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Old 07-29-08, 08:42 AM   #1
RiverHills
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Leaving the Tour for Olympics

Here's what I don't understand about Cavendish leaving the Tour for the Olympics:

1) Wouldn't he have known before the Tour started that there would be a scheduling conflict? Why start the Tour if you know you won't be able to finish?

2) Every rider in the Tour is obviously a world-class athlete. So why weren't there more riders in the Tour also participating in the Olympics?

3) The Olympics and the Tour are both world-wide events. Why would there even be a scheduling conflict in the first place?
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Old 07-29-08, 08:46 AM   #2
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reason 1 the tour is a dream for many a cyclist and one of the worlds biggest stages for a sprinter

reason 2 many of the tour's pro cyclists will compete in the Olympics yet their team did not let them abandon the tour

reason 3 the Olympics are a combination of nearly every sport and im sure the Olympic committee did the best the could with respect to all sports.
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Old 07-29-08, 08:54 AM   #3
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I can address the third question: the Olympics and le Tour are both very well-established sporting events with well-established timing. Until quite recently, pros were not allowed to participate in the Olympics, so there was no conflict. Now they're eligible, but the Olympics aren't going to change for cycling as it's such a small part of their overall plan. On the other side, even if you're very new to watching le Tour I think you can figure out that le Tour organizers ASO are unlikely to change anything in their event for someone else's convenience .

EDIT: This assumes a conflict between being able to ride the whole Tour and still do well in the Olympics, which follow it.

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Old 07-29-08, 08:58 AM   #4
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Sprinters are there to win stages, not the overall event. He accomplished that.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:02 AM   #5
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What conflict are you talking about? The Olympics haven't started yet. He left to get ready for the Olympics and he left because it would have been worthless for him to struggle through the Alps. Cavendish was in a race yesterday (I think) in Belgium.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:18 AM   #6
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Sprinters are there to win stages, not the overall event. He accomplished that.
With 4 stage wins, why wouldn't he want to contend for the overall win? Seems like he would have had as good a chance as anybody.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:21 AM   #7
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Yes. He didn't want to burn up his legs in the big climbs, as he's getting them ready for the Madison (track cycling). His Madison partner is Bradley Wiggins, also on Columbia. They have a team goal of gold in the Olympics. Cavs plan at the Tour was to hopefully get a stage win. He FAR exceeded that this year. Expect to see him go the distance next year as a green jersey contender.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:22 AM   #8
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With 4 stage wins, why wouldn't he want to contend for the overall win? Seems like he would have had as good a chance as anybody.
Nope. He hung the lantern out on the hilly stages (along with most of the other classic sprinters). You've got to be able to climb and TT if you have any hope of an overall. Being fast on bunch sprints makes you a green contender, not yellow.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:28 AM   #9
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With 4 stage wins, why wouldn't he want to contend for the overall win? Seems like he would have had as good a chance as anybody.
No, he didn't have as good a chance as anybody...he was way, way back on time, which is what the GC is all about. His sprint wins gained him mere seconds over the GC contenders behind him, but he lost huge chunks of minutes in the mountain stages and time trial. Stage wins mean nothing for GC, other than how much time you cross the line before the other riders...especially this year when there were no time bonuses.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:46 AM   #10
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Why start the Tour if you know you won't be able to finish?

To win the stages that favor a sprinter.

Also, Cavendish could have stayed and finished if he chose to. He left at the point where there wasn't much left to gain (other than a shot of winning the final stage) and continuing was inconsistent with the type of training he needs for his olympic goals.

If Cavendish would have been in the Green Jersey, I think he might have stayed to Paris, albeit, at some cost to his Olympic preperation.

