Fixing the Ardennes

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Apr 15, 2013
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to me 2 big changes are needed, that might not be enough though because mroe and more riders and DS think alike to just emasculate the race :
- weaker teams and teammates : Now that the peloton is considerably more homogeneous than in the past, where a top 5 rider is only 5% better than a top 50 rider and therefore attacking from afar will only get you killed if some teams still have a pair of extra teammates to burnd to reel you in, it is essential that we weaken those teams. We can't force Movistar or Astana to just bring bad riders along with Valverde or Nibali....So reducing team size seems like the only decent option. Killing the radios would also be good : those are purely defensive instruments, allow to pilot the riders and the strategy to a T and therefore kill spontaneity and unpredictability in race...
- Stop the backloading of the routes... la Roche aux Faucons, St Nicolas, now Naniot and then Ans.... this is just way too much and it means that the race has 0% chance of starting in the first 240 kms... Now I now that the problem in LBL is that the Bastogne region is flat so it's hard to avoid the "soft underbelly" in the middle of the road. Well I would be open to something somewhat anathema : let's not start in Liege anymore, start further along say in Spa, that way we can have shorter (and harder in the first 30/40kms) run in to Bastogne and the hard climbing can start earlier (km 130 instead of 160) and then we stop it earlier too : let's go back to only one or two easyish hills after la Redoute and focus on only using smaller roads in the run in to an arrival in Liege, because "Ans delenda est" : Ans must be destroyed as an arrival for Liège, they must go back to a flat run arrival in Liège proper !
 
Apr 15, 2013
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ice&fire said:
UCI should tweak the points system and define an index of boredom. If the race is boring no points are awarded to riders and the race is demoted to continental level.
Beyond the humour, this would be a brilliant idea !
 
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Libertine Seguros said:
Amstel Gold:

The final circuit needs to go. The climbs at Amstel Gold are different in character to the Belgian Ardennes races, they are shorter for one thing, and so few of them are able to create significant gaps in isolation. The short length of these climbs means that the gaps created by them even when attacks are made is small, and therefore unlike with Liège, the closer they are brought to the finish the more impact they will have on the race. Therefore we need to concentrate those hills that can create gaps, even if small - Eyserbosweg, Keutenberg for example - closer to the finish, because at present nobody dares move on these because you've got too long to last out.
Wait what ??? It's the other way round. These climbs - Eyserbosweg, Keutenberg & (Richard) Fromberg [sorry for the tennis pun] are way too close to finish. If they were even closer to it, we would have an even more locked race than we've had the last few years. There's an urgent need to return to Maastricht (despite the awful landscape) with the Côte d'Hallembaye as last decider. It's not a hard climbs but it should be the final one. The harder climbs should be at about 66 or 75% of a route to make it entertaining to watch. If it gets any closer, it's a waiting race. That's a general rule for every race. The climbs at the Tour of Flanders are even shorter than those in Dutch Limburg and yet when those were concentrated around 66% or 75% of the route (id est the old route), we could hope to get some nice editions, every other year. With the current route that is so hard in the finale, it's impossible.

Libertine Seguros said:
Flèche: Flèche will always have the problem that its finish is too iconic to lose. The Mur de Huy is the most important Murito of the year. I actually think they've been moving in the right direction with Flèche, but the importance of the final climb is such that they've little chance of drawing major action before it. The penultimate climb being introduced close to the line to make it less of a shoot-out as riders need to ensure they're placed well before the Mur is beneficial. The biggest thing they need to do with Flèche? Stop filming the boring run-in bit from Charleroi to Huy and switch over to the women's race which doesn't get any coverage (unlike de Ronde, Omloop or Strade Bianche where they at least film the women's race to show highlights later) and saw the script being torn up and the rider who arrived at the bottom of Huy solo won the race (the nearest we've come to that in men's Flèche in recent years was Fabian Wegmann's valiant solo, and that's nearly a decade ago now), at least that will give us double the Mur de Huy action to watch.
Well it's iconic for non-Walloons because here there are still a lot of nostalgics of the Côte de Chambralles or of the (cobbled) Mur de Thuin that some might have discovered during last years Tour of Wallonia.

The Arrow needs to recover its rightful distance first and foremost, if only out of respect for its history and to show the middle figure to Verbruggen when he decided to cut all non-World Cup classics and semi-classics to 200/210km. The Arrow's rightful distance is 250km. For the rest, a finish away from the Mur de Huy is needed but first and foremost, the length!

