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2020 Tour de France route rumors

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The way Loze stage will unfold depends on many things.
Yet, the idea is to offer the pure climbers an exclusive chance to make a difference. Something preceding the Madeleine would help the cause, though.
 
Poor pure climbers.

Grand Colombier is pure rouleur territory ofcourse.
The Colombier stage is the first serious mountain test and opens the decisive block of racing, thus there might be some hesitation.
Also, the lengths and altitude there aren't as rouleurs friendly as Loze gradients and lengths are, if you're already noticing.
 
OK, now I've had the chance to take a proper look at things, let's see what we make of it.

Stage 1: OK in a vacuum. At least it's not the increasingly-common-in-recent-years "stage 1 being a complete flat sprint to ensure that some big name sprinter can get the jersey, who has no intention of even trying to defend it but is a big name so it's apparently ok" stage. Now for the bad news: the stage is run in the wrong direction. As a result they're doing the easier side of the climbs and putting them further from the finish, by doing the shorter loop first and the longer one second. No idea why. Now, this stage resembles one of those Tour of California stages that Sagan loves - the ones which have far too much climbing for most pure sprinters, but none of the climbing is close enough to the finish to make anything but a reduced bunch sprint likely, and he is usually the best sprinter left in the bunch in such an eventuality. Maybe they decided the maillot vert wasn't dead enough, and after taking it to Paris from stage 2 in 2012, stage 3 in 2013, stage 2 in 2014, stage 2 in 2018 and stage 3 in 2019, they want to see if they can get him to go coast to coast.

Stage 2: the counterpoint to that - a stage which, unless it is completely soft-pedalled to a level completely disgusting even by Tour de France péloton standards, should create some genuine time gaps - and more than the most interesting opening weekend stages of recent years, namely Plumelec 2008, Spa 2010 and Sheffield 2014. It's nice that we have something that will genuinely sort the contenders from the pretenders this early, and will set the status quo for the race to come, hopefully resulting in a less nervy péloton and fewer week 1 crashes as fewer riders have anything to protect. The big climbs are far enough from the finish that it isn't going to kill off anybody who wouldn't have been killed off anyway, but nevertheless, you can't just peak for week 3 and be done with it next year, so that is a big step forward.

Stage 3: from the rumoured profile, another Sagan special, if the pace is high, but between stages 2 and 4, probably going to be raced slower so the main sprinters will get to contest it. The most important and best thing about it? Praise be to hosannah: the potentially interesting stages are on weekends, and the boring stage of the first three is on a Monday! Giro, are you taking note?

Stage 4: pretty tame stage to Orcières-Merlette. Not too difficult a climb - should realistically only be cat.2 unless they're categorizing all the way - but enough to sort the contenders out. Probably a sprint of the elites at the top. I have mixed feelings - this is precisely the kind of early GC shakedown that I would ordinarily call for, and this is a good climb for that purpose, à la Montevergine di Mercogliano, and it's also kinda nice to see it back after a 30 year absence, but with stages 2 and 6 also in week 1, it seems a bit unnecessary, a bit like Macugnaga in the 2011 Giro.

Stage 5: looks to be a - catchphrase time - "worthless flat stage".

Stage 6: Col de la Lusette - Mont Aigoual combo has been a traceur favourite for years, and it's great to see it - some genuine tough mountains being used outside of the two main ranges is a real rarity (depending on your opinion of classing Mont Ventoux as Massif Central, of course). Would love to see this finish in a Paris-Nice, to be honest. Pretty gutted that the plan appears to be Lusette off a complete cold open, but nevertheless, Lusette hasn't been seen since the heyday of the Midi Libre, so again - nice to see it resurrected and not just the same old same old. If they're going to start to pay more frequently for stages in the Cévennes, this can only be a good thing as you could have some genuine, real medium mountain terrain of the kind the Tour hasn't done recently, or some interesting stages in the Ardêche. It's been way too long since we've seen things like the Col de l'Œillon, and climbs like the Col de la Mûre were good for some action in Paris-Nice. Pré de la Dame is a nice climb too, and places like Finiels, Baracuchet, Malpertus, Croix de Bauzon and so on.

Stage 7: standard transitional stage.

Stage 8: at least they improved it by putting Menté in. This just reeks of 2016. It could be the best stage of the entire race, or it could be the biggest phony war of the entire race. However, it's also the least interesting mountain stage of the lot, given that we've seen a LOT of these key climbs. Peyresourde is just about the most common climb in the entire race, while Balès might be pretty new (introduced 2006), we haven't half seen a lot of it in that time. 5 times in Le Tour, once in La Vuelta, and I think 7 times in the Route du Sud.

Stage 9: This is actually a potentially really interesting medium mountain stage. I mean, although they are using Issarbe, it isn't super innovative, using Marie-Blanque as the main focus, but with a rest day coming there could be some good action on Marie-Blanque. There won't be any earlier.

Stage 10: The classic echelon-bait. Hopefully the weather plays ball, if not then it's a worthless flat stage.

Stage 11: Two straight flat stages after the rest day - got to hope the weather plays ball in stage 10, cos this one looks far less promising.

Stage 12: It'd be nice to see how close that steep ramp is to the finish on the scale to see if this is potentially going to create action. It looks ok, time will tell if that run-in is one that's suited to the genuine puncheurs or if it's good for sprinters à la Stirling or similar. It looks from the speculative profile to be one for the Sagan/Matthews/Bennett type of riders. The Corrèze département does offer some interesting options, and while this isn't the best that they could do with it, it's decent.

Stage 13: marketed as an MTF. It's actually more of a puncheur finish, it seems. Would be a good Paris-Nice stage, it's a nice lead in to a mountain weekend for a GT, as it's steep enough that it should create some small gaps - however this is after we've already had a number of mountain stages, so it's a bit less valuable. Also, the weekend coming up is not exactly a Zoncolan / Val di Fassa pairing, so Idunno. Again - nice to see some Massif Central finishes that aren't just at Mende.

Stage 14: this is some absolute BS here. Horrible stuff. Typical damn ASO - a stage with about 10 mountain stages, and they still put a flat stage on the penultimate weekend. "Oh, but Libertine, it has the Col de Béal in it! It's not a flat stage!" No, you might be right. It's something that is, if anything, worse: one of those Tour of California stages that, if raced hard, gets rid of the most limited sprinters, but inevitably goes to a Sagan type, and if not raced hard, completely neutralises the mountains and lets everybody come back. It harks back to Tarbes in the 2009 Tour, and you know, it is part of the "introducing cols the Tour has never seen before" that ASO are hyping - only for said col to be completely wasted. Hopefully the run-in is pretty interesting, rather than just interminable false flat; the speculative profile suggests that the run-in is the Côte de la Croix-Rousse, which absolutely isn't anything to get interested in - the Dauphiné even had a stage finish atop said côte in 2011, which was won by that noted puncheur... John Degenkolb.

Stage 15: Actually pretty happy about this, a nice run-in with Fromentel from the brutal Artemare side of the climb before Biche and then the final climb. Would probably prefer they chained it together with the climb from Anglefort, but assume that Culoz is paying so it's got to be the Culoz side from the old days of the Tour de l'Ain. This should be, for my money, the big MTF of the race. The big problem is that the fact the race goes MTF crazy in the second half is likely to neuter racing in the Pyrenées, which are comparatively tame, as a result. With a rest day following, this could be pretty good for action.

Stage 16: This is where it unravels a bit. Like stage 2, in a vacuum, this is a great stage. It looks a bit like the Pescocostanzo stage of the 2008 Giro, and is placed deep into the race where people will need to make it count. In actuality though, with the two main mountain stages to follow, I see this as being follow-the-leader all the way up Montée Saint-Nizier and then a few seconds being gained or lost at Côte 2000.

Stage 17: While the stage may generate action ahead of the final climb, I anticipate with a multi-col stage the following day that this is unlikely and so it will come down to the last 5km of the Col de la Loze. The only alternative would have been to beef up the first part with the addition of Croix de Fer via Glandon, or Chaussy perhaps, before the new side of Madeleine. Again, it's more just a shame that it's a bit of a waste of unveiling a new side of the Madeleine, which is my favourite of the Tour's beloved central Alpine over-used ascents. I like Mottaret more than Les Allues or other Méribel options.

Stage 18: I actually like Plateau des Glières from this side, and I quite like this stage in a vacuum, but I do think that here we perhaps needed more of a medium mountain stage to help with the balance? I'd probably have preferred them make this one easier, and instead head direct to Albertville, do Forclaz from Queige, then either Aravis or Croix-Fry and then the same run-in. Orange-Montisel might have made for a fantastic finish here actually, just above the Col des Fleuries so it would have been about 7km at 4,5% to finish for a mini-Aprica type role, and try to mimic a stage like the 2015 Vuelta Cercedilla one.

Stage 19: Probably going to be a worthless flat stage, or one where the break gets 20 minutes up the road.

Stage 20: The only ITT of the race. Now, I know that I actually did something very similar to this in one of my Race Design Thread Tours here but that race also included a 50km flat ITT near the end. Putting a bona fide cat.1 climb into an ITT isn't in and of itself bad, especially if it's an MTT, but if it's the ONLY ITT of the race, then it's not just bad, it's flat out atrocious. Add in the fact that the climb in question is the overused, overhyped and completely saturated Planche des Belles Filles and we have an absolute steaming turd of a stage that almost single-handedly destroys the entire race's rating and appears to be on a quest to make me give it minus ten stars. You know I said above about how Port de Balès had been overused since its introduction? Planche des Belles Filles says "hold my bière". Planche des Belles Filles was introduced in 2012, and is in a region which doesn't have its own pro level race, unlike Balès, and has still managed to appear 5 times in the Tour de France (this will be its 6th appearance in 9 years, that's Vuelta-in-the-80s level bad!), 3 times (consecutive years) in the Tour d'Alsace, and twice in the Route de France Féminin - and I can guarantee you that had that race not gone under when La Course trampled all over it, removing a week-long race from the women's calendar and replacing it with another crappy pseudo-crit that means it's difficult for the women to actually showcase any of the interesting racing they're capable of, it would have been seen more. I hate Planche des Belles Filles at this point and never want to see it again, or at least not for a minimum of five years.

