Posts Tagged ‘#jnrrdnats’

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

Well, lots of blood, some tears… and broken bodies and bikes any way!

The carnage left after the JM17 crash on the last lap.

Some of the carnage left after the JM17 crash on the last lap.

For some, the three days of the Junior Road Nationals in Toowoomba was a very costly affair.  Never mind the cost of getting there – whether on your own or as part of a state team – but the number of crashes and hospitalisations means additional expenses for riders and their parents.  Before we try and analyse why all the crashes in the crits, lets focus on the event as a whole:

The Courses

All the courses looked a lot easier on paper than they did in the flesh.  Wind, dead roads and a nasty finish were the decisive factors.  In the ITT we did see genuine time trailers excel on what was a course suited to strong riders who knew how to suffer.  No real surprises with regards to the results here.

The best thing about the road course was the loop and the ability for parents and supporters to watch a lot of the race.  More courses should be designed with thought to the spectators in mind.

The roadie profile didn’t look all that tough and it wasn’t really until the peloton turned for home.  The 12km run back to the finish from the loop was when tied legs and a couple of nasty little hills took toll.  Having said that, it would have been a 30 rider bunch kick, in JM17 at least, had the other states started chasing the Victorian break earlier!

The Racing

I didn’t watch a lot of the racing but the whole idea of ‘team tactics’ seemed to be lost on all but the Victorians (in the aforementioned JM17 road race) who controlled the race with aplomb. Viewing from the loop and speaking to those in team cars afterwards, suggests it was reasonably aggressive racing, but attacks found it hard to get away in all grades until the decisive run home.  Keen to hear others assessments who might have observed from the side or the car… or indeed in one of the bunches!

The Logistics

There is no doubt Toowoomba is blessed with one of the nicest criterium tracks in Australia – although whether it is indeed a true crit circuit was debated trackside by a number of people.  There are no real technical aspects to the track at all; just beautiful sweeping, perfectly cambered hot mix corners and wide open straights; where’s the technical challenges of a true crit?  Oh, and where’s the shade for the spectators (rubbing Aloe Vera into burnt forehead)

I thought the support for the road race was first class with more than enough police and official bikes to manage the traffic – it was almost a rolling road closure!  It needed to be as there were highway sections that did see a lot of truck traffic.

There was definitely concern over the medical plans.  It seems hospitals weren’t aware the event was one; first aide wasn’t aware of what equipment was available or indeed where the hospital was; and it took almost an hour to get an ambulance to the course (why wasn’t there one in attendance?).  CA needs to undertake a thorough investigation into what went wrong in this regard and, despite six hospitalisations, they are very lucky no one was more seriously hurt.

The Crashes

Was it last-day tiredness?  Team racing tactics?  Too big a fields?  Issues with course set-up?  Desperation?  Or just bad luck that there were crashes in five out of the six criterium races held on Sunday; including three alone in the JM17 final!  I have it from a number of riders that there was a lot of hands-off-bars during the racing, with riders pushing each other out of the way.  Maybe we needed a moto-commissaire to monitor and take action on inappropriate racing?

The argument that Nationals is the only time these kids race as a ‘team’ is also worth considering.  Do state riders feel it is their ‘right’ to sit the wheel of their teammate if they want it and will do what they need to take it?  I don’t know, might be drawing a long bow, but just spectating there was a lot of looking for wheels/trying to form a train in the run into the finish.  On the Thursday teams were even practising their lead-out trains, which is great, but VERY hard for inexperienced riders to actually organise in the closing laps of a race.

There has been a lot of talk on the interwebs about the crashes and some interesting and knowledgeable assessments have been made:

  • The ease of the circuit actually made it more dangerous… that is, the lack of any technical aspects and long sweeping bends together with the fast hot mix surface means it is a much easier race for riders to just sit-in… meaning there is little or no attrition during the race… meaning there are still a lot of riders left at the end who perhaps aren’t used to racing in big bunches.  This same ease of riding the circuit potentially gives a lot of riders a false sense of ability that they can indeed mix it in the heat of battle when patently they can’t!
  • The length (or time) of the criterium has also been raised by good judges… that is, its too short and therefore there are still too many riders left at the end of what is too easy a race (see above and below).
  • As the photo below, taken moments before the last lap crash, shows riders don’t know how to race in big bunches and take contact.  The photo shows riders with their elbows extended – this is a disaster just waiting to happen!  Contact in bunches of this size is normal, but contact needs to be made with the shoulders NOT the elbows.  Elbows bounce off shoulders.  Elbows are connected to forearms, which are connected to hands gripping handlebars, which soon connect with the ground.  Riders need to learn how to race in big bunches and take contact before they get to nationals.
A photograph taken just moments before the big crash on the last lap of the JM17 criterium race at the Junior Road Nationals.

A photograph taken just moments before the big crash on the last lap of the JM17 criterium race at the Junior Road Nationals.

 

The Highlights

Standout performances by Mitch Wright (winning three-out-of-three) and Alana Field (two-out-of-three) in the boy’s and girl’s under-15 categories respectively.

Chloe Moran (JW17) could have, and probably should have, won two gold medals – after winning the ITT, she crashed in the final corner of the road race with a 40-second lead!  She has a big future none-the-less.

First-year rider Godfrey Slattery’s win the JM17 road race was memorable as was his ‘policing’ of the criterium for his team mates, not letting anything get away during the race.

The improvement of the South Australians.  They may only have come away with two medals (Chloe’s and Cooper Sayers bronze in the JM17 road race), but they had a lot of top-10s that promise big things in the very near future (think track nationals).  Brett Aitkins appointment as SASI coach seems to have had immediate and positive effects, amongst the juniors at least.

The rise-and-rise of the Queensland under-15 girls… they walked away with five of the nine medals on offer in the category across four different riders.  Look out for a bit of Queensland dynasty over the coming years.

 

There are some terrific photos doing the rounds – both official and just from family and friends.  Check out a few of these:

Laura Berwick <https://www.facebook.com/lauraberwickphotography>

Eugene Lambert <https://www.facebook.com/eugene.lambert.167?fref=ts&gt;

Peleton Cafe <http://pelotoncafe.com.au/photo-galleries/&gt;

Feel free to add additional links in the comments and keep your eyes out of the official photographers <esisportsphotography.com.au> to upload theirs.

Now let’s just take a breath and head to the track.