Results tagged “predictions” from spare cycles

Tour de France 2008 Predictions

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I'm out of town until tomorrow morning, so expect more coverage here once I'm behind my own computer. I wanted to lock in some quick predictions before I got back as there's not much point to making predictions after the fact -- even if that does improve their accuracy.

Much is being made of the new rules and layout to this year's course -- no time bonuses, no prologue, early but short first time trial. The peloton has been risk averse in the past when confronted with new strategic options in the past, so I'm guessing that we're going to see some pretty tame GC racing to start things off. Instead, I'm expecting the likes of Fabian Cancellara to don the yellow jersey once more by either taking stage 1 on a flier (an art he's continued to perfect this year) or winning the first time trial. Garmin-Chipotle could also try and enter the this fray. The team faded quite a bit during the Giro, so I'm expecting their strikes to come early. David Millar may not be the final 5K master that Cancellara is, but he can run a break and laydown a time trial, so early yellow jerseys are within his reach.

It won't be until stage 10 that we'll get a real look at our GC contenders, which should create trouble for teams trying to protect both GC and sprinter interests -- McEwen and Evans for Lotto, Freire and Menchov for Rabobank, Kirchen and Cavendish for Columbia, Hunter and Soler for Barloworld, and so on. Hushovd could have a nice run early on.

My crystal ball is increasingly hazy in the middle weeks but at the end I see Alejandro Valverde emerging with the overall. He hasn't had the best record at the Tour, but unlike the other big favorite, Cadel Evans, he does have a better instinct for the top of the podium. Evans always seems more content to follow and hope that the person ahead will falter. I see Carlos Sastre taking the final spot on the podium, mainly because he has that sort of consistency. I'm hoping the lack of Sastre news means he's been saving himself well for July. I'm tapping him over Menchov mainly because I see CSC/Saxo as the stronger team.

That's all the pontificating I have for now. Hopefully I've laid down enough text that I can at some point in the future pretend to have been right.

kwc.org performance predictions

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With the rest day upon, might as well see how my predictions have scored. 4.5/9 isn't too bad, though when my predictions have been wrong, they've been really wrong.

  • Stage 8: Rasmussen
  • Stage 7: Hincapie (dropped from main pack)
  • Stage 6: Boonen
  • Stage 5: Voigt (Pozzato predicted his own win)
  • Stage 4: Boonen (Hushovd trounced him)
  • Stage 3: Boonen (did anyone pick Cancellara?)
  • Stage 2: Boonen (half-credit on this one, as Boonen gifted the win to Steegmans, taking second instead)
  • Stage 1: McEwen
  • Prologue: Cancellara

Prologue predictions

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Fabian CancellaraGotta lock these in just in case I miss my alarm in the mornin':

  1. Fabian Cancellara
  2. David Millar
  3. Bradley Wiggins
  4. Dave Zabriskie

Honestly, this one is too hard to predict. Cancellara, Millar, and Wiggins all have this stage marked on their calendars; all have shown they have the skills to do it. On another site I predicted Millar, Wiggins, Cancellara, tipping the scales for the home-field advantage. The lack of technical terrain would normally make me favor Zabriskie, but DZ shed a lot of pounds to climb in the mountains and it seems to have cost him some TT power. Suffice to say, I want to see Zabriskie win it and won't be sad to see my predictions wrong. It would be great to see DZ in yellow again, if only for the interviews.

'07 Tour Predictions: Overall

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My predictions are a bit late for my "predict early, predict often" philosophy and I got to get to bed so I can wake up for the 6:30am prologue tomorrow. Here's my quick picks:

  1. Alejandro Valverde: it's probably bad to pick someone who's never actually finished a Tour, but a ProTour champion and a 2006 2nd place Vuelta finisher deserves some respect. Of course, that 2nd place came to none other than Vinokourov. The Astana squad seems stronger, but Vino's aggressive style often costs him big time.

  2. Levi Leipheimer: The Tour of California currently has a perfect prediction rate for the Tour de France (1 for 1), so naturally Levi's victory this year is ensured. Joking aside, Levi's new Landis-like TT position has delivered Landis-like early season results. Leipheimer dialed it back a bit for the Dauphine this year, so it would seem that he won't have the trouble of peaking too early this year, but he simply doesn't have the palmares of Valvderde -- which is probably why Bruyneel signed Basso. This should be Levi's best ever Tour, but I still can't seem him taking the overall win, no matter how loaded the Discovery squad is this year. Discovery and Astana will duke it out big time -- Astana looks better based on more recent race results, but the Discovery train has always demonstrated better tactics than any team Vino is on.