Stage 21: This is the typical parade, you won't do anything about this, but I do, however, want to throw some shade on ASO for their returning of La Course to a one-day race on the Champs. This, to me, is the final nail in the coffin for the organisation that tells me once and for all, without a shadow of a doubt, their entire intention with La Course right now is to sabotage women's racing to stop people from clamouring for a women's Tour that might mean they have to put some effort and work into promoting women's cycling. I think that ever since Pauline Ferrand-Prévot started collecting injuries the way other people collect baseball cards, and started focusing her career more on MTB than the road, ASO have lost interest, and clearly their interest only stemmed from the fact there was a popular, marketable and successful French talent out there, and died when her road results started to suffer. They ditched the mountain one-day race this year in favour of a circuit race on the ITT circuit that meant that rather than go through an hour or two before the men, the women had to set off some seven hours before the leading men, because you had a good four hours' worth of men setting off on the ITT after the women had already packed their bags and gone home, then used this as an excuse to put forward the argument that the women did not attract the same level of audience as previously and ditch them back to the original, and laziest of all, of their token attempts to not get their WWT status revoked, which it should be. When the organisers of the biggest race in the world are claiming that they aren't capable of producing more than an hour-long crit on a pan-flat city centre circuit of 6km for the women, it's because they simply aren't trying. It diverts precious funds from keeping their catastrophic loss-making pet project, the Dakar Rally, afloat. Between this, Madrid Challenge, RideLondon (which actually hasn't got WWT status for 2020, but should still be able to retain a strong péloton thanks to its impressive prize pot), it's an absolute travesty and a real disgrace that the women's races that get the most broadcasting are the ones which have been actively designed with the intention of preventing any interesting racing.

...

So, my overall impressions? Well, a lot of stages that are good in a vacuum. Lots to look forward to and even have some enthusiasm for. Lots of long-forgotten climbs and new innovations including some bound to cheer many traceurs who have been waiting for those in ages. At the same time, some of those innovations (Issarbe-Soudet, Béal) have been introduced in places that are inevitably going to blunt their impact, and the pacing of the Alps are such that it is likely to neuter one of the most interesting on-paper stages, the Villard-de-Lans one. It seems to me that with stage 2 being so tough, one of the two week 1 mountaintops is superfluous - somehow managing 7 uphill finishes while simultaneously offering nothing in the Pyrenées just feels weird. I should be more enthused than I am.

And the main reason for that is the awful lack of balance. There are no cobbles, no ribin, no Mont Cassel or stages through Normandie and Brétagne, the type of thing that says we have some tough rouleur stages here that can compensate the lack of ITT mileage. Unless the wind blows an absolute hurricane on stage 10, it's likely that we are hoping for 28 not-totally-flat kilometres in the Vosges to counter the sum total of the gaps that can be generated by the Col des Quatre Chemins, Orcières-Merlette, the Col de la Lusette/Mont Aigoual double, the Col de Peyresourde, Col de Marie-Blanque, Puy Mary by its steepest side, the Col du Grand Colombier, Saint-Nizier and Villard-de-Lans, the Col de la Loze, Plateau des Glières and the Planche des Belles Filles. If 28km of ITT is sufficient to counterbalance the gaps that can be generated on those mountains combined, then cycling is dead as a competitive sport. Nobody in any GC-minded team need bring any rouleur domestiques or anybody who isn't going to be expended on the mountain train, because the flat stages will inevitably be controlled by the sprinters' teams because they'll need to make something up somewhere. Unless they're trying to break Sagan's stranglehold on the maillot vert by making it so that Alaphilippe can win it, I'm not sure about what the function of all those "flat stages" which have bigger obstacles used in pointlessly non-decisive parts of the stages is.

Summary:
Positive points:
not one shingle-inducing sub-120km mountain stage. Not many super-long stages, but an edition without the over-reliance on the gimmick short stage following 2011 (which was very successful, yes, but they didn't watch the better mountain stage the previous day and think "200km mountain stages are great", did they?).
some strong stage designs - 2, 9, 15, 16, and 18 are all really good-looking potential stages in a vacuum, and depending on the run-in, possibly 12 as well.
some actual innovation from ASO - Lusette-Aigoual in particular, and the Grand Colombier stage using the Artemare side fills me with optimism for the future as well.
more decisive week 1 stages than we've seen in half a decade, with no build up of back to back featureless flat stages inevitably marred by crashes.
better than usual use of the Massif Central.
No TTT

Negative points:
Only one ITT, and that has a mountain in it.
That ITT is less than 40km long.
That mountain is the Planche des Belles Filles.
No rouleur stages, other than potentially stage 10, that suggest they will present any challenge that disadvantages the featherweights, meaning we will likely see full climbing domestique corps, carrying the leaders up the majority of the climbs.
La Course. Like, literally everything about it. ASO can go to hell for this one.
Stage 8 is like ASO designing a Pyrenean stage in their sleep.
The concentration of the hardest mountain stages at the end of the race - with the toughest MTFs on stages 15 and 17 - runs the risk of riders trying to sleepwalk through the earlier stages to base the whole race on the final week despite ASO's best intentions. Especially with the TT held off until stage 20, this may mean that the gaps not having been generated yet means there's a 2012 Giro style inertia.

Ultimately, those who argue that 2012 was a necessary gamble, trying to test the waters on a more TT-heavy route than was in vogue at the time, should look at this route in a similar fashion - while 2012 was overbalanced in favour of the time triallist, this one is clearly overbalanced in favour of the grimpeur. Personally I thought that 2012 was a route designed clearly around ASO wanting Wiggins to win, and this design is clearly with the intention of trying not to have a race dominated by diesel trains. If it was an experiment with the intention of providing a good race, then 2012 failed. This may be similar, but at least ASO are trying something. I just don't know if, looking at the marginalization of the TT, it's necessarily something that will work, or even if it will be that good if it does work. However, I'm just too annoyed by La Course to give it a mark out of 10 and nail my colours to the mast. Objectivity is hard to maintain.
 
OK, now I've had the chance to take a proper look at things, let's see what we make of it.

Stage 1: OK in a vacuum. At least it's not the increasingly-common-in-recent-years "stage 1 being a complete flat sprint to ensure that some big name sprinter can get the jersey, who has no intention of even trying to defend it but is a big name so it's apparently ok" stage. Now for the bad news: the stage is run in the wrong direction. As a result they're doing the easier side of the climbs and putting them further from the finish, by doing the shorter loop first and the longer one second. No idea why. Now, this stage resembles one of those Tour of California stages that Sagan loves - the ones which have far too much climbing for most pure sprinters, but none of the climbing is close enough to the finish to make anything but a reduced bunch sprint likely, and he is usually the best sprinter left in the bunch in such an eventuality. Maybe they decided the maillot vert wasn't dead enough, and after taking it to Paris from stage 2 in 2012, stage 3 in 2013, stage 2 in 2014, stage 2 in 2018 and stage 3 in 2019, they want to see if they can get him to go coast to coast.

Stage 2: the counterpoint to that - a stage which, unless it is completely soft-pedalled to a level completely disgusting even by Tour de France péloton standards, should create some genuine time gaps - and more than the most interesting opening weekend stages of recent years, namely Plumelec 2008, Spa 2010 and Sheffield 2014. It's nice that we have something that will genuinely sort the contenders from the pretenders this early, and will set the status quo for the race to come, hopefully resulting in a less nervy péloton and fewer week 1 crashes as fewer riders have anything to protect. The big climbs are far enough from the finish that it isn't going to kill off anybody who wouldn't have been killed off anyway, but nevertheless, you can't just peak for week 3 and be done with it next year, so that is a big step forward.

Stage 3: from the rumoured profile, another Sagan special, if the pace is high, but between stages 2 and 4, probably going to be raced slower so the main sprinters will get to contest it. The most important and best thing about it? Praise be to hosannah: the potentially interesting stages are on weekends, and the boring stage of the first three is on a Monday! Giro, are you taking note?

Stage 4: pretty tame stage to Orcières-Merlette. Not too difficult a climb - should realistically only be cat.2 unless they're categorizing all the way - but enough to sort the contenders out. Probably a sprint of the elites at the top. I have mixed feelings - this is precisely the kind of early GC shakedown that I would ordinarily call for, and this is a good climb for that purpose, à la Montevergine di Mercogliano, and it's also kinda nice to see it back after a 30 year absence, but with stages 2 and 6 also in week 1, it seems a bit unnecessary, a bit like Macugnaga in the 2011 Giro.

Stage 5: looks to be a - catchphrase time - "worthless flat stage".

Stage 6: Col de la Lusette - Mont Aigoual combo has been a traceur favourite for years, and it's great to see it - some genuine tough mountains being used outside of the two main ranges is a real rarity (depending on your opinion of classing Mont Ventoux as Massif Central, of course). Would love to see this finish in a Paris-Nice, to be honest. Pretty gutted that the plan appears to be Lusette off a complete cold open, but nevertheless, Lusette hasn't been seen since the heyday of the Midi Libre, so again - nice to see it resurrected and not just the same old same old. If they're going to start to pay more frequently for stages in the Cévennes, this can only be a good thing as you could have some genuine, real medium mountain terrain of the kind the Tour hasn't done recently, or some interesting stages in the Ardêche. It's been way too long since we've seen things like the Col de l'Œillon, and climbs like the Col de la Mûre were good for some action in Paris-Nice. Pré de la Dame is a nice climb too, and places like Finiels, Baracuchet, Malpertus, Croix de Bauzon and so on.

Stage 7: standard transitional stage.

Stage 8: at least they improved it by putting Menté in. This just reeks of 2016. It could be the best stage of the entire race, or it could be the biggest phony war of the entire race. However, it's also the least interesting mountain stage of the lot, given that we've seen a LOT of these key climbs. Peyresourde is just about the most common climb in the entire race, while Balès might be pretty new (introduced 2006), we haven't half seen a lot of it in that time. 5 times in Le Tour, once in La Vuelta, and I think 7 times in the Route du Sud.

Stage 9: This is actually a potentially really interesting medium mountain stage. I mean, although they are using Issarbe, it isn't super innovative, using Marie-Blanque as the main focus, but with a rest day coming there could be some good action on Marie-Blanque. There won't be any earlier.

