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KoM competition in the GTs (Giro vs. TdF)

As we are in the middle of a decisive high mountain phase of this year Giro, and some of the high mountain stages were and still are commented as to their design (e.g. number of categorised and uncategorised as GPMs and their categorization) - it may be a good moment to exchange views on how is (or should be) structured the KoM competition in the GTs.

In my opinion, both Giro and the TdF may be attributed with its own specific "KoM competition style":

Giro-style:

- four GPM categories (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th), without a special highest ("HC", "ESP" etc.) category;
- "wide spread" point scales for each GPM category - i.e the winner is awarded with almost 2 time points more than the second place holder. "1st cat. vs. 4 cat. winner points ratio" is 35 pts : 3 pts.
- Cima Coppi concept: the highest GPM of the race (in terms of elevation) gives maximum points, regardless of how difficult it actually is;
- no doubled points on the MTFs;
- GPM categorisation of the climbs based, to a significant extent, on a discretion of the race organizers and not on "hard" measurable parametres (lenght, altitude gain, percentages etc.) - which is illustrated by:
- loads of uncategorised climbs (which qualify for categorisation, based on parametres only), especially during hilly and medium mountain stages;
- different GPM categories granted to the climbs having very similar/comparable parametres.

Result:
KoM competition clearly preferring "blue jersey hunters" who are targeting this classification only and have no GC ambitions. The easiest way to win the KOM competition is to first lose enough time at the beginning of the race, then be allowed to into breakaways during medium- and high mountain stages.
Usually, the competition is already decided/won by someone when the race have just entered the Alps/Dolomites and there are still 2 or 3 high mountain stages to come.

TdF-style:

- five GPM categories (HC, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th);
- "flattened" point scales for each GPM category - i.e. no big point gaps between the GPM winner and second, third place in each category. "HC vs. 4 cat. winner points ratio" is 25 pts. : 1 pt.
- no French "Cima Coppi" - i.e. no special point scale for the highest GPM of the race (only honourable mention of Henri Desgranges and Jacques Goddet, if I remember correctly);
- KoM points on the MTF are doubled (if the MTF is GPM category HC, 1st or 2nd);
- GPM categorisation of the climbs based primarily on "hard" measurable parameters, with only few exceptions.

Result:
Hardly predictable competition, it may unfold differently each year. Over the last few years, the polka-dot jersey have been worn on the Tdf podium in Paris by: (i) the GC winner (Froome); (ii) a rider focused on stage wins and on this jersey specifically, having no interest in the GC (Majka);
(iii) GC top-10 or even top-3 contender (e.g. Kohl 2008? - just an example, I know who is Kohl and what happened later). The battle for the KoM title in the TdF is most often undecided until the very last high mountain stages - which is good. But it may happen that it is won accidentally, by a cyclist focused on the GC who is not particularly interested in wearing it on his shoulders - which some may see as not good at all.

What do you think? Which of the KoM competition styles you like more? Which seems to be better from a cycling fan/race spectator perspective? Please share your views.

Of course, you may add the Vuelta to this comparison.
 
The Tour obviously went away from the system that the Giro still has since it was won by relative no names - if I remember correctly, the rider from Bouygues Telecom put the final nail in the coffin. What was his name again?

I liked they went away from that. The next year, one of my favourites Sammi Sanchez won, but partly on accident I'd say. Quintana also did that in 2013. I say scale it a little back to the old version and the Giro, but without giving the likes of Charteau (found his name) a realistic shot at the jersey. It shouldn't necessarily be won by the best climb, top 15-20 is fine, but it shouldn't be an afterthought either and won by mediocre climbers.
 
The Tour KOM is just another jersey for GC riders now together with yellow and white. Nothing at all for breakaway riders unless you count Sagan for the points jersey which I don't. I wouldn't have a problem with it so much if there was also an equally prominent jersey for breakaway riders

The Giro (and Vuelta) KOM is a much better competition. It's just misnamed - it should be called King of the Breaks
 
Kohl got the jersey in 2008 by default when Saunier Duval withdrew as Riccò and de la Fuente had been at the top of the classification. He did then hoover up points to keep it, admittedly.