Libertine Seguros said:
Liège:
The late climbs are tough enough that riders are scared of them and are waiting, which means that they're riding conservatively until then, which means there are far too many domestiques left in the late going. If people make moves on Roche-aux-Faucons, there's too much respite before St-Nicolas that allows them to come back. We either need to reinstate Colonster after St-Nicolas, or move the finish away from Ans back into the city so that nobody can wait on that final uphill drag before the left hander into the finishing straight. Alternatively, from La Redoute, go over the Côte des Forges like in the old days and use a shorter final climb like the Côte de Henne or a shallower one like Colonster or the Côte de Romsée so that there isn't one climb that stands out more than any other for attacking from. Alternatively, if the riders ARE going to wait until the end to give us any action, then give them hell by sticking some steep beasts in the run-in - RAF to Embourg to La Lemmetrie would work - three severe climbs back to back. We may only get action in the last 20-30km but a) that 20-30k would take some time on the steeper gradients than at present, and b) that's still more than we've got in the last three editions of Liège.
This is correct. We need to ditch the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and of course the Falcon Rock and the even the Côte d'Ans and to bring back the finish to the Boulevard de la Sauvenière. Leblanc do not want to hear a word of it because of the 1987 Criquielion/Roche disaster. By the way that was the first edition with the Colonster and only one until 2013.

I have an interview of Jean-François Pescheux who admits that Saint-Nicolas was a mistake (actually it was not his decision, it's that of the late Arsène Vanhaeren, President of the Pesant Club Liégeois, the club is still the owner of the race, by the way).

We had a lot of debates on this. Very personally, I'd remove Saint-Nicolas and remake the finish in Liège. If only to just see. [...] I'd love the rider to say in hindsight that if they want to win, they have to attack. [...] I think that had we dropped the St-Nicolas in at Merckx's or Hinault's era they would still be packed together at the start of St-Nicolas. So I think the route influences the riders. Of course you need to do the experiment. If they arrive with 40 guys, I'd take it on the chin. But let's try, let us remake the finale of old with the Mont Theux and the Côte des Forges. But who will take the risk to do it? Yet it still is possible to attack with 30km to go and win. If Sagan someday comes to win in Liège, his Cannondale team would block the race. So would Quick Step... The top fifteen teams have interest in a packed bunch on the approach of St-Nicolas. What should we do? If you place the last climb 30km from finish, the Liège history is no longer the same. Today we no longer have one dropped rider in the Redoute. When I'm saying this, I'm considered a defeatist... The present-day constraint is that we are forced to suggest a "show" sport. Television plays a big part in it too.[...]
On the other hand, I fail to understand why they needed to drop the Vecquée, which is a lot harder than the Maquisard or the Theux.
 
Van Garderen is talking about stage races, since that's what concerns him, but the same reasoning applies to one-day races as well:
I think that was something missing from the past because this team has a huge emphasis on WorldTour points that it almost feels like if you’re sitting there in third or fourth place, then you’re better off sitting there and not necessarily attacking and going for the victory. It’s a plan of don’t risk losing, just sit there and make sure you get those points.
 
I think it's principally a problem of value, especially LBL.

This is counter intuitive, but if there's going to be a points system, a lot more should be on offer for monuments. They're devalued amidst the proliferation of WT races, especially week long stage races.

If not points, then some other incentive to get the top GC guys prepared for LBL. Snagging a win or podium at LBL should be worth a lot more than Romandy or the Dauphine. If more top GC guys were fully prepared, you'd transcend the Etixx/Movistar/Orica usual suspects problem. More teams would play more cards, and there would be different kinds of engines playing different kinds of tactics.

The problem at the moment is there's only one kind of engine.
 
Apr 15, 2013
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hrotha said:
Van Garderen is talking about stage races, since that's what concerns him, but the same reasoning applies to one-day races as well:
I think that was something missing from the past because this team has a huge emphasis on WorldTour points that it almost feels like if you’re sitting there in third or fourth place, then you’re better off sitting there and not necessarily attacking and going for the victory. It’s a plan of don’t risk losing, just sit there and make sure you get those points.
To be honest I think the whole concept of points should be dropped. Cycling isn't like formula one where each race shapes up an overall ranking. All races are different, riders have different specialties, etc.. Each race should be self sufficient. Keep the PCS or CQ unofficial rankings as they are, being that they are unofficial, and just drop the whole World Tour points salamalek.. they have done tremendous harm to cycling.
 
