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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Why TTs so important in TdF this year?

    I've read several times now remarks about how this year the time trials are especially important. Why? Compared to the previous 7 years, it looks pretty typical to me. The exceptions, if any, were 2004 - which had a short (but steep!) first ITT, and last year, which had a short initial Stage 1 ITT (same as 2000). But 2006 looks very typical.

    1999
    Stage 8 ITT 56km
    Stage 19 ITT 54.5km

    2000
    Stage 1 ITT 16.5km
    Stage 19 ITT 58.5km

    2001
    Stage 11 ITT 32km
    Stage 18 ITT 61km

    2002
    Stage 9 ITT 52km
    Stage 19 ITT 50km

    2003
    Stage 12 ITT 47km
    Stage 19 ITT 49km

    2004
    Stage 16 ITT 15.5km (Alpe d'Huez)
    Stage 19 ITT 55km

    2005
    Stage 1 ITT 19km
    Stage 20 ITT 55km

    2006
    Stage 7 ITT 52km
    Stage 19 ITT 56km
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 05-01-06 at 11:51 PM.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Good point. Everyone keeps saying the course looks like it is designed for Ullrich, but I don't see why, particularly after looking at the list you posted. I wonder if it has to do with the nature of the ITT's. Do they avoid uphill finishes? I wonder if that has something to do with the ITT/Ulrich buzz

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    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    -There are 3 TTs this year. ~115k total. All flat. Jan Ulrich is pretty damn good at TTs. Better than Basso.
    -No TTT this year. Advantage--> Ulrich. Disadvantage--> Basso. CSC would destroy all of the other teams this year if they had the TTT, but, no luck for them. Time not lost is time gained.
    "If a non personal post makes you feel as if you've been attacked, maybe the problem IS you."

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Why do people think there was such a change this year? Does it have something to do with how the French love the runner up and they want to give Ullrich a chance after coming in 2nd so many times?

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of Kent
    There are 3 TTs this year. ~115k total.
    It's very typical to have a flat prologue and two long flat ITTs, See 1999 ( ~117km), 2001 (99km), 2002 (108km), 2003 (106km).

    As far as the TTT goes, with the new rules, it wasn't a big deal either. Last year, for example, CSC beat T-Mobile by 33 seconds, but that got Basso only 28 seconds over Ullrich (since CSC lost only 2 seconds to Disco, and the most 3rd place can lose is 30 seconds).

    I just don't see what the big deal is. I mean, yeah, every second counts, and if the difference between 1st and second comes down to less than a minute, then it might matter. But it's more likely these factors won't make or break the podium. We'll see.

    The key is that it's more important to have support in the mountains on your team this year than to have fast time trialers.
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 05-02-06 at 12:40 AM.

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    It's the relatively long, relatively flat TT's with fewer mountain top finishes. Only 2 days in the Pyranees and only 3 Mountain top finishes. Fewer chances to take time in the mountains makes the TT's comparatively more important.

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Let's take a step back. Where do the contenders get time. There are only 2 places. Time Trials and mountian stages. If the mountian stages look soft then the time trials become more important.

    As to the race favoring Ulrich the composition of mountian stages can make a big difference, sometimes in subtle differences. Cut out just one mountian top finish and advantage Jan. If the slope of the final climb is 6% or less that would tend to favor him also. And it does matter where in a ride the climb happens. For example if there is a day with 4 cat 1 climbs and one is cat 1 mainly because it is steep but another is cat 1 because it is long, but not steep and those are the first and last climbs of the day it wouldmake a huge difference which is first and which last. If the steep climb (unsuited ot Jan) is first even if it breaks the field to pieces the odds are that at least the contenders will be back before the end. If it is last every second Jan loses on the climb are still there at the end of the day.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I think the time trials will be so hotly contested that there will not be any big time gaps. If so, that means the race will be won in the mountains. There, about 10 guys with genuine belief they have a real chance to win will intentionally and unintentionally conspire to attack and attack Basso and Ullrich. Eventually, because of the numbers, I believe at least one of the 10 will succeed.

    There is always haranguing about the significance of the time trials before every Tour, but in the end, the race is always won or lost in the mountains. Particularly with such an abnormally large group of true contenders for the podium, this year will not be any different.

    Perhaps we should look at each of the '06 mountain stages in more detail? When I get a chance, I'll start a thread on that in the tdf forum.

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I think the time trials will be so hotly contested that there will not be any big time gaps. If so, that means the race will be won in the mountains. There, about 10 guys with genuine belief they have a real chance to win will intentionally and unintentionally conspire to attack and attack Basso and Ullrich. Eventually, because of the numbers, I believe at least one of the 10 will succeed.

