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No No Machado?

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mightymac12 said:
A sad reality is this kid is the most consistent and impressive person on The Shack... Why is he not riding the Tour of Cali or France? Before this thread is flamed/taken-over by "Armstrong's Ego" remarks can any one think of a different reason?

Here is Tiago's Wiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiago_Machado

As a Machado hyping-fan for severel years, I can only say I am very happy that Radioshack wont use him as a slave in the TDF. Machado is way to good a rider to just be a pure helper as he would be in the TDF.

Much better let a rider like Paulinho pull the peloton in France and then let Machado get a free role/leadership in the Vuelta where he will be able to do very well.
 
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If Machado is serious about developing as a rider and not just riding asd pack fodder for the rest of his career for a series of ageing 'stars' then he'll say 'thanks for the experience' and leave for a decent developmental team next season. Bruyneel doesn't give a shit about developing new talent - look at his attitude to Contador who managed to be successful despite, not because of, the Hog.
 
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Jamsque said:
The Machado hype train left the station several moths ago, mightymac, and you missed the Inter-Sagan Express too. Sorry. You might be able to get a late seat on the Richie Porte wagon if you hurry.

Okay, thats funny.
 
Barrus said:
I don't really know that, I think there is some bad blood between the organisers of the giro and Lance Armstrong, which could well have hurt the chances of an invitation to the Giro

I am sure there is some bad blood from the whole rider protest, but frankly if lance wanted to race the giro i think they would be inclined to give them an invite.

Libertine Seguros said:
They didn't get an invite, and I'm not sure they wanted one. They span it as the second one after Zomegnan took pleasure in not inviting them, anyway. And "obviously defending Levi's ToC title has to take priority"? Has to? Cali is THAT important? And the elevated level of competition? Really? Have you been swallowing Bob Stapleton's line whole? California has a few stars on the lineup but there aren't too many who are going to trouble the GC. Who's going to beat Levi, Tom Boonen? Fabian Cancellara? Actually maybe Cancellara, since he could reasonably take 2 or 3 minutes out of Levi on an ITT if Levi time trialled like he does when he isn't riding for Bruyneel...

No, the Giro, the second biggest race of the year, and defending Levi's title in the Tour of Suburbs And The Occasional Foothill "has to" take priority?

Yes, the ToC is that important. Levi has 3 titles. It is a legit race that has grown magnificently in prestige and competition in only a couple years. Next year it is being admitted as an official ProTour race.

This year you have a huge increase in competition. If BMC thought it was such a small race than why are guys like hincapie there instead of the giro?

Radioshack obviously has a great team there including a lot of contenders.

Then look at saxobank. Yes I do think Sparticus could contend for GC at this race. There are only a couple really mountainous stages, cancellera has been showing decent form this year even when hills are involved. I also think Andy Schleck is a valid GC contender don't you? In fact, saxobank is bringing a pretty all star cast when you see that o'grady and voigt are also on the ToC team.

HTC is bringing the fastest sprinter in the world- cavendish and renshaw to lead him out. Guys like Tony Martin and Michael Rogers can certainly compete for GC.

You also have some other top sprinters like boonen and hunter in attendance.
There are also other GC contenders like zabriske.

No ToC isn't as big or as glamorous a race as the Giro but it's rise from nothing to a big race is pretty impressive. At this rate it will only take a couple more years for the ToC competition to be equitable with the Giro competition.

The Giro is extremely tough this year and I am surprised so many TdF contenders are racing in it. I think the jury is still out on whether it is a good idea to race a grand tour for gc a month before the TdF. A lot of the Giro contenders are there more to train for the Tdf rather than to actually put an all out effort into winning the giro. You have to remember this. Just because there are a lot of contenders there, doesn't necessarily mean they are all going to give it all for the win. On the other hand the ToC is much shorter allowing TdF contenders to put in an all out effort without sacrificing their condition for the TdF.
 
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issoisso said:
Yes, but the riders always remark how the flat stages at the Giro, and also the first half of harder stages are very laid back and almost like rest days, unlike the Tour where the racing is from the gun every day.

Well, it wasn't today unfortunately ...

As to Machado not going to the Tour, I think it's because he wouldn't be useful to the team's captain(s). For the flat stages it's better to have more experienced riders to go fetch bottles and replace and watch over the leaders, and in the third week in the haute montagne I don't think Machado would have had the ability to stay with the likes of Schleck and Contador for too long, so he wouldn't have been of any real help for Lance.

So therefore it's better for him to slowly build up to this level by doing other races, and then take him next year when he can be in top-form. This year he'd be useless, and even though Lance's perfectionism seems to have decreased a bit, he'll still want the best team possible!
 
