Straight after Chris Froome demolished the field with one of the fastest times ever up Ax 3 Domaines my Twitter feed was overflowing with cynicism about Froome’s performance and suggestions it couldn’t possibly be a clean win.
I’m not going to weigh in on this because I believe it’s dangerous to make judgements based on calculations of watts per kilo and VAMs. For one thing, the margins of error are too great. But a healthy amount of cynicism is good, as we’ve learned from recent history. It’s a thought provoking debate, so for some balanced opinions and analysis in this area, head over to The Science of Sport and Veloclinic.
One thing I keep in mind when judging performance based on estimations, calculations or even directly from power meters, is this answer Dr. Aldo Sassi gave me when I interviewed him:
“Too high of a performance can be an element to suspect unphysiological performance and doping. The problem is how to measure the performance through biomechanics. You have to make estimations, and do to an estimation you always have 3-4% error. If instead you use a power meter, you need to check the calibration of each rider. Otherwise you could have the same errors in the measurement.”
Another message I took from that interview came when I asked Sassi which emerging Grand Tour talents impressed him. He said “Porte, Richie Porte …”
On that note, let’s get on to the stuff I love talking about — the race:
- Chris Froome: he’s more or less won the race already. Imagine what Wiggins was thinking while watching on TV.
- Richie Porte: Absolutely incredible. What more can I say?
- The rest of Team Sky: My goodness. Two weeks of riding on the front for them.
- Nairo Quintana: He burned all his matches too early, but good on him for trying.
- Tejay van Garderen: I’ll say it again — overrated.
- Cadel Evans: He said it best: “My worst day at the tour while healthy … GC is over”
- Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck: Not the same riders they were a few years ago.
- Bauke Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam: Solid ride from both of them, coming in 4th and 5th.
- Rohan Dennis: What a fighter. He came in last place behind the groupetto but still made the time cut. He’s been thrown into the deep end in his first Grand Tour.
With Richie Porte and Chris Froome both high up on GC it gives them freedom to play many cards in the coming weeks. The Tour feels like it’s already been won, but I have a good feeling it’s not going to be as boring as it was last year when Brad Wiggins grabbed the yellow jersey on stage 7 and held on until Paris.
Froome says their intention is the same, but there are some stellar stages still to come.