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Analytics in Action - Stage 1

Blog

Team Sky takes early lead in slippery conditions

Geraint Thomas (SKY) claimed the first Yellow Jersey of the 2017 Tour de France, winning the opening time trial in Düsseldorf’s dripping weather. His team leader, Chris Froome, was the fastest among the top contenders for the overall win.

Team Sky starts the 2017 Tour in the same style as they finished the last one: leading the field. Despite the wet conditions, Thomas (SKY) averaged 52.28km/h over the 14 inaugural kilometres of the race. That earned him the Yellow jersey ahead of Stefan Küng (BMC), as well as his own teammate Vasil Kiryienka (SKY). Chris Froome (SKY) had the best performance among the top General Classification contenders, already 35’’ ahead of Richie Porte (BMC) and 36’’ ahead of Nairo Quintana (MOV).

Weather was a key factor in this first stage, dramatically highlighted by Alejandro Valverde's (MOV) crash on the wet roads. The Spanish star was riding at 55.1km/h when his wheels slipped in a curve, leading to his exit on the first day.

This is what the weather looked like when the first rider started, at 15:15.

 

A wind of 13km/h might not seem too serious – remember that riders contented with 100km/h gusts last year when the race tackled the Ventoux. But time trials require a very specific type of effort: even the slightest force of resistance could determine your fate. The technology on time trial bikes allows riders to fly through the wind thanks to their aerodynamics, but this also makes them more vulnerable to crosswinds.
 
Also, you can't benefit from drafting by your teammates and rivals. Shelter is one of the main concerns for riders, as it can save a lot of energy. Just ask Peter Sagan (BOH). He's able to tackle just about any race by himself, but he's also prone to exploiting the effort of other riders before making his move at just the right time. Today, however, after a really strong start, Sagan (BOH) faded, losing 8’’ to Thomas (SKY) in the last two kilometres. That's a third of his deficit, and it probably means the Yellow Jersey, which he may have coveted in the coming days, is now out of reach.

Key data highlights:

1.) Geraint Thomas (SKY) reached a maximum speed of 62.57km/h on his way to becoming the first Welsh rider ever to wear the Yellow Jersey on the Tour.

2.) Riding at only 0.85km/h slower than Thomas (SKY), Marcel Kittel (QST) lost 16’’ and is now a contender for the Yellow Jersey going forward, thanks to his sprinting abilities.

3.) With an average speed of 43.94km/h, Tony Gallopin (LTS) was the slowest of all the finishing riders, following his crash.

Previous Article: Analytics in Action – Stage 2 Next Article: 5 ways Tour de France is winning the digital race in 2017

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