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offbyone said:
I also think Andy Schleck is a valid GC contender don't you?

No, not unless he can win with 70% of his form, cause that's with how much he'll be in California (in my opinion). He won't do the Tour of Luxembourg in the beginning of June, so as not to peak to early, and he'll do the Tour de Suisse as a final step in his build-up. I don't even think he'll be at 100% there because then he couldn't still be 100% in the Pyrenees or the Alps.

So 70% Andy with no ambition of winning vs. 200% motivated Levi :D
 
offbyone said:
Yes, the ToC is that important. Levi has 3 titles. It is a legit race that has grown magnificently in prestige and competition in only a couple years. Next year it is being admitted as an official ProTour race.
Being ProTour means nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. The Tour de Pologne is not made into a race the big riders care about by being ProTour. The hype machine has put California on the level of the Dauphiné, Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico but anybody in Europe knows that they haven't got there yet. Not even close. It is growing, but it's still a long way from being as important as those races, let alone the Giro.

This year you have a huge increase in competition. If BMC thought it was such a small race than why are guys like hincapie there instead of the giro?

Because Hincapie is American, and much like Szmyd will always ride the Tour de Pologne and Wiggins will ride the Tour of Britain, having the big American names riding the big American race is key to them, and the sponsor. Cavendish made clear in one of his interviews that riding California was a sponsor's call and he'd much rather be in Italy. Is the competition really that high? I mean honestly, objectively? You have a handful of absolutely top names, but a lot of Continental names and riders racing not for victories but for form. How does that make it better than, say, the Vuelta a Burgos or the Giro del Trentino?

To put it another way, last year the Vuelta a Catalunya ran at the same time as the Giro and drew a better field than California has.

Radioshack obviously has a great team there including a lot of contenders.
Yup. The usual "amass a team of people who could all top 10 and ride for one guy, killing all competition".

Then look at saxobank. Yes I do think Sparticus could contend for GC at this race. There are only a couple really mountainous stages, cancellera has been showing decent form this year even when hills are involved.
There's only one real mountain, and that's the false MTF. Cancellara won the Tour de Suisse last year. If Cancellara is in form he ought to be able to contend.

I also think Andy Schleck is a valid GC contender don't you? In fact, saxobank is bringing a pretty all star cast when you see that o'grady and voigt are also on the ToC team.
If it's a REAL TdF preparation race as it claims to be, then yes, Schleck would be a valid contender. But firstly, Schleck doesn't tend to compete for the overall outside of his specified targets, and secondly, this race seriously favours the ITT specialist, yet again, so Schleck will probably not be a contender. And O'Grady and Voigt... well, they're well-known names, but they're nothing more than illustrious workhorses these days.

HTC is bringing the fastest sprinter in the world- cavendish and renshaw to lead him out. Guys like Tony Martin and Michael Rogers can certainly compete for GC.
And why? Cav because the sponsors made him, and Martin and Rogers because they're ITT specialists, and that's not going to do much good on the Giro parcours.

You also have some other top sprinters like boonen and hunter in attendance.
There are also other GC contenders like zabriske.
Boonen yes, but Hunter a top sprinter? Really? I like the guy, but he's a leadout guy for Farrar and a lead guy for second-tier races these days. And that's what California is. A second-tier race.

No ToC isn't as big or as glamorous a race as the Giro but it's rise from nothing to a big race is pretty impressive. At this rate it will only take a couple more years for the ToC competition to be equitable with the Giro competition.
The progress is much quicker at the lower levels. It's much easier to go from 100th to 50th in the Tour than it is to go from 50th to 20th, even harder to go from 20th to 10th, and nigh on impossible to go from 10th to 1st. California has built itself to a pretty good level in the last couple of years, but from this point on it gets harder. Once it's ProTour it'll get some bigger names, but there are a lot of Euro teams who have no real need or want to race in the US, and who will keep their top teams for the Giro, and for Dunkerque/Picardie/Belgium/Bavaria, all races that are more important to their sponsors.

The Giro is extremely tough this year and I am surprised so many TdF contenders are racing in it. I think the jury is still out on whether it is a good idea to race a grand tour for gc a month before the TdF. A lot of the Giro contenders are there more to train for the Tdf rather than to actually put an all out effort into winning the giro. You have to remember this. Just because there are a lot of contenders there, doesn't necessarily mean they are all going to give it all for the win.
I know this - but even without that the quality of competition is stronger. And besides - I'd rather see second-tier racers duking it out for the win in a good race, than top tier racers rolling around smiling for the cameras in a second-tier race.

On the other hand the ToC is much shorter allowing TdF contenders to put in an all out effort without sacrificing their condition for the TdF.

