Change In TDF Parcours – Just An Idea

Change In TDF Parcours – Just An Idea

Most of us agree that the Tour De France could do with a few less pancake flat stages – particularly during the first week. The difficulty for the organisers is that France isn’t very mountainous; at least not compared with Italy and Spain.

They only pretty much have two areas of mountains (Alps and Pyrenees), which are each (usually) given 3 days to shine out of the 21 race days.

My fairly basic idea is that the Tour could consider going through one of the major mountain ranges twice in each year. One year they have the Alps in weeks one and three; the next they have the Pyrenees twice. I believe that this is feasible without going over the same roads/climbs too much. In saying that, I like the idea of having one mountain highlighted each year – which is climbed over twice, in the first week and third week.

The first week shouldn’t necessarily be too selective – but it should be more interesting. Just 2 days in the high mountains (perhaps stages 4 and 5) in week one, and the high mountains don’t always have to be so high. An attempt should be made to include more interesting medium mountain stages such as the first Alpine stage of the ’04 TDF.

So I’m suggesting 8 days in the Alps and Pyrenees instead of the usual 6. A more balanced parcours – one that is not so back ended. There could be approximately 9 stages where the likely winner is a climber and 9 where the likely winner is a sprinter (or perhaps closer to a Gilbert type). Those 9 stages aren’t all pancake flat, and neither are the 9 mountain stages all horrific in profile. Plus there is room for 3 TT’s.

That’s just a basic formula. At present the organisers seem very intent on going over the same climbs (Tourmalet, Alp du’ez, Galibier, Columbierre) and into the same towns (Morzine, Pau, Grand Bornard, Andorra) regularly, so an extra couple of days will give other climbs and areas in the high mountains more scope to be included in the great race.
 
Bye Bye Bicycle said:
Check the profiles once more.
I can hardly see any pancake flat stages in this year's first week.

Going to be an entertaining first week.
I'm looking forward to the first week or so too, but the criticism is, and I think a valid one, that we won't see the GC men at all for a week and a half.

For me, 6 big mountain stages is enough to separate the men from the boys, but we need something additional to at least test them and give an opportunity to open up a few small gaps. The 2 Classics-like stages from last year, I thought did this pretty well. Maybe they could have made better use of the Massif Central or used the hilly TT earlier.
 
King Of The Wolds said:
I'm looking forward to the first week or so too, but the criticism is, and I think a valid one, that we won't see the GC men at all for a week and a half.

For me, 6 big mountain stages is enough to separate the men from the boys, but we need something additional to at least test them and give an opportunity to open up a few small gaps. The 2 Classics-like stages from last year, I thought did this pretty well. Maybe they could have made better use of the Massif Central or used the hilly TT earlier.
The GC men will be all there at Mont-des-Alouettes, Mur-de-Bretagne, Super-Besse. Not to forget the TTT. It's a dull phrase, but it's easier to lose the Tour on those Brittany roads than to win it.
And come on, do you really want to see Contador, Schleck etc. so early in yellow? I don't.
 
Bye Bye Bicycle said:
The GC men will be all there at Mont-des-Alouettes, Mur-de-Bretagne, Super-Besse. Not to forget the TTT. It's a dull phrase, but it's easier to lose the Tour on those Brittany roads than to win it.
And come on, do you really want to see Contador, Schleck etc. so early in yellow? I don't.
But that's my point, they'll ALL be there.

I take your point on the TTT, but it's shortish, will only provide some small gaps and then the GC boys will just wait until the mountains to do something about these gaps.

I like to see somebody else in yellow for a while also, but I like there to be some jostling between the GC men until the serious stuff starts.

I'll say again though, I think there'll be some fun racing in the first week, and potentially an intriguing battle for green.
 
May 26, 2009
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gregrowlerson said:
The difficulty for the organisers is that France isn’t very mountainous; at least not compared with Italy and Spain.
I assume you are American with the stereotypical geographical notion? I have to say that before you post this you should have taken out a map and checked if your statement held any truth. You didn't and well... it shows.

They only pretty much have two areas of mountains (Alps and Pyrenees), which are each (usually) given 3 days to shine out of the 21 race days.
Oh my... where to start? Let me try.... *shakes head*

First off, your knowledge of France and it's geography is obviously non-existant. Your remarks are so far beside the truth that I strongly suggest to buy an atlas and check out Europe. You will learn interesting things.

You miss the Ardennes, Vosges, Central Massif, Armorican Massif and the Jura. There is no need at all to regurgitate certain areas. France has a very varied landscape. The reason for the flat stages is choice, not necessity.

Secondly, in general TdF has 3 alpe stages, 2 Pyrenees and 1 central massif stage. The idea that a typical TdF only has 3 mountainous stages is clearly not based on facts.
 
