Stage 3 of the Criterium International, Corsica.

A solid SKY display, with Vasil Kyrienka leading and withering the field into the final climb of the day. In one of those moments, early in the climb quite a few riders went off the saddle and the group seemed to be transformed into a sea of the SBHH skill set.

M. Rodriquez performing the SBHH seated, in the cold rain, dangling at the back of the group. Losing contact. Then with 10km to go #22 Manuel Boaro, from Saxo bank, was heavily invested in a very marked roll of the torso and a combination roll hike of the pelvis, you don’t see that too often, nicely done. He may have been misidentified during the narrative. Soon thereafter, Thomas Voeckler off-saddle with the SBHH, very fluid and active, but he soon got dropped.

Team SKY’s has appeared to consist of pace setting and a time trial up any significant climb, seems they are telling everybody: “this is what we do, beat us”, they are very successful at that. Today there was a wrinkle to the plan. As Kyrienka peels off the front, Froome picks up the pace and soon takes off leaving Richie Porte in the group. Froome accelerating off saddle with the SBHH, the arms well bent on the hoods and a very active display of skill. He is then joined by a few others, and finding the group not to his liking accelerates yet again off saddle. This was not evident last year, save for the final meters of a stage. It’s not like he accelerated and fell apart, this was very well defined and DROVE this with the movement pattern (hint). Brutal. Soon thereafter, he may begin to show signs of fatigue, yet first and foremost the movement pattern leads the performance. In sum Froome displays a greater depth of skill than had been apparent.

What to expect from the Tour De France? Fireworks, Froome vs. Contador, each capable of accelerating off the saddle and maintaining the gap. That has not happened in several years. There will be other protagonists to be sure.

Paris-Nice, Stage 7 Nice-Col d’Eze, 9.6 km TT

A great finish to the race. Some very good displays of skill, for example Phillipe Gilbert especially on a close up view, fantastic clarity with the sidebend as well as the hip hike. At the same time Nairo Quintana Rojas, unloads with the same technique as Gilbert but off the saddle as he climbs.

For some reason the announcers seem to perseverate on a “power form”, “still in the upper body” or the crucial “head bob”, “rocket position”. These observations have no bearing on the performance or the sport, perhaps inserted when they run out of commentary.

Nicholas Roche on the other hand had what appeared as a torso rotation which is accompanied by a hip hike. Though difficult to pin down.

Finally, Richie Porte in the “aero position” yet still performing a well defined SBHH, apparently more active than Talansky or van Garderen on the climb. Apparently, it is OK to move freely and with skill, as the need is to perform at a high level.

Paris-Nice, Stage 6, 2013. Manosque-Nice.

Simon Clarke displayed a very compact skill which consisted of a torso roll overlapped with a hike motion while climbing off saddle, that seems to be more common than the straight forward TPR or SBHH. During an intermediate sprint (34 km to go) Andriy Grivko and Peter Velits going at it, Grivko had a good start though too early. The interesting thing was that Grivko went with the SBHH while Velits chose the TPR movement pattern, each with their personal skill set, head to head.

If you are a sprinter, what exactly are you doing?

The bunch sprint to the finish was truly that. Basically, a high rate approach to the line with a last minute dash to the line. It did open up in the final moments though, Sylvain Chavanel appeared quite relaxed in the approach, boxed in 4th position. The remarkable thing was the full display of the TPR when he fully engaged the sprint, certainly not feeling the after effects of climbing or the week of racing. Very smooth, nicely done, beating out Samuel Dumoulin, Phillipe Gilbert who both had teams helping them out and Jose Rojas.

Paris-Nice Stage 5, 2013.

Thomas Voeckler spent much of the latter part of the race yo-yo’ing in and out of the group. Thierry Hupond did a nice performance climbing a bit earlier, with a roll motion off the saddle. We can always count on Jens Voigt for an excellent set of skills, which he enhanced as he pressed on an acceleration (as expected). Finally, Cyril Lemoine was dropped towards the end, and yet as he struggled on the climb he seemed to maintain his SBHH movement pattern, rather vertical in position and I don’t know if the position changes when the systems are not fatigued. I wish there had been a better look at D. Lopez’s climbing skills off the saddle, just a frontal view, perhaps enough to get a sample.

Paris-Nice. Stage 4 Brioude-Saint-Vallier. 2013.

Notables on the breakaway of seven, Thomas Voeckler and Huber Dupont. Voeckler displaying a variety of skills, from a predominantly roll motion on flat terrain to a SBHH while climbing off the saddle. Quite a nice and smooth performance for him, he can get quite convoluted when fatigued. Then we have Dupont, who appears to have taken a page out of Voeckler’s handbook, also quite an exaggerated sequence, in particular on the climbs. Courage plus skill make for great performances. Had a brief look at Ivan Basso with about 12 km to go, by then he had given up the ghost, his skill set lacked the required clarity.

The final TT ought to be interesting, hopefully the weather will cooperate.