You're assuming that the TdF contenders riding the Giro for form are sacrificing their condition for the TdF. It didn't do Lance Armstrong much harm last year, did it? Or Bradley Wiggins. Riding the 2008 Giro didn't do Menchov's 2008 Tour any harm. And it definitely didn't do Christian Vande Velde's Tour any harm.

Basically, a historic race can get away with a fairly simple route (a la this year's Romandie) because its prestige is inherent. California does not have prestige built by history, so the only way it can really make itself a prestigious thing to have on the palmarès is to make itself really difficult, so that it becomes a real challenge and something to take pride in. At the moment, Tour of California wins on the palmarès don't really have much effect in discussions because so few people care about the race. Outside of the US, you'd be forgiven for not knowing it even existed.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Being ProTour means nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. The Tour de Pologne is not made into a race the big riders care about by being ProTour. The hype machine has put California on the level of the Dauphiné, Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico but anybody in Europe knows that they haven't got there yet. Not even close. It is growing, but it's still a long way from being as important as those races, let alone the Giro.



Because Hincapie is American, and much like Szmyd will always ride the Tour de Pologne and Wiggins will ride the Tour of Britain, having the big American names riding the big American race is key to them, and the sponsor. Cavendish made clear in one of his interviews that riding California was a sponsor's call and he'd much rather be in Italy. Is the competition really that high? I mean honestly, objectively? You have a handful of absolutely top names, but a lot of Continental names and riders racing not for victories but for form. How does that make it better than, say, the Vuelta a Burgos or the Giro del Trentino?

To put it another way, last year the Vuelta a Catalunya ran at the same time as the Giro and drew a better field than California has.


Yup. The usual "amass a team of people who could all top 10 and ride for one guy, killing all competition".


There's only one real mountain, and that's the false MTF. Cancellara won the Tour de Suisse last year. If Cancellara is in form he ought to be able to contend.


If it's a REAL TdF preparation race as it claims to be, then yes, Schleck would be a valid contender. But firstly, Schleck doesn't tend to compete for the overall outside of his specified targets, and secondly, this race seriously favours the ITT specialist, yet again, so Schleck will probably not be a contender. And O'Grady and Voigt... well, they're well-known names, but they're nothing more than illustrious workhorses these days.


And why? Cav because the sponsors made him, and Martin and Rogers because they're ITT specialists, and that's not going to do much good on the Giro parcours.


Boonen yes, but Hunter a top sprinter? Really? I like the guy, but he's a leadout guy for Farrar and a lead guy for second-tier races these days. And that's what California is. A second-tier race.


The progress is much quicker at the lower levels. It's much easier to go from 100th to 50th in the Tour than it is to go from 50th to 20th, even harder to go from 20th to 10th, and nigh on impossible to go from 10th to 1st. California has built itself to a pretty good level in the last couple of years, but from this point on it gets harder. Once it's ProTour it'll get some bigger names, but there are a lot of Euro teams who have no real need or want to race in the US, and who will keep their top teams for the Giro, and for Dunkerque/Picardie/Belgium/Bavaria, all races that are more important to their sponsors.


I know this - but even without that the quality of competition is stronger. And besides - I'd rather see second-tier racers duking it out for the win in a good race, than top tier racers rolling around smiling for the cameras in a second-tier race.



You're assuming that the TdF contenders riding the Giro for form are sacrificing their condition for the TdF. It didn't do Lance Armstrong much harm last year, did it? Or Bradley Wiggins. Riding the 2008 Giro didn't do Menchov's 2008 Tour any harm. And it definitely didn't do Christian Vande Velde's Tour any harm.

Basically, a historic race can get away with a fairly simple route (a la this year's Romandie) because its prestige is inherent. California does not have prestige built by history, so the only way it can really make itself a prestigious thing to have on the palmarès is to make itself really difficult, so that it becomes a real challenge and something to take pride in. At the moment, Tour of California wins on the palmarès don't really have much effect in discussions because so few people care about the race. Outside of the US, you'd be forgiven for not knowing it even existed.


Your points are well taken, we will never be able to compare the ToC directly to the Giro as the Giro is a grand tour race.

But I still see ToC rising the ranks quickly and I still see it as a title worth defending by Levi.

In the US ProTour status is a big deal because there aren't many ProTour races.

According to BMC hincapie and other cohorts are at the ToC because BMC didn't want to tire them all out during the Giro.

While ToC isn't in the same league as the Giro, imo the ToC is not a second tier race, but that is just me.