However, the Tour's doubling up of the points on MTFs does lend it a very artificial feel, because the likes of Froome did not do any mountain raids, just rode off on the first MTF and didn't crack like an egg elsewhere, and the Giro's focus on the Cima Coppi and the fact that many significant climbs go uncategorized does have the weakness in a single stage being targeted can completely shift the competition, for example last year when after two weeks of Betancur and Intxausti battling over the jersey, Visconti was solo in a stage with three cat.1s near the end of the race and suddenly from having a handful of points to defend Intxausti's lead in the classification he was the GPM winner.

Personally, while I appreciated what ASO were trying to do with the changes to the KOM classification, I don't like what it's become as a result, as there are now far too many points to be taken on MTFs that unless the GC leader is secure and can afford to let breaks go, like happened with Wiggins in 2012 and Nibali in 2014, there isn't really too much in the way of options for it for a climbing specialist - this in and of itself is a product of the marginalization of the ITT and the reliance on MTFs to create gaps in recent years.

Definitely ASO had to do something; they were previously giving out far too many points, and with the doubling of points to a final climb of the day if it was cat.2 or above, that made some sense regards trying to prevent it just turning into a Virenque-fest, but then you had stages like these where no GC contender was ever going to get involved due to the crappy stage design, and therefore there were colossal points available to those escapees.

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I also felt rather sorry for Anthony Charteau, because it was his winning the competition that led to them deciding publicly to revamp the competition, as if publicly deriding him as an unworthy winner. Charteau won partly because of an agreement in the break on stage 9 to not contest the break so that Pineau could keep the jersey and a Frenchman could hold it into Bastille Day, meaning Moreau, who was in the break that day, did not collect enough to be in the lead going into stage 17, and because Radioshack wanted to defend their lead in the Teams Classification and prevented any Caisse d'Epargne riders - of which Moreau was one - getting into the break on the Tourmalet stage. Is his winning the Tour's GPM any worse than the year Fabian Wegmann won the Giro's GPM with just 56 points? Even in the 2010 Giro, one of the mightiest Giri ever, the GPM was practically dead because Matty Lloyd got an early lead and because the GC was so keenly fought there was nobody able to make a big points-gathering raid to challenge him. Tondó tried, and got into the escape on stage 20 that could have given him the chance but he crashed out. Also, tell me what Charteau did that was so different to what Rasmussen had done before, or Pellizotti in 2009 - nobody complained about that until the biopassport case, because it was a guy who had great GC chops whose bid for it had failed as he tried to do the Giro-Tour double, so he dropped time and collected the polka dots in the escape just like Charteau did.

The other issue is that they have completely biased the competition now towards the HC mountains. Yes, those are bigger, badder and deserve much more points available. But in the old system, you got 3 for winning a cat.4, 4 for winning a cat.3, 10 for winning a cat.2, 15 for winning a cat.1 and 20 for winning a HC, with the latter three being doubled for the last climb of the day. I don't think that's unfair. Nowadays you only get 1 for a cat.4, 2 for a cat.3, and potentially up to 50 for a HC. You can win two HC MTFs and beat somebody who took every single summit in every single stage other than those two, feasibly. While the success of the "Virenque method" may have necessitated a change because they wanted a bigger GC name in the polka dots, it has killed off the challenge for the jersey unless the maillot jaune battle itself is dead (Majka in 2014, Voeckler in 2012).

The Vuelta's GPM used to give out a lot of points. That's why they revamped it in 2010, because there were hundreds of points out there. The system they chose to use was the OLD Giro system of cat.3: 321, cat.2: 531, cat.1: 10,6,4,2,1, MTF 15,10,6,4,2,1 and Cima Alberto Fernández 20,15,10,6,4,2. This was what the Giro used until around 2013. The MTF got higher points regardless of category, but as a result some uphill finishes simply gave no points whatsoever to prevent completely biasing the competition. The Valdepeñas de Jaén and San Lorenzo de El Escorial summits offered zero points as a result. However, with the enormous abundance of uphill finishes in the Vuelta, they stopped giving the MTF points and just continued with the normal points to prevent a situation like in 2012 where it would have been either ludicrous to leave climbs like Fuerte Rapitán and Mirador de Ézaro uncategorized, but similarly ludicrous for them to offer as many points as Cuitu Negru or Lagos de Covadonga. The category has also been hurt by the number of 'transitional' mountains in the Vuelta and the lack of big ESP climbs; lots of stages with plenty of points but where only the final ascent is GC relevant has led to it becoming increasingly a competition for the break; yes David Moncoutié won his jerseys by targeting specific stages, but he won big mountain stages in each of his classification victories and, in 2008 at least, he was no GC irrelevance, finishing in the top 10; that was more like Soler in 2007 than anything else. It is, however, extremely clear that the jersey is not the same as it was in the days of Chava, however - but then the kind of riders favoured by the Vuelta has changed too, because Chava was getting that jersey as his best way to compete against the strong time triallists like Casero, Olano, Zülle and Ullrich. Nowadays, the purer climbers are those favoured by the GC and as a result their need for the KOM to validate their achievement is lessened... until they lose out GC-wise for whatever reason, like Pellizotti in 2009 or Rodríguez last year, that makes it a reasonable target because they're far enough down to be allowed to escape.

Overall, the biggest problem facing ALL GPM classifications at the moment is that the pure climbers see themselves as the GC elite due to the way Grand Tour design is going. Yes, the 2012 experiment by the Tour failed, due to an unusually strong dominant team and a brutal time trialling force that rendered subsequent attacks irrelevant. And yes, the 2012 experiment by the Vuelta succeeded, due to a perfect storm of factors meaning the top Spanish names were all together and peaking, two of whom were specialists in the type of finish the Vuelta was producing (in reality, the 2012 Vuelta succeeded despite its parcours, not because of it). The greatest of pure climbers have always been able to compete for GTs, owing to their great gains in those stages, but that's been despite their flaws. If they were racing on today's routes, rest assured Bahamontes, Julio Jiménez, Fuente, van Impe, Gaul and Herrera would be retiring with far superior palmarès than the ones they did - and some of those retired with pretty amazing palmarès anyway. But the races are more directed to that type of rider now, so that they don't need to fall back on the GPM - or target it as a way to improve their GC, which means they will go to the break.

What I would have liked when the Tour revisited its classification was if they revisited the points for a cat.2 (10,9,8,7,6,5 iirc), and changed the double points system so that it only applied when a climb was within, say, 30km of the finishing line, to prevent the colossal points available on poorly-designed stages biasing the competition too far in favour of the Richard Virenque points collectors, but prevent the mountains classification hunters giving up because they can't compete with the points available to a GC guy who wins a couple of MTFs but doesn't do anything else. After all, Joaquím Rodríguez was targeting the classification after dropping time in week 1. This is the perfect kind of illustration of the shortfalls of the current system. The HC climb is worth 150% more than a cat.1 climb, the course is backloaded, and a guy who can do next to nothing OTHER than climb, who targeted the classification, who has finished on the podium of multiple GTs including the Tour itself, can't come within 40 points of Froome, who picked up the jersey by accident by winning a one-climb stage with an HC finish.
 
Aug 31, 2012
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I don't particularly like either format, because the trait that the KOM jersey is supposed to identify in a rider is currently identified best by whoever has the leader's jersey in the end.

Perhaps there is no need for a KOM competition, much like there isn't an extra reward for the best overall time trialler. Both are what GC is all about, and the GC riders will generally be the best at it and get the ultimate reward for it.

Adventurous mountain riding of a non - GC kind is already adequately rewarded with stage victories.
 
The Tour should drop the double points rule and even out the points to closer match altitude gain, so a cat 1 would be say 75% of the points for a HC, a cat 2 50% etc. Maybe give a few extra points for the Souvenir Henri Desgrange.

I don't care if the KOM jersey is the best climber - that's what the yellow jersey is these day - I just want action between riders who care about the jersey. When Wiggins was being towed around France in 2012 and nothing was happening in GC, the daily battle between Voeckler and Kessiakoff was one of the only things keeping the race interesting.
 
I'm strongly in favor of a top ten guy winning the KOM. Otherwise it's just a reward for someone who joins a lot of breakaways. It feels ridiculous when the "best climber" is dropped on every climb that matters. There should be more points for the big mountains in the big mountain stages.

Anthony Charteau in the Tour 2010 was a weird case. Andy Schleck and Contador only took points on two climbs: the two MTFs. Charteau did take a lot of points on many climbs, so you can't say he didn't deserve it. It shouldn't be won accidentally by someone who doesn't care either.

What I don't like is the total absence of competition. In this Giro no one is even considering to challenge Cunego. It feels more like a sympathy prize than a sporting achievement.

I liked riders like Van Impe, Herrera and Robert Millar, who won it while in the GC top ten, also Hinault in his last Tour in 1986. I do feel it has been devaluated since then. Recent winners in the Tour are better than in the Giro.
 
But with Cunego what you at least have is the same as you had with Garzelli in 2009 and 2011 - a guy who is a legit top name who is no longer able to compete to win the race so is targeting the classification. Is it frustrating that the competition for it is killed because nobody feels they can beat Cunego? Yes, certainly more so than those Garzelli editions because he picked out one or two stages he wanted to accumulate in and his lead never became unassailable (but also it was before the revamp of the Giro's mountains classification so the MTF points meant big GC guns did have a chance, and secondary names if a big move came off, like with Pérez Cuapio in 2002 and Rujano in 2005 although he eventually became a primary contender of course). The problem is that Cunego has a pretty useful sprint on him, so nobody else who cared about the classification feels they can beat him in that, a bit like the faux-excitement in 2009 as the different Euskaltel helpers tried to find ways to get Egoi Martínez a chance to beat Pellizotti's sprint.

I have no problem with Cunego as GPM winner. He's targeted it, he's a quality rider who can no longer mix it at the top of the GC, that to me doesn't devalue the classification as much as Froome winning it by accident at the Tour, or Clarke, Edet and Fraile winning it because the Vuelta puts five cat.2 and 3 climbs in the first 100km of a stage, then 50km of flat before an MTF. I would, however, rather him be more GC relevant, because now his lead is such that he doesn't have to stay relevant, whereas with the old system because of backloading Garzelli - like Moncoutié in the Vuelta in 2008 or Rasmussen back in the day - had to keep performing among the top guys to defend his jersey and wound up in the top 10 at the end as a result.
 
"King"of the mountains. It means a pure climber who has no chance on the GC due to TT problems but who consistently leads in the mountains. Pozzovivo, Purito falls in this category though they are focused on GC. But the winners in most GTs nowadays have been not that great climbers. They targeted the jersey so as to get max mileage.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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Re:

Ryo Hazuki said:
perhaps they could make a kom out of fastest ascends overall on every given climb. however this would make for boring tv I suppose.

Do it maybe instead on the last climb in every stage. Maybe the record on the alpe can be broken then :p
 
The Giro system would be fine as long as there's an Emanuele Sella chasing the KOM points.

The Tour system would be fine if they include as much tt miles as in the 80's and the strongest climber of the gc guys targets a podium / top 5 spot as well as the polka dot jersey.
 
Re:

This Giro lines up that Cunego doesn't have any team responsibilities. So many teams have, or have had a shot at GC at some point, much more than Tinkoff/Sky or Tinkoff/Astana dominated GTs like in the past. And, those secondary riders on these teams, team were locked up. Even the sky riders who are now free have gotten such a late start points-wise had to really consider it. And those GC guys who quickly realized they didn't have a shot (Hesjedal and Dumoulin dropped out, or are just trying to survive (Uran).

I'm looking at Pirazzi, Siutsou, Pozzovivo, as guys that should have toned down their aspirations at the beginning, or realized more quickly where they fell. But really only Cunego is someone who clearly knows he isn't as good.

And without going back to other GTs, I would guess that each competition has its own granularity.

So while the organizers can incentivize action with points and routes, team GC/sprint ambitions, the evolution of the GC, arrogance or stubbornness, and of course crashes/sicknesses/DNFs all play a much bigger role in shaping the competition.