Stage 10: The classic echelon-bait. Hopefully the weather plays ball, if not then it's a worthless flat stage.

Stage 11: Two straight flat stages after the rest day - got to hope the weather plays ball in stage 10, cos this one looks far less promising.

Stage 12: It'd be nice to see how close that steep ramp is to the finish on the scale to see if this is potentially going to create action. It looks ok, time will tell if that run-in is one that's suited to the genuine puncheurs or if it's good for sprinters à la Stirling or similar. It looks from the speculative profile to be one for the Sagan/Matthews/Bennett type of riders. The Corrèze département does offer some interesting options, and while this isn't the best that they could do with it, it's decent.

Stage 13: marketed as an MTF. It's actually more of a puncheur finish, it seems. Would be a good Paris-Nice stage, it's a nice lead in to a mountain weekend for a GT, as it's steep enough that it should create some small gaps - however this is after we've already had a number of mountain stages, so it's a bit less valuable. Also, the weekend coming up is not exactly a Zoncolan / Val di Fassa pairing, so Idunno. Again - nice to see some Massif Central finishes that aren't just at Mende.

Stage 14: this is some absolute BS here. Horrible stuff. Typical damn ASO - a stage with about 10 mountain stages, and they still put a flat stage on the penultimate weekend. "Oh, but Libertine, it has the Col de Béal in it! It's not a flat stage!" No, you might be right. It's something that is, if anything, worse: one of those Tour of California stages that, if raced hard, gets rid of the most limited sprinters, but inevitably goes to a Sagan type, and if not raced hard, completely neutralises the mountains and lets everybody come back. It harks back to Tarbes in the 2009 Tour, and you know, it is part of the "introducing cols the Tour has never seen before" that ASO are hyping - only for said col to be completely wasted. Hopefully the run-in is pretty interesting, rather than just interminable false flat; the speculative profile suggests that the run-in is the Côte de la Croix-Rousse, which absolutely isn't anything to get interested in - the Dauphiné even had a stage finish atop said côte in 2011, which was won by that noted puncheur... John Degenkolb.

Stage 15: Actually pretty happy about this, a nice run-in with Fromentel from the brutal Artemare side of the climb before Biche and then the final climb. Would probably prefer they chained it together with the climb from Anglefort, but assume that Culoz is paying so it's got to be the Culoz side from the old days of the Tour de l'Ain. This should be, for my money, the big MTF of the race. The big problem is that the fact the race goes MTF crazy in the second half is likely to neuter racing in the Pyrenées, which are comparatively tame, as a result. With a rest day following, this could be pretty good for action.

Stage 16: This is where it unravels a bit. Like stage 2, in a vacuum, this is a great stage. It looks a bit like the Pescocostanzo stage of the 2008 Giro, and is placed deep into the race where people will need to make it count. In actuality though, with the two main mountain stages to follow, I see this as being follow-the-leader all the way up Montée Saint-Nizier and then a few seconds being gained or lost at Côte 2000.

Stage 17: While the stage may generate action ahead of the final climb, I anticipate with a multi-col stage the following day that this is unlikely and so it will come down to the last 5km of the Col de la Loze. The only alternative would have been to beef up the first part with the addition of Croix de Fer via Glandon, or Chaussy perhaps, before the new side of Madeleine. Again, it's more just a shame that it's a bit of a waste of unveiling a new side of the Madeleine, which is my favourite of the Tour's beloved central Alpine over-used ascents. I like Mottaret more than Les Allues or other Méribel options.

Stage 18: I actually like Plateau des Glières from this side, and I quite like this stage in a vacuum, but I do think that here we perhaps needed more of a medium mountain stage to help with the balance? I'd probably have preferred them make this one easier, and instead head direct to Albertville, do Forclaz from Queige, then either Aravis or Croix-Fry and then the same run-in. Orange-Montisel might have made for a fantastic finish here actually, just above the Col des Fleuries so it would have been about 7km at 4,5% to finish for a mini-Aprica type role, and try to mimic a stage like the 2015 Vuelta Cercedilla one.

Stage 19: Probably going to be a worthless flat stage, or one where the break gets 20 minutes up the road.

Stage 20: The only ITT of the race. Now, I know that I actually did something very similar to this in one of my Race Design Thread Tours here but that race also included a 50km flat ITT near the end. Putting a bona fide cat.1 climb into an ITT isn't in and of itself bad, especially if it's an MTT, but if it's the ONLY ITT of the race, then it's not just bad, it's flat out atrocious. Add in the fact that the climb in question is the overused, overhyped and completely saturated Planche des Belles Filles and we have an absolute steaming turd of a stage that almost single-handedly destroys the entire race's rating and appears to be on a quest to make me give it minus ten stars. You know I said above about how Port de Balès had been overused since its introduction? Planche des Belles Filles says "hold my bière". Planche des Belles Filles was introduced in 2012, and is in a region which doesn't have its own pro level race, unlike Balès, and has still managed to appear 5 times in the Tour de France (this will be its 6th appearance in 9 years, that's Vuelta-in-the-80s level bad!), 3 times (consecutive years) in the Tour d'Alsace, and twice in the Route de France Féminin - and I can guarantee you that had that race not gone under when La Course trampled all over it, removing a week-long race from the women's calendar and replacing it with another crappy pseudo-crit that means it's difficult for the women to actually showcase any of the interesting racing they're capable of, it would have been seen more. I hate Planche des Belles Filles at this point and never want to see it again, or at least not for a minimum of five years.

Stage 21: This is the typical parade, you won't do anything about this, but I do, however, want to throw some shade on ASO for their returning of La Course to a one-day race on the Champs. This, to me, is the final nail in the coffin for the organisation that tells me once and for all, without a shadow of a doubt, their entire intention with La Course right now is to sabotage women's racing to stop people from clamouring for a women's Tour that might mean they have to put some effort and work into promoting women's cycling. I think that ever since Pauline Ferrand-Prévot started collecting injuries the way other people collect baseball cards, and started focusing her career more on MTB than the road, ASO have lost interest, and clearly their interest only stemmed from the fact there was a popular, marketable and successful French talent out there, and died when her road results started to suffer. They ditched the mountain one-day race this year in favour of a circuit race on the ITT circuit that meant that rather than go through an hour or two before the men, the women had to set off some seven hours before the leading men, because you had a good four hours' worth of men setting off on the ITT after the women had already packed their bags and gone home, then used this as an excuse to put forward the argument that the women did not attract the same level of audience as previously and ditch them back to the original, and laziest of all, of their token attempts to not get their WWT status revoked, which it should be. When the organisers of the biggest race in the world are claiming that they aren't capable of producing more than an hour-long crit on a pan-flat city centre circuit of 6km for the women, it's because they simply aren't trying. It diverts precious funds from keeping their catastrophic loss-making pet project, the Dakar Rally, afloat. Between this, Madrid Challenge, RideLondon (which actually hasn't got WWT status for 2020, but should still be able to retain a strong péloton thanks to its impressive prize pot), it's an absolute travesty and a real disgrace that the women's races that get the most broadcasting are the ones which have been actively designed with the intention of preventing any interesting racing.

...

So, my overall impressions? Well, a lot of stages that are good in a vacuum. Lots to look forward to and even have some enthusiasm for. Lots of long-forgotten climbs and new innovations including some bound to cheer many traceurs who have been waiting for those in ages. At the same time, some of those innovations (Issarbe-Soudet, Béal) have been introduced in places that are inevitably going to blunt their impact, and the pacing of the Alps are such that it is likely to neuter one of the most interesting on-paper stages, the Villard-de-Lans one. It seems to me that with stage 2 being so tough, one of the two week 1 mountaintops is superfluous - somehow managing 7 uphill finishes while simultaneously offering nothing in the Pyrenées just feels weird. I should be more enthused than I am.

And the main reason for that is the awful lack of balance. There are no cobbles, no ribin, no Mont Cassel or stages through Normandie and Brétagne, the type of thing that says we have some tough rouleur stages here that can compensate the lack of ITT mileage. Unless the wind blows an absolute hurricane on stage 10, it's likely that we are hoping for 28 not-totally-flat kilometres in the Vosges to counter the sum total of the gaps that can be generated by the Col des Quatre Chemins, Orcières-Merlette, the Col de la Lusette/Mont Aigoual double, the Col de Peyresourde, Col de Marie-Blanque, Puy Mary by its steepest side, the Col du Grand Colombier, Saint-Nizier and Villard-de-Lans, the Col de la Loze, Plateau des Glières and the Planche des Belles Filles. If 28km of ITT is sufficient to counterbalance the gaps that can be generated on those mountains combined, then cycling is dead as a competitive sport. Nobody in any GC-minded team need bring any rouleur domestiques or anybody who isn't going to be expended on the mountain train, because the flat stages will inevitably be controlled by the sprinters' teams because they'll need to make something up somewhere. Unless they're trying to break Sagan's stranglehold on the maillot vert by making it so that Alaphilippe can win it, I'm not sure about what the function of all those "flat stages" which have bigger obstacles used in pointlessly non-decisive parts of the stages is.

Summary:
Positive points:
not one shingle-inducing sub-120km mountain stage. Not many super-long stages, but an edition without the over-reliance on the gimmick short stage following 2011 (which was very successful, yes, but they didn't watch the better mountain stage the previous day and think "200km mountain stages are great", did they?).
some strong stage designs - 2, 9, 15, 16, and 18 are all really good-looking potential stages in a vacuum, and depending on the run-in, possibly 12 as well.
some actual innovation from ASO - Lusette-Aigoual in particular, and the Grand Colombier stage using the Artemare side fills me with optimism for the future as well.
more decisive week 1 stages than we've seen in half a decade, with no build up of back to back featureless flat stages inevitably marred by crashes.
better than usual use of the Massif Central.
No TTT

Negative points:
Only one ITT, and that has a mountain in it.
That ITT is less than 40km long.
That mountain is the Planche des Belles Filles.
No rouleur stages, other than potentially stage 10, that suggest they will present any challenge that disadvantages the featherweights, meaning we will likely see full climbing domestique corps, carrying the leaders up the majority of the climbs.
La Course. Like, literally everything about it. ASO can go to hell for this one.
Stage 8 is like ASO designing a Pyrenean stage in their sleep.
The concentration of the hardest mountain stages at the end of the race - with the toughest MTFs on stages 15 and 17 - runs the risk of riders trying to sleepwalk through the earlier stages to base the whole race on the final week despite ASO's best intentions. Especially with the TT held off until stage 20, this may mean that the gaps not having been generated yet means there's a 2012 Giro style inertia.

