Gianni’s Carbon Ball: Sir Twiggo

All Haul Ass. Photo: Sirotti

The glow from the Giro is still visible, everything is still pink but I’m jumping ahead of all the Wilcocksons of the world with a bold Tour de France prognostication. And to do this  I’ve borrowed Frank’s carbon ball, oft used for somewhat accurate predictions of future cycling events. This article was written weeks ago, at the start of the Giro but the frenzy of creative writing out of the front office has kept this buried. It’s now or never.

What can you say about Twiggo? I can say he is heading towards a win in the Tour de France this year.

I have raised issues with a rubbish haircut and cycling knee socks but these are superficial stylistic issues. Who am I to do that? I’m shiet. We need as many free thinkers as possible in cycling and if Bradley or Vaughters have different sideburns, excellent. Conformity is over-rated. Forget the socks, have you noticed his profile on the bike. He has the flattest back in the peloton and not by chance. I bet he and Sky are ticking every stinking little box to get this done.

He won Paris-Nice riding like a true professional, taking up Moser’s method of cooling down after each climbing stage by riding a stationary bike. He won Tour of Romandie like a seasoned veteran and won a field sprint for a stage win! He is winning these on his time trailing strength but not losing them by always riding at the front and climbing well enough. Yes, the Tour is different, the climbs are harder but he is a better climber than the Schlecks are time trialists. He did podium in last year’s Vuelta. He is experienced enough to not chase down every acceleration on a stiff climb, he just tempos it out, smoothing out the highs and lows. Bradley is one smart rider.

How does he stack up against Cadel? That is the question better informed people than myself would hope to answer correctly. Cadel’s mojo has been tainted so far this year and the Tour is still far away but mojo is mojo and his is bad. If Basso does not make the top five in the Giro, my mojo indicator is working and I’ll stand by it. Sorry Australia, you had a good (but short) run. English types, enjoy these years, they won’t last. They never do. And you from Luxembourg, we will talk in private.

The internal Sky problem of Cav versus Twiggo is solved -the Olympic road race is not far from the end of the Tour and Cav is the home field contender for Olympic gold. He will bail early, Sky will put their eggs in a basket made of Twiggs. How can I say these things with any authority? I can’t, I have none, look at my VSP points. But come the end of the Giro and Basso is smoking like a hippie’s motorbike, (which is a bad thing, not a good thing) then my mojo meter is obviously working and who has the big brain then?

Postscript: Basso did finish in the top five of the Giro, barely, so my mojo indicator is not completely tuned in. It could have something to do with the solar maximum. Twiggo has reported in from his secret base in the Atlantic that he has climbed to the moon and back, daily, so he is still ticking boxes. I’m still feeling good about all this.

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194 Replies to “Gianni’s Carbon Ball: Sir Twiggo”

  1. @Gianni
    mainly I was I was watching the race instead of getting my predictions in on time… ;) Plus my strict Cat 5 training regimen was taking up lots of time…

  2. @ChrisO

    While we look at Gianni’s carbon balls I thought it was worth going back and looking at the VSP picks, courtesy of Frank’s data (page 10 if you want to look) about the frequency and rank of picks in the VSP.

    I took the ranking data and weighted it – so each 1st place pick got 5 points and fifth place 1 point etc, excluding the surprising number of picks of people who weren’t actually riding.

    With weighted scores the table was:
    1 Scarponi 517
    2 Basso 412
    3 Kreuziger 338
    4 Rodriguez 194
    5 Schleck F 143
    6 Hesjedal 132
    7 Cunego 95
    8 Rujano 53
    9 Gadret 44
    10 Pinotti 22
    11 Pozzovivo 21
    12 Uran 19
    13 Visconti 11
    14 Ballan 9
    15 De Gendt 6
    16 Goss 6
    17 Ituralde 4
    18 Van de Velde 3
    19 Thomas 2

    There were another 10 who received only 1 pick in any position so I’ve excluded them as random noise… whoever picked Flecha for the win !

    So clearly our podium, in order, was Scarponi, Basso and Kreuziger.

