Stage 1 of the Thüringen Rundfahrt was run last night, a 119 kilometre loop out of Gera. It finished in a bunch sprint which Ina Teutenberg won, extending her lead in the general classification. Again Podium Cafe is covering the race with their embedded reporter Pigeons. (I’ve always thought that embedded journalists end up being prone to bias but I’m sure Pigeons can rise above this. )
Again I only have texts to work with but it was a good day for Vicki:
Had a great race. So much prefer these hills [to the climbs in the Giro Donne]. Was in good break with Pooley, Luperini & a few other on last climb with 8 km to go but got caught. Finished in bunch.
Until a bit of bad news at the end:
Unfortunately this is the one tour a year where they [the Commissaires] are very severe with wheel gaps on the finish line. We didn’t fare so well, losing valuable seconds .
The rule with bunch finishes is that everyone in the bunch gets the same time as the first rider over the line. This is a safety thing as otherwise all the GC contenders would be fighting with the sprinters to make sure that they were as far forward in the bunch as possible so as not to lose time. Sprints are dangerous enough already without even more people fighting for position at the pointy end.
So how do you judge where one bunch finishes and another one starts I hear you ask. Well the UCI rules state that
2.3.040 All riders in a given bunch shall be credited with the same time when they cross the finish line…
That’s it – no strict rule on what constitutes ‘a given bunch’. As so often happens in cycling, tradition fills in for this gap in the rules. The tradition has it that there either has to be a full second or a full bike length between riders (depending on the particular judge adjudicating) for one bunch to end and a new one start.
Looking at last night’s results neither tradition was applied – in fact it looks like no bunch was recognised and everyone was given the actual time that they crossed the line. For example there were six riders given a time of 3 seconds down and then three riders given a time of 4 seconds down. So clearly the first traditional method (one full second) wasn’t being used and unless all six lined up perfectly and crossed the line together (holding hands?) I rather doubt there was a full bike length between the last rider given 3 seconds and the first given 4 seconds.
There were ‘given bunches’ at 0, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 seconds. Guess that means Ina didn’t actually win a bunch sprint but rather from a small breakaway. Just dumb!
For the rest of the tour anyone with GC hopes is going to have to fight to be within a second of the stage winner or stand to lose time… that is going to be real messy, not to mention dangerous!!
Vicki finished 20th (yay!) but in the six second bunch (bah!).
Tonight’s Stage 2 is a 105 kilometre jaunt finishing in Greiz. There are lots of short, sharp climbs so it may be one for the escape artists… depending on whether HTC was a sprint again.