Ultimately, those who argue that 2012 was a necessary gamble, trying to test the waters on a more TT-heavy route than was in vogue at the time, should look at this route in a similar fashion - while 2012 was overbalanced in favour of the time triallist, this one is clearly overbalanced in favour of the grimpeur. Personally I thought that 2012 was a route designed clearly around ASO wanting Wiggins to win, and this design is clearly with the intention of trying not to have a race dominated by diesel trains. If it was an experiment with the intention of providing a good race, then 2012 failed. This may be similar, but at least ASO are trying something. I just don't know if, looking at the marginalization of the TT, it's necessarily something that will work, or even if it will be that good if it does work. However, I'm just too annoyed by La Course to give it a mark out of 10 and nail my colours to the mast. Objectivity is hard to maintain.
A+
 
Well, isn't that kinda the thing with...you know...climbs ;)
But the rest of the stage is all under 2000m and they'll likely all keep something in reserve until they get over that. With higher climbs you're on high altitude for longer AND you go higher. Now it's like 15% of the climb that's over 2000m.

Compare that to the Iseran where they first do a plateau and the climb starts at 1800m. I think I generally like using high altitude passes than MTFs much more. Stages where only the final is very high can be kinda self limiting.

But yeah my phrasing is impeccable as usual.
 
The more I dig into the route, the more I like it. Still missing the damn profiles and details for some stages, i.e. finish to Lyon, maybe Col de la Savine to Champagnole...there could be tricky finishes where one or more GC guys can get caught off-guard. The two isles will bring echelons if the ASO presentation was accurate course-wise and the wind blows. The Pyrenees were tamed for the sake of no big time gaps to keep it close, and man, there was a golden opportunity to get my favorite climbs in it (along the border, Arnosteguy, Burdincutcheta, and the likes. Bellurti...muhaha...) I suppose that I'll wait some more. Lac de Cap de Long is another one that no one knows and hopefully will make it. But as it is, this route is looking good, and better all the time. For me.
Cap de Long is beautiful and will hopefully be used some day, but my understanding is it’s part of a national park, so can’t.

Google maps seems to hint at a gravel path from Lac d’Oredon that comes out about 5km from the summit of the Tourmalet on the west side. If it’s rideable on a road bike, it could be a phenomenal climax to a stage, even with a descent into Campan/Bagneres.
 
Cap de Long is beautiful and will hopefully be used some day, but my understanding is it’s part of a national park, so can’t.
The road up there, though very close, is only in the peripheral area of the NP (like Tourmalet, for example - except Tourmalet is of course well outside the main protection area). It also doesn't venture into the natural reserve almost immediately to the north.

So, technically, it should be good to go.

see

for example
 
OK, now I've had the chance to take a proper look at things, let's see what we make of it.

Stage 1: OK in a vacuum. At least it's not the increasingly-common-in-recent-years "stage 1 being a complete flat sprint to ensure that some big name sprinter can get the jersey, who has no intention of even trying to defend it but is a big name so it's apparently ok" stage. Now for the bad news: the stage is run in the wrong direction. As a result they're doing the easier side of the climbs and putting them further from the finish, by doing the shorter loop first and the longer one second. No idea why. Now, this stage resembles one of those Tour of California stages that Sagan loves - the ones which have far too much climbing for most pure sprinters, but none of the climbing is close enough to the finish to make anything but a reduced bunch sprint likely, and he is usually the best sprinter left in the bunch in such an eventuality. Maybe they decided the maillot vert wasn't dead enough, and after taking it to Paris from stage 2 in 2012, stage 3 in 2013, stage 2 in 2014, stage 2 in 2018 and stage 3 in 2019, they want to see if they can get him to go coast to coast.

Stage 2: the counterpoint to that - a stage which, unless it is completely soft-pedalled to a level completely disgusting even by Tour de France péloton standards, should create some genuine time gaps - and more than the most interesting opening weekend stages of recent years, namely Plumelec 2008, Spa 2010 and Sheffield 2014. It's nice that we have something that will genuinely sort the contenders from the pretenders this early, and will set the status quo for the race to come, hopefully resulting in a less nervy péloton and fewer week 1 crashes as fewer riders have anything to protect. The big climbs are far enough from the finish that it isn't going to kill off anybody who wouldn't have been killed off anyway, but nevertheless, you can't just peak for week 3 and be done with it next year, so that is a big step forward.

Stage 3: from the rumoured profile, another Sagan special, if the pace is high, but between stages 2 and 4, probably going to be raced slower so the main sprinters will get to contest it. The most important and best thing about it? Praise be to hosannah: the potentially interesting stages are on weekends, and the boring stage of the first three is on a Monday! Giro, are you taking note?

Stage 4: pretty tame stage to Orcières-Merlette. Not too difficult a climb - should realistically only be cat.2 unless they're categorizing all the way - but enough to sort the contenders out. Probably a sprint of the elites at the top. I have mixed feelings - this is precisely the kind of early GC shakedown that I would ordinarily call for, and this is a good climb for that purpose, à la Montevergine di Mercogliano, and it's also kinda nice to see it back after a 30 year absence, but with stages 2 and 6 also in week 1, it seems a bit unnecessary, a bit like Macugnaga in the 2011 Giro.

Stage 5: looks to be a - catchphrase time - "worthless flat stage".

Stage 6: Col de la Lusette - Mont Aigoual combo has been a traceur favourite for years, and it's great to see it - some genuine tough mountains being used outside of the two main ranges is a real rarity (depending on your opinion of classing Mont Ventoux as Massif Central, of course). Would love to see this finish in a Paris-Nice, to be honest. Pretty gutted that the plan appears to be Lusette off a complete cold open, but nevertheless, Lusette hasn't been seen since the heyday of the Midi Libre, so again - nice to see it resurrected and not just the same old same old. If they're going to start to pay more frequently for stages in the Cévennes, this can only be a good thing as you could have some genuine, real medium mountain terrain of the kind the Tour hasn't done recently, or some interesting stages in the Ardêche. It's been way too long since we've seen things like the Col de l'Œillon, and climbs like the Col de la Mûre were good for some action in Paris-Nice. Pré de la Dame is a nice climb too, and places like Finiels, Baracuchet, Malpertus, Croix de Bauzon and so on.

Stage 7: standard transitional stage.

Stage 8: at least they improved it by putting Menté in. This just reeks of 2016. It could be the best stage of the entire race, or it could be the biggest phony war of the entire race. However, it's also the least interesting mountain stage of the lot, given that we've seen a LOT of these key climbs. Peyresourde is just about the most common climb in the entire race, while Balès might be pretty new (introduced 2006), we haven't half seen a lot of it in that time. 5 times in Le Tour, once in La Vuelta, and I think 7 times in the Route du Sud.

Stage 9: This is actually a potentially really interesting medium mountain stage. I mean, although they are using Issarbe, it isn't super innovative, using Marie-Blanque as the main focus, but with a rest day coming there could be some good action on Marie-Blanque. There won't be any earlier.

Stage 10: The classic echelon-bait. Hopefully the weather plays ball, if not then it's a worthless flat stage.

Stage 11: Two straight flat stages after the rest day - got to hope the weather plays ball in stage 10, cos this one looks far less promising.

Stage 12: It'd be nice to see how close that steep ramp is to the finish on the scale to see if this is potentially going to create action. It looks ok, time will tell if that run-in is one that's suited to the genuine puncheurs or if it's good for sprinters à la Stirling or similar. It looks from the speculative profile to be one for the Sagan/Matthews/Bennett type of riders. The Corrèze département does offer some interesting options, and while this isn't the best that they could do with it, it's decent.

Stage 13: marketed as an MTF. It's actually more of a puncheur finish, it seems. Would be a good Paris-Nice stage, it's a nice lead in to a mountain weekend for a GT, as it's steep enough that it should create some small gaps - however this is after we've already had a number of mountain stages, so it's a bit less valuable. Also, the weekend coming up is not exactly a Zoncolan / Val di Fassa pairing, so Idunno. Again - nice to see some Massif Central finishes that aren't just at Mende.

Stage 14: this is some absolute BS here. Horrible stuff. Typical damn ASO - a stage with about 10 mountain stages, and they still put a flat stage on the penultimate weekend. "Oh, but Libertine, it has the Col de Béal in it! It's not a flat stage!" No, you might be right. It's something that is, if anything, worse: one of those Tour of California stages that, if raced hard, gets rid of the most limited sprinters, but inevitably goes to a Sagan type, and if not raced hard, completely neutralises the mountains and lets everybody come back. It harks back to Tarbes in the 2009 Tour, and you know, it is part of the "introducing cols the Tour has never seen before" that ASO are hyping - only for said col to be completely wasted. Hopefully the run-in is pretty interesting, rather than just interminable false flat; the speculative profile suggests that the run-in is the Côte de la Croix-Rousse, which absolutely isn't anything to get interested in - the Dauphiné even had a stage finish atop said côte in 2011, which was won by that noted puncheur... John Degenkolb.

Stage 15: Actually pretty happy about this, a nice run-in with Fromentel from the brutal Artemare side of the climb before Biche and then the final climb. Would probably prefer they chained it together with the climb from Anglefort, but assume that Culoz is paying so it's got to be the Culoz side from the old days of the Tour de l'Ain. This should be, for my money, the big MTF of the race. The big problem is that the fact the race goes MTF crazy in the second half is likely to neuter racing in the Pyrenées, which are comparatively tame, as a result. With a rest day following, this could be pretty good for action.

Stage 16: This is where it unravels a bit. Like stage 2, in a vacuum, this is a great stage. It looks a bit like the Pescocostanzo stage of the 2008 Giro, and is placed deep into the race where people will need to make it count. In actuality though, with the two main mountain stages to follow, I see this as being follow-the-leader all the way up Montée Saint-Nizier and then a few seconds being gained or lost at Côte 2000.