Apr 3, 2011
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saganftw said:
smaller teams and more teams,more climbs - a domestique can pull for only so long,if the course is hard enough most teams will end up with maybe two guys in the final group...smaller teams also means better chance for break to stay,harder course means the strongest guy can attack 30km to go and not be afraid of 8 domestiques pulling him back...more teams means more continental teams willing to take more chances with attacks

basically create as much chaos as possible,just like ronde and PR and you have a good race
Imagine there were NO TEAMS! Just individuals, everyone attacking everyone (though you can't completely prevent forming ad hoc alliances - still much better than 8 doms+leader). Or maybe two-man teams, even with 40 teams you would have a tiny, safe, 80-strong peloton. I know, too low amount of wins per team... but how about having more races?
 
Parcours can be changed only to a certain extent due to the course itself otherwise it is no longer LBL.
With nutrition, the gap between domestique and leaders have come down especially in One day races. The difference can only be made on the toughest parcours. A long 3 km leg breaker with no possibility of drafting between 10-20 km before the finish.
With Strong leader & strong team difficult for other riders to break away
WT teams - 5 each, Wildcards teams - 3 each. This would force some of the leaders to go on the attack earlier.
 
Best solution is smaller teams. Simple as that since it's much harder to control a race with smaller teams.

Also removing radios would be a blessing for cycling. Regarding safety issues just make a central radio for safety issues!

Amstel needs to old course. I don't think the climbs are selective enough to make a hard final between km 50-30km and then pretty much flat after it. I think that would end in a bunch sprint.

F-W.... well..might as well remove all other climbs and sprint up the Mur.

Liege: Remove the climbs in the last 10km for sure. Make the climbs follow up between 40-20km from the finish more intensive. Should really make the race better and certainly also possible for favourites to distance domestiques.
 
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hrotha said:
Van Garderen is talking about stage races, since that's what concerns him, but the same reasoning applies to one-day races as well:
I think that was something missing from the past because this team has a huge emphasis on WorldTour points that it almost feels like if you’re sitting there in third or fourth place, then you’re better off sitting there and not necessarily attacking and going for the victory. It’s a plan of don’t risk losing, just sit there and make sure you get those points.
Nice to hear that most riders want to attack :)
 
Kwibus said:
Best solution is smaller teams. Simple as that since it's much harder to control a race with smaller teams.

Also removing radios would be a blessing for cycling. Regarding safety issues just make a central radio for safety issues!

Amstel needs to old course. I don't think the climbs are selective enough to make a hard final between km 50-30km and then pretty much flat after it. I think that would end in a bunch sprint.

F-W.... well..might as well remove all other climbs and sprint up the Mur.

Liege: Remove the climbs in the last 10km for sure. Make the climbs follow up between 40-20km from the finish more intensive. Should really make the race better and certainly also possible for favourites to distance domestiques.
Agree about the radios. Let teams have access to race radio but not the riders. Racing is generally more conservative these days. With Liege they had an extra climb plus extreme conditions but it still did not make a great race. I don't think much will change as that is racing. For every Roubaix you will get two Amstels or Liege's. Teams seemed more concerned with protecting their leaders than using their numbers to attack. Only riders on the day can make the race exciting or not and harder courses often make slower races with less attacking. Some of the best stages in GTs now are the mid range stages not the MTFs. Riders are often more aggressive in such stages because they don't only suit the best climbers and stage wins are more possible especially for the weaker teams.
 
Yesterday evening I rewatched the final 6K of LBL, and it was exciting, even if I already knew the outcome. How small the difference was 1K before the finish! It was Albasini's acceleration and the passive attitude of the chasing group that kept them in front. The Ardennes nowadays have very short but exciting finals. Part of the problem is in the expectation of the viewer. If you turn on your TV with 100K to go expecting to be entertained for the next two and a half hours, you will indeed be disappointed. Comparing these races to the cobblestone classics isn't fair, the Ardennes have the disadvantage to come immediately after them. I like that new cobbled climb 3K before the finish, it improves the chances of strong allround riders.

Of course a final of less than 10K is really short. If the big names started attacking at the Roche-aux-Faucons like the Schlecks, or immediately after, like Vinokourov, it would be better (those golden days of five years ago!) Maybe there should be one climb between R-a-F and St-N,, but whatever you do there's no guarantee that it will make the race better.

