Friday, February 23, 2007

Bike Throws - Tour of California Bettini

When I saw the picture of Bettini winning the stage in the 07 TofC I was unimpressed with the TMobile rider Gerard Ciolek since he wasn't throwing his bike. In the picture his torso was clearly ahead of Bettini. This means a bike throw would have guaranteed Ciolek the win.

Having seen this "lack of a throw" numerous times in races at the lower categories (i.e. the Cat 3's-5's, including races I do), I started thinking that maybe the new pros don't know what they're doing (if Ciolek doesn't know how to throw a bike, who does?) and other things like that.

Then I saw more pictures on The following sequence (first, second, third) clearly shows that Ciolek was not sprinting for the right line - he sprints through the finish. He actually looks at Bettini as if he's wondering why Bettini was throwing his bike. This shot shows him throwing the bike correctly, just at the wrong time. It looks like he threw his bike about 3 or 4 meters late - you can see the finish line 3 lines back.

I'm wondering if he threw his bike using photographers or a banner as a guide. This is a typical mistake.

Cardinal rule of sprinting: Sprint for the line on the road. Don't sprint for photographers, finish line banners, or things like that. The line on the road could be well before or well after the normal landmarks.

So I have to take back what I thought about the new pros and new generation of racers. Ciolek did a great job to end up contesting the sprint when more favored racers couldn't get close. He did an excellent bike throw. He only made one mistake but it was enough to deny him a victory.

And I can't fault Ciolek for that mistake, sprinting for the wrong line. After all, I did the same thing in one of the best races I ever had. Ciolek will learn from his error.

Just like I did.

No comments: