September Battle of the Brothers

A new feature we would like to introduce is the “Battle of the Brothers”. We have identified six sets of brothers who race at the elite level. [Ed note: we have included Ruben Meeusen who is a junior.] Our goal is to determine which pair had the best results each month. At the end of the season we will tally it all up and determine which pair had the best season.

There is quite a bit of complex math involved with this determination. We will explain it once, and if you don’t get it no worries, we’re not sure we get it either. The basic idea is to find the average place of each rider in the races they raced in the month. Then we average that out to find the average place of the brothers. We then rank them based on the best average finish. Finally, we add a multiplier for the number of races each rider has finished (more on that later).

For the first go around we have a few anomalies. There are three riders who have not raced at all this season. We have ranked those riders, but bumped them below the pairs of brothers that have raced this season.

Confused yet? Just trust the algorithm and check out this months rankings.

The Brothers

Before we jump into this months rankings, let’s introduce the sets of brothers we will be following this season. Our first pair, and perhaps the most famous, are Mathieu and David van der Poel. As briefly mentioned above, we are following Tom and Ruben Meeusen. Ruben is a junior so we will see how this plays out.

We are also following Michael and Dieter Vanthourenhout as well as Laurens and Diether Sweeck. The Aerts brothers, Toon and Thijs, are next on our list. Finally, we are following Braam and Tim Merlier. One note about the Sweeck brothers. They have a third brother, Hendrik, but he doesn’t seem to be doing any UCI races. If he does, maybe we will throw him in and see what the algorithm spits out.

The Rankings

The finish place of each rider per race. Races are divided by each week/weekend. Zeros mean that the rider did not race or was a DNF.

Note: Mathieu van der Poel, Ruben Meeusen and Tim Merlier did not race in the month of September.

Rider Rankings

As we mentioned, we calculated the average finishing place for each rider. We used a multiplier to adjust this based on how many races a person finished. For instance if one rider does one race and gets second, but another rider does three races and averages second, they get ranked ahead.

RankRiderAverage PlaceNumber of Races
1Toon Aerts33
2Michael Vanthourenhout44
3Dieter Vanthourenhout64
3Laurens Sweeck64
4David van der Poel42
5Braam Merlier84
6Thijs Aerts105
7Diether Sweeck104
8Tom Meeusen113

The rankings are somewhat self explanatory. Toon Aerts leads the way as he averaged third place in three races. The algorithm rounds up, so his technical average was 2.5 (rounded up to 3). This is the case for all riders. The rest of the riders fall into place as the numbers are relatively straightforward. The only outlier is David van der Poel who has only done two races this season. Thijs Aerts has done the most with five.

Brother Rankings

  1. Michael and Dieter Vanthourenhout
  2. Toon and Thijs Aerts
  3. Laurens and Diether Sweeck
  4. Mathieu and David van der Poel*
  5. Braam and Tim Merlier*
  6. Tom and Ruben Meeusen*

The Vanthourenhout brothers lead the way this month due to consistent racing from both of them. Michael made the trip to the US and had some decent results. Dieter has raced only in Europe this year and has reached the podium in several races. The pair were first and third this past Sunday in France.

Much like the van der Poel brothers, Toon Aerts overshadows his younger brother Thijs. Toon has landed on the podium in every race this year, while Thijs is often a little further back battling for a top-ten. Thijs does better in the smaller races, so it will be interesting to see how things shape up next month with all the big guns in Europe.

Finally, we have the Sweeck brothers. Diether spent three weeks in the US and picked up a pair of podium finishes in Rochester. Unfortunately, his World Cup results weren’t as great as we were expecting. Laurens won his first race of the season in Eeklo, was fifth in Iowa City, but then struggled mightily in Waterloo.

This was our first crack with the algorithm and with this column. It’s something we hope to continue to do every month. There are three sets of brothers with asterisks (*). We did seed them based on the algorithm, but they only had one brother racing this month. We will see how things shake out next month and see if we need to make any adjustments.

Who do you think the strongest pair of brothers are? Is there riders that we are missing? Let us know below!

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