And finally, there is simple momentum. It took three years for Garmin to notch its first stage win, and now that they've got the taste, they want more.
"Once, after he'd lost Milan San Remo and got back on the team bus he was so angry," recalled Aldag. "And he said, 'It was impossible. You never win a sprint in Milan San Remo from that side of the road because the wind comes from that side. And this year the lead out guy was early and he swung off to the wrong side, so even as he was going back guys still had his draft and I was in the wind.' And it was so logical, but I'd never thought about it like that."
led through the final, sweeping left hander with 600 meters to go, giving Hushovd, the reigning world champion and one of the best bike handlers in the peloton, a clear view of the full speed exit with Dean and Farrar on his wheel.
It's not the strongest rider who wins, says Rolf Aldag, the team's lead director. Sprinting is the art of applying perfectly calibrated strength at exactly the right time, and being flexible enough to adapt to the dynamics of pack racing.
work begins: Accelerate high enough that the speed discourages attacks but not so high that you burn out your guys before the final. Faster, faster you drive it at the front, burning guys one by one like matches, fighting off dueling Air Max Tavas 42 trains, chasing down late attacks, surfing corners in a two wheel drift, then, just a few hundred meters from the line, the sprinter takes over with that final kick that wins the race.
Similarly, riders who experienced success at HTC and leave, like Andre Greipel and Gerald Ciolek, often find it difficult to reproduce their success elsewhere. What makes HTC so dominant?
"road furniture" that is calming for normal auto traffic but introduces chaos in pro cycling.
That doesn't necessarily mean delivering a perfect lead out every time, but rather making sure a sprinter doesn't have to work too hard until the last 400 meters. "If you have to accelerate to 700, 800 watts six or seven times, when you get the sprint you might lose," said Aldag.
After Zabel recons the finish, he calls the information back to Aldag or Brian Holm in the team car, who relay it to the riders. "It's like playing a film for him," says Aldag. "I imagine it's a bit like bobsled pilots do it."
He got there on Monday at the third stage of the Tour. Farrar, who'd chased an elusive Tour stage win for three years, finally notched his first victory today. It was an emotional moment for him, coming barely two months after the death, in the Giro d'Italia, of his close friend, Wouter Weylandt.
"It's been a horrible last two months," he said at the finish. "There have been a lot of ups and downs for me. But I wanted to do something special as a tribute, and there's no bigger stage to do it on than the Tour. It's a little unbelievable it actually happened."
The most dominant sprinter in cycling, Cav has 15 stage wins at the Tour since 2008, an average of not quite four a year. And he is not alone on HTC. Hands down the best sprinting team in cycling, HTC has delivered sprint victories in major races this season at the hands of four different riders Cavendish; Matt Goss, winner of Milan San Remo; and the young tandem of Leigh Howard and John Degenkolb.
Farrar's win, like all sprints, was the result of many factors. "Tyler is fresh this year," pointed out Garmin Cervelo director Lionel Marie. "He is always racing a lot and this year he has less racing. And he has a good team around him; he's confident and has experienced guys. I mean, Thor (Hushovd) and Julian (Dean) is a good combo for the lead out."
There was also a small rise with about three kilometers to go, where Cavendish would have had to expend those extra watts. And Garmin Nike Air Max 2015 Black And Pink
Beating Mark Cavendish
"And after the finish, (George) Hincapie comes up to me and says 'I just about shit my pants on that corner; I thought: that's never going to work.' And I asked him, 'Did you brake?' and he said 'no.'"
Keep your sprinter safe and upright through the nervous opening kilometers and away from all the Air Max 2015 Black White
Most important, said Aldag, is the trust between the riders and Zabel. "One day in 2009, we had a sprint on a slightly uphill stage and (Garmin's Tyler) Farrar almost won it but Cav got it. And earlier, Erik had called back and said, 'The first right hand corner in the finish, there's a house there and you can't see around the corner, but it's full speed; don't brake.'
Later, Aldag smiled when watching the interview with Farrar, where the Garmin sprinter recounted a couple of corners he wasn't sure of; he'd hit the brakes and spent so much energy getting back to Cavendish's wheel that he couldn't come around in the sprint.
(Photo: James Startt)
Except four or five teams, maybe more, are all trying the same thing. So how, in all that, does HTC's Mark Cavendish win so often?
It's something most teams that target the sprints do. But in Zabel, a former teammate of his on Telekom, Aldag believes HTC has a secret weapon of sorts. Zabel, says Aldag, has a gift of looking at sprints with a critical eye that few, if any, other people in cycling have.
Zabel himself is a bit more modest. "It's more about what can the riders do with the information," he said, adding that not many teams have an all star train like Tony Martin, Goss, and Mark Renshaw.
Cav's ideal power profile is smooth. It never goes past 450 watts until about 400 meters to go, when it spikes up above 1,600.
Riders need a lot of autonomy in the final, which comes from trust. "If David Millar comes next to you, that takes a lot of energy to stay in front," said Aldag. "You have to give responsibility to one or two riders to make the decisions on the bike. What happens if Garmin comes next to you with 3k to go? Do you let them lead if it's twisty? How do we keep Cav out of trouble?"
In the last 10 kilometers the real Nike Air Max 2015 Blue And Red
How many more stages will Tyler win at the Tour?
But perhaps HTC's biggest single reason for success isn't on the road, but in a team car on the race course far ahead of the riders. Erik Zabel, the six time winner of the points jersey as the Tour's best sprinter, mentors HTC's riders on the nuances of sprinting, and provides crucial intel on the finish.
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