By the way as a side note you joke about US races. Ironic that the Giro is planning to start in the US in the near future.
 
offbyone said:
....Then look at saxobank. Yes I do think Sparticus could contend for GC at this race. There are only a couple really mountainous stages, cancellera has been showing decent form this year even when hills are involved. I also think Andy Schleck is a valid GC contender don't you? In fact, saxobank is bringing a pretty all star cast when you see that o'grady and voigt are also on the ToC team.
....

:D:D:DUnderstatement of the year.

Contador's a pretty decent climber too.:D
 
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Christian said:
As to Machado not going to the Tour, I think it's because he wouldn't be useful to the team's captain(s). For the flat stages it's better to have more experienced riders to go fetch bottles and replace and watch over the leaders, and in the third week in the haute montagne I don't think Machado would have had the ability to stay with the likes of Schleck and Contador for too long, so he wouldn't have been of any real help for Lance.

That is a perfectly logical. I think you nailed the situation.
 
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offbyone said:
Yes, the ToC is that important. Levi has 3 titles. It is a legit race that has grown magnificently in prestige and competition in only a couple years. Next year it is being admitted as an official ProTour race.

This year you have a huge increase in competition. If BMC thought it was such a small race than why are guys like hincapie there instead of the giro?

Radioshack obviously has a great team there including a lot of contenders.

Then look at saxobank. Yes I do think Sparticus could contend for GC at this race. There are only a couple really mountainous stages, cancellera has been showing decent form this year even when hills are involved. I also think Andy Schleck is a valid GC contender don't you? In fact, saxobank is bringing a pretty all star cast when you see that o'grady and voigt are also on the ToC team.

HTC is bringing the fastest sprinter in the world- cavendish and renshaw to lead him out. Guys like Tony Martin and Michael Rogers can certainly compete for GC.

You also have some other top sprinters like boonen and hunter in attendance.
There are also other GC contenders like zabriske.

No ToC isn't as big or as glamorous a race as the Giro but it's rise from nothing to a big race is pretty impressive. At this rate it will only take a couple more years for the ToC competition to be equitable with the Giro competition.

The Giro is extremely tough this year and I am surprised so many TdF contenders are racing in it. I think the jury is still out on whether it is a good idea to race a grand tour for gc a month before the TdF. A lot of the Giro contenders are there more to train for the Tdf rather than to actually put an all out effort into winning the giro. You have to remember this. Just because there are a lot of contenders there, doesn't necessarily mean they are all going to give it all for the win. On the other hand the ToC is much shorter allowing TdF contenders to put in an all out effort without sacrificing their condition for the TdF.


Consider this, then: The Volta a Catalunya is a big race. In previous years it held this time spot, before asking to move to March. It always had far, faaaaaaar better fields.

If the ToC is as important as you say, and if as you say it'll soon be competing with the Giro (I'm trying not to laugh) how do you explain that?

The fact is, it's a reasonably important race to anyone with an american sponsor. That's Quickstep, Saxo Bank, Radioshack, Garmin and Columbia. To the others, it's a warmup.


Although I'm in no way surprised by your comments. Many years ago we also had to hear american fans go on and on and on about how the Tour DuPont was a big race and would soon be one of the world's biggest.
 
With Georgia now gone and Missouri about to follow, is California certain to survive the imminent retirement of the current crop of US star riders?

Anyhow, can both races survive the clash on the CN forums? I have a feeling we are soon to experience a thread meltdown.

Machado will be rested, after a very heavy early season, covering the absence of various elite riders. He should return after the Tour and may be rewarded with a Vuelta slot, making him the next Janez Brajkovic.:eek:
 
offbyone said:
But I still see ToC rising the ranks quickly and I still see it as a title worth defending by Levi.
I never said it wasn't a title worth defending, just as Allan Davis tried to defend his Tour Down Under and Edvald Boasson Hagen will try to defend his Eneco Tour of the Benelux title. At present, California is on a par with that kind of race. It offers a tougher race than those, but those have better fields (even if they're just rolling around). However, it's not worth sending every single one of your big guns and not going to the Giro.

In the US ProTour status is a big deal because there aren't many ProTour races.
In the US ProTour status is a big deal because it guarantees that the top teams HAVE to turn up. But that means nothing to the prestige of the race. It just means that some teams who have nothing to gain from being there MUST be there. What value does California have for Euskaltel-Euskadi or Caisse d'Epargne?

According to BMC hincapie and other cohorts are at the ToC because BMC didn't want to tire them all out during the Giro.
Given the thinness of BMC's roster I understand that point, but it's still a bit of PR. They want the big American riders at the big American race, it's only logical. More people will show up to see Lance, Levi, George and co., the same reason as more people will go to see the Tour of Britain with Bradley Wiggins around than if the biggest British name is somebody like Thomas or Downing. As isso said, basically the teams with an American sponsor, or with their sponsor having strong American presence (Rabobank) will send a decent squad. Everybody else couldn't care less.

