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?

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.

Stage 11 from the Tour de France. La Toussuire Climb

Stage 11 from the Tour de France. La Toussuire Climb.

Commentary on the climbing Movement Patterns at the Tour. C. Anke-Sorensen, tending to “bop” the upper trunk when in some difficulty, though otherwise performing a smooth sidebend motion minus the “bop” motion. Athletes do resort to the bop motion, which tends to tilt the pelvis and counter balance the downstroke; however, when compared with a pure SBHH under comparable circumstances I would bet the smoother and refined movement pattern would be more effective. All in all, sometimes guts and heart go a long way, arriving very close to the leaders on the day.

R. Kiserlovski and P. Rolland performed a very nice SBHH off the saddle at around 11 km to go or so. Rolland would go on to win the day, while displaying a very smooth SBHH.

Froome had to go back of the group to recover, and I am not completely certain, that his movement pattern appeared rather choppy. When recovered, it was back to the front, and at some point gapped Wiggins. He would eventually attack the finish line with enthusiasm! I almost have the feeling that Wiggins is isolating the pelvis from the upper trunk, hands on the hoods, a position in which he may have spent most of the day.

T. Voeckler, the very brief image of his performance may have suggested a blown engine (rather convoluted appearance off the saddle). However this is Voeckler, and will no doubt be ready to give it a go tomorrow. Leipheimer, had a rough day, though unlike Voeckler, managed to hang on to his skill set.

Wiggins appears comfortable, though stressed at the end of the stage, his team may be fraying at the edges; the other teams and in particular V. Nibali was unable to capitalize, not for lack of trying. The third week will tell the tale. Could they have given the lead away to another team? That is fraught with danger, as we have seen in the past and may be too late now.

Recap Notes 2012 Tour de France

Notes from the Recap of the Tour De France 071012

Stage 4. Excellent sprint leadout by Adam Hansen, performing the Trunk Pelvic Roll. Greipel takes the stage with a very powerful display of the movement pattern; Petacchi in second place, could not get in the cross wind. Nevertheless, Petacchi continues to be one of my favorite sprinters to observe, though Greipel and certainly Sagan may take over the mantle. The point of view is the smoothness and quality of movement of the trunk and pelvis, and one great vantage point is from the helicopter. I cannot ignore Mark Cavendish, his movement pattern is the Trunk Pelvic Roll, but it is difficult to identify at times, perhaps the issue is the precision of movement. There are of course times when you can see it very clearly, and then it becomes clear why he is a top sprinter.

Stage 6. Sagan displays a very effective TPR movement pattern. Though there may be an indication of a hip hike in the mix of things. Certainly, this is becoming apparent in other top sprinters as well. Granted, this is the helicopter view, and when things are scaled the movement may be very significant.

Stage 7. C. Froome takes a fantastic climbing sprint; took advantage of the Sidebend Hip hike. He was no doubt exhausted and had to exaggerate the sidebend and engage the hike motion. Of note was the off saddle weight shifting on the handlebars, and the “elbow in” timed along with the back sweep, though I do not have the advantage of slow motion and a frame by frame view. The following day on the time trial, he was able to perform basically a similar sequence of movement off the saddle, and on the approach to the finish line. Someone to be reckoned with, reminding the reporter of his results last year at the Vuelta a Espana.

Time Trial 2012 Tour de France

Time Trial at the 2012 Tour de France   

A few comments on select athletes during the 41 km trial at the Tour de France. Fabian Cancellara performed very well; there was the occasional extra effort in terms of engaging the Hip Hike motion, one can speculate that after a hard day in the mountains, he was experiencing minor difficulties in engaging the movement pattern. The latter involves what appears to be a roll of the upper trunk and a hip hike motion. Even with those glitches he has a very distinct movement pattern, and a good example to observe and imitate.

C. Froome, whom I had the chance to see for the first time, took advantage of the Sidebend Hip Hike. Perhaps a sidebend rather than a roll/sidebend combination (Cancellara), suggesting that athletes can take the Movement Pattern building blocks and adapt them to the performance features of the individual.

Wiggins performed a very consistent time trial and an equally consistent Sidebend hip hike movement pattern, which is clear to identify yet the announcers describe him as “solid and just the legs are working”. This has nothing to do with reality. I wish we had a clear view of the pelvis; the uniform yellow color is great for the fans, but a nightmare to observe and identify the movement pattern as it tends to wash out details of the motion. Chances are he will rely on time trial mode for the mountain sections; he would certainly not be the only one, Cadel and Levy being in the same group.

Evans’s performance is difficult to pick up; it does look like a sidebend hip hike motion. The perspective was clearer during the prologue, he performed the sidebend and hip hike at a high rate, to set the rpm (not the other way around). Certainly, he performs a roll motion off the saddle during the climbs, which is distinctive from how he does that on his road bike.The view of Nibali was very brief, nice flow on the sidebend hip hike.

Most of these athletes sat mid saddle (Cancellara) and forward (Evans). Performance is at the highest of levels, though this happens by transferring his or her movement pattern from the road bike to the time trial situation, given the need to perform and obtain results. Ask an amateur to do the same on the “aerodynamic position” and the odds that he will be able to do anything of note are poor. When in doubt, replicate your position on the time trial bike and bring the grips and aero pads to the athlete.