Archive for September, 2015

When the start lists for the CA Junior Road Nats ITT came out today, CyclingDad received a number of emails and messages about the seeding – or perceived lack thereof.

Now CyclingDad doesn’t like to do negative posts, so I’ll try and do a constructive post to hopefully improve this process for next year and beyond.

I was sent some correspondence with CA from a ‘concerned parent’ that questioned the seeding for the weekend and how it was arrived at.  The correspondent in question was quite calm and reasonable in his argument that CA got the seeding pretty wrong.  He was also thankful that the powers that be within CA actually responded to his questions in a timely manner and attempted to explain how it seeded the riders for the ITT.

Cutting and pasting from the email response sent to him from CA:

U15M – Not one of the top 8 from last year is competing in the U15’s this year, so these seeding were given with a ranking for the first 10 and alphabetical for the rest. (CD: But how was the seeding for the first 10 arrived at?)
U15W – The top 3 seeds all finished in the top 10 last year, the next 7 were then allocated alphabetical.
U17W – The top 2 both finished in the top 10 last year, then the next 8 were ranked with 5 of those finishing in the top 8 in the U15W last year.
U17M – The top 4 were the highest place (CD: bottom age) riders in the U17 from last year results (4,7,8,9), then the next 6 were the highest placings from the U15’s last year. 
Common sense and some research would provide a better and more accurate seeding system.  It can't be that hard!

Common sense and some research would provide a better and more accurate seeding system. It can’t be that hard!

Now without going through last year’s results and this year’s seedings, lets take this at face value.  Does this method make any sense?  Does it provide the best seeding outcome?  I guess we’ll find out on Friday afternoon, but at first sight it seems flawed at best… and probably very antiquated – going back to a time before the internet when results weren’t readily available at the click of a button.  Maybe it made sense then.  It makes no sense now!  It was seemingly done this way, because it’s always been done this way.

All of the weighting on the seeding was placed on last year’s nationals.  Oddly it seems that the previous year’s top-age riders – who moved up to a higher age-category (under-15 to under-17) – are rated significantly more highly than the previous year’s bottom-aged riders, now racing top-age in that same category… if that makes sense??  And it doesn’t.  Especially with the introduction of the much bigger jump in gear size.

The biggest example of how badly this current seeding method has failed is to look at the JM15s, where Graeme Frislie (VIC) hasn’t been seeded.  Now Graeme won the ITT at the Shepparton JT in June, on the same course and against many of the seeded riders in the JM15 category.  Graeme won his state ITT title against all of the 10 Victorian riders that have been seeded for nationals, while he hasn’t.  Every man and his dog who has followed junior cycling this year knows Graeme will start as one of the favourites this weekend in all three of the disciplines he competes in.  Simply; because the existing process didn’t seed Graeme IT IS FLAWED.  End of story.  And needs to be fixed.

There are many other similar arguments that could be made around well performed riders from this season that didn’t get seeded.  Who cares?  Well I think some of the riders probably do.  The concerned cycling parent’s email to CA suggests that it’s a slap in the face to the kids who have worked hard all season for zero recognition.

He also suggests that by getting the seeding wrong it opens the result up more to the vagaries of the weather.  The example he uses is Braden O’Shea (SA) – who should have been seeded in the top-five in the JM17’s given his results this year.  Now Braden starts over an hour before the top-seeds in his ITT.  What if the wind is blowing it’s guts out when he starts and then dies to a whisper an hour later?  Looking at the timing, it’s probably more likely to go the other way, where Braden gets the better conditions than the later starters.  Neither outcome is fair and with better seeding could have been avoided.

CA argues it doesn’t have the resources to go through all the results and rank riders.  Without an ongoing national ranking system, as used in so many other countries is one solution, it would take all of a day to look at the results of all the state champs, Buffalo and maybe the leading junior tour in each state to work out who-who in the zoo.

Easier still, ask the Team Managers to seed their best four riders, then draw the state starting order out of a hat and presto, you wouldn’t get it as wrong as it currently is, at least arguably the top 24 riders would be the last 24 to start.

Will the best rider win regardless?  Probably and hopefully!

And does it all really matter?  Probably not, but if it can be improved, why don’t we improve it?

Wishing you all a safe trip to Shepp, good health to the riders and no crashes for the whole weekend.

CyclingDad

State teams are selected…  Entries are closed…  Tapers have begun…

There are over 90 entries in the JM17 category and over 50 in the JM15.  Add in over 55 young ladies in the 15 and 17 categories and it’s shaping as a big junior road nats.

First up Friday is the ITT.  A rolling dead out-and-back course that is likely to have a nasty cross wind – probably slightly helping one-way and hurting the other.  Pacing is pretty important with a lot of the riders coming back in after the Shepparton Junior Tour, on the same course, reporting blowing up half-way home.  The under-15’s have 10km, while the under-17’s must suffer for 15kms.