While ToC isn't in the same league as the Giro, imo the ToC is not a second tier race, but that is just me.
It's a second tier race.

The top tier of races (excluding the Monuments and GTs, which are a law unto themselves) would be the likes of:
Paris-Nice, Gent-Wevelgem, Tirreno-Adriatico, Vuelta al País Vasco, Dauphiné Libéré, Tour de Suisse, Flèche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race. That kind of race status.

I'm sorry, but there is no way, unless you swallow Bob Stapleton's "fourth Grand Tour/equal to Paris-Nice in prestige" PR whackjob whole and ask for seconds, that California is on a par with those races yet. As I said, they have history and tradition (and most of them difficult routes) that give them an advantage because more people WANT to have those on their palmarès. California isn't one of those races yet, apart from to Levi. The only way for California to make itself desirable without that history or tradition is to make itself really difficult, so that winning it feels like a real achievement. And it won't manage that as long as it's putting 12km of flat before the nearest thing to an MTF it's ever had, and putting in a long enough ITT that it becomes 'win the TT win the race'. That only puts it at the level of something like the Vuelta a Murcía.

Trust us, as Europeans offering the perspective of people from cycling's heartlands, the Tour of California is definitely growing, but its importance is being wildly overstated.

By the way as a side note you joke about US races. Ironic that the Giro is planning to start in the US in the near future.

Not really. The Giro is still Italian. The US audience is still desirable for races and the UCI (enormous population, enormous potential audience). The Giro isn't planning to race in the US, it's planning to start in the US. 18 days minimum of the Giro will still take place in Italy. And for the record? I think the Giro starting on the other side of the planet and requiring riders jetlagging themselves unless they try to keep their body clock in the same place and hold the stages at about 7 in the morning, is a stupid idea.

Nothing against America - I just think that the logistics make it a bad idea. And I have nothing against American races - I just don't think you should be trying to claim they're something they're not. It's not got as good a field as Catalunya had last year, yet it's being claimed as having completely bypassed the status of races like that already. The Tour of California has grown fast, but nothing like as fast as people like Bob Stapleton are claiming, and in Europe it's still little more than a blip on the radar. If Lance wasn't riding it wouldn't even be televised in highlight form.
 
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issoisso said:
Consider this, then: The Volta a Catalunya is a big race. In previous years it held this time spot, before asking to move to March. It always had far, faaaaaaar better fields.

If the ToC is as important as you say, and if as you say it'll soon be competing with the Giro (I'm trying not to laugh) how do you explain that?

The fact is, it's a reasonably important race to anyone with an american sponsor. That's Quickstep, Saxo Bank, Radioshack, Garmin and Columbia. To the others, it's a warmup.


Although I'm in no way surprised by your comments. Many years ago we also had to hear american fans go on and on and on about how the Tour DuPont was a big race and would soon be one of the world's biggest.

Was Catalunya's field better last year?

My (probably incomplete) list from last year of noteable riders:

Valverde, Hushovd, S. Sanchez and.... ???


Daniel Martin was 2nd behind Valverde, Zubeldia 3rd, Asterloza 4th. The only elite sprinter was Hushovd. Was that field really superior to Armstrong, Leipheimer, Schleck, Cavendish, Boonen, Cancellera, Rogers and Haussler?

Based on the people at the finish and the stage results... it doesn't look like Catlunya had that great a field last year.
 
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Libertine Seguros said:
7 of the 16 teams at California are Continental teams that have little chance of competing overall.

I understand... but if in Catalunya last year "named" teams were sending B and C level squads... I'm not sure it makes a lot of difference.

It does look like the Spanish teams cared... Caisse and Euskatel obviously sent strong squads. But Hushovd was the only noteable sprinter at Catalunya and there weren't many noteable GC names up in the final standings.
 
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Moondance said:
He might be a neo-pro, but he's getting close to being 25 years old. He's certainly not a youngster. I don't see why he shouldn't be a candidate for a Shack Tour spot.

Well really Armstrong wants to keep the average age of his tour squad at 35, if he let Machado join then that average would drop a bit :p:p:p
 
Libertine Seguros said:
I never said it wasn't a title worth defending, just as Allan Davis tried to defend his Tour Down Under and Edvald Boasson Hagen will try to defend his Eneco Tour of the Benelux title. At present, California is on a par with that kind of race. It offers a tougher race than those, but those have better fields (even if they're just rolling around). However, it's not worth sending every single one of your big guns and not going to the Giro.

