Teamwork, syllables and early damage

There’s two ways to do well in a team time trial. You can all sit behind Tony Martin or Fabian Cancellara like trailers or you can share the work around a bit.

For a while, it looked like the first approach was the way to go – Cancellara’s Radioshack Leopard team were first and Tony Martin’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step were second – but then Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team pipped them both.

How many syllables are there in Leopard?

I’ve always pronounced it with two. On ITV4, the two commentators, Anthony McCrossan and Graham Jones, both pronounced it with three: “Lay-o-pard”.

That’s wrong, isn’t it? It’s pronounced the same as the animal, right?


I’m starting to doubt myself, thinking it’s a different word. Indeed, I’ve just checked the phonetics on Wikipedia and it has it down as ‘lay-o-pard’ as well.

I suggest that this is one of those occasions where pronouncing the word using the correct foreign accent makes you sound like a div because there’s a perfectly legitimate English pronunciation of the word which is already in common usage. It’s like saying ‘Paree’ instead of ‘Paris’ or ‘Barthelona’ instead of ‘Barcelona’.

Other handicaps

You might not think a team trial would have much impact on the overall race, but several riders already have large handicaps to overcome. AG2R La Mondiale aren’t made for time trials and so Domenico Pozzovivo has already lost 1m41s while Carlos Betancur couldn’t even finish with the rest of the team and lost 1m59s (he’s been ill recently).

All the big favourites finished within a minute of Nibali, albeit only just in the case of Joaquim Rodriguez who was 59s down. Janez Brajkovic is technically in the race lead, having crossed the line first.

Stage two

A typical Vuelta stage. Flat, but they’ve found a hill for the finish. Here’s the profile. That last bit’s 11km at 5.6 per cent, but it’s not a steady climb. There’s a section at 10 per cent and others that are nearly flat.