  3. Alexander Vinokourov: I originally stuck Vino at #2 in my picks, but I think he's going to make a mistake that will cost him big. Vino took the Vuelta as his consolation prize last year, which came in spite of his overly aggressive style. I think his tactics are simply too risky in the Tour -- there are many more big riders that can take advantage of his mistakes in a Tour than a Vuelta.

  4. Frank Schleck: I have to do something odd to make these predictions interesting. Having two leaders can be distracting, but it does provide a nice tactical advantage. I can see a good overall result for Schleck if teams are too busy watching Sastre.

  5. Christophe Moreau: A Dauphine win deserves some respect.

  6. Cadel Evans: Evans got fifth last year, but there was no Vino and Valverde crashed out early. There's no Landis this year, but Moreau and Leipheimer seem to promise better results this year.

  7. Denis Menchov: He's a Vuelta winner, but he also faded in the Tour last year.

Today was unpredictable? I say no

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Like many, yesterday's stage 15 performance by Landis convinced me that Landis had this one sewn up despite my amazement that Landis was doing it with almost no team support. Thus, today's stage 16 meltdown was a surprise. But if I had just listened to myself four months ago to this day, I would have been more prepared:

Floyd Landis: "It's the team, stupid": in both the ToC and Paris-Nice, Phonak was very shakable. They pulled through in the end, but I saw plenty of Landis fighting others off on his lonesome in both victories. The Tour de France's many stages require strong team consistency. You can win with a weak team like Armstrong's first victory, but you have to be lucky enough to have most of the major competitors sitting out due to doping violations. Discovery has already shown they can beat Phonak up on Brasstown Bald in last year's Tour de Georgia and T-Mobile put a lot of cracks into Discovery in last year's Tour de France. Even if Landis gets a coveted yellow jersey, I would expect to see isolated on a future mountain stage watching his lead tick away.

Caisse has a strong team. T-Mobile has a strong team. CSC has a strong team even with all their losses. They're riding at the top of this Tour even though all of them lost their leader. Lotto, Rabobank, and Discovery didn't lose their leaders to scandal or injury, and those leaders are riding lower in the standings.

Phonak has been weak throughout this season and throughout this Tour. A strong can protect you when your weak, and, more importantly, strong teammates are strong riders that aren't riding against you. Landis tried to win this Tour on the strength of his own efforts, but finally imploded under the weight. Can't say that's surprising.

NOTE: this isn't bragging about my prognostication skills. I predicted early, I predicted often. I've made many predictions and changed my mind many times since this entry. I'm just pointing out that sometimes things are as surprising as we think, if we just stuck with our gut hunches.

When I made my first set of predictions back in March I stated, "Predict early, predict often." That first set of predictions focused entirely on the American field and I could have predicted a lot less often if I had just stuck altered those early predictions slightly.

As open as this Tour was supposed to be, with Basso and Ullrich in the picture nearly every set of predictions featured them in the top three. Now, it's really open, so it's time to get crazy... (I emphasize 'crazy' here as rabbits must now be pulled out of hats)

Based on this, my new picks:

  1. Discovery (Popo, Azevedo, Savo, or Hincapie)
  2. Floyd Landis
  3. Bobby Julich
  4. Alejandro Valverde
  5. Levi Leipheimer

Hincapie on final approach-1 Landis Warming Up-1 Bobby Julich

Crazy? Absolutely. But with things so shook up I feel like really rolling the dice now, even if I'm being weak by putting 'Discovery' and not a specific rider on top.

Analysis:

  • Discovery #1: Puerto-free Discovery has the strongest team now and I'm a believer in the strongest team winning the Tour. Azevedo will be riding with #1 on his back, Popo has more of climber/time-trialer mix, and Hincapie has amazing experience. They will have to unite behind a leader quickly, and with the altered landscape I think they will be aiming at the top of that podium now.
  • Landis #2: I continue to be in the camp that discounts Phonak's strength, especially with some of their best riders involved in the Puerto scandal. Team strength will matters little less now that two of the dominant teams are now hobbled, but Discovery should have learned from its Tour de Georgia mistakes and hit Landis hard when they need to.
  • Bobby Julich #3: So, here's a bit of nostalgia: in 1998, Bobby Julich finished third overall in the wake of the Festina scandal. His team is minus a leader. Bobby J should be on the best Tour form ever since that 3rd place finish nearly a decade ago. Bjarne Riis is a clev erman and given that I already expected Bobby J to get into yellow for a day or two, I think he can manage to stay near the top with a strong CSC team working for him.
  • Valverde #4: If I were smarter, I would probably put Valverde #1 or #2, but these are the times to be crazy. Valverde is the odds favorite, but I have a hard time getting behind a young rider who didn't finish the Tour last year (knee injury). He finished well in the Vuelta, but that's a different ballgame. I think he will be done in one way or another, though it is probably foolish to put him off the podium -- I had to make room for my crazy Julich pick somehow.
  • Levi #5: He won the Dauphine, but in 2005 he slipped out of the top 5 on the last day and lost his overall lead in the Dauphine as well. Those are important lessons for Levi to learn from, but my reading of the tea leaves is that Levi will have a bad day at least once during this Tour, which will be enough to knock him off the podium.

