find yourself going backwards, losing what brought you to the dance in the first place.

B Wiggins is another story, the engagement of the torso is generally difficult to dissect, and the range of motion of the pelvis tends towards limited, unless he is stressed. He tends towards a sidebend and pelvic rotation which is apparently sustainable. Having said this, do not come away with the impression that there he is perfectly still, he is not, and if you do that you are doomed to failure. So far he looks comfortable, given the heat and intensity of today’s stage heat, tomorrow is the day, and both Wiggins and Froome may be at risk, this is not decided just yet. Some athletes displayed signs of dried perspiration on the jerseys, so if someone did not hydrate or eat properly they may be in trouble.

Stage 14, 2012 Tour de France

Stage 14: Limoux – Foix 191km

A few notes on the movement patterns observed during Stage 14 of the 2012 Tour de France. P. Gilbert for example tends to greatly exaggerate the Sidebend Hip Hike (SBHH) motion while off the saddle, on the steep incline. Seated, he continues to sidebend though he has included a lean motion (bop) to counterbalance the downstroke. This is not likely to make for a fast ascent but it gets you up there. Sanchez also tended to bop the upper trunk on the climb, and many in the small group did the same.

S. Minard also relied on the sidebend while seated and included a pelvic tilt, which I just happened to pick out. I had seen amateur athletes do the same in video, though I will have to see whether this is more common at the elite level. I don’t believe that will be the case. P Sagan managed to rejoin the “breakaway”, and on the climb he took advantage of an exaggerated SBHH while seated, hands on the hoods. Which is required compared with riding on level ground. The hike motion was difficult to pick out, not surprisingly. I think Basso should have a good look at Sagan’s skills and see if he can regain his climbing abilities of years past.

If you want to see a well developed movement pattern on the flats, look no further than J Voigt, with an exaggerated sidebend which he appears to blend with a roll of the pelvis.

I am hoping for good displays of the SBHH while off saddle, in the upcoming Pyrenees, plus good off saddle accelerations.

Stage 13, 2012 Tour de France

Stage 13. 217km Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Le Cap d’Agde

Late in the race, M Morkov is on his own looking quite good with a favorable wind, in fact performing a trunk roll along with a hike motion. This is what I have at some point, referred as a “hybrid” motion of the movement patterns. He would suffer with the cross wind, but continued true to his movement pattern, there is no other choice. He comes from the track and the 6 Day events; it is a certainty that this is the same way in which he performs in the track, so we have a functional connection between track and road events. P. Sherwen remarked on the smooth turning of the legs “poetry in motion”, true but he should look higher up in the kinetic chain for the reason of that smoothness.

On the steep but brief climb up Mont St. Claire a few attacks, but Wiggins does what he has been doing so far (or his team) which is time trial to bring these riders back. Very effective (and remains very confident), but teams need to continue attacking, and the break will stick. Fantastic Wiggins lead out for Boasson Hagen, that was not expected, how that will impact climbing on the following stages, we will find out. Perhaps a way of asserting leadership in the team. The image was not clear, but we could tell the movement pattern was enhanced and certainly the key ingredient towards the acceleration. How will he be able to react later on in the Pyrenees?

Golfing Concepts apply to Cycling

From a discussion of golf coach Butch Harmon with Charlie Rose. The Charlie Rose Show, 2012.

You may be asking what does golf have to do with cycling? Well, a lot actually. In fact, I expect that in time cycling will reach the same type of understanding and excellence in terms of technical analysis.

The point is made regarding “raw talent”, that is individuals which show potential but need “polish” to continue improving. That polish is technical; it refers to the details in the quality of movement. There may be a detail in the performance that when polished or corrected can raise the level of performance considerably. We have all come across riders with promise, who for various reasons did not reach that potential. The reasons are varied, but lets provide these athletes and all athletes in fact with the tools to improve. This brings me to a major point, which is that Harmon works with amateur athletes as well. What a great way to better understand the sport and learn teaching techniques from both amateurs and elite golfers.

Raw talent will clearly rise among the ranks, and some will not require coaching in the technical area. But what of the talent who does need that extra bit of input? He makes the point that current athletes appear to be more uniform in their technique, this arises from the teaching methodologies. However, he personally teaches to the individual, retaining what works for the athlete (and some of the quirks of their movement); but that takes great confidence in his coaching abilities, technical knowledge and a mental picture of athletes may have also exhibited those traits. This is the reason for developing a library of cycling performances that coaches can refer to and build greater effectiveness in their coaching practice.

The point is made that elite golfers have no idea what exactly they are doing, and neither do the cyclists. They have a feel for how they do things, but when presented with the video display, there is a mismatch between the two. By the same token, amateurs also have no idea how they perform, much less that their movement patterns are in need of improvement. So, you end up with two drastically different groups in terms of movement patterns, but who are linked only by physiology and technology.

Projecting forward, to the time when an elite athlete decides to coach, under the current system, there is no way he/she can transfer that highly individualized performance to the student athlete. Nor is it clear that you would necessarily want to do that.

Back to the present or future, what is required is the adoption of effective coaching methodologies that address the movement patterns and coaches ready to roll up their sleeves ready to learn.

Stage 12. Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux

Stage 12. Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux

A brief look at the climb (mid race) and perhaps predictably, P Rolland having difficulty on the climb and his movement very mechanical, would have liked to see if he was able to engage the hike. Voeckler attempting to help him along, if you recall he had trouble with his technique the prior day. Too bad the video was too short to see the movement pattern fall apart (not that Rolland or Thomas V. would have appreciated that).

We move to the end of the 211 km race and Kiserlovski’s SBHH acceleration is neutralized quickly at about 4 km. Keep in mind I am not attempting a play by play, rather the goal is to look at the movement patterns in action, especially when the athletes are exhausted as in this stage. Gautier seemed rather anxious, behind Martinez and Kiserlovski, ready to pounce, but was unable to make it happen. It sure looked like they were all about to fall off their bikes before the finish. At 2 km to go they could have all walked to the finish. It came down to David Millar and J-C Peraud in the sprint, while earlier Millar displayed a Roll motion off the saddle or seated, this was not clear as he approached the line off the saddle when the sprint was engaged (I am sure we could have had a better idea with slow motion and the clone rectangle). Millar does have those “oval” front rings, while he perceives them to be effective in time trial mode, how do they rate on a sprint? Peraud on the other hand relied on the SBHH while seated and the Roll motion off saddle on the sprint. Those helicopter views are a real bonus to the experience.

Eight minutes later, the Peter Sagan and Matthew Goss sprint. Was there an official translation of what Sagan was telling Goss? (none needed). As opposed to the roll motion from Sagan, Goss (it would appear) also relies an roll motion though with a hike motion. Now, Sagan wins with the apparent roll motion, would Goss be better off doing the same? Not really, these are both natural talents and/or learned by imitating others. Are there details of each that could be improved? Time will tell.