Fixing the Ardennes

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Mar 13, 2015
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VO2 Max said:
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.
Well they all tried, but I didn't noticed single one of them to make a difference. Truth is they all know (Froome, Contador, Quintana...) their chances are very slim, and riding Ardennes could potentially disrupt their preparation for biggest goal of the season(Le Tour). That's why they rarely show up, or they show up not in top form
 
Adri van Houwelingen had an interesting point why nowadays the Ardennes do not create a difference. He says the changes in gearing in cycling have also to do with this. In the past you had a 53, a 42 and at the back 6 gears.. Now they have compacts and 10 speeds. There were only a few who could ride up a hill fast with a 42x23. There are a lot of guys who can do so with a 39x26 ..
 
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Pantani_lives said:
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.
Discouraging, but he fails because riders like Mollema indeed don't try to join his attacks.
When Wellens attacks and Mollema and Kreuziger for example join him in his attack then I'm quite sure they have a good shot at winning.
 
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PremierAndrew said:
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
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
 
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Kwibus said:
PremierAndrew said:
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
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
It also increases the pressure on you if an outsider attacks early - exactly what a spectator wants to see, not so much what the favourite for a race wants to see
 
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Pantani_lives said:
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.
I agree.

The better was Betancur, so it is all said.
 
Dekker_Tifosi said:
Adri van Houwelingen had an interesting point why nowadays the Ardennes do not create a difference. He says the changes in gearing in cycling have also to do with this. In the past you had a 53, a 42 and at the back 6 gears.. Now they have compacts and 10 speeds. There were only a few who could ride up a hill fast with a 42x23. There are a lot of guys who can do so with a 39x26 ..
I think there is some truth in that as with the old gears you would often feel over geared or under geared and sometimes not feel comfortable or find the right fit especially when tiring but you still have to have the legs at the end of a hard race and if the tactics are conservative the races tend to be easier until near the end.
 
I wonder if limiting the number of race days for a rider would have any impact
Forcing teams to choose between having a super dom in the classics or in the GT. Just a random thought that I haven't thought through at all.
 
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Kwibus said:
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
I think that's wrong. Smaller teams can turn a race into a lottery, greatly reducing the chances of the best riders. Would it be entertaining? Yes it would, but I don't want to sacrifice sporting value for entertainment.
 
There should be an elimination after every 50kms

50th km - last 30 riders eliminated
100th km - another 30 riders eliminated
150th km - another 30 riders eliminated (peloton reduced to half)
200th km - another 30


So we will have the final 50 kilometers contested more or less 50 riders
 
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fauniera said:
Kwibus said:
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
I think that's wrong. Smaller teams can turn a race into a lottery, greatly reducing the chances of the best riders. Would it be entertaining? Yes it would, but I don't want to sacrifice sporting value for entertainment.
Who cares if it's a bit more of lottery. At least great hilly riders who don't have a sprint would have chance. You don't deserve to win because you're the best hill sprinter.

Andy Schleck's win at LBL will always be remembered better than any of Valverdes
 
Riders make the race is the biggest excuse to wait around and keep you *** route. Riders don't attack because they don't gain by attacking. Make attacking worthwile, by making the course suited to it dammit
 
Mar 13, 2015
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Red Rick said:
fauniera said:
Kwibus said:
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
I think that's wrong. Smaller teams can turn a race into a lottery, greatly reducing the chances of the best riders. Would it be entertaining? Yes it would, but I don't want to sacrifice sporting value for entertainment.
Who cares if it's a bit more of lottery. At least great hilly riders who don't have a sprint would have chance. You don't deserve to win because you're the best hill sprinter.

Andy Schleck's win at LBL will always be remembered better than any of Valverdes
Yeah, but number of Valverde's wins will always be remembered better than that of Schleck's (you can count his brother's too) :p
 
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fauniera said:
Kwibus said:
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
I think that's wrong. Smaller teams can turn a race into a lottery, greatly reducing the chances of the best riders. Would it be entertaining? Yes it would, but I don't want to sacrifice sporting value for entertainment.
To be honest, not having the strongest winning is what I'd want, especially if that strongest rider suits having a race that ends in a 15 man bunch sprint up Ans. I want smartest, ballsiest riders. If they are also the strongest, the fair play :)
 
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Brullnux said:
fauniera said:
Kwibus said:
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
I think that's wrong. Smaller teams can turn a race into a lottery, greatly reducing the chances of the best riders. Would it be entertaining? Yes it would, but I don't want to sacrifice sporting value for entertainment.
To be honest, not having the strongest winning is what I'd want, especially if that strongest rider suits having a race that ends in a 15 man bunch sprint up Ans. I want smartest, ballsiest riders. If they are also the strongest, the fair play :)
Also, maybe the best rider is actually the one without a sprint but if he has to go from far out he gets pulled back by 4 teammates
 