    This also reflects that more people picked Scarponi for first, Basso for second (after Scarponi actually, but only by one pick) and Kreuziger for third, just by number of picks.

    Fourth and fifth were closer – in weighted score it was Rodriguez, followed by Schleck. But Rodriguez didn’t top the picks in any position – Schleck was most popular for fourth (and fifth) followed by Hesjedal for fifth. Hesjedal was sixth in the weighted scores.

    So we had consensus that it would be Scarponi, Basso and Kreuziger on the steps, with Schleck, J-rod and Hesjedal battling for fourth and fifth.

    The conclusion is that we collectively know fuck all about it.

    We got three of the top five but not in the right order and only one of the top three.

    We got only five of the top ten.
    One of the actual top ten wasn’t picked by anyone.
    Two of the actual top ten were picked by fewer than five people.

    Our top three collected 61.8% of all picks.
    The actual top three got just 16.2% of all weighted picks.

    Four of the actual top ten had just 1.5% of all weighted picks between them.

    On the other hand, had you taken the top 10 and put a bet on each of them you would have come out well ahead. Hesjedal was quoted at up to 50-1 just before the race.

    I don’t know what the each way odds were but that would have produced a decent return as well with De Gendt and Rodriguez.

    I’ve said this before – going with the herd in the VSP picks is the safe option – you’re likely to pick up some points – probably the herd average. It rewards conformity – and if there’s one thing we aren’t its conformists – hell no.

    Is there a way to incentivise risk taking? Maybe giving a multiplier to those picking riders with less than, say, four other picks? Or would Frank’s head explode?

  3. One simple way to do it would be to hide the picks until the event starts, not that I’m advocating it.

    I was more interested in the ‘wisdom of crowds’ aspect and whether any collective insights were to be found.

    Apparently not.

  4. Even if you hide the pick’s most will still go with general press punditry – they just won’t take their cues from here.

    Maybe you could divide the points of each winning rider by the number of people picking them. So if Nibbles wins and everyone and their best friend has picked him you get 0.0000000234 of a point but if Judas spite us all by winning the you get 5 points divided by the one person that picked him.

  5. @Erik

    And why did the cover photo for this story change? Eh?

    Our Italian friend and great photo, Pedale, pleaded against fish-eye lens so we are respecting his feelings. Then I posted a photo of David Millar instead of Wiggins, ooops, and Frank corrected it.

    @Cyclops
    Yeah, I agree about the youth, especially Sagan, who is damn young to be such a badass. Cuddles is not getting any younger but for these 3 week tours the old buggahs seem to handle it better.

    @Gerard

    @ Gianni
    although since its the Giro it technically should be the Maglia Nero…

    You are correct sir. My VMH found a reproduction Pinarello Maglia Nero jersey in Paris, such a find. Black with pink details, only on small sizes or I would have grabbed one myself. Damn these little cyclists.

  6. Apologies again for my Sid Vicious reference (yesterday) and the horrible graphic on his t-shirt.

  7. @ChrisO
    If I found out that you needed data analysis to determine that we know fuck all about cycling predictions I would have sacked you before you resigned.

    Looking forward to some quality prognostication from you whilst you have some time on your hands

  8. @Oli
    I don’t see what you mean Oli, I think his too high gearing meant he was fucked and blew on the 24% half way up the Angliru deep in the clouds so shifting to a higher gear would have beaten him further no?

    Mind you I was screaming at him to get out of the saddle and do his best Fred Astaire on the pedals but he was welded o his seat and seemed to shitbhimself at the crazy Spansh fans baying for his blood, one of the times I felt sorry for him, I was convinced Cobo was juicing though !!!

  9. I know fuck all about quite a lot but does Pierre Rolland not deserve a mention somewhere? I’d like to see him do well and the I’d like to see de Gendt take it seriously and have a go next year

    Can’t warm to Wiggo and the pressure will get to him and Team Sky I reckon

  10. This year twiggo will give in to his hipster tendencies and complete the lap by walking his fluro fixie each stage. And still beat Grimpelder.

  11. @the Engine

    Is there a way to incentivise risk taking? Maybe giving a multiplier to those picking riders with less than, say, four other picks? Or would Frank’s head explode?

