Friday, May 21, 2010

Where did all the studs go?

Every once in a while in a grand tour, there is a stage in which the top 20 is populated by relatively unknown riders. That is what happened today. That this often seems to happen on the day before a big mountain stage should not be terribly surprising. Nor should it be surprising that the implications of this phenomenon for vicarious racing are quite substantial. Since most of us really know nothing about this little game, we routinely pass over the lesser known riders. And so this can result in some low numbers in the pool. This has happened before. But not to the degree that it did today. We will get to that. But first, let's find out who won the stage. Jonny G won, that's who. He's the 13th winner in 13 stages, keeping the streak alive. He got lucky and picked Iban Mayoz as one of his wildcard riders. It is likely that he confused Mayoz with Iban Mayo. They are not the same person. But that didn't matter to Jonny today, as this felicitous confusion netted him 100 points and a stage win. Perhaps we are on to something with this mistaken identity strategy. It worked earlier with Gabriela Sabatini. And now Iban Mayo. Is there a Gretzky in the peloton? You may want to consider it next time you're staring at a long list of unfamiliar names. 100 points for a stage win is low. That is noteworthy in its own right. But even more noteworthy is that Jonny could have had 60 less points and still won the stage! That is right. 40 points would have taken the victory today. That's because Mike, who finished second, could muster only 35 points. And Olli's 30 points for third place were almost double the next highest point totals. As if that wasn't enough, there were nine goose eggs laid today. Too many to name them all. Wierd.

One would think that the implications of such small numbers for the overall standings would be negligible. One would be wrong. There was actually a fairly significant shakeup of the top 4 spots today. Dallas still leads. But Olli has moved up from 4th to 2nd. Val is down from 2nd to 3rd. And Jonah gets bumped from the podium altogether. He now sits in 4th place. And there is a good chance this could all change again tomorrow, as the distance between the top four spots is still under 50 points. We are on a good run with this Giro. Indeed, one could be forgiven for thinking that this is vicarious racing at its finest. Enjoy it.

Don't expect this same thing to happen again tomorrow. We have the first of two big days in the mountains. And so the big players will come out to strut their stuff. With the GC carnage that took place earlier in the week, this could be very interesting.

Full results and overall standings here.

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