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Reform: It's time to liven up the Grand Tours

Glanced over that PDF. Some things in there we've all seen and said, and some more controversial ideas (using subs).

Anyway, i think it's a drag that GT stages are more often than not geared towards sprinters or climbers. A good allrounder, has maybe 2 or 3 chances, but usually, there are 5 to 10 stages geared towards sprinters (borefests in their own right and not interesting for GC either, in fact, dangerous for GC riders) and another 5 to 10 geared towards climbers. Then a few TT's on top of those rare chances for a regular allrounder and that's it.

The fact that they refuse to drop the "first two weeks = sprinters" BS is annoying. It further cements the notion that GC riders have to aim for the third week. It would be much more interesting to have mountains in the first few days even, just to shake up and shape GC early on (as well as the added benefit of having GC riders not aiming specifically for the third week, or at least, some strategy might come into play regarding when to hit top form). Does that mean sprinters will finish out of time? Doesn't have to. They could start with an flat stage that ends with one 5-10k climb. Even a heavy sprinter should be able to finish in time. And if you're a sprinter that is so limited and can only do superflat stages, then maybe GT shouldn't be for you to begin with.

Why not more classic style stages? Doesn't have to be an all out Paris Roubaix stage like a few years ago (which brings its own share of risks) but a shorter version of Amstel, Ronde, Liège... it gives different riders a chance, some GC contenders could take some time as well, and even sprinters could compete (Kristoff, Degenkolb...). Nobody should finish out of time in a 190k clone of RVV or Amstel.

Give GC contenders the option to take an alternate path the final 3k of a sprinter stage. Similar to the 3k rule (when you get a mechanical or a crash) GC contenders should be given the option to drop out of the sprint madness and get the same time as the group they were part of at the time of the split. How many GC candidates didn't crash out in the final kilometers of a sprint stage the past decade?
 
Something that I would like to see is bonus seconds on mountain tops, and bonus seconds not only for the rider that gets first, 2nd or 3rd in intermediate sprints, on the finishline (or on top of mountains), but for the whole team. Combined with smaller teams (6), it could give some more interesting dynamics in my opinion. More teams with intend of getting into the break, what kind of riders do you want to bring to the race etc.
 
I have no clue why people constantly are using the shorter stages as an argument. ITS NOT ABOUT THE KILOMETRES, its about the damn terrain they are riding over. A flat, 120 km stage will take the peloton 2,5 hours to complete and the result will still be as given as a 200 km sprinter stage. And as boring.

"But, but, but.... they are boring, so we reduce the kilometres".
No, learn to tune in for the last 10-20 km on such a stage. Thats why broadcasting the whole Tour is a problem - commentators will argue thats a solution to put them out of this misery of watching a 200 km stage where a rider from Samsic is in a lone break that is completely doomed.

TdF has done a nice job making a nice first 9 days. Its as simple as riding more hilly/mountanious terrain earlier on in a GT. Its not rocket science. Subs, 100 km stages etc. all are direct contrast to what cycling has always been and should never be changed.
 
Short stages can absolutely work, but what they do these days is they refuse to do the things that make short stages work, i.e. great stage design, pacing of the GT and having a tired peloton.

Take the short stage in this Giro for example. Courmayeur was 131 km, but everyone and their mother was always gonna wait for San Carlo. In last year's Vuelta they had a sub 100km queen stage, what the hell is that. Short stages work if you put them after your most hellish stages.

I can see what the Giro is trying to do with getting less dependent on big MTFs, but this year it worked backwards. The Vuelta last year made me realise MTF aren't so much a problem as which MTFs you use. Steeper MTF are bad for the racing cause everyone is afraid of blowing up, especially climbs that are steep at the very top.

I think we also see a lot of mountain stages where the stage starts with a cat 1/cat 2 kind of climb and the peloton is immediately shattered before everyone realises nobody important got dropped and everyone chills and lets the break get the stage. For this reason I think starting a relatively short stage with even bigger climbs would be interesting, especially if it's the only HC type climb of the day and there's no real points after that people wanna wait for. The 65km stage in the Tour was just super dumb.

Medium mountain stages are a very important thing too but they're kinda hard to get right. Basically medium mountain stages really need a pretty sharp and selective end or otherwise it's likely a rather useless breakaway stage. Then there's also the option of early MTFs. Somehow bigger early MTF tend to disappoint while some of the seemingly underwhelming ones can really deliver if the first MTF is decently steep in the middle but flattens out at the end, reducing the risk of a counter. Biggest examples for this are Alfaguara in 2018 when Yates immediately took off and Abetone in 2015 when Contador shredded the entire field with one acceleration

Murito's can be nice if you have one or two early, preferably to add spice to hilly, medium mountain stages that would otherwise not do much.

