Why are the GTs getting easier?

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Jun 15, 2009
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Ok Spanky... we just leave clinic issues for a second...

How you explain Bolt? Phil Taylor? Stephen Hendry in the 90s? Federer?
Just a few examples i got in one second....

So how you explain their dominance in a wider talent pool? Those are athletes from now, not "yesteryears".

Sorry, i think your post is nonsense.

If you have 100 People who throw paper planes as profession, may the best can do 80 meters, and the 2nd best 75.
If you have 10.000 people doing it, the best may throws 100 meters and the 2nd best is still some percent behind. Let´s say at 92 meters.
The wider the talent pool the extremer the performance at the top, because true talents may didn´t play the game of paper plane throwing, but showed their talents in other sports.

There goes your theory.

Time gaps became smaller when stages got shorter and GT´s in general "easier". Simple as that.
 
Sep 1, 2011
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FoxxyBrown1111 said:
Ok Spanky... we just leave clinic issues for a second...

How you explain Bolt? Phil Taylor? Stephen Hendry in the 90s? Federer?
Just a few examples i got in one second....

So how you explain their dominance in a wider talent pool? Those are athletes from now, not "yesteryears".

Sorry, i think your post is nonsense.

If you have 100 People who throw paper planes as profession, may the best can do 80 meters, and the 2nd best 75.
If you have 10.000 people doing it, the best may throws 100 meters and the 2nd best is still some percent behind. Let´s say at 92 meters.
The wider the talent pool the extremer the performance at the top, because true talents may didn´t play the game of paper plane throwing, but showed their talents in other sports.

There goes your theory.

Time gaps became smaller when stages got shorter and GT´s in general "easier". Simple as that.
I'm sorry but some of your arguments are ridiculous. Explain Bolt? Well he was a star in high school and prior and progressed as most athletes do, getting better with age and it doesn't hurt that he's from the best 100m men's country in the world. Federer? That's even more ridiculous. Anyone who has ever picked up a racket knows that tennis is about skill, practice and precision and Federer has beaten the best servers and players with the strongest ground strokes.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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Did you understand my and your post before??

A little reminder: Your theroy is that a wider talent pool* (next to other reasons) lowers the gaps in performance outcomes between the best contenders. I gave you a few fast examples that this isn´t true. So what you want to say with your last post???

Federer, Bolt, Hendry etc. dominate(ed) their sports like no one before despite bigger competition, which counters your theory.

I hope you get it now. :)

* your quote: "won by smaller advantages. you will observe this in virtually every sport."
 
Sep 1, 2011
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I'm not the one who said that and you said "clinic issues" which was why I defended Federer and Bolt. Yes the talent pool is getting larger but why is it that Bolt dominates every race, the same soccer teams are in the quarters of the world cup each year (for the most part)?
 
Nov 11, 2010
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Did anybody read the article of Dan Martin saying the Angliru stage was stupid? Something along the lines of what Millar said.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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jordan5000 said:
I'm not the one who said that and you said "clinic issues" which was why I defended Federer and Bolt. Yes the talent pool is getting larger but why is it that Bolt dominates every race, the same soccer teams are in the quarters of the world cup each year (for the most part)?
Deeply sorry. :) My mistake. I take back everything.

Spanky was completely wrong. In reality, the gaps at the top are always the same (maybe it´s different in chess ;)), even if the talent pool grows.

Why is Bolt dominating (besides clinic ;);))?
I explained that in my example. At the far left side of a (here talent-)bell curve the line is always flatening, no matter how big the number you look at is. So you´ll always have somebody dominating. Be it in Tennis, Darts or Cycling. So if the gaps are getting tighter in GT´s, it has something (if not all) to do with "easier" grand tours. Something Spanky didn´t got.
 
Mar 9, 2010
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says the guy that can hardly track the conversation.:rolleyes:

actually tennis is the perfect example of what i am talking about. there is a WHOLE lot more parity now than there was even 10 yrs ago.

you can't just bring up unquantified anomalies and say that it disproves my point.

you should take some time to digest an argument, ruminate on it, before reacting to it and deciding it is wrong.

because in this case i am actually right.:)

the point is that cycling is a maturing sport in an era of massively accelerated technological and physiological advancement. and this, on balance, will close the time gaps.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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So be it that i made a mistake (confusing the users just once). Am ok with it. But that can´t be a reason for being wrong on the topic.