Stage 17: While the stage may generate action ahead of the final climb, I anticipate with a multi-col stage the following day that this is unlikely and so it will come down to the last 5km of the Col de la Loze. The only alternative would have been to beef up the first part with the addition of Croix de Fer via Glandon, or Chaussy perhaps, before the new side of Madeleine. Again, it's more just a shame that it's a bit of a waste of unveiling a new side of the Madeleine, which is my favourite of the Tour's beloved central Alpine over-used ascents. I like Mottaret more than Les Allues or other Méribel options.

Stage 18: I actually like Plateau des Glières from this side, and I quite like this stage in a vacuum, but I do think that here we perhaps needed more of a medium mountain stage to help with the balance? I'd probably have preferred them make this one easier, and instead head direct to Albertville, do Forclaz from Queige, then either Aravis or Croix-Fry and then the same run-in. Orange-Montisel might have made for a fantastic finish here actually, just above the Col des Fleuries so it would have been about 7km at 4,5% to finish for a mini-Aprica type role, and try to mimic a stage like the 2015 Vuelta Cercedilla one.

Stage 19: Probably going to be a worthless flat stage, or one where the break gets 20 minutes up the road.

Stage 20: The only ITT of the race. Now, I know that I actually did something very similar to this in one of my Race Design Thread Tours here but that race also included a 50km flat ITT near the end. Putting a bona fide cat.1 climb into an ITT isn't in and of itself bad, especially if it's an MTT, but if it's the ONLY ITT of the race, then it's not just bad, it's flat out atrocious. Add in the fact that the climb in question is the overused, overhyped and completely saturated Planche des Belles Filles and we have an absolute steaming turd of a stage that almost single-handedly destroys the entire race's rating and appears to be on a quest to make me give it minus ten stars. You know I said above about how Port de Balès had been overused since its introduction? Planche des Belles Filles says "hold my bière". Planche des Belles Filles was introduced in 2012, and is in a region which doesn't have its own pro level race, unlike Balès, and has still managed to appear 5 times in the Tour de France (this will be its 6th appearance in 9 years, that's Vuelta-in-the-80s level bad!), 3 times (consecutive years) in the Tour d'Alsace, and twice in the Route de France Féminin - and I can guarantee you that had that race not gone under when La Course trampled all over it, removing a week-long race from the women's calendar and replacing it with another crappy pseudo-crit that means it's difficult for the women to actually showcase any of the interesting racing they're capable of, it would have been seen more. I hate Planche des Belles Filles at this point and never want to see it again, or at least not for a minimum of five years.

Stage 21: This is the typical parade, you won't do anything about this, but I do, however, want to throw some shade on ASO for their returning of La Course to a one-day race on the Champs. This, to me, is the final nail in the coffin for the organisation that tells me once and for all, without a shadow of a doubt, their entire intention with La Course right now is to sabotage women's racing to stop people from clamouring for a women's Tour that might mean they have to put some effort and work into promoting women's cycling. I think that ever since Pauline Ferrand-Prévot started collecting injuries the way other people collect baseball cards, and started focusing her career more on MTB than the road, ASO have lost interest, and clearly their interest only stemmed from the fact there was a popular, marketable and successful French talent out there, and died when her road results started to suffer. They ditched the mountain one-day race this year in favour of a circuit race on the ITT circuit that meant that rather than go through an hour or two before the men, the women had to set off some seven hours before the leading men, because you had a good four hours' worth of men setting off on the ITT after the women had already packed their bags and gone home, then used this as an excuse to put forward the argument that the women did not attract the same level of audience as previously and ditch them back to the original, and laziest of all, of their token attempts to not get their WWT status revoked, which it should be. When the organisers of the biggest race in the world are claiming that they aren't capable of producing more than an hour-long crit on a pan-flat city centre circuit of 6km for the women, it's because they simply aren't trying. It diverts precious funds from keeping their catastrophic loss-making pet project, the Dakar Rally, afloat. Between this, Madrid Challenge, RideLondon (which actually hasn't got WWT status for 2020, but should still be able to retain a strong péloton thanks to its impressive prize pot), it's an absolute travesty and a real disgrace that the women's races that get the most broadcasting are the ones which have been actively designed with the intention of preventing any interesting racing.

...

So, my overall impressions? Well, a lot of stages that are good in a vacuum. Lots to look forward to and even have some enthusiasm for. Lots of long-forgotten climbs and new innovations including some bound to cheer many traceurs who have been waiting for those in ages. At the same time, some of those innovations (Issarbe-Soudet, Béal) have been introduced in places that are inevitably going to blunt their impact, and the pacing of the Alps are such that it is likely to neuter one of the most interesting on-paper stages, the Villard-de-Lans one. It seems to me that with stage 2 being so tough, one of the two week 1 mountaintops is superfluous - somehow managing 7 uphill finishes while simultaneously offering nothing in the Pyrenées just feels weird. I should be more enthused than I am.

And the main reason for that is the awful lack of balance. There are no cobbles, no ribin, no Mont Cassel or stages through Normandie and Brétagne, the type of thing that says we have some tough rouleur stages here that can compensate the lack of ITT mileage. Unless the wind blows an absolute hurricane on stage 10, it's likely that we are hoping for 28 not-totally-flat kilometres in the Vosges to counter the sum total of the gaps that can be generated by the Col des Quatre Chemins, Orcières-Merlette, the Col de la Lusette/Mont Aigoual double, the Col de Peyresourde, Col de Marie-Blanque, Puy Mary by its steepest side, the Col du Grand Colombier, Saint-Nizier and Villard-de-Lans, the Col de la Loze, Plateau des Glières and the Planche des Belles Filles. If 28km of ITT is sufficient to counterbalance the gaps that can be generated on those mountains combined, then cycling is dead as a competitive sport. Nobody in any GC-minded team need bring any rouleur domestiques or anybody who isn't going to be expended on the mountain train, because the flat stages will inevitably be controlled by the sprinters' teams because they'll need to make something up somewhere. Unless they're trying to break Sagan's stranglehold on the maillot vert by making it so that Alaphilippe can win it, I'm not sure about what the function of all those "flat stages" which have bigger obstacles used in pointlessly non-decisive parts of the stages is.

Summary:
Positive points:
not one shingle-inducing sub-120km mountain stage. Not many super-long stages, but an edition without the over-reliance on the gimmick short stage following 2011 (which was very successful, yes, but they didn't watch the better mountain stage the previous day and think "200km mountain stages are great", did they?).
some strong stage designs - 2, 9, 15, 16, and 18 are all really good-looking potential stages in a vacuum, and depending on the run-in, possibly 12 as well.
some actual innovation from ASO - Lusette-Aigoual in particular, and the Grand Colombier stage using the Artemare side fills me with optimism for the future as well.
more decisive week 1 stages than we've seen in half a decade, with no build up of back to back featureless flat stages inevitably marred by crashes.
better than usual use of the Massif Central.
No TTT

Negative points:
Only one ITT, and that has a mountain in it.
That ITT is less than 40km long.
That mountain is the Planche des Belles Filles.
No rouleur stages, other than potentially stage 10, that suggest they will present any challenge that disadvantages the featherweights, meaning we will likely see full climbing domestique corps, carrying the leaders up the majority of the climbs.
La Course. Like, literally everything about it. ASO can go to hell for this one.
Stage 8 is like ASO designing a Pyrenean stage in their sleep.
The concentration of the hardest mountain stages at the end of the race - with the toughest MTFs on stages 15 and 17 - runs the risk of riders trying to sleepwalk through the earlier stages to base the whole race on the final week despite ASO's best intentions. Especially with the TT held off until stage 20, this may mean that the gaps not having been generated yet means there's a 2012 Giro style inertia.

Ultimately, those who argue that 2012 was a necessary gamble, trying to test the waters on a more TT-heavy route than was in vogue at the time, should look at this route in a similar fashion - while 2012 was overbalanced in favour of the time triallist, this one is clearly overbalanced in favour of the grimpeur. Personally I thought that 2012 was a route designed clearly around ASO wanting Wiggins to win, and this design is clearly with the intention of trying not to have a race dominated by diesel trains. If it was an experiment with the intention of providing a good race, then 2012 failed. This may be similar, but at least ASO are trying something. I just don't know if, looking at the marginalization of the TT, it's necessarily something that will work, or even if it will be that good if it does work. However, I'm just too annoyed by La Course to give it a mark out of 10 and nail my colours to the mast. Objectivity is hard to maintain.

Great write up. Now to bookmark this so that when teams are announced we can look at riders and who's best suited to the different stages, etc.
 
Reactions: Red Rick
Jul 20, 2019
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Cap de Long is beautiful and will hopefully be used some day, but my understanding is it’s part of a national park, so can’t.

Google maps seems to hint at a gravel path from Lac d’Oredon that comes out about 5km from the summit of the Tourmalet on the west side. If it’s rideable on a road bike, it could be a phenomenal climax to a stage, even with a descent into Campan/Bagneres.
there is a gravel road that seems no worse than the Finestre that starts at the TOP of the Tourmalet, that Gouvenou has yet to use. Goes to the Pic Du Midi.

Would love a stage of Bales, Peyresourde, Aspin, finish at Pic Du Midi
 
It's pretty much true for most pure climbers because the anaerobic differences are bigger than the aerobic ones.

You have guys like Kruijswijk who needs the better aerobic ability to compensate and then still can't win, and I think Nibali is the only elite GT rider who absolutely leans on the pure endurance.

And it's definitely a big, big shame the endurance aspect of cycling is increasingly left to rot.
That seems to be the Giro's niche. Their queen stages are getting harder and harder again, but seemingly at a detriment to the rest of the routes. It was true for the last one, at least.

The Tour's key mountain stages are difficult enough for my taste. 5500-6000m in a single stage is not necessary, if the Giro already has that market on lock.
 
That seems to be the Giro's niche. Their queen stages are getting harder and harder again, but seemingly at a detriment to the rest of the routes. It was true for the last one, at least.

The Tour's key mountain stages are difficult enough for my taste. 5500-6000m in a single stage is not necessary, if the Giro already has that market on lock.
Don't think it should be any races' lock.

However I think I'd like it if stages like that were further apart. Looks like both the Tour and the Giro will have the hardest mountain stages very close together.
 