And really, I want the 250km stages back. Hell I would've loved if the 2 Po valley stagse this year had been a single 300km flat stage. Just don't be such a mouthbreathing idiot as to broadcast all of it.
 
Time bonuses and substitutions are too artificial. Shorter stages, I've already said my piece on, I don't think they have any benefit other than as an occasional thing. The Vuelta in the early 2000s and the Giro in 2004 experimented with short stages, and it was crap. The Tour got the bug because of one good stage in 2011 which came after an even better 200km+ mountain stage, and now we never get any well designed long mountain stages, so the short ones invariably produce more action simply because there has to be some action somewhere. And with only a couple of exceptions (Andalo), the short mountain stages that have been great (eg Formigal, Sant'Anna di Vinadio) have come directly off the back of either "normal length" (Risoul 2016) or "long (200km+)" (Aubisque 2016, Galibier 2011) mountain stages.

Really, Grand Tours are a bore because of a few factors:
- Broadcast saturation. We really don't need to see four hours of coverage of a flat stage.
- The proliferation of the train template has led organizers to look for ever steeper garage ramps at the end, which guarantees time gaps but only in the last 15-20 minutes of stages.
- The mountains themselves have become brands, especially at the Tour where the mountains are concentrated in a couple of key areas (not a problem for the Giro and Vuelta, which are never more than a stage away from a potential mountaintop finish), meaning repetitious mountain stages using the same climbs riders know like the back of their hands, often neutralizing their impact because everybody knows who is going to attack and where
- lack of TT mileage because organisers are scared of large time gaps being set up early on making things dull - which has a balancing effect of meaning the climbers don't really have a big deficit to overcome, so they don't have to make big gambles like people like Fuente or van Impe or Pantani or Jiménez etc., except in fairly unusual circumstances where we get desperation plans, or a one-off "go from deep" stage like Quintana on Alpe d'Huez in 2013 or Heras on Pajáres in 2005. After all, the Alpe d'Huez stage that started the "short mountain stages are great!" fallacy was only like that because Andy Schleck had raced the Pyrenees so poorly despite being clearly the best climber in the race that he had no choice but to go for broke on the Agnello, which generated a great stage where everybody was tired the next day.
- the devaluation of the GPM as a consequence of Virenque's pioneering the "king of the breakaways" method (helped by some generous points categorizations at the Tour, giving double points for the final climb even if it was 90km from the finish, eg in awful mountain stage designs like Pau 2010 or Tarbes 2009) meaning the GPM only tends to go to a top climbing name either a) by accident, like Froome at the 2015 Tour, due to the massive overvaluing of MTFs to try to redress that balance, or b) if they already lose a truckload of time early, like Pellizotti or Majka.
- Grand Départs are now being actively sought to be boring. Organizers don't want to eliminate any major contenders before they get back to the country the race is supposed to be in, and so they are deliberately neutering overseas stages. Belfast in the Giro, Israel in the Giro, Brussels in the Tour, all actively going out of their way to avoid anything that could generate close racing. Zeeland in the Tour and Giro and Sheffield in 2014 are the only exceptions in the last decade.
- too many TTTs, which puts the balance of power towards the teams which are already the strongest anyway
- the effective killing off of the Pro Conti level for wildcards, partly helped by the end of the "quarantine for doping" era, has meant that the wildcard teams seldom provide any genuine candidates to win or threaten to podium the race, and maybe a sprinter here and there and the hope for some breakaway successes are all that they have. The WT level is now almost locked off, and we have gone from an era of genuine GC hopefuls on ProConti teams doing one GT a year - Mosquera, Pozzovivo, di Luca, Garzelli, Scarponi, König - to these riders all being stockpiled as helpers by WT teams, leading to a vast reduction in the cast of characters at the front of the race
- the success of train techniques by a small handful of teams (and one team in particular) has meant we do have a generation of young riders who have never known GC racing to be anything other than trying to hang on to the pace of the train as long as possible, and so open wildcard racing is not something they are adept in. Louis Meintjes has become the poster boy for this, but there's a lot of riders out there whose entire modus operandi is a negative one, building a GC result out of falling backwards as slowly as possible. The importance of a GC result also means that they will defend an utterly irrelevant place - Pierre Rolland pointed out IAM riding to defend Matthias Fränk's 14th place in a GT he eventually finished about 9th in a few years ago; in 2010 Garmin rode like billy-o to decrease a breakaway's advantage because Chris Horner and Rubén Plaza threatened Ryder Hesjedal's 10th place.

