Sky developing “good luck” algorithm.

Big data takes on Bad Luck

Big data takes on Bad Luck

Sky chief David Brailsford on phone back to Sky HQ: Please, develop new mathematical algorithm to eliminate bad luck.

The Men who made Marginal Gains famous are struggling in this Giro d’Italia. First, race officials threw the UCI rule book at their top GC rider, the man who would be pink, for taking a front wheel from a fellow Aussie. Bad luck, two minute penalty, Brailsford left to debate the granular distinctions of letter versus the intent of the law.

Then, the day before Richie’s Big Day in the Long Time Trial, he was held back by a large crash in front of him, a mere .2 kilometers before the safety of the 3k zone where no time can be lost. Bad luck again, as the bedeviled Tasmanian lost another big chunk of time.

He is now over 5 minutes behind race leader Fabio Aru, living on the distant hope that he can pick up 2-3 minutes in the time trial and then somehow find another 2 plus minutes in the mountains. (That didn’t happen today in the TT, sadly.)

Bad luck is the ultimate insult in a grand tour. Live like a monk, torture yourself in training for nine months and then watch your chances dissolve because the Cycling Gods decide to single you out for random violence and mean-spirited jurisprudence.

The Sky nightmares: misfortune, mechanical issues, crappy weather, other people’s screw-ups, vindictive race judges, sportsmanship backfires – these are the things that drive an analytical planner like Brailsford stark raving mad.

Bad luck lies outside the sphere of Sky’s influence, planning, logistics and budget superiority. Sky threw resources at the Crappy Hotel Experience problem, bringing a custom motorhome to the Giro so Porte had his own bed and comfy pillow every night. Sky domestiques must do with musical beds and sub-optimal conditions.

However, there ain’t no algorithm for Lady Luck, you can’t buy good fortune and you can’t improve the weather or convince everyone else in the peloton to “please, ride safely.” If only it was simply a matter of writing another check — Rupert, need 250,000 euros to fix weather.

Nevertheless, the Sky Big Data machine is hard at work, crunching the numbers, looking for insights, ideas, scenarios, fresh variables to be exploited and maximized. The Control Bad Luck algorithm is already in the incubator. That’s the way they roll.

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3 Responses to “Sky developing “good luck” algorithm.”

  1. The Sky nightmares? “Misfortune, mechanical issues, crappy weather, other
    people’s screw-ups, vindictive race judges, sportsmanship backfires” ??

    No, no. All of those are external; a nightmare is what happens to someone internally personally. Replace all of the above with poor team judgment.


  1. Contador puts Aru in little box. | Twisted Spoke - May 24, 2015

    […] Pre-race favorites Richie Porte tumbled further down the GC, losing another seven minutes or so. A sad, sad grand tour ending after a fantastic start to his season. He has certainly had his bad luck in grand tours of the French and Italian variety. AT this very moment Sky mathematicians are hard at work creating an anti-misfortune algorithm. […]