Reactions: 18-Valve. (pithy)
That seems to be the Giro's niche. Their queen stages are getting harder and harder again, but seemingly at a detriment to the rest of the routes. It was true for the last one, at least.

The Tour's key mountain stages are difficult enough for my taste. 5500-6000m in a single stage is not necessary, if the Giro already has that market on lock.
I like that the Giro has that kind of stages. The main problem is if the overall design is poor, with too many tough stages in the last week, discouraging attacks before the last queen stage due to the fear of fatigue.

An early tough mountain stage in the first week, followed by an queen stage somewhere around stage 13-15 and a second queen stage around stage 18-20 could be a good starting point for a design. Add a couple more of tough mountain stages and couple of tough medium mountain stages at suitable intervals, you've got the main layout for the GT route.

The biggest problem for the Tour routes have been the lack of tough stages the first 8-10 days and the repeated use of certain climbs in the Pyrenees and Alps, giving lack of variety. The first problem is not an issue next year. I've never seen a tougher first 10 days in the Tour. The second problem is also smaller, especially in the Alps stages. The Glieres stage looks excellent and the Col de Loze is one of the toughest MTFs I've seen in a GT. Okay, we'll probably not see any action until the last 5 kms on that stage, but at that point it's good possibility that things will blow completely apart.

The Giro have usually been missing better use of the Apennines the last years. Both at least one more MTF the first 10-12 days, and even more one or two tougher medium mountain stages. They could without problem drop a mountain stage in the last week to make sure the total route isn't too tough. In addition we've seen a tendency with more and more mono climb stages like Pratonevoso, Oropa, Piancavallo, etc. There is no problem with a stage like this in the first week, and one more later, but not 3-4 like in 2017.

What I generally miss are stages encouraging attacks before the last few kms. The Giro have been the best GT on these type of stages. Typically Mortirolo-Aprica, Finestre-Sestriere, etc. It must be said that the climbs and mountains in Italy are better suited to create these type of stages, but I still miss ASO and Unipublic making more of an effort. I'm all on board if the Vuelta want to have a clear profile with shorter and more aggressive stages, but they don't all have to be muritos, mono climb stages or other mountain stages where the far toughest part is the last part of the last climb.
 
Reactions: Red Rick
I like that the Giro has that kind of stages. The main problem is if the overall design is poor, with too many tough stages in the last week, discouraging attacks before the last queen stage due to the fear of fatigue.

An early tough mountain stage in the first week, followed by an queen stage somewhere around stage 13-15 and a second queen stage around stage 18-20 could be a good starting point for a design. Add a couple more of tough mountain stages and couple of tough medium mountain stages at suitable intervals, you've got the main layout for the GT route.

The biggest problem for the Tour routes have been the lack of tough stages the first 8-10 days and the repeated use of certain climbs in the Pyrenees and Alps, giving lack of variety. The first problem is not an issue next year. I've never seen a tougher first 10 days in the Tour. The second problem is also smaller, especially in the Alps stages. The Glieres stage looks excellent and the Col de Loze is one of the toughest MTFs I've seen in a GT. Okay, we'll probably not see any action until the last 5 kms on that stage, but at that point it's good possibility that things will blow completely apart.

The Giro have usually been missing better use of the Apennines the last years. Both at least one more MTF the first 10-12 days, and even more one or two tougher medium mountain stages. They could without problem drop a mountain stage in the last week to make sure the total route isn't too tough. In addition we've seen a tendency with more and more mono climb stages like Pratonevoso, Oropa, Piancavallo, etc. There is no problem with a stage like this in the first week, and one more later, but not 3-4 like in 2017.

What I generally miss are stages encouraging attacks before the last few kms. The Giro have been the best GT on these type of stages. Typically Mortirolo-Aprica, Finestre-Sestriere, etc. It must be said that the climbs and mountains in Italy are better suited to create these type of stages, but I still miss ASO and Unipublic making more of an effort. I'm all on board if the Vuelta want to have a clear profile with shorter and more aggressive stages, but they don't all have to be muritos, mono climb stages or other mountain stages where the far toughest part is the last part of the last climb.
I think the Vuelta actually did surprisingly well in that regard this year. They had most of the hard mountain stages and hard MTF in the first 2 weeks and then the final 2 mountain stages had decent action from further away simply because they were the last places to go, although in this particular case the climbs were perhaps a little too easy for that to work. But there's a lot to be said that if you make the first 2 weeks harder, the 3rd week can be chaos on pretty average climbs.

Like Pogacar did a 40km solo it's not like Pena Negra is a hard climb. If the concept is applied well, I don't think you even need climbs like the Mortirolo all the time.
 
“Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Pure Sprinters?!”





Road cycling had always been known for many things. Bravery, endurance, time trialling, and according to some, an activity designed strictly for Europeans. But by the twenty-first century it had also become known for something else entirely: climate change.



You’re a sceptic? Well, we all are, initially. So just hear me out.



In the first three-quarters of the twentieth century road bikes were made from harmless material, such as aluminium. But then, in the 1980’s, carbon fibre bikes were introduced. It was only a small footprint initially, but these wheels had legs. Soon enough, entire peloton’s were using them.



It was no surprise that the bike was popularised by an American. I mean since when do American’s care about the environment? And you probably wouldn’t believe it, but that 1989 Tour De France winning machine was called ‘the Look’. I swear, you can’t make *** like this up.



But cycling’s contribution to climate change wasn’t based so much on its technology. It was based more on its parcours.



It was based on its use of cols.



In the early days of the Tour De France, the race was based on ‘endurance’ - a word that many millennials haven’t heard of – rather than climbing. In fact, before Joaquim Rodriguez was born, nobody had even heard of the term ‘puncheur’. It would probably have been assumed that it referred to a French boxer. Perhaps it was one of Bernard Hinault’s lesser known nicknames.



In the 50’s and 60’s the Tour De France went into the mountains, but not excessively. It didn’t traverse into the mountains unnecessarily. Strictly speaking, the race directors didn’t subject the riders to unnecessary cruelty. Col’s were used, but they were used for a specific purpose: to impact on the overall outcome of the general classification. There was very little wastage.



But as parcours trends later changed, so did our climate. It was no coincidence. I’m telling you people, it’s science.



We were even warned very publically – when it was almost too late – by that young expert on cols, the activist Greta Thunberg, on the disaster that Christian Prudhomme’s continued selfish actions would lead to, if not altered. “You have stolen the dreams and livelihood of Dylan Groenewegen and Tom Dumoulin. How dare you?!”



I am not sure why – as a Swede – she had mentioned the Dutch. Perhaps because Holland didn’t really have any cols to use, so I guess they were pretty good to the environment.



The early 2000’s were seen as a cancer by many, but in hindsight we looked back on these Tour De France editions with some nostalgia, perhaps some might even say, with some fondness. For when the road climbed steeply upwards – particularly at the very end of a stage – there was inevitably action. What became highly predictable action, admittedly. But action all the same. ‘Cadence’ was the popular term of the day. In the high mountains, ‘soft-pedalling’ was unheard of.



And mountain stages in general, didn’t dominate the route. I mean, you don’t need many col’s, when you have clocks.



In 1990 my millennials, the Tour De France had five races against the clock, and four of those were of the acceptable variety. FIVE! I know. You think that I am lying. But we used to live in a different world, we really did.



In fact, as recently as 2004, flat stages ruled the roost. There was no more than a week of decisive stages in the Tour De France, and even less so in its attractive sister, the Giro d’Italia. Great fans of the latter – and there are many – for its cols would be embarrassed to look back on that route, for they would discover that it was rather boring flat stage friendly. They would be even more surprised to learn that it was organised by one Angelo Zomegnan.



Surprised, because in the years that followed, Angelo would become known for his crazy use of col’s in his great race. But this wasn’t at the total expense of boring flat stages, nor of individual time trialling. Zomegnan had the decency to even promote ‘Col Free Mondays’. However, when it came to the Tour De France - under the control of Prudhomme - no day was safe from unnecessary cruelty.



Though he did encourage some extra recuperation on some Tuesdays.



So it was no coincidence, that it was the 2012 Giro, the first that was without Angelo’s steady hand since 2003, that provided its riders with record levels of unnecessary climbing cruelty.



Time and time again, the general classification competing cyclists were subject to horrendous torture, without any sort of relevant outcome. Fans were outraged, and humanity began to change, though the race was well behind that of the change of the planet. And that change was already about to have direct impact on its col’s.



For it was the 2013 Giro that saw col cancellation after col cancellation, and which ironically gifted a rider from a great col loving nation – so loving that it’s Prime Minister would later bring it into show and tell in parliament – a podium place which most agreed was largely undeserved. Still, it was very cold high up on those col’s; climate change wasn’t quite as obvious.



It was the rising sea levels that would let us know once and for all, and would ironically, exterminate flat boring stages, once and for all.



But back to 2010. The use of col’s unnecessarily in cycling and its harmful impact on the environment was highlighted greatly when Alberto Contador revealed that he had consumed beef during the race, contributing still further to the events carbon footprint. Now a general classification rider doesn’t risk taking performance enhancing substances for flat boring stages, and given that there was very little racing against the clock in this edition, then he most likely consumed beef for the mountains. My guess is that it was in preparation for the stage finish at Ax 3 Domaines.



It was all so unnecessary.



But then chaingate happened, and the world continued to ignore what was really going on.



Christian Prudhomme is a shifty bastard. When he first took over the Tour De France in 2006, he was warmly welcomed, even hailed as a hero – an environmentalist – by some. His debut contained flat boring stage after flat boring stage, and more than sufficient individual time trialling. The cruelty of his cols – save for one very lacklustre stage in the Pyrenees….we should have known – was necessary.



In 2007 Prudhomme seemed even greater, and we thought that the Vino’s of the world were the bad guys. But did Vino ever waste a col? Did he really?



2008 wasn’t too bad either, but we had a further warning. Were the Tour De France col’s becoming so shallow that a rider could crash going up them?



But again, it was easy to blame the eastern block.



Or anyone really. For in later years, when mountain stages became more numerous and less decisive – as those sea levels continued to warm and rise – it was Prudhomme who would point to the Vuelta, as if to say, “Come on, at least we are not that bad”.



