Saturday, July 08, 2006

Stage 6 - Le Tour 2006 - McEwen's 3rd.

A chase, a catch and a perfect lead out delivered the goods for McEwen - again. Looking at the leadout, it's clear that there's a simple plan. Firstly, it's a 2 man attack, not a long 'train'. So it's mobile and adaptable. At about 4 km to go the leadout rider jumps up to around 20th wheel and picks up McEwen. They then stay back on about 15th wheel until at least the 1km mark, with slight variations depending on where the curves are, if any. From a fairly distant position the leadout rider jumps hard with absolute commitment at around 400m and McEwen, anticipating this, jumps on. So we have 2 aspects here. One, of all the teams they commit first and two, they do so from behind their main rivals. It's a surprise attack. The end result is that they begin accelerating probably 30 metres before any other lead out 'launches'. They thus out-anticipate the other 'launches' and grab the early momentum. That initial jump gives McEwen not only the speed he wants but a gap on the others and causes his rivals to respond. In effect he makes the play and the others can only follow. Of course by jumping first from behind he has accelerated to a higher speed earlier than the others and has just to wait for his lead out to pull over before he himself sprints. Today his lead out man left some room on the left and blocked the rival sprinters from advantaging themselves by grabbing Robbie's wheel. Bonus points there!

It will all change after tomorrow's TT. Expect the big players in the GC to emerge.

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