In the US ProTour status is a big deal because it guarantees that the top teams HAVE to turn up. But that means nothing to the prestige of the race. It just means that some teams who have nothing to gain from being there MUST be there. What value does California have for Euskaltel-Euskadi or Caisse d'Epargne?


Given the thinness of BMC's roster I understand that point, but it's still a bit of PR. They want the big American riders at the big American race, it's only logical. More people will show up to see Lance, Levi, George and co., the same reason as more people will go to see the Tour of Britain with Bradley Wiggins around than if the biggest British name is somebody like Thomas or Downing. As isso said, basically the teams with an American sponsor, or with their sponsor having strong American presence (Rabobank) will send a decent squad. Everybody else couldn't care less.


It's a second tier race.

The top tier of races (excluding the Monuments and GTs, which are a law unto themselves) would be the likes of:
Paris-Nice, Gent-Wevelgem, Tirreno-Adriatico, Vuelta al País Vasco, Dauphiné Libéré, Tour de Suisse, Flèche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race. That kind of race status.

I'm sorry, but there is no way, unless you swallow Bob Stapleton's "fourth Grand Tour/equal to Paris-Nice in prestige" PR whackjob whole and ask for seconds, that California is on a par with those races yet. As I said, they have history and tradition (and most of them difficult routes) that give them an advantage because more people WANT to have those on their palmarès. California isn't one of those races yet, apart from to Levi. The only way for California to make itself desirable without that history or tradition is to make itself really difficult, so that winning it feels like a real achievement. And it won't manage that as long as it's putting 12km of flat before the nearest thing to an MTF it's ever had, and putting in a long enough ITT that it becomes 'win the TT win the race'. That only puts it at the level of something like the Vuelta a Murcía.

Trust us, as Europeans offering the perspective of people from cycling's heartlands, the Tour of California is definitely growing, but its importance is being wildly overstated.



Not really. The Giro is still Italian. The US audience is still desirable for races and the UCI (enormous population, enormous potential audience). The Giro isn't planning to race in the US, it's planning to start in the US. 18 days minimum of the Giro will still take place in Italy. And for the record? I think the Giro starting on the other side of the planet and requiring riders jetlagging themselves unless they try to keep their body clock in the same place and hold the stages at about 7 in the morning, is a stupid idea.

Nothing against America - I just think that the logistics make it a bad idea. And I have nothing against American races - I just don't think you should be trying to claim they're something they're not. It's not got as good a field as Catalunya had last year, yet it's being claimed as having completely bypassed the status of races like that already. The Tour of California has grown fast, but nothing like as fast as people like Bob Stapleton are claiming, and in Europe it's still little more than a blip on the radar. If Lance wasn't riding it wouldn't even be televised in highlight form.


In my mind there are four items make a race top tier.
1)The course has to be challenging
2)The competition of the riders has to be high
3)Time of year - must be in the main part of race season (ie the Tour Down Under will never be a top tier race)
4)Tradition


-The ToC definitely has a challenging course and a variety of terrain.

-The level of competition is increasing steadily. This year you got A squads from two of the biggest ProTour teams: Radioshack and Saxobank. Plus you got a top squad from HTC bringing the fastest sprinter in the world. Throw in a handful of other gc candidates and big names like: Haussler, Hincapie, Rogers, Martin, Zabriske, Boonen, Hesjedal, etc.
I would say that if you added only an additional handful of GC riders they would be there. So it is very close.

-The ToC is now very well placed timing wise.

-Tradition will only come in time. The ToC has only just established itself and could certainly just as easily fall from grace if it doesn't continue it's steady increase.

So in my estimate the ToC is very close to top tier status, however it will need to prove itself against the test of time. Of course it is not a grand tour so we can't compare it directly to the Giro. If it continues it's rise in rider quality I envision it as being compared equitably to a race like the Tour de Suisse or Paris Niece.

By the way I could agree more with your points regarding starting the giro in the US. It is asinine as far as I am concerned. The only people I would think would like this is the sponsors, but at the same time the cost increase for them must be significant.
 
offbyone said:
In my mind there are four items make a race top tier.
1)The course has to be challenging
2)The competition of the riders has to be high
3)Time of year - must be in the main part of race season (ie the Tour Down Under will never be a top tier race)
4)Tradition
Ok, those are fair criteria.

-The ToC definitely has a challenging course and a variety of terrain.
Disagree. Disagree wholeheartedly. Almost all of it is a little romp through the suburbs, they're barely touching the foothills of the mountains they said they had to move to May to reach, and it looks like, again, the winner of the ITT will win the race.