With Tennis you really took a wrong example. Before Federer it was Samparas who broke all records by dominating like no one before. As i said, the examples i got in a second from thinking about it. :p

How about that: The same time Bolt is superior to the rest, so just was Bekele, before it was Gebrselassie, before it was Lewis and Moses. All in times with wider talent pools. The long distance runners b/c african runners just hit the scene in the 80s. The short distance runners b/c the sport attracted more athletes when the sport turned pro in the 80s.

And of course true dominance is always a abnormalie, like it is when a Basketball-Player is 2.30 meters. But these things happen today, tomorrow, and in yesteryears. No exceptions.

Time gaps in cycling get less b/c of shorter distances and "lighter" profiles. Simple as that. No twisting of reality possible.

BTW: You got the dominating guy just now in cycling. May you just look at this years Giro. Even with (compared to the past) "short" ITT´s and by giving away MT-Stages, Contador dominated his competition by 6 mins. He´ll brake every record of the Epo/Blood-Era-Rider, even if convicted by CAS. Only Merckx will stand above him after he finishes his career.
 
Mar 9, 2010
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FoxxyBrown1111 said:
So be it that i made a mistake (confusing the users just once). Am ok with it. But that can´t be a reason for being wrong on the topic.

With Tennis you really took a wrong example. Before Federer it was Samparas who broke all records by dominating like no one before. As i said, the examples i got in a second from thinking about it. :p

How about that: The same time Bolt is superior to the rest, so just was Bekele, before it was Gebrselassie, before it was Lewis and Moses. All in times with wider talent pools. The long distance runners b/c african runners just hit the scene in the 80s. The short distance runners b/c the sport attracted more athletes when the sport turned pro in the 80s.

And of course true dominance is always a abnormalie, like it is when a Basketball-Player is 2.30 meters. But these things happen today, tomorrow, and in yesteryears. No exceptions.

Time gaps in cycling get less b/c of shorter distances and "lighter" profiles. Simple as that. No twisting of reality possible.

BTW: You got the dominating guy just now in cycling. May you just look at this years Giro. Even with (compared to the past) "short" ITT´s and by giving away MT-Stages, Contador dominated his competition by 6 mins. He´ll brake every record of the Epo/Blood-Era-Rider, even if convicted by CAS. Only Merckx will stand above him after he finishes his career.
nope. federer is not that dominant. he was winning precisely because he understands my point.

i won't even discuss bolt because that whole situation makes me ill.:(

and contador is dominant because he is better than everyone else AND he also understands that uniformity of technology and training practices throughout the sport means that every aspect of his game has to be perfect and that a slight advantage in one or two areas could provide a winning formula.

this does not show that courses are easier. they are brutally hard. and raced brutally fast.

i see what you are saying. but you cannot see my point because you did not take any time at all to even think about it. which you admitted to.
 
Apr 1, 2009
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I think the main drivers of smaller time gaps and I have to say less interesting racing are:

1 - Radios allow the DS greater control over the team and they prefer a low risk incremental gains approach
2 - As above the team now moves as one to a 'final climb' where someone takes a small but decisive lead
3 - Commercialism, routes are now planned in a way which means they want to be everwhere and all things to all people. So they dont have 5 straight mountain stages because they want to be somewhere else promoting haribo and odd coffee etc
4 - Routes now seemed to be planned to cater for or against certain riders. This years TdF was an example of trying to slow Cav down. This years Giro basically seemed to be designed to kill everyone cept the v best climber.

Races seem to be getting easier because when you analyize it, most of the time most riders are not racing.

