Tour de France 2016 Analysis – Week 1

Cavendish pips Greipel, Stage 3, 2016

With le Tour having finished I think it is opportune to dig into a few things I noticed. This won’t be a stage by stage blow by blow, rather – analysis of segments where equipment (potentially) made a critical difference.

As a general comment, it was nice this year not to see continual massive pileups in the first week (the loss of Contador was a blow) – the drama has come from hard racing and close finishes. It’s the close finishes that I’m most interested in analysing…

Tauranga Half 2016 Results Analysis

This analysis of the Tauranga Half will be fairly brief – I didn’t post it last year, I’d run the numbers but didn’t get time to write them up. So I’m just trying to do better than that this time (a low bar to clear).
As always, we’ll compare both overall averages and those of repeat racers (recidivists).
Also, we captured a good collection of side on bike photos which were posted on Facebook.

Taupo Half 2014 Results Analysis


A quick summary of my first look through the results for the Half today. Will flesh out later but I know that some of you won’t be able to sleep until you know how the day compared to previous years.

Marginal Gains – Clothing

Castelli claim significant benefits to using their aero focussed products. Other testing has verified that there is a significant benefit

For general guidelines on cycling clothing and how to wear it I would refer readers to ‘The Rules’ – mostly they’re about trying to look like a Pro Euro Cyclist, ideally of the Eddy Merckx era. And indeed, I possess appropriate items (steel Eddy Merckx bike with Campagnolo {of course}, Campagnolo woolen jersey and cycling cap etc) to not embarrass myself too much when judged by ‘The Rules’.

However, this is Speedtheory (like Sparta but without the leather) and around here we care about what is fastest with aesthetic considerations relegated to a secondary concern (actually that applies to anything I wear). I shall attempt to avoid Lacedaemonian* brevity in explaining what matters when the focus is on speed.

Marginal Gains – Helmets


One of the most popular speed oriented purchases, though often hotly debated. Helmets rank very high on the speed per dollar (or currency of your choice) scale. However, what is not always appreciated is that the fastest helmet varies by individual.

Recent years have seen the price of new aero helmets skyrocket (as with many other cycling products), partially thanks to brands wanting to establish a ‘halo’ product and partly because the nature of the market has dictated a lot more R&D. For a brand that previously created helmets based on aesthetics it is an expensive proposition to recover the cost of CFD and wind tunnel testing. Additionally the last couple of years have seen the advent of aero focussed road helmets which are a useful new option on the market.

Marginal Gains Monday – Fuel Carrying

The Profile Aero HC is a very nice option if you like to have a straw

If you are riding for a long time you will need to ingest fluid and or food at some point if you wish to avoid finding yourself in a very sad place* – or if you wish to maximise your performance. The other aspect to maximising your performance when it comes to fuelling is choosing where to carry your nutrition.

Triathletes are notorious for loading their bikes with all manner of paraphernalia – it should come as no great surprise that all that extra stuff can catch the wind and slow you down. A bit of careful thought can both mitigate risk (of losing your nutrition) and minimise the impact on aero performance from carrying nutrition.

Marginal Gains Monday – Transmission

MM Pulley

Actually on Monday this week, how novel.

An often neglected area on the bike is the transmission – Pedals, Bottom Bracket, Chain and Rear Derailleur – the parts that transmit the massive watts you’re pumping into the pedals to the rear wheel and thus to the road.

There are gains to be had here too and not necessarily expensive ones either.

Marginal Gains – Tyre Selection Part Two


The long awaited (since last week) sequel to the not so gripping (as I didn’t cover traction as an aspect of tyre performance) first instalment of tyre selection factors. This week I’ll focus on Rolling Resistance and the combine the factors discussed into an overall view.

Unfortunately I hit a snag with some rolling resistance testing last night which delayed completion of the article (some people sleep at night – I hop on the rollers to test tyres).

Marginal Gains – Tyre Selection Part One

Zipp Tyre Aero

As Monday was a public holiday my wife suggested that this weeks article should be called ‘Tiny Tweaks Tuesday’ but we’ll stick with ‘Marginal Gains’ for the sake of consistency. However, this weeks topic is not really marginal – Tyre selection is one of your biggest opportunities to gain (or throw away) performance.

The three key characteristics for race tyres are:

  • Rolling Resistance
  • Aerodynamics
  • Weight
  • Durability

For this week I’ll cover Aerodynamics, Weight and Durability. Part Two will cover Rolling resistance and the overall picture.

Marginal Gains Monday – Handlebars


On the face of it, not a particularly exciting topic – bars tend to be a bit forgotten as riders focus on the obvious items like frame, wheels and groupset. But bar choice can make a real difference to performance so it’s worth paying attention to them. Logically they have the potential for significance as they’re one of the first parts of the bike to hit the wind.

Obviously there is a significant difference in shape and setup between road and TT bars, but the principles by which they are (should be) selected are the same.