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WorldTour Transfers Chart 2015-2016

19 Oct

I broke my toe (slightly) last week, enough to take riding and running off the schedule for a bit. I still have to go to my day job, so don’t expect the return of HTRWW anytime soon, but I did have a enough time to play around with some data viz packages.

Want a bigger view? Of course you do.


This is just a quick-and-dirty implementation of d3 using the sankey chart plugin to show transfers for WorldTour teams between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. A data visualization is only as good as its data set, and I pulled my info from ProCyclingStats' transfers page.

Additionally, I assembled the JSON that powers the chart with some ad hoc scripts and regex, so there's probably a transcription error or two. Finally, I'm assuming Dimension Data eventually joins the WorldTour, and I've counted stagiares and riders who may have retired earlier in the season as making their debut/departure in 2016. Each line represents a single rider, holding the cursor over a line will reveal the name of the rider.

There's probably something wrong here, but the chart is also easy enough to update. The UCI should, in theory, have an accurate and definitive record of all team changes over the past few seasons, but guessing Brian Cookson's got a bit too much on his plate to start setting up an API.

Dial-a-Denial, And Why The Game Might Be Up

24 May

No public figure in recent memory has been more well-managed under scrutiny than Lance Armstrong. Sure, hero status gives him a leg up, but there’s real brilliance in how his inner circle handles accusations; on every battlefield he’s fought, Armstrong has always made the issue his accusers, and not their accusations. I’ve compiled a fun little chart to illustrate the point:

(click image for larger sizes, buy a wall poster, full list of sources)

Starting at the twelve o’clock position, the Armstrong quotes run clockwise in chronological order, from his 1999 exchange with Christophe Bassons to his lastest barrage against Floyd Landis. Along the bottom of the chart, the deflection intensity is assessed using a points system for anyone interested in actually playing this as a PR game.

Perhaps the best example of The Armstrong Approach came from the ostensibly anonymous and retroactively sampled EPO “positives” from 1999. Armstrong’s response was unbelievably comprehensive, calling into question the journalistic integrity of the investigation, the scientific honesty of the lab, the legal possibility of a positive test under the rules, and even the scientific fundamentals behind the test. Armstrong managed to address every issue—except for whether or not his ’99 samples tested positive for EPO.

In reality, electrophoresis is an extremely reliable lab technique, samples are almost impossible to spike, the rules are clear that a positive test requires A/B sampling, and, at any rate, the inquiry commissioned to suss out any potential penalties had their report leaked in the Dutch press—not that it stopped Armstrong from declaring victory.

However, a great deal of the effectiveness of Armstrong’s strategy has been that it’s played so sweetly in the mainstream, English Language press. After all, plenty of ink—yes, real ink!—has been spilled by Continental publishers in books compiling the allegations against Armstong. Only when it came time to port LA Confidentiel into English did David Walsh find himself drowning in a sea of rejection letters.The Texan’s unassailable public persona is a purely American phenomenon.

And why not? Armstrong’s opponents have been transatlantic adversaries with weird names (“Jean Francois so-and-so”, as Armstrong dubbed a hypothetical lab worker) who are angry an American is so good at “their” race. They’ve relied on complicated-sounding science and byzantine testing procedures. Besides, Armstrong has never tested positive—and the possibility of a false-negative is a media non-starter.

This time, though, things may be different. There’s no tricky science. There are no strange-sounding labs. The primary accuser, Floyd Landis is an American. He’s a guy most of us cheered for, at least for a bit. And while he’s been discredited, that only gives him the ability to be redeemed—a plotline no sportswriter can pass up. And (more on this later) the arguments that he’s got an ax to grind are at best weak, and at worst fabricated.

Finally—and I think most significantly—doping cases from mainstream American sports are starting to appear and get traction. Yes, non-USADA controls are a teenage babysitter posing as a prison guard, but they’ve still managed to nab a naughty child or two. And as any cycling fan can tell you, once you get your head around the idea that one of your heros is a cheat, it’s not too tough to imagine that the rest of them might be too.

100 Years of Giro Winners

3 May

Ah, the Giro—first Grand Tour of the season. Though it will always be second fiddle to the TdF, the Giro is a unique entity in its own right, hallmarked by dangerous finishing circuits, an occasionally pedestrian pace, and heaps of snow still clinging to the Alpine peaks.

While the Tour was designed as a race of survival, the Giro is an at times intellectual pursuit, and this choreographed environment has birthed no shortage of drama and intrigue through the years; above all else, the Giro is about history. And with that in mind, I’ve created this infographic:

[all sizesbuy the poster – buy the shirt] – Updated June 2010

The graphic is word cloud of Giro winners in the shape of Italy, running more or less chronologically from Sicily to the Austrian border. Text sizes correspond to the number of victories, and dates are provided as well. Colors are from the Italian flag, and pink from the maglia rosa worn by the race’s GC Leader.

Paris-RouBingo – The Paris-Roubaix Home Game

7 Apr

“The are no races,” Jacques Anquetil once quipped, “only lotteries.” And nowhere is that more true than this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Broken steerer tubes, rogue freight trains, cartwheeling Norwegians—in an increasingly calculated sport, it’s a welcome change to see chance play such a prominent role.