I'm sure the idea of shortening stages will find some support amongst the péloton though. It plays into the narrative they want to present, of how hard the job is, that they need to have a good rest once in a while, like the Formigal stage where the grupetto didn't even try to make the time limit, because of how hard the race was. Four days after a rest day, and two days after they soft-pedalled an entire stage that the organizers had actually taken all the decisive climbs out of. The reason they needed that rest? "It's been a really hard race" and it was one day after the ONLY multi-mountain hard stage in the entire race. That's why stuff like the Hammer Series has come about - it's three days of racing with one day's worth of distance.

A 110km mountain stage is fine as a change of pace, but not as the norm, because then it won't work as it does now. Things will normalise. Just as when they tweak the routes of one day races, it often produces better racing for a couple of years before the riders get used to where to make moves and dose efforts on the new course, if short mountain stages become the norm, the racing in them will in time tend toward the same position that it was. The reason the short mountain stages in the early 2000s failed was because they were badly designed and riders didn't really know what to do with them, so played "wait and see". The reason the short mountain stages in the early 2010s succeeded was they were decently designed and placed in the right place (after a hard mountain stage, so domestiques would be tired, and because GC riders wouldn't be afraid of a short stage because of lesser effort, they didn't neutralise the previous stage).

Design and pacing are vastly underrated as stage race tools for good racing. The 2019 Giro was not so boring in the first half because the stages were long. It was boring because the race was colossally backloaded, and so you either had Lotto-Jumbo under no threat in a flat stage, or once they'd shipped the jersey to the breakaway, UAE riding because they were just happy to have the jersey. It's a lot like happened in the 2009 Tour, with the super strong Astana team happy to let AG2R ride to keep Nocentini in yellow through a week of boring transitional stages, and AG2R happy to do that riding because they were just happy to have the jersey. Or 2008, with Visconti's odyssey in the maglia rosa for Quick Step, before the real mountains came from stage 14 onwards. Nobody in their right mind was ever going to peak for the first half of this Giro, unless they were a sprinter. One of the reasons the Vuelta has been popular with fans in recent years has been that it sorts out its GC mix early, and doesn't give a week to the sprinters early on, so you have to be in form from quite early on. We've had in recent memory Lagos de Covadonga on stage 4 (2007), Sierra Nevada on stage 4 (2011), Arrate on stage 3 (2012), Monte da Groba on stage 2 (2013) and Andorra on stage 3 (2017). It's possible to peak for the first half of the Vuelta and try to hang on (and for that not to work).

The 2011 Tour was a great example of a badly paced race that people let off because the final week was so good they forgot about the racing before that; after stage 11, almost every relevant contender was still on their TTT time from stage 2, give or take a few seconds Cadel Evans gained on Mûr-de-Brétagne, or had crashed out because the failure to sort out the GC meant everybody still had something to protect, lots of people were fighting for space at the front and crashes took out people like Wiggins and Vino. The Pyrenées were then raced very conservatively because the riders were scared of all the consecutive efforts taking a toll coming the end of the race because there was only one transitional stage left, and it was only once you were into the final four or five stages that action really commenced. The 2012 Giro was even worse, because the riders never shook off that stupor, riding conservatively because of fear of the dangerous stage 20 so far into the race that it literally took until stage 20 for anybody to try to win the race, and even then the gang of contenders were only shaken into action by the very real possibility that Thomas de Gendt would steal the GC from under their nose by actually daring to try something. The 2009 Tour and 2014 Giro are other examples of races that set their stall out all about a stellar stage 20 (MTFs at Ventoux and Zoncolan respectively) only for them to be a damp squib because the GC was already settled.

The other thing with the mountain stages is the pacing of mountain blocks. If you have transitional or less dangerous stages among the mountain stages, it incentivises attacking more because there is a day that can be used for recovery. The 2009 and 2010 Vueltas offer perfect examples of how it should, and shouldn't, be done.

The 2009 Vuelta featured a three mountain stage block on stages 12 to 14. Stage 12 was a strong multi-col stage with Velefique, Cálar Alto and Velefique again. However, stage 13 had the queen stage, with La Ragua and Sierra Nevada. Because it was the first of three straight mountain stages, everybody was too scared to give too much on Velefique, leading to conservative racing, because they didn't want to gain 30 seconds that day only to lose half an hour the next. Stage 13, to Sierra Nevada, did see decent action on the final climb, but only after Samu was dropped, and then Evans had his mechanical. But even then, it was all initiated by the wildcard guy, Mosquera, because climbing was ALL he could do; with stage 14 being the steepest of the mountaintops, La Pandera, people were content to leave racing to the last few kilometres and not pay for it on La Pandera. La Pandera was a Unipuerto stage, so all the action was in the last 8km anyway. Geography didn't allow for it, but the stages would have been better served in reverse; La Pandera is steep enough that it would create gaps anyway; once gaps were created, you could then have the queen stage to Sierra Nevada, because the final climb being 25km long at 6% or so would ensure time taken, then the domestiques would also be too tired to produce race-stifling control over the Velefique stage meaning leaders isolated earlier on.