By the way it is not at all unusual for younger riders to drop out of their first tours at a pre planned point.
It is also not unusual for Sprinters to drop out.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:07 AM   #11
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That all makes sense. I guess when I watched him win 4 times, I presumed that he had a chance at winning the whole thing.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:45 AM   #12
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Someone who's more into the track scene would know better than I, but I think the Olympics are a fairly big deal for track cyclists, more so than on the road.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:10 AM   #13
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That all makes sense. I guess when I watched him win 4 times, I presumed that he had a chance at winning the whole thing.
Yeah, it doesn't work like that. The Yellow Jersey winner is the rider that comes in with the lowest time overall, not the rider who wins the most amount of stages.

Everyone, or most everyone, arrives at the same time during the sprinters stages. They're usually long stages with no big mountains. And unless something odd happens, it's not unusual for the whole peloton to arrive at the same time. The sprinters win because their team works for them to win. And they're usually faster over the last couple of hundred meters.

In the mountains, the climbers and GC guys like Sastre and Evans and Menchov pull ahead of the rest of the field because they're able to go up the hills faster than everyone. Part of that is because they're good climbers. But it's also because other teammates pace them up the hills, or go back for waterbottles, and other things. So the pure climbers who might win a mountain stage and the GC guys who might win the overall Tour put a lot of time into the rest of the field.

On mountain stages, the sprinters organize themselves in a group at the back and pace themselves over the hills. They take it 'easy' so that they can save their energy. The peloton and the grupetto (the sprinters group in the back) often lose lots and lots of time in the mountains.

The rider who wins the Tour is often a good time trialer. Sprinters are not usually good time trialers, and often they don't care about longer time trials because there aren't any points for the Green Jersey, and they're already so far behind.

So the overall contenders for the Yellow Jersey are often guys who can climb and time trial well. Sastre is a great climber and a decent time trialer. He was able to cross the line at the top of L'Alpe d'Huez so far ahead of the rest of the field that all he had to do was pull off a decent time trial and he would win. And he did.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:17 AM   #14
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so how did 4 wins for Cavendish not put him in the green jersey for points?
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Old 07-29-08, 11:20 AM   #15
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so how did 4 wins for Cavendish not put him in the green jersey for points?
The points jersey is decided on total points. For the sprint finishes, winner gets 35 points, and the number of points decreases down to about 25th place. However, most stages also have "intermediate" sprint lines at several places along the course. To get the green jersey, you need to "chase" as many of those intermediate points as possible, too. In the end, whomever has the most points wins the jersey. You DO get the biggest points for winning a stage, but even 4 stage wins wasn't enough.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:22 AM   #16
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so how did 4 wins for Cavendish not put him in the green jersey for points?
Because there are sprint points available out on the road. And you don't just get points for winning. You get points for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. So even though Freire only won one stage, he did enough to accumulate the most points.


Edit: What s1nglespeed said.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:11 PM   #17
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The points jersey is decided on total points. For the sprint finishes, winner gets 35 points, and the number of points decreases down to about 25th place. However, most stages also have "intermediate" sprint lines at several places along the course. To get the green jersey, you need to "chase" as many of those intermediate points as possible, too. In the end, whomever has the most points wins the jersey. You DO get the biggest points for winning a stage, but even 4 stage wins wasn't enough.
Interesting...I never saw anyone sprinting in the middle of a stage.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:23 PM   #18
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The points jersey is decided on total points. For the sprint finishes, winner gets 35 points, and the number of points decreases down to about 25th place. However, most stages also have "intermediate" sprint lines at several places along the course. To get the green jersey, you need to "chase" as many of those intermediate points as possible, too. In the end, whomever has the most points wins the jersey. You DO get the biggest points for winning a stage, but even 4 stage wins wasn't enough.
I don't think the intermediate sprints worked out to be of any consequence in the final standings. They rarely are.

