Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Analysis time. What happened to Andy...

Truth be told, I haven't really followed this year's Tour de France. I'm still interested, but not overly interested. I do like to give the day's stage a glance at and I'm especially interested in the tour bikes and how they are set up. However, even that doesn't seem to be of much interest because they are all pretty much the same, but with different paint jobs.

Then something dramatic happens. Andy Schleck loses his chain climbing. He was simply climbing and not shifting the front and his chain drops. Hmmm, interesting. While the whole world was beating up Contador for attacking the yellow jersey during a mechanical, Lennard Zinn offered his take on the cause behind the chain drop. It's a good read, but I have something additional to add that I think help explains it better.

I read Red Kite Prayer (a well written on-line cycling site) this evening and was very interested in the photo sequence of the chain drop incident. Here's what I saw in the photos.

If you blow up this photo, you can see Schleck's chain looks very slack - kind of like he is in a very small cog in back combined with being in the small chain ring. Comparing Schleck's chain position to the other riders, it looks like he is in a pretty small cog in back. Then in the next photo, his back wheel hops, indicating his back wheel locked up.

Here's what I think happened. Andy Schleck's chain was possibly a bit too long. The rear derailleur could not take up the slack in the chain when he was in one of the smaller cogs in back. He's climbing at a rate like you or I can't imagine. He's working the bike to establish a gap. The only way to go faster up a hill is to pedal faster or to go to a bigger gear. Unfortunately, when you are in the condition these riders are in and you need to go FAST up hill and you are standing and you are in the small ring, the only option is to start finding a bigger gear by going to smaller cogs. I don't think his derailleur could wrap the chain that Andy was asking of his derailleur as he started finding smaller cogs and the chain got caught up in the derailleur and, as described by Lennard in his tech piece, the derailleur caused the chain to lock up, making the rear wheel hop and dropping the chain off the bottom side of the chain ring.

Welp, that's my theory anyway. Thursday's stage should be interesting. Heck, I may even try to find a live feed and watch it. Or maybe I'll ride my bike and read about it later.

(What's playing: KWMR's show Coast Highway Blues)


Wally Kilburg said...

Nothing was playing....?

blackmountaincycles said...

DOH! That took me a minute to figure out. I added what I was listening to in the blog post. Thanks for reminding me.

Bushpig.vrc said...

Hey - I'm on pins and needles waiting for the *next* what's in the stand post!

blackmountaincycles said...

I've got to clear some items off my plate before I can focus on the next project. Within the next two days.