What should change is the conservative attitude of some of the subtop riders. Take Mollema. He was in the chasing group and finished ninth, so he had good legs. This will give him some ranking points, but has he done anything to try to win? The fact that Wellens' attacks haven't led to anything might be discouraging, but if more riders had that attitude the attacks would have a better chance.
 
Jan 25, 2016
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Its really simple .. if you think the ardennes are borring dont watch them... Dont try to change a race simply because you dont like it
 
Jan 25, 2016
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hrotha said:
SevenTimeTdfChamp said:
Its really simple .. if you think the ardennes are borring dont watch them... Dont try to change a race simply because you dont like it
If you think this thread is pointless, don't read it. :eek:

Well it´s a open forum isnt it ? and when did i said i thought the thread was pointless ? I just gave my opinion that i dont think the ardennes needs fixing, which i think is in good connection with the topic of discussion in the thread :eek:
 
Amstel: Get rid of the final loop, period.

Fleche: No changes needed. It's a special race and i'm okay with it.

Doyenne: No changes needed, either. The light guys do know now, that the cobbles at Rue Naniot are too hard for them (Zakarin, Bardet and Purito said so) and will need to attack earlier. Give it time.
 
Firstly for the organisers, there's probably no need to fix anything - ASO on sunday got a cracking little highlights package to promote their race: dramatic pictures in the snow, a few minutes of fast up-and-down racing at the end, and even a winner from media-friendly Team Sky, what's not to like from their pov? Some very +ve comments about the finale below the line on the main cyclingnews report. Roubaix was obv much better for us purists but you can't really clip a youtube highlights package that conveys two hours of ebb and flow pursuit drama between Sagan group vs Boonen group.

But for us lot... the trouble is that the big GC riders are the only ones with the attributes to go from a long way out on a parcours as tough as that, and they don't care about LBL (with the honourable exception usually of Nibali, but he was useless this time.) In an ideal world we have a system in cycling like they do in tennis that compels all the best riders to care about most of the top races, at least 5 of the big 8 instead of 1/8 at the moment. If that can happen it's a big benefit to all of cycling of course.

While that remains an impossible dream the alternative would be to make the course a little easier to bring the likes of EBH, Tony M, even Sagan into play for Liege (Sean Kelly after all won it twice.) Once those guys have the opportunities to limit their losses enough to reach the finale then the climbers' hands are forced and they have no option but to go crazy on RaF or La Redoute.
 
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VO2 Max said:
the alternative would be to make the course a little easier to bring the likes of EBH, Tony M, even Sagan into play for Liege (Sean Kelly after all won it twice.)
This Kelly guy could climb pretty well, you know. Winning the Vuelta, finishing fifth in the Tour, stuff like that. Didn't need easy courses. Plus, a Doyenne where EBH can win ist not a Doyenne any more.
 
From the rate La Doyenne thread:

PremierAndrew said:
Problem with reducing team size is it's easy to say as a spectator, but it just makes it even more difficult to win if you're a marked man, and is it really fair to have the odds stacked against you like that if you're the top cyclist on certain terrain?

Yes the Olympics road race is like that, and is a great spectacle pretty much every time, but I think one race like that is more than enough. If you are the strongest, you deserve a reasonably high chance of winning.

There are other solutions such as moving the toughest climbs further from the finish and making the finish easier.

Agree that team radios should be banned though. There should be a race radio that provides info about time gaps, riders up the road etc, but riders should have to think about tactics using their own brain in the heat of the moment, not some relaxed DS chilling in a car who only has one job
 
May 26, 2015
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The solution was having riders like Sagan riding these races as well. If they didn't attack like crazy at LBL, little Peter would've dropped all of the skinny boys on that cobbled climb.

If they didn't race Amstel differently, little Peter would certainly have something for the Oricas of this world on gilbert's pet climb. I mean, Matthews was in the front group, FFS.

At GW... Little Peter's ass is always going to be too heavy, they have to change the parcours to something more close to RVV, otherwise it's always the same 2 minutes of action.

All of this fanboyism to say the following: Most often than not, riders are the problem. Modern cycling killed those hilly specialists. Phil is the last of them. And why? There's way too many "props" being given to podium finishes and top 10.

The Ranking has to mean something and only winners should get some point. Give 120 points to the winner, 100 points to the most aggressive rider, all others get 0, and wildcards and WT status are distributed based on points.

Solved. Now give me my beer back.
 

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