-The level of competition is increasing steadily. This year you got A squads from two of the biggest ProTour teams: Radioshack and Saxobank. Plus you got a top squad from HTC bringing the fastest sprinter in the world. Throw in a handful of other gc candidates and big names like: Haussler, Hincapie, Rogers, Martin, Zabriske, Boonen, Hesjedal, etc.
I would say that if you added only an additional handful of GC riders they would be there. So it is very close.
At the Vuelta a Burgos, you got A-squads from Caisse d'Epargne and Euskaltel. There was at least one GT winner in the field (Garzelli), and one soon-to-become one. It doesn't make it a top tier race, when half the field is made up of local continental teams. Having the big names is only part of being a big race - hence why Contador and Armstrong may show up to the Critérium International but that doesn't make it anything like as prestigious a race as the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse.

-The ToC is now very well placed timing wise.
Sort of. It'd be interesting to see how it went next year if Pat hadn't made it ProTour. That would have been the most accurate way to measure growth. After all, a lot of ProTour teams have other races they'd prefer to focus on at this time - the Giro of course, but also non-ProTour events that are important to their teams and/or sponsors such as Dunkerque, Picardie, Bavaria and Belgium. The field at the Tour of California in terms of teams follows the same kind of formula as those - all the ProTour teams from that country, a couple of other PT teams, a few ProContis with interests in that market and the rest of the field made up of local Continental lineups. California has done a good job selling itself to some fans, but it's not really much past their status yet.

-Tradition will only come in time. The ToC has only just established itself and could certainly just as easily fall from grace if it doesn't continue it's steady increase.
And that's what has happened to the Tour of Georgia and looks like happening to the Tour of Missouri. I think a problem is that, with cycling being a minority sport, you have to push it hard and advertise it big to get people's attention. But then you're presenting an advert for something you can't actually provide. And the 'us too! And us first! We're gonna do it bigger and better than you!' approach only sticks in the craw of a lot of cycling fans who see through the marketing and see a pretty good race that is, as yet, still developing. You claim it's further along the development line than I think it is. I cannot possibly see the Tour of California as a top-tier race like Paris-Nice, País Vasco, the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. That's all I'm saying when I say it's second-tier. It's not as prestigious, as interesting or as popular with either fans or riders as those, and if you think it is (outside of propagandistic purposes, looking at you, Bob Stapleton) you're deluding yourself.

So in my estimate the ToC is very close to top tier status, however it will need to prove itself against the test of time. Of course it is not a grand tour so we can't compare it directly to the Giro. If it continues it's rise in rider quality I envision it as being compared equitably to a race like the Tour de Suisse or Paris Niece.
But this is with five to ten years of increase and holding that top tier field required. You need to have the top riders not only coming, but trying to win (otherwise it just ends up like the Tour Down Under). You need to develop the parcours to make riders feel like it's an achievement to win it (otherwise it just ends up like the Eneco Tour), and you need to get the top teams coming not because they have to but because they want to (otherwise you're either padding the roster out with Continental teams and it's no better than the Vuelta a Burgos or the Giro del Trentino, or you're left with a race all the big teams are only at because they're obliged to be, like the Tour de Pologne). It's only then that I'll consider California to be one of the élite events.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Ok, those are fair criteria.


Disagree. Disagree wholeheartedly. Almost all of it is a little romp through the suburbs, they're barely touching the foothills of the mountains they said they had to move to May to reach, and it looks like, again, the winner of the ITT will win the race.


At the Vuelta a Burgos, you got A-squads from Caisse d'Epargne and Euskaltel. There was at least one GT winner in the field (Garzelli), and one soon-to-become one. It doesn't make it a top tier race, when half the field is made up of local continental teams. Having the big names is only part of being a big race - hence why Contador and Armstrong may show up to the Critérium International but that doesn't make it anything like as prestigious a race as the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse.

Sort of. It'd be interesting to see how it went next year if Pat hadn't made it ProTour. That would have been the most accurate way to measure growth. After all, a lot of ProTour teams have other races they'd prefer to focus on at this time - the Giro of course, but also non-ProTour events that are important to their teams and/or sponsors such as Dunkerque, Picardie, Bavaria and Belgium. The field at the Tour of California in terms of teams follows the same kind of formula as those - all the ProTour teams from that country, a couple of other PT teams, a few ProContis with interests in that market and the rest of the field made up of local Continental lineups. California has done a good job selling itself to some fans, but it's not really much past their status yet.

