Team Sky support riders can’t control everything

How much support do you need, if that isn’t too personal a question? This week we saw one of Sky’s support riders win Paris-Nice, largely because of the efforts of HIS support team, while a parallel Sky team has provided the same high level of service to Chris Froome in Tirreno-Adriatico. Where does it end? I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the guy who cleans their cycle shorts getting a full lead-out on his way to the toilet.

Third-best in first place

If Richie Porte rides the Tour, he’ll have both Froome and Wiggins ahead of him in the pecking order and yet he was strong enough to ride away for a victory on stage five of Paris-Nice and then again in the stage seven mountain time trial (finishing in much the same time as when Wiggins won on the same course last year, incidentally).

The stage five win came because Porte only had to ride a kilometre without a Sky-clad windbreak in front of him. His team-mates had protected him up until right near the end of the stage, giving him a crucial advantage over all his rivals. The very next day, Sky used the exact same tactics in Italy to help Chris Froome to a win on stage four of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Complete control?

Nah, it all went to shit today. Stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico had plenty of climbing, but not in the long, steady form that is easy to analyse and plan for. Instead, it had this kind of crap:

Up and down and up and down. A lot of riders struggled to recover from the climb you can see above and this was when Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan started pulling away, Joaquim Rodriguez joining them shortly after. You can’t go off your powermeters on this kind of terrain and Froome had lost all his support as well as significant ground. This rather simplified team tactics from then on. The approach basically boiled down to: “Shit, Chris, I dunno. Do whatever you can to try and catch up.”

He never did catch up and even though I really like Chris Froome, I can’t help but feel pleased that the mathematicians lost for once. It reassures me that the Grand Tours will be races and not processions.

In other news

The Schlecks abandoned. Again.

Cycling is hard and it increasingly seems like Andy has forgotten this.