    There is always haranguing about the significance of the time trials before every Tour, but in the end, the race is always won or lost in the mountains. Particularly with such an abnormally large group of true contenders for the podium, this year will not be any different.

    Perhaps we should look at each of the '06 mountain stages in more detail? When I get a chance, I'll start a thread on that in the tdf forum.
    That is simply not true. Most obvious example is 1989 when Lemond won the Tour on the final tt on
    the Champs-Elysées. In 1990, Lemond won the TDF without a road stage win, by being able to time trial. Indurain won his tours by dominating the time trials and hanging on in the mountains. Armstrong was a dominant time trialist, and that was a huge part of his 7 wins. In his latter tours, he could not put time on Basso in the mountains, and won because of the time he put on him in the time trials.
    Jacques Anquetil was also a superior time trialist and won his 5 tours by time trialing and hanging on the moutains. These are just the ones that jump to memory.

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    and if memory serves, Ullrich won his one TDF by limiting his losses to Pantani on L'Alpe de Huez and beating him in the time trials.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I'm not saying the TTs don't matter at all. By "the race is always won or lost in the mountains" I'm saying that you can't lose much time in the mountains and still win the Tour. The time trials, at best, are the equivalent of tie breakers in other sports. And I don't see this year being any different.

    If the key leaders all finish the mountain stages within a minute or so of each other, then, yeah, the time trials may determine the outcome. But with so many true contenders, and three mountain top finishes, I find that scenario difficult to imagine. I think the major time differences coming from the mountains to be more likely. But we will see. We will see.

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
    That is simply not true. Most obvious example is 1989 when Lemond won the Tour on the final tt on
    the Champs-Elysées. In 1990, Lemond won the TDF without a road stage win, by being able to time trial. Indurain won his tours by dominating the time trials and hanging on in the mountains. Armstrong was a dominant time trialist, and that was a huge part of his 7 wins. In his latter tours, he could not put time on Basso in the mountains, and won because of the time he put on him in the time trials.
    Jacques Anquetil was also a superior time trialist and won his 5 tours by time trialing and hanging on the moutains. These are just the ones that jump to memory.
    Eddy did pretty well in time trials also. Also what was perhaps his biggest 'mountian stage' win depended a lot on his time trialing ability.

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    Banned. El Diablo Rojo's Avatar
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    All things being equal the course is better suited to Jan. Having said that I still think Ivan will beat Jan because he will A) be in better condition from the get go (yes I know everyone is saying Jan is in better shape this year but past is prologue with this guy) and B) CSC is a better team. From Riis to Basso this team is the best team on the planet. Everyone knows his place and will dig as deep as possible to get Ivan on the top step of the podium in Paris.

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I'm not saying the TTs don't matter at all. By "the race is always won or lost in the mountains" I'm saying that you can't lose much time in the mountains and still win the Tour. The time trials, at best, are the equivalent of tie breakers in other sports. And I don't see this year being any different.

    If the key leaders all finish the mountain stages within a minute or so of each other, then, yeah, the time trials may determine the outcome. But with so many true contenders, and three mountain top finishes, I find that scenario difficult to imagine. I think the major time differences coming from the mountains to be more likely. But we will see. We will see.
    This year could well be the exact opposite of what your suggesting if Ullrich shows up on form. Ullrich at his best would likely get over a minute on even a now better time trialing Basso between the prologue and the first tt. Then the question becomes whether Ullrich can limit his losses on the mountain top finishes, most notably L'Alpe de huez, to stay within 90 seconds of Basso coming into the final TT. Then it's a drag race on the final TT ala Fignon/Lemond. I'm sure this is what the Organizers had in mind. It's now up to Ullrich to show up on form and take advantage of the chance that's been set up.

    The point is that they both matter, and the TDF has often been won in the Tt's and by just not losing it in the mountains.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo
    All things being equal the course is better suited to Jan. Having said that I still think Ivan will beat Jan because he will A) be in better condition from the get go (yes I know everyone is saying Jan is in better shape this year but past is prologue with this guy) and B) CSC is a better team. From Riis to Basso this team is the best team on the planet. Everyone knows his place and will dig as deep as possible to get Ivan on the top step of the podium in Paris.
    If Basso and Ullrich were the only serious contenders, this would make sense. But I think there are far too many good climbers who can be close enough after the 1st ITT before they get to mountains that the race will be impossible to control. If it was only Landis that they also had to watch. Or only Mancebo. Or only Cadel. Or only Rasmussen. Or only Levi, etc. etc. Or only a couple of those guys. That would be one thing. But there so many. Now, they're all only potential threats at this point, and surely the prologue and particularly the ITT, maybe a crash or two, or even a tactical mistake on a flat stage, will weed a few of them out. But the point is, by the time they get to the mountains, there will still be too many serious contenders, not just Basso and Ullrich, for anyone to control matters. The strong teams will push like hell to limit the attacks, but the true contenders will hang on, and then they will begin attacking. This is the nightmare that everyone always envisioned for Lance and never came to fruition, but this year, with Lance gone, it just feels totally different. One of these guys is bound to get away, and stay away, and then have an inspiring final ITT, enough to hold on to his lead over Basso.