Its a shame racing now is too forumlaic, break is allowed to go, break gets a lead, peloton calcs when lead is getting too big and chases. Bring back Chiapucci I say he may not have won a lot but he is better remembered than most of the faceless pack we have nowadays.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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spanky wanderlust said:
nope. federer is not that dominant.
True.:rolleyes: He only broke all records of those who were dominant before, when the talent pool was smaller...


spanky wanderlust said:
and contador is dominant ... AND he also understands that uniformity of technology and training practices throughout the sport means that every aspect of his game has to be perfect and that a slight advantage in one or two areas could provide a winning formula.
LOL. "Arguments" like those from Armstrong-Boys. Training harder, higher cadence etc.... As if the other riders were/are lazy, had/have worse technology, worse trainers, whatever. What a BS, sorry.

spanky wanderlust said:
i see what you are saying. but you cannot see my point because you did not take any time at all to even think about it. which you admitted to.
I was thinking about the time gaps for long, then looked at the profiles, lenghts, listen to points of others... and came to the only conclusion: It hits your eyes; stages get shorter and shorter, hills less and less, TT´s get shorter, TTT get shorter, more rest days, less stages....

While nobody would say the GT´s aren´t brutal, also no one can say they didn´t got "easier" over the decades. That is obvious reality.

See it like this: A time gap in a 100 meter race will always be smaller than in a 400 meter race, no matter how much superior the 100 meter athlete is to his opponents. In cycling words: A not dominant winner like Roche (real great for 1-2 years) had bigger time gaps in a 250-km MTF than a all dominant Contador would have in a 150-km-MTF nowadys.

Hope you finally get the point. It´s just not chess. ;)
 
Mar 7, 2011
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FoxxyBrown1111 said:
Deeply sorry. :) My mistake. I take back everything.

Spanky was completely wrong. In reality, the gaps at the top are always the same (maybe it´s different in chess ;)), even if the talent pool grows.

Why is Bolt dominating (besides clinic ;);))?
I explained that in my example. At the far left side of a (here talent-)bell curve the line is always flatening, no matter how big the number you look at is. So you´ll always have somebody dominating. Be it in Tennis, Darts or Cycling. So if the gaps are getting tighter in GT´s, it has something (if not all) to do with "easier" grand tours. Something Spanky didn´t got.
You refer to a bell curve, that is, a normal distribution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution), of talent, and to the "gaps at the top", which I take to mean the difference between the highest talent in a given sample and the second-highest talent, as in your paper-airplane example, or between the highest talent and the kth highest talent for some k which remains constant as the sample size (talent pool) grows (k might be interpreted as the number of professionals, or the number of riders in a Grand Tour, if we assume for simplicity that the number of professionals or riders in a Grand Tour remains close to constant over time, and that the k most talented samples are the ones who make it as professionals or into Grand Tours).

The expected values of the lowest, second-lowest, and so on up through the highest values in samples from a normal distribution are called the "expected normal order statistics" or "rankits" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankit), so for the kth rankit (starting with the expected maximum as 1st) of samples of size N, I'll write R(k,N). The expected value of the maximum value within a sample of size Nfrom a normal distribution is then R(1,N). The expected value of the gap between the maximum value and the kth-best value is equal to the gap between the expected maximum value and the expected kth-best value, so the expected value of the gap between the top k samples can be represented as G(k,N) = R(1,N) - R(k,N).

Rankits are not trivial to compute, but there are tables of them, for example, at http://biomet.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/1-2/151.full.pdf (hmm, it seems that page might require a subscription now, but I was able to download it before! Anyway, it's a table of numbers). From that table, we can compute, for example, the following (to five digits after the decimal point):

G( 2,100) = R(1,100) - R( 2,100) = 2.50759 - 2.14814 = 0.35945
G(10,100) =R(1,100) - R(10,100) = 2.50759 - 1.30615 = 1.20144
G( 2,400) = R(1,400) - R( 2,400) = 2.96818 - 2.65761 = 0.31057
G(10,400) =R(1,400) - R(10,400) = 2.96818 - 1.97871 = 0.98947

So, as the sample size (talent pool) grew from 100 to 400, the expected gap between the best and second-best did go down, from 0.35945 to 0.31057, and so did the gap between the best and tenth-best, from 1.20144 to 0.98947.

Furthermore, in one of the answers to a relevant question at http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/24743/does-exceptionalism-persist-as-sample-size-gets-large, we can see that Mudholkar, Chaubey, and Tian recently proved that as the sample size approaches infinity, the gap between the expected maximum and expected second-to-maximum values in a sample converges to 0 (we could write G(2,infinity)=0).