Oct 15, 2009
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A better use of the Massif Central or the Vosges (depending on where the Tour is starting and to which mountain range is heading first) and a long, flat ITT in the first week would be enough to improve the route, without overusing the Alps or the Pyrenees, imo. Then you could always add some uphill finishes as this year, or a stage with cobbled sections.
 
I would like more non-tarmac stages in the GTs like the strade bianche in the Giro. Not necessarily cobblestones but just unpaved roads like that. That makes things interesting even without ridiculous climbs.
 
Last year included a hilly stage in the Jura as well as some lumpiness in Belgium, cobbles, that ******* hard steep finish in Mende as well as the usual diet of alps + pyrenees.

This year we get some hard stages in Britanny, a finish to Super Besse which is always interesting, another tough stage to St Flour + Pyrenees and Alps.

What more do people want? (well, another ITT in my case but you can't have everything - the short one in the first week of 2008 was a good thing in my opinion).

Fair enough, the giro (and Vuelta to a lesser extent) are often a little less "formulaic" in terms of where their mountains are etc. but is this any more exciting? After etna is was screamlingly obvious that Contador was the strongest - another fortnight of him gradually extending his lead might well have been impressive but wasn't exciting. Tough stages too early aren't necessarily the way forward and the hard final week meant the sprinters went home and took a bit of fun and interest with them. Harder isn't always better.

That said, the 2004 tour was meaningless for GC for a fortnight and made the final week (which effectively stitched the pyrenees and alps together) a bit ridiculous and left little chance for anyone going through a bad couple of days to recoup losses.

Goes to show how hard it is to get a well balanced race that gives the sprinters, the GC riders and the Gilberts a chance to all show what they can do and gives the spectators interest on all fronts as long as possible. TDF has probably improved a little in that regard since Prudhomme took over and in general, I think they aren't too far away.
 
spalco said:
I would like more non-tarmac stages in the GTs like the strade bianche in the Giro. Not necessarily cobblestones but just unpaved roads like that. That makes things interesting even without ridiculous climbs.
Indeed.
You would think that with this year's route going through Brittany we'd have a bit of the roads from Tro-Bro Léon, but no.
Sadly Brittany isn't as central in France as Tuscany is in Italy, so they don't get there every year. I'm afraid we'll have to wait a couple of years to see gravel roads in the Tour.
 
Apr 18, 2010
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the problem with the tour the france it is not the lack of mountain stage, but the lack of mtf. more climbing does not mean it will be better. i would suggest an approach similar to la vuelta with a couple of stages similar to hilly classics so punchers have their chance ( gilbert). 1 short slightly hilly and technichal tt and a long flat tt. also istead of 5 sprint stages on a row use them only as a recovery for gt riders. while you are on it time bonus should be implemented it makes the race more exciting. make riders finishing 100+ on more than 3 stages unelegible for the green jersey competition.
 
Jul 24, 2009
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The monotony of the Tour is ridiculous. Same parts of the Alps and Pyrenees every year. Same climbs, usually. And when we get the Massif Central... it's always the same climbs in the same crappy order. The Alps are huge. The Pyrenees are huge. The Massif Central is... well, massif. But there's zero imagination in varying the route.

Every year there could be important stages in the Massif Central from Clermont-Ferrand to the Ardèche to the Montagne Noir. There could be important stages in the Ardennes. There could be important stages in the Western Pyrenees and the Eastern Pyrenees. There could be important stages in the Southern Alps and the Jura. There could be important stages in the Vosges. Instead, we usually see one of these regions crop up once every couple of years, and churning out the same stale old routes when they do. Oh look, we have a "big" stage in the Massif Central this year, I wonder where we'll finish this time... oh Mende/Super Besse. How novel.
 
robertocarlos said:
the problem with the tour the france it is not the lack of mountain stage, but the lack of mtf. more climbing does not mean it will be better. i would suggest an approach similar to la vuelta with a couple of stages similar to hilly classics so punchers have their chance ( gilbert). 1 short slightly hilly and technichal tt and a long flat tt. also istead of 5 sprint stages on a row use them only as a recovery for gt riders. while you are on it time bonus should be implemented it makes the race more exciting. make riders finishing 100+ on more than 3 stages unelegible for the green jersey competition.
Sorry I have to ask. Do you mean to say the TdF doesn't have enough mountain top finishes?
 
Jul 24, 2009
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simoni said:
Last year included a hilly stage in the Jura as well as some lumpiness in Belgium, cobbles, that ******* hard steep finish in Mende as well as the usual diet of alps + pyrenees.

This year we get some hard stages in Britanny, a finish to Super Besse which is always interesting, another tough stage to St Flour + Pyrenees and Alps.
Last year's stage over the cobbles was good, and the one through the Ardennes could have been good-ish if they'd bothered racing it.