    The only problem with this scenario is that first guy to accomplish this on the first mountain stage will be marked thereafter. Perhaps the trick (say for Levi) is to hold back on the first ITT, so they let you get some time (and the overall lead) in the mountains, figuring you'll lose it in the final ITT, and then really give it all you got in the finall ITT, holding on to your lead.

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    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    The time trials are always hotly contested. Do you honestly think those guys are only giving 95% out there or something? Basso wasn't resting up for the Champs-Elysee with hopes of winning the final sprint on stage 21 last year, you know. He gave it his all and still got his @ss handed to him. There will be time gaps, I'm guessing 2+ minutes between the #1 GC finisher in the TT and the #5 GC finisher. Floyd is coming on very strong in the TTs, and Ulrich will always be up there. Basso's form is yet to be seen. Valverde hasn't shown anything resembling a GC performance in the TTs yet.
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    What I'm saying is because so many feel they can WIN the TdF (now that Lance is gone), they're all focusing much more on doing what is required to win, including improving in the TTs. That includes not only Floyd, but Levi, Vino, George, Mancebo, Valverde, Mayo, Cunego, Cadel, etc.

    Lance is gone, yes, but he really raised the bar. This is not '99 all over again, where it appeared wide open. When was the last time you could really name about a dozen true contenders to win the Tour? They're ALL motivated in a way that they have never been. There is no one there this year that they believe is unbeatable. That makes a huge difference in training and preparation. The guys at the starting line might have the same names as last year, but they won't be the same guys. They will be better prepared and more motivated. You don't hear all this mamby-pamby "I hope to get in the top 5" talk, like we heard during the LA years. No sir. These guys are thinking top of the podium, baby, that's gonna be me. And it's not 2 or 3 of them. It's around a dozen, if not more. And that's not even including guys like Bobby J and Chechu who are probably thinking top 5 or maybe even podium, even though they're working for someone else. This is not about Basso and Ullrich. This will be a race. Mark my words. Well, there they are.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    What I'm saying is because so many feel they can WIN the TdF (now that Lance is gone), they're all focusing much more on doing what is required to win, including improving in the TTs. That includes not only Floyd, but Levi, Vino, George, Mancebo, Valverde, Mayo, Cunego, Cadel, etc.

    Lance is gone, yes, but he really raised the bar. This is not '99 all over again, where it appeared wide open. When was the last time you could really name about a dozen true contenders to win the Tour? They're ALL motivated in a way that they have never been. There is no one there this year that they believe is unbeatable. That makes a huge difference in training and preparation. The guys at the starting line might have the same names as last year, but they won't be the same guys. They will be better prepared and more motivated. You don't hear all this mamby-pamby "I hope to get in the top 5" talk, like we heard during the LA years. No sir. These guys are thinking top of the podium, baby, that's gonna be me. And it's not 2 or 3 of them. It's around a dozen, if not more. And that's not even including guys like Bobby J and Chechu who are probably thinking top 5 or maybe even podium, even though they're working for someone else. This is not about Basso and Ullrich. This will be a race. Mark my words. Well, there they are.
    Hmm. My crystal ball was pretty good back in early May...

    Anyone still think the mountains weren't so important this year?

  19. #19
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Hmm. My crystal ball was pretty good back in early May...

    Anyone still think the mountains weren't so important this year?
    Well, it would appear the race is going to be decided in the final TT, so I'd argue your crystal ball had it a bit backward. No one said the mountains weren't imortant. You were trying to argue theTT's aren't, and clearly they are important. If Landis wins the TDF, it will be because of a suerior perfromance in the two TT's.

    And your crystal ball was working an Uhllrich/Basso match, so I'd say it was damn couldy.

  20. #20
    DocRay
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    The mountains are always important.

    What is sad is the comparisons made in May: Pantani, Ullrich, Basso: doper, doper, doper.

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