Fairplay in cycling

Jul 20, 2014
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Mainly, in this thread, I'd like to probe the situations where, in your opinion, top competitors should wait for their adversaries and where to take advantage of their situation.
As fair-play is a phenomenon that is arbitrary and pretty much crowd-wisdom, please contribute!

How much is fairplay important at all as there are no performance penalties? Effects of not respecting it seem rather short term, while sporting accomplishments are what goes into the history books.

Possible situations
(not exhaustive so add items to list)

- Mechanical
- Fall due to bad luck
- Fall due to own error
- Fear
- Lack of skill
- Hunger knock
- Sickness
- Injury
...

"Moral"/consistency questions

- How does the fact that adversary is in leader's jersey during the GT affect waiting/not?
- How things change considering GT and one day events (for example classics)?
- How good does the adversary have to be for top competitors to feel obliged to wait for him/her?
- How far can the adversary be in back/in front before the incident happens (in the stage and/or GC)?
- Do you close the adversary's current advantage if that means taking advantage of his situation?
- Does and, if so, how much does racer's popularity distort these guidelines?
- Are fairplay guidelines decided by the majority or the loudest?
- Is fairplay based on reciprocity? I.e. if some adversary didn't wait for you personally in the past you wouldn't wait for him/her? What if the adversary has history of not waiting for someone else (once or multiple times), but not you personally, should you wait for him or take advantage?
- If someone has a doping history, should you hold it against that certain someone on the account of fairplay and should you wait for such person?
- What if you are certain that someone is doping right now, should you wait for such person as doping is also a fairplay offence?

Few examples

AC not waiting AS during his mechanical (chaingate) while AS being in yellow and the resulting backlash.

AC's crash this year where handful of people accuse Astana for not waiting properly(although the same can be said of Kwia). Was that a situation with an error or bad luck and is the result for fairplay obligations the same?

Armstrong and Ullrich waiting/not for each other due to falls.

Greg Lemond saying in post-commentaries after the stage 14 on TDF'14 that he wouldn't attack Pinot on the descent?
 
Netserk said:
It's always okay to race (as long as the race isn't officially neutralized). If some riders want to wait, they can do that, but you should never expect others to wait, it is a race after all.
when there's an issue from an outside source that effects multiple riders its not ok IMO. Thinking back to the tack issue in the 2012 tour, it was right for Sky to neutralise it and wrong for Rolland to attack.

It can epend on the race aswell. Could you imagine a P-R where everyone waited for crashes and mechanicals :D
 
I'm old school. It's a race not a tea party, race your bike. If some decide that they want to slow down that is fine. There is some tradition for waiting on a crashed Race Leader but that is sometimes observed and sometimes not. More often Not in the many years I've been watching.
 
Richeypen said:
when there's an issue from an outside source that effects multiple riders its not ok IMO. Thinking back to the tack issue in the 2012 tour, it was right for Sky to neutralise it and wrong for Rolland to attack.

It can epend on the race aswell. Could you imagine a P-R where everyone waited for crashes and mechanicals :D
Was it officially neutralized? No. Then it was perfectly fine for Rolland to attack. If none were allowed to attack, then the race should have been neutralized. It wasn't.
 
In an ideal world, we can ask riders to respect these 'fair play' rules. The reality is that this is a race. It's up to the riders to wait or not. So there should be NO obligation to wait for other riders regardless of their misfortunes.

escheator said:
Greg Lemond saying in post-commentaries after the stage 14 on TDF'14 that he wouldn't attack Pinot on the descent?
Ridiculous comment. Maybe TJ should not do a full gas ITT, he would not want to take advantage of others.
 
Lets be honest here. Most people in this threads opinion would change if their favourite was disadvantaged or advantaged by such a move.

In terms of the tack incident though, Rolland was completely in the wrong for me and he went from one of my favourites to just another rider after that. I don't think any rider should take advantage from outside interference.

If someone hunger knocks, that is their fault and other riders should take advantage. Fear is the exact same, riders shouldn't be disadvantaged cause someone doesn't want to descend properly.
 
escheator said:
Mainly, in this thread, I'd like to probe the situations where, in your opinion, top competitors should wait for their adversaries and where to take advantage of their situation.
As fair-play is a phenomenon that is arbitrary and pretty much crowd-wisdom, please contribute!

How much is fairplay important at all as there are no performance penalties? Effects of not respecting it seem rather short term, while sporting accomplishments are what goes into the history books.