Yes, the Vuelta can be blamed for a lot of things.



It was true that Prudhomme refused to reduce his carbon emissions until his Spanish cousin did.



And so the summits – all of the summits – did next to nothing.



Another aspect of the global warming being encouraged by the road racing was to do with technology, and it was in the form of trains. Now if you don’t know much about cycling you’d be surprised, and wonder, “how could they get away with it, using such an obvious motor?”



It’s cycling. It’s the Tour De France. A lot of riders have got away with a lot of stuff that has been pretty obvious.



The trains obviously added to the carbon footprint, and created an almost non-scheduled team time trial – that’s the time trial that is unacceptable – into the mountain stages. It seemed that in the modern age, you had to be on a train to win the Tour De France. It was said that not very long ago an Italian won the event without one, but the general consensus was that he had won by default. He was also said to have taken a ride in a car in another event (though we don’t believe that this was the often whispered about Ferrari), so either way that you wanted to look at it, it was best that you use a motor of some description.



And if you didn’t have your motor running, then it was probably best to neutralise the race.



It used to be dominated by the French, but now as well as using a motor, the other key aspect to success in the Tour De France appeared to be speaking proper English. Yes, if you were Anglo Saxon, then you appeared to have a marginal gain on your rivals. Many fans didn’t like this, perhaps because there was possibly too much pride, and too much prejudice.



Which was why many forum members become happier when a non-Anglo Saxon started winning. Egan Bernal - the man they began to call the Colombian Contador – rode on a train like most of the other winners, but it was said that he was a ‘pure climber’, sort of in the same but opposite way of a ‘pure sprinter’, though these were fast becoming mythological creatures. And he would leave the train sometimes too, as if to say, “Look, no motor”.



He wore yellow in Paris in 2019, and he did so again in 2020. You would have put your house on this Spanish speaker winning more than two Tours. And in fact, he wore yellow into Paris again, in 2021. Only Paris wasn’t the Paris that we knew anymore.



We need to go back. We need to go back, just a little bit further, in regards to Prudhomme’s continued unnecessary use of col’s.



In 2020 Christian broke new ground. Emissions reached record levels as mountain stage after mountain stage was ‘raced’, without reasonable result. Worse still, there were now two fully functioning trains. Fans didn’t even joke about the Vino option anymore.



In later years, experts would label stage fourteen – when the riders crested the Col de Beal – as a ‘tipping point’. Luke Rowe took the KOM points – nobody even bothered to get into a breakaway – and Peter Sagan won the stage.



This never happened when Armstrong walked on the moon. Or don’t you believe in miracles?



In 2021 there wasn’t a single km against the clock. It was as big a call for an Armageddon as there had ever been. Prudhomme though, claimed that his route was balanced, pointing to the Planche des Belles Filles and it being the first mountain top finish of the race, as well as the last. Which is to say that he had now included his favourite climb twice in the same parcours.



The greatest innovative mind since Leonardo Da Vinci even had one stage finish after the gravel, and one stage finish before it. Twitter feeds exploded with praise for his genius.



But we weren’t just two trains above zero now. And as the peloton came to the outskirts of Paris, they were met by a wall of water. Sea levels had now taken the capital, and much of the rest of France.



Prudhomme wasn’t about to neutralise the race, for in this edition, no Frenchman could be helped.



And therefore no Colombian stood a chance. It would have been perfect conditions for the shark, however he had retired after 2020. The winner should have thus been the surprising Richie Porte, who was looking at a rare grand tour top ten, and would have gained more than marginally, given his triathlon background. But after making it through twenty stages unscathed, he rode into a black cat whilst on his warm up ride, and broke both his collarbones. I didn’t know that it was physically possible to break both in one accident, but we aren’t talking about just any rider here.



Geoghegan Hart, perhaps helped by his proficiency in English, was able to wipe away all of those minutes that he had lost to his teammate on the col’s, in the floods. And when an Anglo Saxon with just a tiny trace of climbing ability is gifted half a dozen minutes and a Tour, then you are asking for a new era of dominance.



More unhappy than anyone about this day of biblical proportions was Peter Sagan. He wasn’t able to complete the stage, and so lost his green jersey. And upon hearing that the Tour De France wouldn’t finish in Paris anymore, he announced his retirement.



Libertine Seguros shed a tear of joy.



If it sounds too good to be true though, then it probably is. And so it was, that in October 2021, when Prudhomme announced the new route for 2022, there were zero boring flat stages. Because it was logistically impossible. He had claimed that a lot of things were logistically impossible in the past – when they weren’t – and now in the present, they really were. It was rolling, ‘medium’ mountain terrain, with even shorter stages than ever now, and multiple transfers. And the final finishing location? It had to be somewhere that was Tour De France famous. It had to have tradition. Libertine Seguros feared for the worst, that PDBF would be selected. But the reality was even worse than that. LS was knocked to the canvas. Pau!



Peter Sagan immediately announced his comeback. And he would go on to win many more green jerseys, and many stage twenty-ones.



Until humanity was wiped out that is.



And what of Libertine Seguros? He, she kept following the sport until the end, for it actually wasn’t all doom and gloom. La Course became a little more interesting. Thanks to the impossibilities of logistics.
 
“Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Pure Sprinters?!”





Road cycling had always been known for many things. Bravery, endurance, time trialling, and according to some, an activity designed strictly for Europeans. But by the twenty-first century it had also become known for something else entirely: climate change.



You’re a sceptic? Well, we all are, initially. So just hear me out.



In the first three-quarters of the twentieth century road bikes were made from harmless material, such as aluminium. But then, in the 1980’s, carbon fibre bikes were introduced. It was only a small footprint initially, but these wheels had legs. Soon enough, entire peloton’s were using them.



It was no surprise that the bike was popularised by an American. I mean since when do American’s care about the environment? And you probably wouldn’t believe it, but that 1989 Tour De France winning machine was called ‘the Look’. I swear, you can’t make *** like this up.



But cycling’s contribution to climate change wasn’t based so much on its technology. It was based more on its parcours.



It was based on its use of cols.



In the early days of the Tour De France, the race was based on ‘endurance’ - a word that many millennials haven’t heard of – rather than climbing. In fact, before Joaquim Rodriguez was born, nobody had even heard of the term ‘puncheur’. It would probably have been assumed that it referred to a French boxer. Perhaps it was one of Bernard Hinault’s lesser known nicknames.



In the 50’s and 60’s the Tour De France went into the mountains, but not excessively. It didn’t traverse into the mountains unnecessarily. Strictly speaking, the race directors didn’t subject the riders to unnecessary cruelty. Col’s were used, but they were used for a specific purpose: to impact on the overall outcome of the general classification. There was very little wastage.



But as parcours trends later changed, so did our climate. It was no coincidence. I’m telling you people, it’s science.



We were even warned very publically – when it was almost too late – by that young expert on cols, the activist Greta Thunberg, on the disaster that Christian Prudhomme’s continued selfish actions would lead to, if not altered. “You have stolen the dreams and livelihood of Dylan Groenewegen and Tom Dumoulin. How dare you?!”



I am not sure why – as a Swede – she had mentioned the Dutch. Perhaps because Holland didn’t really have any cols to use, so I guess they were pretty good to the environment.



The early 2000’s were seen as a cancer by many, but in hindsight we looked back on these Tour De France editions with some nostalgia, perhaps some might even say, with some fondness. For when the road climbed steeply upwards – particularly at the very end of a stage – there was inevitably action. What became highly predictable action, admittedly. But action all the same. ‘Cadence’ was the popular term of the day. In the high mountains, ‘soft-pedalling’ was unheard of.



And mountain stages in general, didn’t dominate the route. I mean, you don’t need many col’s, when you have clocks.



In 1990 my millennials, the Tour De France had five races against the clock, and four of those were of the acceptable variety. FIVE! I know. You think that I am lying. But we used to live in a different world, we really did.



In fact, as recently as 2004, flat stages ruled the roost. There was no more than a week of decisive stages in the Tour De France, and even less so in its attractive sister, the Giro d’Italia. Great fans of the latter – and there are many – for its cols would be embarrassed to look back on that route, for they would discover that it was rather boring flat stage friendly. They would be even more surprised to learn that it was organised by one Angelo Zomegnan.



Surprised, because in the years that followed, Angelo would become known for his crazy use of col’s in his great race. But this wasn’t at the total expense of boring flat stages, nor of individual time trialling. Zomegnan had the decency to even promote ‘Col Free Mondays’. However, when it came to the Tour De France - under the control of Prudhomme - no day was safe from unnecessary cruelty.



Though he did encourage some extra recuperation on some Tuesdays.



So it was no coincidence, that it was the 2012 Giro, the first that was without Angelo’s steady hand since 2003, that provided its riders with record levels of unnecessary climbing cruelty.



Time and time again, the general classification competing cyclists were subject to horrendous torture, without any sort of relevant outcome. Fans were outraged, and humanity began to change, though the race was well behind that of the change of the planet. And that change was already about to have direct impact on its col’s.



For it was the 2013 Giro that saw col cancellation after col cancellation, and which ironically gifted a rider from a great col loving nation – so loving that it’s Prime Minister would later bring it into show and tell in parliament – a podium place which most agreed was largely undeserved. Still, it was very cold high up on those col’s; climate change wasn’t quite as obvious.



It was the rising sea levels that would let us know once and for all, and would ironically, exterminate flat boring stages, once and for all.



But back to 2010. The use of col’s unnecessarily in cycling and its harmful impact on the environment was highlighted greatly when Alberto Contador revealed that he had consumed beef during the race, contributing still further to the events carbon footprint. Now a general classification rider doesn’t risk taking performance enhancing substances for flat boring stages, and given that there was very little racing against the clock in this edition, then he most likely consumed beef for the mountains. My guess is that it was in preparation for the stage finish at Ax 3 Domaines.



It was all so unnecessary.



But then chaingate happened, and the world continued to ignore what was really going on.



Christian Prudhomme is a shifty bastard. When he first took over the Tour De France in 2006, he was warmly welcomed, even hailed as a hero – an environmentalist – by some. His debut contained flat boring stage after flat boring stage, and more than sufficient individual time trialling. The cruelty of his cols – save for one very lacklustre stage in the Pyrenees….we should have known – was necessary.