More important this year was that there were a couple of rolling stages. Not as many points, perhaps only 25. But If you win a sprint stage while you get 35 points there are several riders you only gain 5 to 15 points on. If one of those riders wins a rolling stage where you are not in the lead group he puts 25 points on you.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:38 PM   #19
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From the Green Jersey Question thread:

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nick, go to: http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2008/tour08/?id=stages and click on 'results' for different stages. You'll find points awarded for intermediate sprints (6,4,2 for first, second, third) and points awarded for the stage finish (which, as lotek notes, vary by stage). You'll also find the cumulative points up to that particular stage.
You only need to go to the first stage. Freire finishes in the first group 7 seconds up and gets 17 points, while Cavendish is in the main pack for 0. At least one of Cavendish's wins had Freire second. So for those 2 stages Friere is up 12 points net on Cavendish.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:42 PM   #20
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pulling out of a stage race to go race another event isn't unheard of at all. Robbie McEwen drops out of the Giro every year to get ready for the Tour.

Riders drop out of the Vuelta to get ready for the Worlds alot, too.

the reason they go to the race in the first place is to get the miles in under race conditions to prepare. Like how guys ride the Dauphine to prepare for the Tour or ride Paris-Nice to get ready for Milan-SanRemo.

Bettini, the current World Road Race Champion, wasn't at the Tour this year at all. he was getting ready to defend his 2004 Olympic Gold Medal.

So it all depends on what a riders goals are for the season and what they and their team management think they can accomplish.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:52 PM   #21
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Interesting...I never saw anyone sprinting in the middle of a stage.
alot of times in the primetime coverage, tehy are already past the sprint points when they pick up the race.

the sprint points are the green circles with an "S" on the stage profile. There's also a money prize at those points.

they do that to make the middle of the stage interesting. The InterGiro compettion in the Tour of Italy is based completely on intermediate sprints. It's the second highest paying jersey behind the Maglia Rosa.

When there are time bonuses on the road, too, you can see these intermediate sprints effect the yellow jersey standings in the first week.

Sometimes a local club will take up a collection and put up their own "Primes" or sprint prizes when the race comes through their town. This happens more in the Giro, but I think the last time the Tour went through Belgium a local club did that.

It's just a way for the locals to try and get something exciting going on when the race comes through their town.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:32 PM   #22
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I think that Cavendish would have held the green jersey had the route been similar to last years. Last years route had six flat stages before the first mountain stage. These stages would have suited Cavendish's stregnths very well.
This years tour had a lot of uphill finishes early on or Cat3 or 4 climbs right before a short downhill finish. Oscar Freire, who is a former world champion, is more suited to these stages than Cavendish, and was able to score many points on these stages, whereas Cav didn't score any. Early on, the green jersey was held by riders better suited for climbing such as Valverde and Kirchen than the sprinters .

Boonen wore the green jersey early on last year. I don't think he would have done the same this year.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:37 PM   #23
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I think that Cavendish would have held the green jersey had the route been similar to last years. Last years route had six flat stages before the first mountain stage. These stages would have suited Cavendish's stregnths very well.
This years tour had a lot of uphill finishes early on or Cat3 or 4 climbs right before a short downhill finish. Oscar Freire, who is a former world champion, is more suited to these stages than Cavendish, and was able to score many points on these stages, whereas Cav didn't score any. Early on, the green jersey was held by riders better suited for climbing such as Valverde and Kirchen than the sprinters .

Boonen wore the green jersey early on last year. I don't think he would have done the same this year.
Cavendish was smart -- he recognized that the green doesn't go to the guy with the most sprint stage wins but to the guy with the most points. You can win every sprint stage and still loose the green jersey. In several of his interviews he said he wasn't interested in the green jersey. He recognized that every time you try to chase the intermediate points, it takes a little out of your legs -- power that you won't have for the finish. He was interested in stage wins and showed a maturity beyond his years in not being distracted by the green jersey.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:38 PM   #24
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so what's the point of stage wins then? there wasn't a spot on the podium for most stage wins.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:43 PM   #25
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so what's the point of stage wins then? there wasn't a spot on the podium for most stage wins.
1) they are worth prize money.

2) they are exposure for your sponsor.

Many professional cyclists dream of winning a tour stage
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