Possible situations
(not exhaustive so add items to list)

- Mechanical
- Fall due to bad luck
- Fall due to own error
- Fear
- Lack of skill
- Hunger knock
- Sickness
- Injury
...
Many of these are related. Take the infamous argument in the 2012 Paris-Nice for example. Movistar pushed the pace on a descent to put pressure on weak descenders. One of those weak descenders, Levi Leipheimer, crashed. Movistar continued to push the pace. Levi then crashed again trying to chase back on after he had been detached. Sky went nuts at Movistar's lack of fair play for it, but their argument was that they were trying to put pressure on people's descending skills, they shouldn't be held accountable if somebody's descending skills are not sufficient to stay with them and they crash trying. It then goes under "fall due to own error" and "lack of skill" on your countdown.

Hunger knock is the same as "own error", you're responsible for your own food intake. Sickness and injury simply can't be helped, opponents can't be held prisoner by opponent injuries and illnesses, otherwise leaders would be simulating illness every day they don't feel good.

Falls due to unavoidable circumstances, such as unsafe road conditions, perhaps. Think the tacks on the road in 2012. But then what about the 2010 Tour with oil on the road and all those crashes, then Cancellara preventing any more racing even long after they were past that?

Then being hypocritical the next day taking advantage of crashes to get Andy a lead when Andy had been the one to gain from the neutralization before? Not to mention that the maillot jaune - Chavanel - punctured and was left behind by Cance in that same stage...

"Moral"/consistency questions

- How does the fact that adversary is in leader's jersey during the GT affect waiting/not?
If there are going to be stops and starts for such situations, it absolutely should. There are certain courtesies that are offered to the maillot jaune that are not offered to other riders - if we extend the courtesy to others, how far down the GC do we allow it to go?
- How things change considering GT and one day events (for example classics)?
In one day events, no waiting. There is no race leader, it's a one-day event. Luck is a key factor. Favourites crash out all the time, no complaints. It's another reason Classics are more for the tough men - if you crash and you're not too hurt, you have to get on the bike and ride back on if you want to win. Think of Devolder in this year's RVV, off the bike more often than he was on it.
- How good does the adversary have to be for top competitors to feel obliged to wait for him/her?
- How far can the adversary be in back/in front before the incident happens (in the stage and/or GC)?
This goes into the question of interpretation like mentioned above. In my Sky/Movistar/OPQS example, Leipheimer was not the race leader, however in attacking him and continuing to attack after his crash, Movistar's leader Valverde leapfrogged him on the GC. But then, on a race with very little hilly terrain to be used and 65km from the mountain to the finish, where were they meant to attack him if they weren't allowed to attack his descending skills? A stage of a bike race is not like a stage of Paris-Dakar. There aren't set timed sections and set liaison sections - the whole thing is a race from point A to point B, and any point between is a fair place to attack.
- Do you close the adversary's current advantage if that means taking advantage of his situation?
- Does and, if so, how much does racer's popularity distort these guidelines?
- Are fairplay guidelines decided by the majority or the loudest?
Often by the loudest or by respected members of the péloton. The 2010 Tour neutralization I mentioned before was effected among the front group by Cancellara, whose opinions were backed by José Iván Gutiérrez, a well-respected road captain and domestique. Cance had a dog in the fight, so his opinions being backed up by somebody that didn't (Caisse d'Epargne had no set GC man in that race, and the nearest thing they had, Luís León Sánchez, had made the front group) may have gone some way to winning them the acceptance they got. Cancellara also chased down a couple of attempts to attack.

By contrast, after Nibali crashed on the sterrato in the 2010 Giro, Vino and Evans were left ahead with Garzelli and two Milram riders (Gerdemann and Rohringer, iirc). Here, things were blurred yet further because Vino and Evans had the effect on the GC to think about, but the two Milram riders were GC irrelevances who were stage hunting and did not feel the same obligation. However, a stage is still prestigious and once Gerdemann and his teammate pushed on there was no reason Vino and Evans shouldn't follow suit.

- Is fairplay based on reciprocity? I.e. if some adversary didn't wait for you personally in the past you wouldn't wait for him/her? What if the adversary has history of not waiting for someone else (once or multiple times), but not you personally, should you wait for him or take advantage?
Again my 2012 Paris-Nice example; Valverde crashed in the Volta a Catalunya and OPQS got on the front to distance him. Reaction from Movistar? Not a peep.

