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Tour de France Tech – July 23, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

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David Moncoutié's Cofidis Wilier Le Roi.
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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The Bastille Day bike: David Moncoutié's Cofidis Wilier Le Roi

In the eleven Tours de France since 1995, 419 of the 2084 starters have been setting out in their home country's grand tour. In that time, the Tour's Bastille Day stage has been won by a French rider five times. Cyclingnews' grasp of probability isn't good enough for us to work out how likely that is by random chance (though no doubt someone out there will be able to work it out, so please let us know) [See below for a response from a reader - Ed].

ITM's K-Sword stem
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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But it does seem slightly, well, not fishy, but definitely implicit of a certain sentimental mood in the peloton on France's national day. If a French rider is out on a lone break, or in with a good chance on July 14, the attitude seems to be, let him grab one for the home team. Or as Cyclingnews reader Steinar Lindblom (a Norwegian who now lives in France) put it after examining the French record on Bastille Day, "If the Tour situation permits it and not too much is at stake on the 14th, let the the Frenchies have some fun today."

Selle Italia's no-fat SLR saddle
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Or perhaps French riders are just super-motivated on July 14.

Whatever the reason, the beneficiary of the Bastille Day Effect this year was Cofidis rider David Moncoutié, attacking from a breakaway group with 37km to go and soloing to the line aboard his team issue Wilier Triestina Le Roi, buoyed all the way by cheering French fans, and hindered not at all by the Le Roi's low weight.

None more red
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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The 30 year-old Frenchman uses virtually the same spec as his Aussie sprinter team-mate Stuart O'Grady, whose bike we looked over last week.

The similarity could be explained by the fact that both riders fall in that hard to place category. Moncoutié uses his climbing talent to go for stage wins, but could certainly go for week-long stage races if he wanted to, while O'Grady is considered both a sprinter and Classics man, but has also won his share of stage races, too.

FSA K-Force MegaExo cranks
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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Looking over his bike, light and stiff are the order of the day at Moncoutié HQ; from ITM's K-Sword carbon bars and stem - to Mavic's lightweight and very red Ksyrium ES hoops - to FSA's K-Force MegaExo carbon cranks (175mm in length) - to Selle Italia's SLR saddle - the list goes on.

Footnote - probability

As we expected, a Cyclingnews reader had the necessary math to calculate the odds for us. Matthew Herz writes, "The probability of a Frenchman winning 5 of 11 Bastille Day stages is just under 4%. The expected outcome is 2 stages, which carries a probability of around 30%, followed by 1 stage, with a 23% probability, and then by 3 stages, with a probability of 22%.

"The complete table for a binomial distribution is as follows:

0 stages: 8.5%
1 stage: 23.4%
2 stages: 29.4%
3 stages: 22.2%
4 stages: 11.2%
5 stages: 3.9%
6 stages: 1.0%
7 stages: 0.2%
8 stages: 0.02%
9 stages: 0.002%
10 stages: 0.0001%
11 stages: 0.000002%

"So while it's unlikely for sure that a Frenchman would win more than 4 of the 11 Bastille Day stages (total of 5.1%), it's not beyond the realm of possibility. If it had happened all 11 times, that would be pretty amazing."


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