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Red Rick said:
Brullnux said:
fauniera said:
Kwibus said:
Disagree on your view on teamsize. Reducing teamsize only increases the chances of the best/strongest rider.
If you are the strongest then you can show that and there won't be a team chasing you down with 6 man.
I think that's wrong. Smaller teams can turn a race into a lottery, greatly reducing the chances of the best riders. Would it be entertaining? Yes it would, but I don't want to sacrifice sporting value for entertainment.
To be honest, not having the strongest winning is what I'd want, especially if that strongest rider suits having a race that ends in a 15 man bunch sprint up Ans. I want smartest, ballsiest riders. If they are also the strongest, the fair play :)
Also, maybe the best rider is actually the one without a sprint but if he has to go from far out he gets pulled back by 4 teammates
Also true
 
Apr 28, 2016
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Not sure if this is the right topic for it (because it does not only concern the Ardennes races), but since it has been brought up here again...
I also think smaller teams (six man teams?) might be a possible solution to multiple problems, such as making races more entertaining, the discussion about team radios, safety in the peloton, internationalization of the cycling calendar...

I think in general most races should be left the way they are, as they all have their own characteristics and suit different types of riders. And of course, the riders make the race. But nowadays real racemaking is punished, because pretty much any bold move is bound to be reeled in by the current strong teams/domestiques. Which allows or even forces the team leaders and/or other strong outsiders to just sit and wait. Smaller teams would obviously increase the chances of earlier moves.
This might also lead to team radios playing a lesser role in the final part of a race. Because if there are hardly any team mates left at the end of a hard race, there's not much left either in the sense of team tactics to be decided by the sports director in the car. This might once again benefit the stronger and/or tactically smarter riders, which seems only right.
Furthermore, a smaller number of riders should increase safety in the peloton a little. Of course, it's not the only solution to that problem, but it definitely won't worsen the situation.
In addition to all this, smaller teams should also make it easier for teams to send full squads to more races simultaneously and avoid having to cancel because too many riders are injured or ill.

All in all nothing new, but I had to get if off my chest. : )
Don't make the races harder, make them harder to control.
 
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fauniera said:
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.
It's true that Kelly could climb. I think his most impressive climbing performance must a Col d'Eze ITT in Paris-Nice where he still holds the record, if I'm not mistaken. His GT palmarès is also mainly due to his outstanding ITT skills, though.

But with regards to his Liège-Bastogne wins, you could say that the relatively flat finish was in his favour. At that time after the Redoute, you barely had the Côte du Hornay and the Sart-Tilman (or Colonster in 1987), which were climbs you could put gears on and then finish on the Sauvenière. If I'm not mistaken he outsprinted a fairly big bunch in 1989. I don't know about 1984 but his first two Lombardy wins roughly 15-man bunch sprints.

I'm not quite sure that Kelly could have won on the current route (hm well perhaps he still could after all). Not that the current riders are any fitter than he was but in my opinion they are specialised in hill sprints and all of them are now lighter in weight than he was (60 to 65kg maximum).

In my opinion the fact that riders are now considered more "specialised" than before is also due to race routes being more polarised than used to be. When Merckx won the Arrow 4 times, the finish was around Charleroi, with the Mur de Thuin as decider. Those who watched the Tour of Wallonia, last year, noticed that it is a cobbled climb (stage win for Danny Van Poppel). I'm not sure that Joaquim Rodriguez could have won the Arrow on that route but Boonen and Cancellara could have worked a chance. Same for Liège-Bastogne, if it gets back on the Sauvenière, and we ditch Saint-Nicolas and the Falcon Rock - as Jef Pescheux suggests - then some "Flandrians" might be in for a chance.

Also one think that I feel strongly about. The Arrow should be moved in the calendar to the place currently held by Ghent-Wevelgem. That was the case in the early eighties. That way and with a rightful 250km length, it could recover its classic status because two hard classics in one week is too heavy I think. Also this could deter leaders to approach those race as preparation races for Liège. I mean also move the Basque Country and Catalunya further in the year. If you wanna prepare for Liège, race the earlier classics. :)
 
Apr 14, 2010
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I wish they'd go to smaller teams for all races. Breaks would have more of a chance on sprint days, leaders would actually have to chase attacks themselves more often, also if they went to smaller teams but more of them you'd have more riders getting a chance for themselves and not working for a small handful of elites.
 
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therhodeo said:
I wish they'd go to smaller teams for all races. Breaks would have more of a chance on sprint days, leaders would actually have to chase attacks themselves more often, also if they went to smaller teams but more of them you'd have more riders getting a chance for themselves and not working for a small handful of elites.
However here's the problem. With 8-9 riders speed is 40 kph. With 5 riders it will reduce to 38 kph as the riders will race even more conservatively and it could again be the same boring result :mad: .
 
Jan 20, 2016
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De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne was probably the best race this year, even though it went through boring suburban estates.
 

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