    My head wouldn’t explode, but the needle is swinging wildly to EMPTY on the Rule #5 Tank at the thought of me doing all that work just because you lot feel like looking at everyone else’s picks instead of thinking for yourselves.

    As Gianni – perennial donut maker in the VSP – showed us at the Giro, taking a risk and picking Ryder for the win is its own reward; he scored way higher than those of us conservatively going with the herd (me included).

    The bonus points are already deliberately low to prioritize getting even one rider on the podium in the right spot over all five in a jumble.

    It comes down to your season-long VSP strategery: hunting for points is OK, but people nailing the winner or podium finishers in the races are the ones making real headway. Its exactly like the world cup was: its very hard to win if you don’t take home a few events to get a solid score, and then you can defend with minor placings from there.

    @ChrisO
    Beautiful analysis. +1 badge goes to you.

  12. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @RedRanger
    He has stolen the glasses to his dad.

    I was going to suggest those were his pappa’s. Those shades rock. I have a pair in the basement, thanks to Gianni. They are exactly like that. Now that I think of it, they need to go into the shrine, not sure why they aren’t there already.

  13. @SimonH

    @Oli
    I don’t see what you mean Oli, I think his too high gearing meant he was fucked and blew on the 24% half way up the Angliru deep in the clouds so shifting to a higher gear would have beaten him further no?

    Mind you I was screaming at him to get out of the saddle and do his best Fred Astaire on the pedals but he was welded o his seat and seemed to shitbhimself at the crazy Spansh fans baying for his blood, one of the times I felt sorry for him, I was convinced Cobo was juicing though !!!

    He means you got high and low mixed up in your original post. You got it right in this more recent one, though. (Low is easy, high is hard.)

  14. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @RedRanger
    He has stolen the glasses to his dad.

    I raced with those Blades. Also cut out my own clear lens for a night time (downtown street lamp) crit. Caught in crash on the last lap — Blades destroyed.

  15. @frank

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @RedRangerHe has stolen the glasses to his dad.

    I was going to suggest those were his pappa’s. Those shades rock. I have a pair in the basement, thanks to Gianni. They are exactly like that. Now that I think of it, they need to go into the shrine, not sure why they aren’t there already.

    Frank – you need to set up a pool room

  16. There were a couple of us that picked Hesjedal for the win as well, but I know Gianni is an easy target. Too bad I skipped Scarponi for Kreuziger…that would have given me the win.

    @frank

    As Gianni – perennial donut maker in the VSP – showed us at the Giro, taking a risk and picking Ryder for the win is its own reward; he scored way higher than those of us conservatively going with the herd (me included).

  17. @versio

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @RedRanger
    He has stolen the glasses to his dad.

    I raced with those Blades. Also cut out my own clear lens for a night time (downtown street lamp) crit. Caught in crash on the last lap “” Blades destroyed.

    Those are Eyeshades, not Blades, just FYI.

  18. @frank

    As Gianni – perennial donut maker in the VSP – showed us at the Giro, taking a risk and picking Ryder for the win is its own reward; he scored way higher than those of us conservatively going with the herd (me included).

    I suspect being a donut maker is not a good thing in matters of VSPs?…Bless-ed are the donut makers, for they shall inherit the earth. Two of my other picks were Visconti and Jacky Bobby so I’m swinging for the fences and usually dying.

    @niksch
    I tried to warn everybody about Kreuziger but to no good effect.

  19. @RedRanger

    @Pedale.Forchetta
    going a little retro with the shoes and glasses?

    Pedale, great photo. I take it you were in Milan for the finish. Taylor is cool, speaks Italian, huge engine, seems like a nice humble lad. He is a star. The shoes have me puzzled as he is racing with those? I tried to find out more about them but no luck. Made by Giro but no other info.

  20. Lace up shoes are still made by Vittoria, Bont, etc for track, where they use clipless AND toe straps (velcro straps and ratchet closures don’t fit well under the straps). Vittoria even makes lace up slotted cleat Keirin shoes with wood soles (and silk insoles).