And that's what has happened to the Tour of Georgia and looks like happening to the Tour of Missouri. I think a problem is that, with cycling being a minority sport, you have to push it hard and advertise it big to get people's attention. But then you're presenting an advert for something you can't actually provide. And the 'us too! And us first! We're gonna do it bigger and better than you!' approach only sticks in the craw of a lot of cycling fans who see through the marketing and see a pretty good race that is, as yet, still developing. You claim it's further along the development line than I think it is. I cannot possibly see the Tour of California as a top-tier race like Paris-Nice, País Vasco, the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. That's all I'm saying when I say it's second-tier. It's not as prestigious, as interesting or as popular with either fans or riders as those, and if you think it is (outside of propagandistic purposes, looking at you, Bob Stapleton) you're deluding yourself.


But this is with five to ten years of increase and holding that top tier field required. You need to have the top riders not only coming, but trying to win (otherwise it just ends up like the Tour Down Under). You need to develop the parcours to make riders feel like it's an achievement to win it (otherwise it just ends up like the Eneco Tour), and you need to get the top teams coming not because they have to but because they want to (otherwise you're either padding the roster out with Continental teams and it's no better than the Vuelta a Burgos or the Giro del Trentino, or you're left with a race all the big teams are only at because they're obliged to be, like the Tour de Pologne). It's only then that I'll consider California to be one of the élite events.


Fair enough, you make good points and I think our opinions are actually fairly similar. I just see it as a little further along than you.

Your point about the Vuelta a Burgos illustrates the big difference of our opinions. It is a good comparison, but I think the ToC clearly comes on top. The RadioShack and Saxobank teams coming are in much higher regard as compared to the two spanish teams you are pitching. Also, the grand tour winner, Garzelli, won a grand tour like 10 years ago, kind of a big difference compared to the ToC where you have the 2nd and 3rd place winners from the most prestigious grand tour on the start line. You also have the currently best sprinter and the currently best classic riders (boonen and fabian). Not too mention horner who won the basque tour this year.

Now granted it might just be because I am american, but IMO the prestige of the ToC already seems fairly high. Sure, it will be a long time before it is a Paris Niece or a Dauphine. But what is very impressive about the ToC is how organized it is. There is a very solid monetary backing for this race. And the promoter does an incredible job. It is televised on TV networks but also directly from the race sponsors. This is a huge amount of media and media attention generally leads to prestige or at least notoriety.

Also, while I agree with you in terms of the course I think the plan is to add more challenging mountains as time goes on as they transition to the new time of year.

Anyways I don't want to start repeating myself over and over. This is a good discussion, your points are valid and I think only time will tell.
 
offbyone said:
Fair enough, you make good points and I think our opinions are actually fairly similar. I just see it as a little further along than you.

Your point about the Vuelta a Burgos illustrates the big difference of our opinions. It is a good comparison, but I think the ToC clearly comes on top. The RadioShack and Saxobank teams coming are in much higher regard as compared to the two spanish teams you are pitching.
Do they? Caisse d'Epargne won the teams classification of the world ranking last year, and the last Grand Tour. They deserve to be considered up there with the Shacks and Saxos of the world. Euskaltel don't I guess.

Also, the grand tour winner, Garzelli, won a grand tour like 10 years ago, kind of a big difference compared to the ToC where you have the 2nd and 3rd place winners from the most prestigious grand tour on the start line. You also have the currently best sprinter and the currently best classic riders (boonen and fabian). Not too mention horner who won the basque tour this year.
But California won't have Classics-style racing much, will it, so having the top Classics men is kinda irrelevant, just as you wouldn't boast about having Carlos Sastre at the Eneco Tour because it's just not relevant to his competing. I think ToC is a bigger race than Burgos, I was just using that as a counterpoint to the argument that having a couple of A-teams from big teams is enough to make it prestigious.

Now granted it might just be because I am american, but IMO the prestige of the ToC already seems fairly high. Sure, it will be a long time before it is a Paris Niece or a Dauphine. But what is very impressive about the ToC is how organized it is. There is a very solid monetary backing for this race. And the promoter does an incredible job. It is televised on TV networks but also directly from the race sponsors. This is a huge amount of media and media attention generally leads to prestige or at least notoriety.
I think that your being American does factor into that very strongly. The prestige isn't really there in Europe, and in fact its proclamations of its own status and Stapleton's spin-job have become a source of amusement for many. It may get there eventually, but it's nothing like there yet, though it may pretend to be in order to sell itself to more people and help itself get there.
 
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Whether ToC is a top notch race depends entirely on whether you view a bunch of ageing RS riders as the elite of the pro peloton. Leipheimer's wins are based on marshalling decisions that, frankly, have caused outright mirth outside California. The real question to ask is that of sustainability - the big US names stopped riding it so Georgia folded. When Cavendish is riding for Sky and refuses point blank to enrich his palmares with anything but GT wins & points jerseys, and the RS 'stars' have retired en bloc who will genuinely be left to carry the banner for ToC?