Did Sanchez brake in the sprint?

Friday, 11 March 2011

A curiosity. Yesterday’s sprint between eight riders saw Andreas Klöden get the better of Samuel Sanchez. Some were surprised to see Klöden win, he is famous for being slow in a sprint finish. But he had a good lead out from a Tony Martin keen to boost his GC chances and Radioshack team mate Janez Brajkovic. Plus Sanchez tried a jump with 900m to go but was thwarted by Xavier Tondo crossing in front of him, forcing him to cut his effort but wasting valuable energy.

Sanchez

But look closely and he sprints for the line with one finger on the front brake.  You can see the full picture on Steephill.tv. This is curious to say the least. I can’t offer an explanation but am amused to a rider famous for his “no brakes” descending skills using the front brake whilst he sprints to the line. It’s not like he usually sprints for the line by holding the brakes, see the first few seconds of the video below.

Feel free to leave your conspiracy theory in the comments below.

Erik March 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

Nice, my conspirancy theory; SS gives a stage in Paris-Nice to Andreas and expects to receive one in return during de upcoming TdF.

ThoreRK March 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

Maybe feeling a bit insecure after Tondo’s move not that many secs before this!? Or maybe he was questioning the sprinting skills from Klöden, and were ready to hammer the front brake so he at least would be swung across the line as the first, coming of the bike, if Klöden was to come in front of him;)

Broerie March 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

The helicopter images gave me the impression that Sanchez had some shifting problems during the sprint. He started his sprint, had to sit down a couple of seconds (rear derailleur refusing to shift onto the 11 sprocket?) and came really strong moments later. That would explain why he had his right hand at the lever.
Why his left hand is on the lever.. that’s a mystery.

Reno March 11, 2011 at 10:54 am

Notice how Samu sits down in full sprint at 50m to go, to shift gears, to relaunch a final time. I’m no techy, but I gather he uses his breaks to shift gear? Maybe he just kept his fingers at the break in a reflex. Wether he actually did break while sprinting is another question. Just a thought.

Starr March 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Like Broerie said above, from above it looked like he had a shifting issue and had to re-launch after adjusting his gearing.

Should have been an easy win. I do NOT think there were any “gifts” or “deals” made.

The Inner Ring March 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

It does look like he had a problem with the gears. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON_g2jwbRUA from 12 mins onwards, you can see some mechanical troubles with the gears, he possibly slipped. Even so, getting your finger onto the lever is interesting. I was hoping someone would have HD TV images to review, it’s hard to get a close look as the photo obviously freezes one tiny moment.

Joe March 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, after watching the finish from the different camera angles I think he just ended up with his hands on the brakes, I don’t think he was actually applying the brakes. He was certainly overtaking Kloden pretty quickly after he finally got himself in the correct gear. Just a little too late though.
Joe

Champs March 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I’ve got yesterday’s stage in 1080 and all I see is that the left lever is not splayed out like. Chain rub on the front mech would be a good suspect.

Other observations:
A) Voeckler is on a new bike, or at least switched to a cockpit with black hoods instead of white, like the previous day.
B) Klöden was a classically stoic German, crossing the line with nary an acknowledgment of the sponsor.

Champs March 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

*splayed out like it normally would be.

But you can see that in the still.

Oliver March 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Is anyone going to mention that deals between racers before the finish happen often. For money, or other enticements. I remember an ex-pro who told me the reason that Poulidor never won the Tour was because he was “mean.” I.e., did not want to bribe anyone! I remember being staggered by that, but I was told that paying another rider to let you win was understood, after all they were “professionals.” Different conception of the term, I guess.

And lest you be shocked by this, remember “The Rider” discussed in the post below. I think this kind of practices are mentioned, and that’s not the fiction part.

So yeah, Sanchez put his finger on the brake during the sprint meant one thing: he wanted to slow down just slightly. That’s not a conspiracy theory, just common sense. The conspiracy theory is the notion that cycling is a sport of impossibly noble men who don’t cut corners, make deals and generally do whatever it takes to further their interests….

mattio March 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I don’t think the finger on the brake is an indication of making a deal – he wouldn’t have to brake to not win. He could just not accelerate enough to come around. If a deal was made, it would be done long before that moment.

I think all in all this isn’t really a big deal. It’s more of a tactical curiosity to me that Sanchez sat up after his brief jump under the red kite. I don’t think it sapped him, INRNG – he only took three pedal strokes. I think he was just mentally disrupted enough to not give it a go.

My guess? They were all tired. Opening that gap was difficult, and it showed in the sloppy riding from many in the group in the final 10k. When you’re breathing through your eyeballs, you make mistakes.

Michael March 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I often hook my brake levers when sprinting, I’m not sure why, just feels comfortable maybe or maybe its from having just shifted. the front chainring rub makes a lot of sense as well.

Champs March 12, 2011 at 2:38 am

Last I’ll say is that Sanchez’s left blade is fixed in that position through out the closing meters of the sprint. It’s like he’s pushing against something solid.

The counterpoint is that I commute on Ultegra 6603, and the lever points well inboard before it actually pushes the mech past the big ring position. I’m aware of DA 7900’s shorter throw, but it would have to be much shorter.

Tom Rees March 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

David Harmon commentating on Eurosport stated that Sanchez had been unable to get into his 11 sprocket which cost him the sprint. I don’t see any reason why Sanchez should sell a win inthe circumstances – Sanchez needs a win as much as anyone else and Kloden is a better bet for the overall win so it would more likely be the other way round – plus he got the yellow jersey and it is pretty much accepted that you shouldn’t be too greedy. De Gent didn’t hold anything against Voekler on stage 4 for sitting in for the last kilometre because he knew he’d be back in yellow. There are countless photos of sprinters with their fingers on the brake levers – I think this is down to the limited run -off and numerous photographers on the other side of the finish line. (I find that when going uphill on a bike all I need to do to slow down is press less hard on the pedals!).

The Inner Ring March 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Thanks guys. I don’t think a deal was done, it’s usually very difficult to implement when you’re away with so many other riders. Just a gear malfunction which is itself interesting as examples of badly functioning Dura-Ace are rare but not what you want at such a critical moment. I think it was Sanchez’s 32nd second place, thankfully he’s won the Olympics or he would really be known as Señor Segundo.

gilbert March 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

I THINK THE PHOTO OF SAMU WITH THE TONGUE OUT OF MOUTH IS A BIGGER matter of interpretation, it was a mark of tiredness or the like of saying, “ok men it was only a joke”.
DIRIMENT IS THE FACTT THAT EUZKADI IS STILL SEEKING FOR HE FIRST SEASON WIN.

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