But generally these stages are nearly always designed not to be important. They're designed so that the organisers can point and say, "Look, not an easy day!" but in reality nothing serious will happen so that it can all be saved for the same old stages (the cobbled stages being the notable exception).

This year's stages in Brittany and the Massif Central are designed to have as little impact and action as possible. Same with Mende. A couple of kilometres of racing at the end and a handful of seconds between the favourites, and then they can cross it off as "not a flat day".
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Skip Madness said:
Last year's stage over the cobbles was good, and the one through the Ardennes could have been good-ish if they'd bothered racing it.

But generally these stages are nearly always designed not to be important. They're designed so that the organisers can point and say, "Look, not an easy day!" but in reality nothing serious will happen so that it can all be saved for the same old stages (the cobbled stages being the notable exception).

This year's stages in Brittany and the Massif Central are designed to have as little impact and action as possible. Same with Mende. A couple of kilometres of racing at the end and a handful of seconds between the favourites, and then they can cross it off as "not a flat day".
A lot of the Giro stages this year were no different... Nothing happened until the final climb.

I actually like this Tour route a lot more.
 
The thing is, it's not even that they use the Alps and Pyrenées - it's that they use the same parts over and over again. Yes, they could use the Jura better (Col du Grand-Colombier, anyone?).

But every single goddamn year, Tourmalet. While whole mountainous areas go totally unused? When was the last time they properly used Alpes-Maritimes? Yes, I know that Paris-Nice uses the area, but at a time of year where many of the climbs are off limits. Mont Agel? Col des Braus? Baisse de la Cabanette? Even in the middle of the most used sections of the Alps there are climbs going unused - Pra Prunier, for example (though that's not the toughest of climbs).

Plus, the tendency to go "look! Ventoux!" "look! Alpe d'Huez!" is really frustrating - if the rest of the course is well designed and the racing is good, I couldn't give a fig if they're climbing to Alpe d'Huez or if they're on the way to Tignes... or if they're climbing Cam Basque instead of Plateau de Beille.

There are some really hard climbs in France that we hardly see. We say that the Giro and Vuelta have more options for super hard climbs, but there's Le Collet d'Avelard in this Dauphiné, averaging over 8%, and we've not seen much of Mont du Chat at all - 14km at 8,9% is difficult in anybody's language! And in the Pyrenées - what's wrong with using the Port de Larrau or Arette Pierre-Saint-Martin? Then you've got whole climbs like the Col d'Errozate, averaging over 9%, just sitting there. ASO are as bad as Unipublic at just failing to notice great climbs in their backyard.

Plus, Angelo Zomegnan would have found some method, possibly using helicopters, ski lifts and maybe even a zipline, to ensure that they could climb to Puy de Dôme, even if it could only be an MTT.
 
robertocarlos said:
i would suggest an approach similar to la vuelta with a couple of stages similar to hilly classics so punchers have their chance ( gilbert).

make riders finishing 100+ on more than 3 stages unelegible for the green jersey competition.
Have you seen the first week and a half? It's made for Gilbert.

As far the green jersey, that's definitely one thing that they've got right. Right now, I'd say Cavendish, EBH, Petacchi and Gilbert all have a good chance, and yet they're all different types of riders.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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King Of The Wolds said:
Have you seen the first week and a half? It's made for Gilbert.

As far the green jersey, that's definitely one thing that they've got right. Right now, I'd say Cavendish, EBH, Petacchi and Gilbert all have a good chance, and yet they're all different types of riders.
Lol, Cavendish has 100% chance to win the the Cavendish jersey. All the others have 0% chance because they're not named Cavendish and that is a requirement to win the Cavendish jersey.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Descender said:
Yes, because it offers a lot more opportunities to do stuff before the final climb, right?
More balanced route and not just the same boring MTF after another. The final week of the Giro was a big snoozefest.

And at least we'll have the best racers in the world competing here instead of Nibali and Scarponi.
 
El Pistolero said:
More balanced route and not just the same boring MTF after another. The final week of the Giro was a big snoozefest.

And at least we'll have the best racers in the world competing here instead of Nibali and Scarponi.
How is this route balanced?? It has only one ITT, and at the very end at that, and hilly. The mountains are all concentrated at the end, and all high mountain stages end in a cat 1 or HC climb except for the Aubisque one, which is short and has only that one climb, and far from the finish line.
 
Apr 14, 2011
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The Tour de France route has lost its identity a bit. This year's route looks kind of like a Giro-lite, with hilly finishes, just the one tt, and the mountain stages concentrated towards the end. There is no obvious queen stage, no really long stage(s), and no cobbles, no really long time trial...
 

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