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Old 07-22-12, 12:19 PM   #1
RavingManiac
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Help me appreciate sprint finishes.

It has occurred to me that maybe I'm missing something. I just don't get much out of the sprint finishes while many here get all worked up into a lather over Cav and Sagan. I've never raced, is that the problem? Do you have to have raced to understand it. I see the speed, I see the effort, but being a non-racer it just doesn't do it for me like a mountain top finish or the decimation of the peloton on a greweling climb. I'm not a nube, I've been watching the Tour since the Indurain days, I should get it, I don't. Help me out.
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Old 07-22-12, 12:27 PM   #2
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I've never raced, is that the problem? I should get it, I don't. Help me out.
Race experience will help.
If you never race, then get involved in some large group sprints at the local hammerfest.

"B" rides and lower cats racing won't compare of course, but you may start to appreciate the speed, agility, danger and tactics.
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Old 07-22-12, 12:30 PM   #3
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What's not to appreciate? Blistering acceleration, a train of lead outs peeling off to dodge and jostle amongst... It's exciting, dangerous, fast, everything.


(But then again, I was a sprinter when I raced, so...)
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Old 07-22-12, 12:33 PM   #4
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It's like running a 100m sprint after running a marathon, all while avoiding traffic.
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Old 07-22-12, 01:05 PM   #5
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Many stages are just fast-paced processions. The riders ride for hours, hauling ass, on relatively flat or rolling terrain. No one is liable to ride away and stay away, but someone has to cross that line first, and all those fans at the finish don't want to see a bunch of guys just cruise in, they want to see something exciting. It's like when you're a kid and you've walked home from school with your friend, when you get in sight of your house you look at each other and say "race you the rest of the way!" Racing basics: the first one to the line is the winner.
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Old 07-22-12, 01:31 PM   #6
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It's like running a 100m sprint after running a marathon, all while avoiding traffic.
Not really accurate usually. A marathon is more like a two hour TT. Road sprinters tend to conserve as much energy as possible while sheltered through a sprint stage by their team. Road sprinters are guys who can maintain solid power and acceleration after five hours in the saddle. But they couldn't sprint with pure sprinters. Track and field analogies just don't work when talking about cycling.
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Old 07-22-12, 01:36 PM   #7
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A pack of riders moving at 40+ MPH, jostling for position? Just awesome! .
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Old 07-22-12, 01:51 PM   #8
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3-D chess with all your opposing pieces making up their own moves at the best part of 40mph and making sure you punch your clock at exactly the right split second. A combination of power, stamina, speed and the instinct to recognise and act on that split second.

Oh, and avoiding crashing

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Old 07-22-12, 03:02 PM   #9
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Boy, not really sure how to impart an appreciation for sprinting for a non-newb cyclist and fan. Racing definitely helps as the best understanding comes from actually being involved in a sprint finish in a long race. For most people though that is fairly impractical as a really complete lesson but it is still a lesson. Having just suffered through a long, grueling day at top speeds the experience of seeing (and feeling) sprinters jump away like the rest of the group is standing still provides a fairly tangible appreciation for what these guys are doing. Controlled chaos at unimaginable speeds and accelerations... what's not to love!
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Old 07-22-12, 03:07 PM   #10
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The sprint itself is just the icing on the cake. The last 10 - 20 km is the cake. I love watching the lead-out trains start to form as the speed increases. Then, as each member of the train peels off, spent from their efforts, there's someone right behind them that continues the charge. I thought this year's sprints were great with Cav not being the only guy to watch...although his move on Friday to take that sprint was breathtaking. I loved the final head-on shot when he flew out from behind Sanchez into the middle.
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Old 07-22-12, 05:51 PM   #11
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I learned to appreciate sprints by doing them at sprint specific workouts and a strong desire to go fast which I've always had. It went up a notch being at the finish of a toc stage and seeing what 45mph looks like.
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Old 07-22-12, 06:09 PM   #12
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Thanks all for the reasonable responses. I'm going to have to work on this, but I think at 61 years old I'm a little long in the tooth to start racing now. A lot of times when they're jockying for position on the lead out I can't keep track of who is who, especially if it's an overhead shot. Judging from the remarks my hunch was true that having racing experience enhances appreciation for the sprint.
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Old 07-22-12, 06:23 PM   #13
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Yea at 61 id doubt you would be back up to tour winning form after breaking your collarbone
the previous summer.

Chess is an interesting analogy, if there were a dozen different sets
of knights rooks bishops pawns and kings
each being a team, all on a chess board that had no fixed squares for anyone ..
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Old 07-22-12, 07:06 PM   #14
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A lot of times when they're jockying for position on the lead out I can't keep track of who is who, especially if it's an overhead shot.
Yeah, that can be tough, no doubt. Thats why I don't criticise the announcers, Phil and Paul, because they have a tough job calling those sprint finishes and I think they do a great job at it.

I think you have to see who the sprint contenders are going to be for that specific stage before it begins, what uniforms they're wearing, and even their numbers. Usually, in a sprint finish, there will only be a few contenders and they will be on specific teams. So if you handicap the stage before it begins, you might be able to keep up with the action at the end.


