I would argue that there's no such thing as an optimal size for the peloton
[note spelling].  The speed of the peloton is controlled by riders and teams
that seek to control it--those at the front--as well as the weather, the
conditions & witdth of the road, and countless other circumstances of the
race.  These factors will control the peloton's size.  But, there is no way
for the peloton to be too big.

--Matt K.

On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 1:37 PM, Patrick Haskell <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> *From:* Denis Bogan [log in to unmask]
> I have concluded that both summer Eurosports, World Cup and TDF, are about
> as exciting as watching grass grow - 98% of the time.  Granted the other 2%
> can be very exciting.  Grass growing, to my knowledge, has no exciting
> moments, unless perhaps you are the grass, in which case lawnmowers and
> defecating mammals might be exciting.  I will watch Germany vs. Spain, which
> I suspect are the 2 best teams in the WC field.  However I can no longer
> watch an entire TDF stage without falling asleep.
> One question; What is the optimal size of a peleton for efficiency.  I
> understand that breakaways of one or a few individuals virtually always fail
> because the wind resistance of the peleton is significantly less than that
> of the breakaway, and therefore they ride more efficiently.  However reason
> says there must be a curve of efficiency vs. number of riders.  Undoubtedly
> their proximity and formation shape are important too.  What say you
> gearheads?
>   ------------------------------
> Funny.  I don't tune in to soccer or TDF for excitement, strictly speaking,
> nor baseball for that matter.  Soccer keeps me fairly well glued, both
> because of the expectation of something pivotol happening and because there
> aren't commercial breaks, but sometimes I'm just admiring the play without
> excitement entering the equation.
> The TDF and baseball are sports which I think are best enjoyed as
> background to some other pursuit with focus given at certain times and
> casual attention others.  IMO, baseball is best watched on the radio, while
> otherwise engaged.  The TDF is similar in appeal, although I much prefer to
> see it.  There is something reassuring to me of the pace of the TDF stage:
> the escapees pulling away in the scant hope that fate or team politics will
> allow their determination and ability to simply keep turning the pedals to
> grant them a rare chance at glory; the stream of images of the beautiful
> French countryside; the measured, seemingly inevitable pursuit of the
> peleton; the focused excitement of the last few kilometers as sprinter's
> trains, GC hopefuls, and cagey opportunists crowd the front of race, while
> they speed along narrow European roads at 40-50 Kph, before all hell breaks
> loose in the final kilometer.  The mountain stages provide a different sort
> of excitement.  TT are less interesting, but they are an essential part of
> the sport.
> As for the size of the peleton, Evan is probably the best judge around
> here, but I can tell you that it depends on the conditions of the race.
> With a good tailwind, a smaller break has a better chance of succeeding.
> With strong crosswinds and narrow roads, small groups can do as well for
> long stretches as a larger peleton, because the peleton will form echelons
> across the road, where every say 8 riders ends up on front of an echelon
> taking the full force of the wind.  On normal stages, breakaways of 20
> committed riders usually succeed.  Oftentimes, riders from teams with an
> interest in a bunch sprint or a GC contender who wants to minimize time lost
> to a break will mark a break by putting a rider in it who never takes a pull
> in the wind at the front of the breakaway.  This rider then conserves his
> energy relative to his breakaway companions in hopes that, if the breakaway
> is successful, he can take the stage win for his team himself.
> - Patrick
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