Brownian motion in the bunch

Particle accelerator

Brownian motion is the term used to describe random motion of particles suspended in a fluid. For example, introduce a drop of dye into a glass of water and the colour will spread in a different way each time as the molecules “dance” through the water in a random way.

For me, the same principle can apply to bunch sprinting. Each rider is an atom and bounces around the bunch during the last five minutes, no sprint is ever the same. Yes Mark Cavendish is the best sprinter going but there’s a random element to the finish sprint that means others occasionally get their chance. It’s chance that keeps sport interesting.

The Huta Particle

If some of the peloton’s physicists have not heard of Hutarovich, that’s their problem. The Bielorussian isn’t a prolific winner but he rode the textbook race, saving energy when it mattered and then landing on Cavendish’s wheel yesterday with a less-than-random move, something that significantly reduces the unknown element of sprinting.

Known as “Huta” to his team mates (pronounced like “hooter”), he has has suffered from weight problems in recent years. Perhaps he needed the insulation to keep the rude winter at bay during the off-season in his native Bielorussia, Europe’s most wacky country (dictatorship, secret police, poverty, it’s somehow ignored the collapse of the USSR) but a patient Marc Madiot has helped Huta to shed the pounds.

So what if he doesn’t win often? Hutarovich has a Vuelta stage to his name already and now everyone knows his name. He and his team will be delighted with this.


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