I'm a Tyler Farrar fan, so I am always on the lookout for that blue Garmin uniform with the big "E" on the shoulder at the finish. Yeah guys, I know, I didn't get to see him much at the finishes this year....
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Old 07-22-12, 10:37 PM   #15
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As previously mentioned by dstrong in post 10, to really get a full measure and appreciation of the sprint, it helps to focus on the lead-out trains and the sprinter at the same time (when he finally jumps). This is how I like to watch the sprint. It also helps to have at the back of your mind that it can be very dangerous (the speed and close proximity). And since the beginning of time, humans have been getting excited over dangerous stuff. Add speed to the danger, and I get really excited
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Old 07-23-12, 09:40 AM   #16
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A pack of riders moving at 40+ MPH, jostling for position? Just awesome! .
But to a major degree does NOT come through on the tube. I think the OP might well appreciate things more if he saw even a local race with a sprint finish live. When it clicks just how fast these are going in an emotional sense it might change things for him.
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Old 07-23-12, 09:51 AM   #17
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But to a major degree does NOT come through on the tube. I think the OP might well appreciate things more if he saw even a local race with a sprint finish live. When it clicks just how fast these are going in an emotional sense it might change things for him.
That might be the ticket. Kleinboogie mentioned the same thing regarding witnessing a TOC stage sprint finish. We don't have much in the way of races up here in Maine, they do have a race every year at the Yarmouth Clam Festival, I'll have to try and make it next year. Anything that enhances my appreciation for the TDF and cycling in general is worthwhile.
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Old 07-23-12, 10:55 AM   #18
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That might be the ticket. Kleinboogie mentioned the same thing regarding witnessing a TOC stage sprint finish. We don't have much in the way of races up here in Maine, they do have a race every year at the Yarmouth Clam Festival, I'll have to try and make it next year. Anything that enhances my appreciation for the TDF and cycling in general is worthwhile.
This post adds a lot of tone and background to your previous post. Now that it is established you really want ot enhance your experience viewing and a limitation of location (e.g. limited local racing) has come up I'll take my previous suggetion and extend it a bit.

See if ther eis a track reasonably close. While track riding is very different it is similar enough that you can get a glimpse of the speed and power. And soem top sprinters came from a track background.
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Old 07-23-12, 11:53 AM   #19
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For me it's the logistics of it all. Cav has low power output for a sprinter, so why does he keep winning? The guy and his team(s) are brilliant at knowing exactly where to be at exactly the right time, knowing exactly what gear to be in, when to start hammering, when to throw the bike.

It's like a ballet on crack. Think... competitive cirque du soleil, at 80kmh.

I'm not a racer, never will be, but the sheer number of variables you need to get right on a consistent basis like Cav does absolutely astounds me.
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Old 07-23-12, 07:32 PM   #20
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For me it's the logistics of it all. Cav has low power output for a sprinter, so why does he keep winning? The guy and his team(s) are brilliant at knowing exactly where to be at exactly the right time, knowing exactly what gear to be in, when to start hammering, when to throw te.
I


In my opinion Cav is faster than both Cippo and Peta. At their peaks and with identical leadouts Cav will hit the line first.
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Old 07-23-12, 10:46 PM   #21
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I'm more or less a noob but it doesn't take much to enjoy a good finish. The end of stage 18 was outstanding. Fighting to bring back the break in Paris and then shooting Cav at the line was pretty awesome too.
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Old 07-23-12, 11:21 PM   #22
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I would liken the sprint, to the start of a formula 1 race, truly the most exciting part of the race. 20+ cars trying to squeeze into enough space for 12, all trying to get around the first corner with all their wheels. of course there's no real teamwork in f1 like in cycling. but the chaos seem very familiar to me.
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Old 07-30-12, 03:07 PM   #23
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Many stages are just fast-paced processions. The riders ride for hours, hauling ass, on relatively flat or rolling terrain. No one is liable to ride away and stay away, but someone has to cross that line first, and all those fans at the finish don't want to see a bunch of guys just cruise in, they want to see something exciting. It's like when you're a kid and you've walked home from school with your friend, when you get in sight of your house you look at each other and say "race you the rest of the way!" Racing basics: the first one to the line is the winner.
Maybe you just need to see sprinting from a new perspective.

http://bikehugger.com/m/view/sprinting-with-cavs
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Old 07-30-12, 04:05 PM   #24
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Maybe you just need to see sprinting from a new perspective.

http://bikehugger.com/m/view/sprinting-with-cavs
That was fantastic. Wish there were more of these, especially from bigger sprints with more on the line, lots of competing lead outs, bigger field...
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Old 07-30-12, 04:20 PM   #25
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Maybe you just need to see sprinting from a new perspective.

http://bikehugger.com/m/view/sprinting-with-cavs
Excellent. Wouldn't have fancied taking that last corner like that...

And illustrative of Cavendish's timing.
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