Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gran Fondo - Starting Stategy

In the 2010 edition of the Gran Fondo Whistler there was a definite advantage to starting at the very front of the first start chute. The first group went out fast and there was a lot of selection in the park and up Taylor Way. If you started more than a minute or so back you really never had a chance to bridge up to the front riders.

This year the front group was neutralized through the park and to the top of Taylor Way, resulting in a very large (400+) riders effectively starting together ....

This makes the starting strategy a lot different. Remember that your time is measured from when YOU cross the start line to when YOU finish. If you start two minutes back and then finish one minute behind the first people across the line... you will record a better time.

So that begs the question, how FAR back could you safely start.  This video provides some interesting ideas.

Global TV Helicopter Video of start

It shows the big bulge at the front of the race going through Stanley Park. Followed by a steady stream of riders .... but other than the big bulge there appears to be a lot of empty space behind them. I suspect that you could have started in the four hour chute, probably 3-5 minutes back on start time... and still easily have moved through the riders to get to the front group before it got up Taylor Way.

This would give you a 3-5 minute buffer against the people who started at the front....

We'll have to see if the organizers change things next year. If they use the same starting procedure (neutral to the top of Taylor Way) it wouldn't actually be a bad idea to use the elapsed time from the starting gun for any riders finishing in the first group at the finish. This would even out the effects of where you start as long as you start somewhere close enough to the front that you can get to the front group of riders. But wouldn't give you an advantage for doing so.

Anyone out there who started in the four hour chute can let me know what it felt like to them this year.