So, if we assume a normal distribution of talent, as in the bell curve you referred to, then, as far as I can tell, Spanky is right, and the expected gaps between the top two (or top ten, or whatever) samples shrinks as the sample size grows. Of course, that expectation applies to the average of all sports over all periods of time -- among individual samples, we would still expect some cases of large gaps between the top two (or top ten) sometimes to appear in a given sport at a given time (such as in short-distance sprinting today with Bolt).

Furthermore, the distribution of talent might not be normal, or the selection of professional competitors from among talented humans might not be well-modeled by simply taking the k best; these are simplifications. Are you familiar with any research indicating that, for example, athletic talent follows not a normal distribution but some other distribution, perhaps one which is ES-medium in the sense defined by Mudholkar, Chaubey, and Tian, in which the gaps between the best two would be expected to remain roughly constant as sample size grew, as you asserted? The most similar-sounding thing that comes to me off the top of my head is Stephen Jay Gould's attribution of the demise of the .400 hitter to the reduction in variation as the general standard of play improves (see http://www.pbs.org/newshour/gergen/november96/gould.htm), which seems more to support Spanky's assertion than yours, but it may not be relevant; it refers to an improvement in general standard, of which an increase in talent pool may be one cause (it improves the professional standard), but is only one special case of, and it also relates only to one particular statistic in one particular sport, so it's not the kind of large-scale (cross-sport, cross-time) analysis I'm asking about.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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rokopt said:
You refer to ....
As far i understand all you have written, i agree. (Would be nice to discuss science in german ;)).

Yes the gaps between the top athletes shrink a little. Your example coincidentally can be used for pro cycling. If we assume that the overall population doubled (?) since the 60s and that some new countries "hit" the pro cycling scene in the 80s (USA, Russia/Eastern Europe) = another "doubling up", the talent pool is 4 times higher than in the 60s.

So your example explains a small percentage of closer gaps.
A 60´s 2 minute time gap between 1st and 2nd in a mountain stage would be nowadays aprox. 1.40 minutes.
A 60´s 7 minute time gap between 1st and 10th would be nowadays aprox. 5.45 minutes.

But no way does it explain mountain stages where the difference between 1st and 10th is max. 2-3 minutes nowadays (outside of sucsessful breakaway winners). This can only be explained by defensive riders (BTW, the Schlecks wasted another poss. TdF-Win by not attacking on the 1st two mountain stages, but preferably riding zig zag) and above all, shorter- and less mountain stages. The latter two taking away one dimension of the separating process in cycling races.

Also to mention is that even in the 80s, TTT were 70+ kms, 60-km-ITT were rather normal than the exception, 2+ more stages per GT also led to bigger time gaps both in the stage standings cand final CG´s....

Yes i assumed a normal distribution. But even if this is not the case in sport talent pools, i really don´t see where Spanky is right.

P.S.: I left out the bloody Armstrong-Years, b/c the numbers of that era are too much spoiled by things outside of talent distribution.
 
Apr 8, 2010
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FoxxyBrown1111 said:
(BTW, the Schlecks wasted another poss. TdF-Win by not attacking on the 1st two mountain stages, but preferably riding zig zag)
Frank attacked in the Luz Ardiden stage.
 
Aug 29, 2010
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Anothers grafics.

Here's the evolution of the total length of the Giro and Tour since 1950




And the overall time of the winner in the race:

 
May 11, 2009
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Ragerod said:
Higher average speeds than the 70s does not mean the routes are getting easier.
.......................
I agree - look at the changes in equipment and training since the 70s.
Two of Greg LeMond's TdF bikes are on display at the ADT Velodrome - everyone in my club rides better equipment than those bikes today.
 
jordan5000 said:
It is easier to go faster now, better hydration, training methods, lighter bikes and "special equipment ;)" now make it easier to go faster, if riders are going at higher speeds without much more physical exertion they should be able to go farther. As for being at a energy deficit, many riders enter GTs a few kilos heavier, knowing that they can lose that in the first week or so, usually before the mountains.
There are so many deeply flawed assumptions in your statements I don't know where to begin.

There is no analog between a 30-year-old version of a Grand Tour and a modern one. Insisting there is one doesn't make it so. At some point 40 years from now, stages will be on average, 2-3 hours with some 4 hour stages as symbolic references to times gone by. And even then, the Grand Tours will be as hard as ever.