It looks like there are three standouts in the JM17’s with SA’s Liam Nolan, Vicrtoria’s Godfrey Slattery and WA’s Craig Wiggins looking strongest.  Nolan and Slattery have had a ding-dong battle this year, each beating the other in the lead-up.  It was Nolan who took the honours at the Shepparton Junior Tour, but only by a handful of seconds.  While Wiggins, hidden away in the west, has outstanding performances in past Nationals including being the best placed first-year last year and beating all-comers to win the under-15 crown the year before in Wagga.  Other notables likely to be in the mix include Mitch Wright, Riley Hart, Sebastian Berwick, Braden O’Shea, Cooper Sayers and Stephen Cuff.

In the under-17 women, big favourites for the ITT include WA’s Jade Haines, NSW’s Natasha MullanyEmily Watts and Chloe Heffernan along with Queensland’s Alexandra Martin-Wallace.  Throw in SA’s Maeve Moroney-Plouffe, Victorian’s Georgia O’Rourke and Sarah Gigante and Tassie’s Morgan Gillon and we’re set for a right old fight.

Favourites in the under-15 men include Shepperton JT winner and Track Champion-of-Champions, Graeme Frisle (VIC) along with NSW’s Will McClennon (who won his State title by 45-seconds over Luke Ensor).  Throw in James Moriarty (QLD) who won the hotly contested Canberra JT along with Tasmanian Eddie Calvert and WA’s Sebastian Barrat and it’s probably the hardest age-category to pick the podium.

In the under-15 girls all eyes will be on SA’s Olivia Wheeler, a dominant winner in the ITT at the Shepp JT. Then look to Laura Berwick (ex-QLD now NSW), Amelia Miles (ACT), Chloe Hollingsworth (NSW) while the Bradbury sisters, Neve and Isla will fly the local hopes.

Day two sees the road races; interestingly run in the anti-clockwise direction.  When run this way as a stage in past Shepp JT’s we’ve always seen a much reduced group finish compared to when the loop is run in a clockwise direction (as it was at this year’s Shepp JT).  It seems to be a mix of the longer uphill drag and the wind.  Let’s hope that’s the case as I don’t think many cycling parents would be looking forward to big bunch sprint finishes!

Favourites are probably the same as the above listed riders.  Maybe throw in some good bunch races (those able to hold position) and fast finishers.  It’ll be interesting to see how the the state team riders cope with riding as a team.

It’s probably worth looking at which teams are strong enough to actually benefit from racing as a team.  In the JM17’s it’s SA, Victoria and perhaps NSW.  If we see a strong rider from each of these teams in a break it may well be a good break to be in.  If these three teams aren’t chasing then who will?

In the JW17’s NSW looks the strongest team although Haines is definitely the strongest individual rider.  It is likely this will be more a race of attrition with the strongest girls contesting the finish. Keep an eye on Laura Jones (NSW) who has made a habit of winning road races this season.

In the JM15’s it’s a much more even contest.  Also their smaller gears will make it hard for anyone of any significance to get away.  The same can be said of the JW15’s, which it likely to again come down to a sprint from a small bunch.

The criterium is an interesting one.  After last year’s super smooth flowing course in Toowoomba, which saw crashes aplenty, this course is hopefully slightly more selective.  Being bumpier and narrower in places we won’t see riders six-wide like they were at Toowoomba, and the little pinch of a hill every lap will eventually have an effect on those just hanging on.

The 'little pinch' on the back straight of the DECA crit course. Not much to look at, but the legs will start hurting if the pressure comes on.

The ‘little pinch’ on the back straight of the DECA crit course. Not much to look at, but the legs will start hurting if the pressure comes on.

I think it’s a good move to reduce the number of finalists in the junior men’s categories – 36 for both, down from 50 in Toowoomba!  With three heats for the JM17’s that’s just the top 12 getting through (while the top 18 get through from the JM15’s two heats).

Let’s hope there is a lot less carnage than last year where bodies and bikes were both broken across seven crashes in the criteriums.  Good news is it’s logistically a very good place for a crit with lots of bitumen to set up your marquees etc.

DECA is blessed with good set-up and viewing options. Bring some shelter though if it's sunny… or rainy!

DECA is blessed with good set-up and viewing options. Bring some shelter though if it’s sunny… or rainy!

Well, that’s about it.  Kids: eat well, sleep well and make sure your bikes are all in tip-top shape; parents… do the same and remember to remind the kids it’s not about the results – there can only be one winner in each race – it’s about how they perform against their own goals going in.  Safe travels and see you all in Shepparton.

CyclingDad

PS> Long range weather forecasts look good – although this Victoria!  Only downside is not much wind being forecast at this stage.