Seeding… You don’t seem to reap what you sow!

Posted: September 8, 2015 in Nationals, Opinion, Road
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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

Comments
  1. SGW says:

    WOW…. I looked a this last night and thought, its alphabetical except the first few and could not work out why. Having said that in full disclosure my son is apparently seeded, should he be? Well not in my opinion.

    Now I agree with the need for a proper seeding database, as a masters racer I suggest you get use to this sort of thing. For example in the recent Sam Miranda RR which forms part of the VRS series there were riders on the podium in lower grades that according to the CV gradings which are all on line should have bee racing A grade. At the tour of Bright you find interstate riders come and dominate lower grades. A simple post hoc Google search on their names and guess what, well I don’t think I need to tell you the answer.

    I digress but you get the picture, unless things change I suggest you get use to it.

    From my sons perspective there are enough excellent riders, I would even say favourites who will come in well before he even leaves the start gate to work out a pacing strategy. Working that out is easy enough to do, executing and have the ability to deliver on that strategy are another story.
    So what are we going to do?
    We will be treating it like getting a mark in a Handy Cap, sometimes you win sometimes you loose, hopefully it does not impact him if the expectation of the crowd is not met via top seeds running at the end of the field and challenging the best times. We will simply suck it up and roll with the punches and hope they get it right next time.

    Who knows he may rise to the occasion, Good luck to everyone this weekend.

    SGW.

  2. cycdad says:

    Thanks for your thoughts SGW, and I didn’t mean to make a mountain out of a mole hill, just that the same thing happened last year and nothing was done after it was quietly pointed out, so this year I thought put it out there and hopefully CA make the necessary changes to come up with a better system for next year and beyond.

    I agree, it shouldn’t make a huge difference to the result, but saying that, there won’t be huge time gaps between the first 10 IMO – or certainly between third to tenth.

  3. onaneedtoknowbasis says:

    How about this: on the entry page put a “Seed Me” check box and a mandatory text field below where the rider can enter their results from the year – which the organisation can then assess. Add a $5 seeding fee (for those who check the box) if the organisation feels it needs to pay for a handicapper/commissaire/coach to perform this task. If all 200 riders check the box, there’s $1k there to cover the day or so required to do the seedings.

  4. cycdad says:

    That’s what I’m talking about, some lateral thinking to come up with the best possible / most accurate result!

  5. Swuzz says:

    How about using the riders selected in their respective state teams as the ‘seeded’ riders?

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