    But anyone wearing inappropriately outsized headphones in public is usually signifying “I AM ACTUALLY A DJ!” So maybe he’s already thinking about a new career.

  21. @frank

    @versio

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @RedRanger
    He has stolen the glasses to his dad.

    I raced with those Blades. Also cut out my own clear lens for a night time (downtown street lamp) crit. Caught in crash on the last lap “” Blades destroyed.

    Those are Eyeshades, not Blades, just FYI.

    No concern with the night time (downtown street lamp) crit?? And crash? destroyed…

  22. @ChrisO

    @Monty
    ;-) A bit of both – being fired has been high on the agenda in recent months but I managed to jump before I was pushed and handed in my resignation today !
    And the family is coming out tomorrow night for half term so I finished it off this evening.

    Well played. Enjoy the free time.

  23. @frank

    @versio

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @RedRangerHe has stolen the glasses to his dad.

    I raced with those Blades. Also cut out my own clear lens for a night time (downtown street lamp) crit. Caught in crash on the last lap “” Blades destroyed.

    Those are Eyeshades, not Blades, just FYI.

    Are Eyeshades a nod to the Factory Pilots?

  24. @pistard
    Also, laces are so much more precise when it comes to really hugging your foot. There’s a very good reason we still use laces on shoes for other sports – when you need to grip a foot that moves sideways, a lace can be adjusted to hug the foot perfectly. Velcro closures, or runner’s elastic laces are fantastic for many things (among them a quick entry and a no fear of loosening laces), but for downright tight, boa-constrictor grip, you can’t beat laces.

  25. @ChrisO

    @Monty

    ;-) A bit of both – being fired has been high on the agenda in recent months but I managed to jump before I was pushed and handed in my resignation today !

    And the family is coming out tomorrow night for half term so I finished it off this evening.

    Wow! Hopefully “congratulations” is the correct offering here regarding the resignation. So do you think you’ll you moving home, or staying in Dubai? Just think of the form you could build over the English “summer”!

  26. @Marcus Well I’m going to be heading up what is essentially a research company so using data to prove what people already know is good practice !

    @JIPM and Bianchi Denti Unfortunately no free time, I’m already working on the new job. It’s a joint venture, which my current company is part of. They had ‘loaned’ me to set it up, and now the others have asked me to formally transfer and run it.

    It’s in Dubai which is actually a much nicer place to work than Abu Dhabi. I’ll see how it goes. My daughter is already giving me grief about staying here, but the job market in the UK won’t keep her in pony lessons.

    @Frank Merci… it will be interesting to track a few over the season and see if we do any better in the longer term.

  27. @ChrisO

    @Marcus Well I’m going to be heading up what is essentially a research company so using data to prove what people already know is good practice !

    @JIPM and Bianchi Denti Unfortunately no free time, I’m already working on the new job. It’s a joint venture, which my current company is part of. They had ‘loaned’ me to set it up, and now the others have asked me to formally transfer and run it.

    It’s in Dubai which is actually a much nicer place to work than Abu Dhabi. I’ll see how it goes. My daughter is already giving me grief about staying here, but the job market in the UK won’t keep her in pony lessons.

    @Frank Merci… it will be interesting to track a few over the season and see if we do any better in the longer term.

    I think I saved the query because I figured we might want to come back to it. I’ll convert it into a little bit of code for the site so its automatic. Could be interesting to see what the trends are. I’ll leave the analysis and so forth to you and whatever other geniuses are out there, but I will see how ambitious I am; I could provide it as a csv so you can download it.

  28. So with Evans win in France and Wiggo apparently in yellow, is there going to be a forum for Dauphine or will I just find myself without an outlet for this race?

    Just asking.

    No pressure.

    I mean, I’m sure you have nothing to do but run this website and train.

  29. @mcsqueak

    @frank

    I expect “Google Analytics” for historic VSP pick analysis in time for le Tour.

    Chop. Chop.

    Actually, the code is done for this, other than the CSV download. I will probably even go add the code to the historic VSP events so you geniuses can run all the analytics you need to tell we know fuck all not only about the Giro, but every event we’ve done.

    @Erik, @harminator
    Right. VSP Page.

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