Insisting that bikes are better should automagically make death march stage racing easier isn't how it works out in real life. Let it go.

There's at least 50 years of Grand Tours as proof that long death march stages do not grow an audience. Insisting that it will doesn't make it so.

No doubt, you will keep insisting and drag this thread on for much longer until you've exhausted every angle of your deeply flawed ideals. Please give up now.
 
Sep 1, 2011
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DirtyWorks said:
There are so many deeply flawed assumptions in your statements I don't know where to begin.

There is no analog between a 30-year-old version of a Grand Tour and a modern one. Insisting there is one doesn't make it so. At some point 40 years from now, stages will be on average, 2-3 hours with some 4 hour stages as symbolic references to times gone by. And even then, the Grand Tours will be as hard as ever.

Insisting that bikes are better should automagically make death march stage racing easier isn't how it works out in real life. Let it go.

There's at least 50 years of Grand Tours as proof that long death march stages do not grow an audience. Insisting that it will doesn't make it so.

No doubt, you will keep insisting and drag this thread on for much longer until you've exhausted every angle of your deeply flawed ideals. Please give up now.
You can't honestly say that the GTs are harder today, there are fewer stages, fewer mountain top finishes, less distance, etc. Go ahead and look back at the stages of tours in the 60s and 70s, as I said before there would be 5 mountain stages in a row in many tours and 8-9 mountain stages in total. Riders today don't go full out on as many stages, they ride more tactically but before due to the difficulty of stages if Merckx decided he wanted to attack and gain minutes he could because he was the best climber and knew that there plenty of mountains in each stage.
 
May 27, 2010
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jordan5000 said:
You can't honestly say that the GTs are harder today, there are fewer stages, fewer mountain top finishes, less distance, etc. Go ahead and look back at the stages of tours in the 60s and 70s, as I said before there would be 5 mountain stages in a row in many tours and 8-9 mountain stages in total. Riders today don't go full out on as many stages, they ride more tactically but before due to the difficulty of stages if Merckx decided he wanted to attack and gain minutes he could because he was the best climber and knew that there plenty of mountains in each stage.
You dont race do you?
 
Mar 7, 2011
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FoxxyBrown1111 said:
As far i understand all you have written, i agree. (Would be nice to discuss science in german ;)).

Yes the gaps between the top athletes shrink a little. Your example coincidentally can be used for pro cycling. If we assume that the overall population doubled (?) since the 60s and that some new countries "hit" the pro cycling scene in the 80s (USA, Russia/Eastern Europe) = another "doubling up", the talent pool is 4 times higher than in the 60s.

So your example explains a small percentage of closer gaps.
A 60´s 2 minute time gap between 1st and 2nd in a mountain stage would be nowadays aprox. 1.40 minutes.
A 60´s 7 minute time gap between 1st and 10th would be nowadays aprox. 5.45 minutes.

But no way does it explain mountain stages where the difference between 1st and 10th is max. 2-3 minutes nowadays (outside of sucsessful breakaway winners). This can only be explained by defensive riders (BTW, the Schlecks wasted another poss. TdF-Win by not attacking on the 1st two mountain stages, but preferably riding zig zag) and above all, shorter- and less mountain stages. The latter two taking away one dimension of the separating process in cycling races.

Also to mention is that even in the 80s, TTT were 70+ kms, 60-km-ITT were rather normal than the exception, 2+ more stages per GT also led to bigger time gaps both in the stage standings cand final CG´s....

Yes i assumed a normal distribution. But even if this is not the case in sport talent pools, i really don´t see where Spanky is right.

P.S.: I left out the bloody Armstrong-Years, b/c the numbers of that era are too much spoiled by things outside of talent distribution.
Alas, I know even less German than science!

I agree that a talent pool increase could only explain a small fraction of the reduction in gaps in GTs; I was merely exploring the question of whether such an increase would be expected to reduce gaps at all (and I didn't think Spanky was suggesting that it would explain the whole reduction either, though I may have been misinterpreting him), largely because I'm curious about the distribution of athletic performance. If we knew a fairly good model of elite athletic performance, we could estimate quantities such as how many standard deviations away from the mean a particular performance was, and maybe (provisionally) answer fun questions like, "Which is more statistically surprising, Bradman's average or Bolt's 100m?".
 

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