In the 2012 Vuelta, Valverde crashed in the leader's jersey as the race was breaking up, and Sky got on the front and pushed the pace. They were the ones that had been vocal against Valverde's team in Paris-Nice, but they had not been the ones wronged. Reaction from Movistar? Anger and frustration.

Personally, I saw nothing wrong with either incident - Leipheimer was distanced due to a lack of capability downhill, and Movistar should not be obliged to let him come back when they considered his being distanced was his own fault; however the race was breaking up when Valverde crashed and Sky had guys up front, so it is not wrong for them to take advantage. It was the hypocrisy that caused the tension there.
- If someone has a doping history, should you hold it against that certain someone on the account of fairplay and should you wait for such person?
- What if you are certain that someone is doping right now, should you wait for such person as doping is also a fairplay offence?
These should be answered in the Clinic, and also it depends on many things. Some dopers are welcomed back with open arms and this will not affect, other riders are simply unpopular. If anything the reverse seems to happen, with things like Millar saying the chase of the break usually gets more intense when it's discovered he's in it, or Sella having to go in the break early in his comeback because he talked and all he got from a day in the peloton was spat at.

Few examples

AC not waiting AS during his mechanical (chaingate) while AS being in yellow and the resulting backlash.

AC's crash this year where handful of people accuse Astana for not waiting properly(although the same can be said of Kwia). Was that a situation with an error or bad luck and is the result for fairplay obligations the same?

Armstrong and Ullrich waiting/not for each other due to falls.

Greg Lemond saying in post-commentaries after the stage 14 on TDF'14 that he wouldn't attack Pinot on the descent?
Chaingate was a botched gear change. Andy is arguably at fault. Regardless of the merits of the particular situation, Andy having benefited from crashes earlier in the race gave Contador the right to take the time back. Andy can't pick and choose where it's acceptable to attack GC contenders based on what suits him.

Generally, I say race. It is a race. Where situations are unavoidable, maybe wait. But if in doubt, race. Play to the whistle, and generally these things police themselves.
 
Jul 22, 2011
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Libertine Seguros said:
Generally, I say race. It is a race. Where situations are unavoidable, maybe wait. But if in doubt, race. Play to the whistle, and generally these things police themselves.
A conclusion I concur with.
 
Aug 16, 2011
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It's a race, and unless it is officially neutralized then a racer should almost always do their job and race.

I will admit that there is one type of incident that get's under my skin a little. When a GC rider crashes and a team in the bunch tries to use the crash to gain time on them or put them out of commission.* I don't know, it's just doesn't seem right to me to take advantage when a rider goes down and might be seriously injured.

Other kinds of incidents, bonks, mechanical, moments of inattention from the others, keep racing.

Hayabusa said:
Lets be honest here. Most people in this threads opinion would change if their favourite was disadvantaged or advantaged by such a move.
This is mostly true I would find.


*note, this is NOT what Astana did this Tour.
 
Jul 7, 2014
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Afrank said:
It's a race, and unless it is officially neutralized then a racer should almost always do their job and race.

I will admit that there is one type of incident that get's under my skin a little. When a GC rider crashes and a team in the bunch tries to use the crash to gain time on them or put them out of commission.* I don't know, it's just doesn't seem right to me to take advantage when a rider goes down and might be seriously injured.

Other kinds of incidents, bonks, mechanical, moments of inattention from the others, keep racing.



This is mostly true I would find.


*note, this is NOT what Astana did this Tour.
Yes Astana didn't and it wasn't wrong from them. Nibali didn't have to give up the final win to a break-awayer just to be a gentleman.
The only rule is "don't do what you don't want done to you". Cause they could make you regret it later.
 
difdauf said:
Yes Astana didn't and it wasn't wrong from them. Nibali didn't have to give up the final win to a break-awayer just to be a gentleman.
The only rule is "don't do what you don't want done to you". Cause they could make you regret it later.
Kwiatkowski was never going to stand a chance in the high mountains, though. And Nibali knew that.

I don't expect Tinkoff-Saxo to wait if Nibali crashes in some race in the future. They'll power away with Rory Sutherland on the front, payback time:cool::cool:

I hate it when riders take advantage of the misfortune of others. You could ask yourself, who wants to win that way? But if rider A has been screwed over by rider B in the past, and at a later point in their careers the roles are reversed....... go for it :cool:
 
Aug 15, 2012
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There is such a thing as professional courtesy, and when it comes into play my opinion of the riders involved goes up a notch, especially when outside influence pays a part At the end of the day it's a bike race though, so as someone mentioned you play to the whistle generally. Each situation is different so I guess it comes down to the class of the rider.
 