In 2007 Prudhomme seemed even greater, and we thought that the Vino’s of the world were the bad guys. But did Vino ever waste a col? Did he really?



2008 wasn’t too bad either, but we had a further warning. Were the Tour De France col’s becoming so shallow that a rider could crash going up them?



But again, it was easy to blame the eastern block.



Or anyone really. For in later years, when mountain stages became more numerous and less decisive – as those sea levels continued to warm and rise – it was Prudhomme who would point to the Vuelta, as if to say, “Come on, at least we are not that bad”.



Yes, the Vuelta can be blamed for a lot of things.



It was true that Prudhomme refused to reduce his carbon emissions until his Spanish cousin did.



And so the summits – all of the summits – did next to nothing.



Another aspect of the global warming being encouraged by the road racing was to do with technology, and it was in the form of trains. Now if you don’t know much about cycling you’d be surprised, and wonder, “how could they get away with it, using such an obvious motor?”



It’s cycling. It’s the Tour De France. A lot of riders have got away with a lot of stuff that has been pretty obvious.



The trains obviously added to the carbon footprint, and created an almost non-scheduled team time trial – that’s the time trial that is unacceptable – into the mountain stages. It seemed that in the modern age, you had to be on a train to win the Tour De France. It was said that not very long ago an Italian won the event without one, but the general consensus was that he had won by default. He was also said to have taken a ride in a car in another event (though we don’t believe that this was the often whispered about Ferrari), so either way that you wanted to look at it, it was best that you use a motor of some description.



And if you didn’t have your motor running, then it was probably best to neutralise the race.



It used to be dominated by the French, but now as well as using a motor, the other key aspect to success in the Tour De France appeared to be speaking proper English. Yes, if you were Anglo Saxon, then you appeared to have a marginal gain on your rivals. Many fans didn’t like this, perhaps because there was possibly too much pride, and too much prejudice.



Which was why many forum members become happier when a non-Anglo Saxon started winning. Egan Bernal - the man they began to call the Colombian Contador – rode on a train like most of the other winners, but it was said that he was a ‘pure climber’, sort of in the same but opposite way of a ‘pure sprinter’, though these were fast becoming mythological creatures. And he would leave the train sometimes too, as if to say, “Look, no motor”.



He wore yellow in Paris in 2019, and he did so again in 2020. You would have put your house on this Spanish speaker winning more than two Tours. And in fact, he wore yellow into Paris again, in 2021. Only Paris wasn’t the Paris that we knew anymore.



We need to go back. We need to go back, just a little bit further, in regards to Prudhomme’s continued unnecessary use of col’s.



In 2020 Christian broke new ground. Emissions reached record levels as mountain stage after mountain stage was ‘raced’, without reasonable result. Worse still, there were now two fully functioning trains. Fans didn’t even joke about the Vino option anymore.



In later years, experts would label stage fourteen – when the riders crested the Col de Beal – as a ‘tipping point’. Luke Rowe took the KOM points – nobody even bothered to get into a breakaway – and Peter Sagan won the stage.



This never happened when Armstrong walked on the moon. Or don’t you believe in miracles?



In 2021 there wasn’t a single km against the clock. It was as big a call for an Armageddon as there had ever been. Prudhomme though, claimed that his route was balanced, pointing to the Planche des Belles Filles and it being the first mountain top finish of the race, as well as the last. Which is to say that he had now included his favourite climb twice in the same parcours.



The greatest innovative mind since Leonardo Da Vinci even had one stage finish after the gravel, and one stage finish before it. Twitter feeds exploded with praise for his genius.



But we weren’t just two trains above zero now. And as the peloton came to the outskirts of Paris, they were met by a wall of water. Sea levels had now taken the capital, and much of the rest of France.



Prudhomme wasn’t about to neutralise the race, for in this edition, no Frenchman could be helped.



And therefore no Colombian stood a chance. It would have been perfect conditions for the shark, however he had retired after 2020. The winner should have thus been the surprising Richie Porte, who was looking at a rare grand tour top ten, and would have gained more than marginally, given his triathlon background. But after making it through twenty stages unscathed, he rode into a black cat whilst on his warm up ride, and broke both his collarbones. I didn’t know that it was physically possible to break both in one accident, but we aren’t talking about just any rider here.



Geoghegan Hart, perhaps helped by his proficiency in English, was able to wipe away all of those minutes that he had lost to his teammate on the col’s, in the floods. And when an Anglo Saxon with just a tiny trace of climbing ability is gifted half a dozen minutes and a Tour, then you are asking for a new era of dominance.



More unhappy than anyone about this day of biblical proportions was Peter Sagan. He wasn’t able to complete the stage, and so lost his green jersey. And upon hearing that the Tour De France wouldn’t finish in Paris anymore, he announced his retirement.



Libertine Seguros shed a tear of joy.



If it sounds too good to be true though, then it probably is. And so it was, that in October 2021, when Prudhomme announced the new route for 2022, there were zero boring flat stages. Because it was logistically impossible. He had claimed that a lot of things were logistically impossible in the past – when they weren’t – and now in the present, they really were. It was rolling, ‘medium’ mountain terrain, with even shorter stages than ever now, and multiple transfers. And the final finishing location? It had to be somewhere that was Tour De France famous. It had to have tradition. Libertine Seguros feared for the worst, that PDBF would be selected. But the reality was even worse than that. LS was knocked to the canvas. Pau!



Peter Sagan immediately announced his comeback. And he would go on to win many more green jerseys, and many stage twenty-ones.



Until humanity was wiped out that is.



And what of Libertine Seguros? He, she kept following the sport until the end, for it actually wasn’t all doom and gloom. La Course became a little more interesting. Thanks to the impossibilities of logistics.
Yep... it's The Cyclist Conspiracy.
 
Great piece Libertine Seguros, and I won't argue it...details. Still, that was a much better review than years past.

Gregowlerson, that post was...different. I don't know if you were riding your bike for six hours a day, what you are on. But there was poetry and I thank you...still don't get it tho' :). Cheers :wineglass:.
 
I think the Vuelta actually did surprisingly well in that regard this year. They had most of the hard mountain stages and hard MTF in the first 2 weeks and then the final 2 mountain stages had decent action from further away simply because they were the last places to go, although in this particular case the climbs were perhaps a little too easy for that to work. But there's a lot to be said that if you make the first 2 weeks harder, the 3rd week can be chaos on pretty average climbs.

Like Pogacar did a 40km solo it's not like Pena Negra is a hard climb. If the concept is applied well, I don't think you even need climbs like the Mortirolo all the time.

The Vuelta got a lot right this year. It's typically a more difficult race to control anyway due to the Spanish climbs. I think what it showed was that if you have a good route and the riders want to they will make a very good race.
 
Reactions: Red Rick
Great piece Libertine Seguros, and I won't argue it...details. Still, that was a much better review than years past.

Gregowlerson, that post was...different. I don't know if you were riding your bike for six hours a day, what you are on. But there was poetry and I thank you...still don't get it tho' :). Cheers :wineglass:.
Thanks Tonton. It was mostly a (very) weird play on words, and linking with the 'current climate'.

I don't really believe that Paris will be under water in two years time. I think that Pinot will have plenty more opportunities to win the Tour in a reasonably traditional way :)
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Right, I have a bit of a complaint. (I'm posting it here because I'm lazy, and the women's thread isn't on the first page. Also, there might be more people reading this thread.)

I think I've made it pretty clear that I'd prefer a multi-stage event for la Course, come one; let the women do the ITT too! However, since I suppose that is impossible, for some reason… then the very least should be having the route for la Course be exactly like the final stage in the TdF. Sure, a more interesting route would be preferable, but... baby steps it seems… and we know there won't be a risk of the men catching the women.
 
there is a gravel road that seems no worse than the Finestre that starts at the TOP of the Tourmalet, that Gouvenou has yet to use. Goes to the Pic Du Midi.

Would love a stage of Bales, Peyresourde, Aspin, finish at Pic Du Midi
Pic du Midi is one of my bigger wet dreams but i think won't happen because it's too extreme and ASO seems to dislike the sterrato when it's not a gimmick like the 500 meters on Planche or the short plateau at the top of Gileres.

If instead of doing like Portet and paving it before using they'll keep the sterrato they could also solve the problem of unused climbs that can't be used because can't be paved as someone said in this thread, but is ASO so...
 
Pic du Midi is one of my bigger wet dreams but i think won't happen because it's too extreme and ASO seems to dislike the sterrato when it's not a gimmick like the 500 meters on Planche or the short plateau at the top of Gileres.

If instead of doing like Portet and paving it before using they'll keep the sterrato they could also solve the problem of unused climbs that can't be used because can't be paved as someone said in this thread, but is ASO so...
If I recall correctly, ASO seriously considered using Finestre at one point. I don't know if Portet was as raceable as Finestre, PdBF and Glières. Judging from the pictures I saw back then, probably not.

You're right though that they could uses longer stretches of sterrato if they wanted to. They chickened out a couple years ago, as well, when the Tro-Bro Léon roads were ditched at the last minute...
 
If I recall correctly, ASO seriously considered using Finestre at one point. I don't know if Portet was as raceable as Finestre, PdBF and Glières. Judging from the pictures I saw back then, probably not.

You're right though that they could uses longer stretches of sterrato if they wanted to. They chickened out a couple years ago, as well, when the Tro-Bro Léon roads were ditched at the last minute...
Maybe Portet wasn't suitable for racing but if they had wanted to they could have worked on the surface keeping the sterrato instead of going hard with tarmac and pave everything. I think every unpaved road used for a race is mantained to be raceable, also the latest rumored for the Giro like Fraiteve or Monte Lussari (that has been postponed to 2021) aren't suitable for racing but they are going to make them suitable keeping the sterrato not paving everything a la ASO.
 
Maybe Portet wasn't suitable for racing but if they had wanted to they could have worked on the surface keeping the sterrato instead of going hard with tarmac and pave everything. I think every unpaved road used for a race is mantained to be raceable, also the latest rumored for the Giro like Fraiteve or Monte Lussari (that has been postponed to 2021) aren't suitable for racing but they are going to make them suitable keeping the sterrato not paving everything a la ASO.
Okay so I casually google that climb, I wasn't ready for this




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