One more note on the doping scandal: for this many riders to be involved, this has to be the peloton's worst kept secret. Implicated or not, everyone at that level is tarnished for either being in on it or pretending it wasn't going on.

Tour predictions

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Going on the record now, here are my predictions:

Overall:

  1. Basso
  2. Ullrich (it's gonna be close)
  3. Landis (his team is even less strong now)
  4. Discovery rider (either Azevedo or Popovych)
  5. Leipheimer
  6. Valverde
  7. Vinokourov
  8. Mancebo
  9. Mayo
  10. Another Discovery rider (Azevedo/Popo/Hincapie)

Team overall: 1. CSC 2. Discovery 3. T-Mobile

King of the Mountain: Rasmussen

Still haven't decided on sprint/young rider, and -- as you can tell -- I haven't really made up my mind yet as to who Discovery will try and vault up the podium. My guess is that they will send either Azevedo or Popo on the attack and use Hincapie and the remaining rider to try and keep the other contenders from chasing.

Other predictions * Prologue: Zabriskie * Time trials: the first to Zabriskie, the second to Ullrich

Previously: Early Tour de France Predictions: the Americans

Going out of town, Giro predictions

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I'm going off on a worktrip and vacation that will pretty much last the entire Giro, so this blog is going to be quiet for awhile. I figured I might as well leave off with a WAG as to the results this time around. I didn't do so well with the Tour de Georgia, so take this as you will.

  • Overall winner: Basso
  • Savoldelli and Danielson in the top five.
  • Cunego also top five, but not a threat.
  • Multiple stage wins by Bettini and Petacchi
  • Something awesome from Jason McCartney (i.e. breakaway victory)
  • Single stage wins for McEwen and Di Luca
  • Discovery wins team time trial (CSC second)
  • Prologue win by Savoldelli
  • Basso wins stage 11 time trial.

Tour de Georgia predictions

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The first stage was a sprint finish, so I guess it's not too late to make predictions.

Stage 2: JJ Haedo

Stage 3: Zabriskie win + overall lead (Floyd did beat DZ last year and also at the Tour of Cali, but I want to see DZ win)

Stage 4: Ekimov (or some other rider on a crazy break)

Stage 5: Tom Danielson win + overall lead (with Trent Lowe and Popo as teammates, I would have to pick Team Disco on this stage)

Stage 6: Fast Freddie

There's definitely something wrong with my predictions in that Landis isn't on this list. He's so strong that it seems pretty crazy not to have him listed here, but part of me thinks that Landis might tone it down just a little bit so that he can save some form for the Tour de France.

Podium-1-4There's been no lack of Americans in the cycling spotlight post-Lance. Levi, Hincapie, and Landis put in great Tour of California performances. Landis took the Paris-Nice overall and Julich took the prologue. It would have been nice to see Horner, Danielson and Zabriskie get some early spotlght, but the main event is still months away.

I thought I'd take an early stab at making some predictions for the Tour de France. "Predict early, predict often." That way I get more chances to pretend I was right. Fat Cyclist went bolder and did a full set of early predictions for the Tour. I'm just going to focus on the Americans because everyone in America is holding their breath to see if the post-Armstrongians can hold the fort for American cycling.

The gist of my predictions: I don't expect to see any American at the top of that podium in Paris this year. I expect to see many strong performances and stage wins, but we will probably have to wait a couple years. This is hardly a bold prediction. I'll be a little more risky and say that I think you'll see Zabriskie, Julich, and Landis all in yellow jerseys this year. Zabriskie because he's fast. Julich because this is one of his last chances to get one. Landis because his combined time trial and mountain climbing ability gives him a good chance of getting one.

There's more specifics if you'd like to read on