Jul 20, 2014
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Libertine Seguros said:
Many of these are related...
Wow, so many posts, thanks guys and girls! Libertine, thanks for addressing all the issues :)

I feel that these days, in last few years to be exact, something that you describe as optional becomes normative and more pronounced due to the development of social networks where the different (interest) groups can put the pressure on racers and conformism of majority can even magnify the bad publicity. This, in the first place, I think, was the motivator of ACs video where he apologizes to AS for attacking him (chaingate). I didn't like Cancellara neutralizing the stage in 2010, and that LeMond's comment from the yesterday about attacking Pinot on descents implying as if it is not a fairplay move to attack someones weaknesses really put me at unease.
This, if it becomes the trend, could lead to *****fication of the peloton (sorry for the potentially politically incorrect term, I couldn't think of equally intensive alternative).

Regarding reciprocity, that most of you have touched upon, a racer that is at the end of his/her career should not feel obliged to the fair play as it's not likely that (s)he would suffer the consequences in the short time of remaining racing days? For example, Evans attacking on stage 6 of Giro when there was a peloton crash. Should younger riders take that into account and not "play it fair" with soon-to-retire riders in the first place?

Also, feelings about non-fairplay tend to be rather short term. For example, this year's Giro stage 16 over Stelvio where Quintana took the lead was, well, kind of strange for me, especially during and shortly after the descent. But now, I consider it one of better stages this year. Others had the opportunity to catch him, but instead he increased his margin at the end of the stage. Back then there was polemic through many posts about deservedness of the lead and maybe even the Giro win altogether but Quintana couldn't be bothered :). Nobody talks about that anymore, but the praises are not missing.
 
Jan 24, 2012
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escheator said:
This, if it becomes the trend, could lead to *****fication of the peloton
My opinion is simple, race or do not sign up for the event.

Some riders scared of a descent whereas others are not? Then those who actually want to race should race and those who are scared can either take their time down the mountain or get the **** out. The Stelvio stage was great, Quintana wanted to win and he did, everyone else besides Rolland and Hesjedal gave up and got the deserved result.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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This is an interesting article. It basically poses the possibility that cycling's "unwritten rules" are a large part of what has caused its problems.

My view is that the race organisation should be making the call for neutralisation not the riders if this is considered to be needed. Obviously a situation where a car had come onto the course and impeded riders, where a dog had brought riders down etc would provide riders to make a personal judgement call, but our belief that riders have done the wrong thing by breaking the unwritten rules even though they have broken no actual rules is I think misguided and almost certainly extends to things like how drug use has been handled from within the peloton.

http://theconversation.com/unofficial-rules-of-the-tour-de-france-matter-most-28841
 
fatsprintking said:
This is an interesting article. It basically poses the possibility that cycling's "unwritten rules" are a large part of what has caused its problems.

My view is that the race organisation should be making the call for neutralisation not the riders if this is considered to be needed. Obviously a situation where a car had come onto the course and impeded riders, where a dog had brought riders down etc would provide riders to make a personal judgement call, but our belief that riders have done the wrong thing by breaking the unwritten rules even though they have broken no actual rules is I think misguided and almost certainly extends to things like how drug use has been handled from within the peloton.

http://theconversation.com/unofficial-rules-of-the-tour-de-france-matter-most-28841
Things like this are good for cycling. It gives fans something to talk about. Not everything should be set in stone, especially not in a fluid sport like cycling where there are lots of variables.
 
Jul 20, 2014
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fatsprintking said:
This is an interesting article. It basically poses the possibility that cycling's "unwritten rules" are a large part of what has caused its problems.

...

http://theconversation.com/unofficial-rules-of-the-tour-de-france-matter-most-28841
Thanks, this is interesting read!

I doubt that anyone would not attack the yellow jersey on the last stage if he is within a handful of seconds. It's just the case that it never was that close and really on the last flat stage you couldn't hope for much time difference.

How do these rules translate to Giro and Vuelta?
 
Sciocco said:
My opinion is simple, race or do not sign up for the event.

Some riders scared of a descent whereas others are not? Then those who actually want to race should race and those who are scared can either take their time down the mountain or get the **** out. The Stelvio stage was great, Quintana wanted to win and he did, everyone else besides Rolland and Hesjedal gave up and got the deserved result.
The problem with that stage is that no attacks were allowed on the descent. The others didn't give up, they took it easy because they had heard via race radio that the descent was neutralized. That stage is still a big mark against Nairito for me.
 

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