I like Todd Gogulski—really. Cycling commentary needs more ex-pros and fewer NCAA place kickers (in case you’d been wondering where VeloCenter’s Scott Kaplan came from) hurling fairly obvious questions at them.
But after a surprising finish at the Vuelta today, GoGo really missed the move on sorting things out. The audio is a follows is from Universal Sports’ efforts at “breaking down” the Stage 2 finish—and unless they were making an untoward implication about Hutarovich’s mother, it’s “Minsk”, not “minx”.
So according to Gogulski, Hutarovich won because:
- he’s a very good sprinter
- he’s good in the early season
- he has five wins so far this season
- he’s in front of Petacchi
- he’s always been fast
- he’s never won against these guys at this time of the year.
While many of those statements are indeed true, other than “he’s always been fast”, I don’t think any do much for describing how Hutarovich got across the line first today. Here are my reasons for the surprise win, a few even illustrated with stills from Eurosport:
- While the bunch did come in together, with a start and finish near sea-level and a high point of 1,100 meters, it wasn’t your typical sprinters’ day.
- Cavendish has a history of coming into Grand Tours in less-than-perfect shape. (see ’09 Giro, this year’s TdF)
- Farrar was beaten in a near-identical fashion at Plouay last weekend and may be out of gas after racing at top level since the spring.
- Hutarovich likes technical sprints, this finish was curving and narrow.
- Hutarovich is in good form, having won a stage at the recent Tour of Poland.
- Julian Dean crashed yesterday was not there to help Farrar.
- Bernhard Eisel cramped up and was not there to help Cav.
- The finish was very disorganized:
- Farrar (readily admitting I can’t see more than Jawbones in this screenshot) might have eaten a significant amount of wind at 5km to go to get into position:
- And for me, the smoking gun. HTC’s leadout (visible at right of image—Velits?) was so much slower than Hondo that Cav was forced to jump across onto Farrar’s wheel. Aside from having to burn some serious wattage making the move, the Brit also handed Hutarovich the golden ticket by slotting in ahead of him:
Coming around Cavendish is no mean feat, regardless of the situation leading up to it, so don’t take this as a knock on Hutarovich. After all, Petacchi was set up pretty nicely and the Belarusian dusted him as easily as anyone else in the field.
As for GoGo—well, I wish he’d tighten it up because I’m pretty sure he can do better. I’d wager it didn’t take me any longer to write this post than it did for Universal to piece together that post-race voiceover.