Aug 21, 2009

How to win a sprint, by Tom Boonen

Or, How to come in second, despite having better fitness, by Tyler Farrar.

I've been waiting for an American sprinter to show some form for a while now, so watching Farrar these last few months has been a real treat. He's got a lot of potential but still a little rough around the edges, as Tom Boonen shows here.

From the beginning of the of the last turn, it begins to unravel for Farrar. Follow Boonen's Red, Yellow and Black through the video to see whats going on.

2:01 The peleton enters the last turn; Boonen is just inside and behind Farrar.
2:02 Boonen takes a tight inside line while Farrar takes a wobbly outside line
2:04 The group comes out of the turn and Boonen and Farrar bump, Farrar cedes the better line.
2:06 Behind Boonen, Farrar fights with Chicchi for Boonen's wheel and eventually wins it.
2:10 Farrar is forced to close the gap that opened while he was fighting for Boonen's wheel. All this while Boonen has had a clean, steady wheel to follow
2:18 Farrar is still in good position, on Boonen's wheel inside of 500 meters. Boonen has a slightly better position behind Mark Renshaw (aka the reason Cav won all those tour stages), but Farrar should have a good enough sprint to make up the difference.
2:20 Boonen starts his acceleration and moves right, Farrar slides to Boonen's right. This is the key point in the sprint, Tyler needs to make use of the open space to the right and accelerate past Boonen or back off and wait for a differnt line, but instead hesistates.
2:21 Farrar starts his acceleration, but it is too late.
2:23 Boonen has moved right and closed the hole Farrar was trying to use.
2:24 Farrar has to stop and restart his sprint to the left.
2:26 Farrar is boxed in by Renshaw and has to wait to come around Boonen.
2:28 Enough of a gap opens that Farrar can accelerate, but he's within 50 meters now and doesn't have the space to get around Boonen.

All of this happens in less than 30 seconds and its never a bad thing to be runner up to a guy with Tom's resume, but if Tyler had made just a single decision differently, he would have had an easy win. Tom illustrates how the right moves can make up a big difference in fitness at the end of a race. Nevertheless, Tyler has shown to be in the top level of Euro sprinters which is the first time an American has been there.

1 comment:

No One Line said...

Ha. Every time I come to your blog I'm startled by Jens Voigt's voice as that video automatically starts playing.

Nice break-down of the sprint. Took me a few replays to see everything you mentioned. It's cool to see pros who are so on their game that it's the really tiny things that make or break a sprint... as opposed to the madness of a cat 4 sprint... I wonder what a similar break-down of any of the times I've sprinted for a place would be like.

*mattio sits in good position, sixth wheel.
*Riders at the front slow and look around.
*Front is swarmed, mattio gets boxed in, loses lots of position.
*Somebody attacks and three people jump after him and get two seconds up the road
*mattio is still boxed in.
*The pack hits the final corner, and mattio passes six people who swing way wide.
*mattio goes into the wind to pass a few more people, wondering who the right wheel up here is.
*The people in front start sprinting, and then blow.
*mattio's wheel sits up before sprinting.
*mattio jumps around the nonsprinters to catch the blown people
*mattio sprints around the blown people to catch the people who haven't yet blown (Victor Lopez).
*Lezsek Sniadowski jumps from behind mattio and thunders down the road.
*mattio struggles to catch a wheel
*mattio has timed his sprint poorly and is blown 20m before the line. again.
*mattio finishes 5th. again.