Freeman Cebu Sports


ALLEZ - Jose Vicente ‘JV’ Araneta - The Freeman

Like many sports, cycling has its own share of superstitions beliefs.

Like shaving the legs the night before a race, or not sleeping with the wife or GF the night before a race. Even eating ice cream was a taboo until up in the 80’s.But the most incredible superstition was that if you happened to be the road world champion, wearing the rainbow jersey is a curse.

When Briton Tom Simpson won the Worlds in 1965, he was hounded by injuries and doping investigation and eventual death two years later. Lance Armstrong won in 1993 and had cancer. Paolo Bettini’s brother died one week after winning the worlds.

But the common denominator of this curse is the lack of wins the year they are defending the title. A Swiss clinical epidemiologist made a study about this observation and came up with three hypotheses. 1- The spotlight effect, which means that people notice more of your losses when you are wearing the jersey. 2- The Marked man hypothesis. This means that if you are wearing a different jersey, the competition will tend to notice it compared to others. 3- The regression to mean, and this means that a successful season is usually followed by a less successful season.

But of course, this has been debunked between 2015-17 when Peter Sagan won three consecutive rainbow jerseys. Peter, with all his talent but the fact that he had a weak team to support him, and that the competition was ganging up on him, didn’t win as much as what the fans projected.

Then last year, probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest one day ride of all time, Matthieu van Der Poel, won his first rainbow jersey. Was he cursed?

In fact he is not. After winning the road rainbow jersey, he followed it up with his 6th rainbow jersey in cyclocross a few months later. This year, instead of a curse, MVDP guided his teammate Jasper Philippsen for his first Milan-San Remo win. A week later, he would win the E3 Saxo Classic and then the Tour of Flanders.

There was bad luck, not with MVDP but with his rivals. Wout van Aert, Jasper Stuyven and Mads Peterson crashed and except for Peterson, didn’t compete in the Tour of Flanders. There were also other injuries like those that happened to defending Tour de France Champion Jonas Vingegaard (3 broken ribs and a broken clavicle), former rainbow jersey wearer Remco Evenapoel broke his clavicle also.

So instead of MDVP cursed, fate had him at their sides. So tonight (last night), before the the race, called “Paris-Rouabix” the cobblestone trophy was all but handed to MVDP by the pundits. And I hope MVDP doesn’t fall for this and take the race lightly.

Clearly, the enemy in this case is not his rivals but the cobblestones. My favorite for Paris-Roubaix, even before MVDP’s rivals went down, was MVDP, and he still is. I hope he will win and little by little chip away at this superstition.

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