So with that in mind, I’ve created Paris-RouBingo, the bingo-style home game for Paris-Roubaix:

(big sizebuy postercreate/share your own)

The rules are simple: watch the race, and mark off the incidents/sightings as they occur; first person to get five-in-a-row is the winner. Of course, if everyone used the same board the competition would be pretty boring, so here’s a blank copy in an 8.5″x11″ size you can edit and print out.

There’s even a Flickr pool where you can upload your completed board, and download those made by others. If enough boards get uploaded, you and you bike nerd friends can download randomly and play actual bingo as you watch this Sunday.

QuickStep vs. Lotto – A Classic Rivalry

24 Feb

This weekend’s races at Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne mark the beginning of the classics season in professional cycling. It also marks the renewal of the sport’s best rivalry, between QuickStep and Omega Pharma-Lotto.

But what’s that? You’d like to know some of the backstory behind this grudge match? Well, have I got a chart for you:

click for huge versions – buy a meatspace copy

Yes, that’s the “route” of the rivalry, so to speak, laid out over a map of Belgium, running from Oostende to Roubaix (or the French border very near it), with each province representing a different year. I simplified the borders in a few places—Belgian fans, I apologize for messing up your map.

I had initially planned to make this more data driven but for a variety of reasons older results can be hard to find/less reliable, especially for the smaller classics. I also tried to focus mainly on Roubaix and the more major Belgian races (they are Belgian teams and this a map of Belgium, after all) and limit the storyline to other events only where the teams clashed directly.

Plus, rivalries aren’t about numbers—just go back in time to 2003 and ask a Red Sox fan. And which do you think ads more spice to the conflict: QuickStep’s edge in Dwars door Vlanderen wins, or the mattress ad that featured McEwen’s headbutt?

A Periodic Table of Professional Cycling

25 Jan

With the UCI ProTour now extending from January through October, it’s getting a little hard to keep track of the where and when surrounding various professional events.

Well, struggle no more: proudly presents our Periodic Table of Professional Cycling—and thanks to Operation Monetize, you can buy it (and any of our other graphics) as a poster. It’s inspired some t-shirts as well.

[clickthrough for big sizes]

Races are ordered from top-to-bottom in rough order of importance, with vertical series representing geographic location of events. Stage races tend toward the left side of the table, one-days toward the right, and colors correspond with UCI ranking of individual events.

Races that haven’t been run yet, or couldn’t be shoehorned in elsewhere ended up in the Lanthaniods, while recently-defunct events filled the Actinoids. Each event tile contains the name of the event, the year in which it was first run, a rough measure of its distance in stages or kilometers, and a symbolic abbreviation.

Event abbreviations are mostly three characters because it’s easier to parse (and you won’t need to write equations with them). They’re designed to make intuitive sense, but occasionally reflect an older, alternative, or native-language name of a given event.

Obviously, there were a few concessions made to fit the design (World Championships in the Netherlands, Tour de Suisse above the Tour of Romandie), and I promoted the Tour of California to ProTour status, both for aesthetics and as a matter of opinion. Here are my sources, and if you disagree, here’s the public domain source file so you can make your own.

Winter Training: Calculate Your Jens Factor

4 Jan

No one disputes the importance of base training, and the truly serious make careful note of time, distance, and wattage in their pre-season rides. But when it comes to outdoor training—at least at my latitude—that doesn’t really capture the whole story.

[click-through for larger sizes]

Jens Factor, as defined by this chart, is just that—an integer value you can factor into your training data to properly reflect the increased benefits of staring down winter weather. Jens Voigt, a veteran roleur known to take particular glee in miserable conditions, is its obvious namesake.

It’s worth noting that Jens Factor makes no provision for precipitation, because the various types present such wide-ranging levels of difficulty depending on other conditions. It’s also worth noting that the Creative Commons license under which I released this image contains provisions for free re-use…

Oh, also—you can now buy the design on a wall poster or some t-shirts.

The Raphxis of Evil

22 Dec

Right off the bat, the title should give you a hint that you might want to take this one with a grain of salt. Or several.

That said, despite regularly producing some of the most original, creative, highest quality work in the cycling world for the past four years, there’s a fair amount of respect I’m not getting. I don’t think there’s anyone out there doing what I do or even coming close to it—certainly not the people collecting redirects from the parties targeted above.

So I think it’s time to start aggressively calling out the the motivations behind this industry’s self-appointed arbiters of good taste. My last naming of names got a fairly good response—and, really, what do I have to lose? The respect referrals I’m already not receiving?

Of course, the suggestion of an “axis of evil” in the cycling industry is obviously and intentionally bombastic, so if you find yourself on the receiving end of this, just consider it a friendly nudge—but one that leads with an elbow nonetheless.

The Wiggins Paradox

2 Dec

The biggest confusion of the off-season, rendered as a Venn diagram for simplified analysis.


(click-through for massive, better-branded version.)