In 2010, you had stages 14-15-16 as a triple mountain block. Stage 14 was to Peña Cabarga, 15 to Lagos de Covadonga and 16 to Cotobello. Peña Cabarga is a shortish climb which will only open up smallish gaps by itself, but it's steep enough that it will create gaps. Especially approaching it from the north, where you can chain some medium climbs to it to soften the legs, but you know that the final climb will be decisive. With some small gaps now opened up, you had Lagos de Covadonga. Most stages to Los Lagos are Unipuerto in effect; you can climb Fito or Tornos or whatever you want beforehand, but it's coming down to the final climb. However, with that final climb being a prestigious and legendary one, racing was strong regardless, and with some time already taken on Peña Cabarga, the stage wasn't so threatening as to stifle action. And then the final stage of the three was the queen stage with San Lorenzo, La Cobertoria and Cotobello, the longest and hardest multi-col stage of the race, with Fränk Schleck trying to attack on La Cobertoria, and then Euskaltel TTTing Nieve up to the front of the race to do his solo on Cotobello because of Antón crashing out a couple of days earlier. Had Los Lagos been after Cotobello, that doesn't happen because Los Lagos being an iconic summit makes people conservative about previous mountain stages in case they lose time on Covadonga.

The short mountain stages that have worked have, to a man, come either before a transitional stage, after a queen stage, or both. The short mountain stages that have failed, such as Oropa a couple of years ago, have been ones which have been placed poorly. The short stage should be a bullet that the course designer has in their gun, but it shouldn't be the only weapon that they have at their disposal, and it feels at times in recent years that that has been the default option - solve problems by making races shorter. It's part of a trend we're seeing across a number of endurance sports, with a drive toward shorter disciplines in cross-country skiing and biathlon too. And yet, if we name some of the best stages of recent years, it's highly likely that among the first stages to get mentions will be Rifugio Gardeccia 2011 (229km), Galibier 2011 (201km), Montalcino 2010 (215km), Aprica 2010 (195km), Jafferau 2018 (185km) and Fuente Dé 2012 (187km). Sure, things like Formigal 2016 (119km), Andalo 2016 (132km) and Le Semnoz 2013 (125km) will be there too, but it shows you that it's not the length but the stage as a whole, and how it fits into the stage race as a whole, that is the decisive factor; short stages are not by themselves an answer.

Let's also remember that Dumoulin crashing out on stage 4 will have had a significant impact on this race, as he would have added a different dynamic too - however you always have to legislate for things like that. Remember the 2014 Tour with Contador and Froome both crashing out in week 1?

The biggest problems for the Grand Tours right now are over-saturation of broadcasting (look, a flat stage will be boring, don't watch the first three hours of it), poor pacing and limited innovation in design. When the design is done right, long stages, medium stages and short stages all complement one another into the ultimate challenge for a cyclist. A Grand Tour is supposed to be difficult to complete, and that's the point of the final day parades and so forth, and why the winners are lauded as the biggest champions in the sport. Introducing substitutes and shortening all the stages will just serve to dilute that. It's an endurance sport, and the Grand Tour is the grand daddy of all endurance. It's also why Le Mans, which doesn't allow driver substitutes, is more prestigious than Daytona, which does (one year, the winning car had 7 drivers, because one of the team's cars broke down so they used all of the drivers from that car too). And also, with ASO having its strong stake in Unipublic and having a fad for the short stage at present, the mix of longer stages becomes one of the Giro's Unique Selling Points.
 
I think it be should more about endurance, so I am not for a lot of short stages. One or two at most, and they should have a good design.

They should include at least two time trials in the race. One of them should be 35km to 50km. The other one could either be a short one, a TTT or a mountain TT.

The first week is always very hectic. I kind of like that it is "boring", because that builds up what is to come. You could also argue the "boring" part... because someone always loses the race during the first week. The finishes are usually great. I do think there should be one hard stage though so we could see the favorites and GC could settle a bit going into the 2nd week.
 
- Broadcast saturation. We really don't need to see four hours of coverage of a flat stage.
And yet I'd much rather have everything be broadcast, because even if the odds are admittedly very low, something could still happen, and it's significantly easier to not watch a stage/race that's boring if it is being broadcast, than it is to watch an exciting stage/race that isn't being broadcast.
 
Well for me these things ruin the GT suspense:

- Peloton etiquette
- Fake neutralization of stages
- Final stage is a procession
- Inconsistent enforcement of time penalties
- Inconsistent enforcement of substance abuse bans

Usually the above are rigged so that Sky or US Postal or Banesto wins every time. Granted they're not going away any time soon but they makes the race less entertaining.

I would enjoy the sport more if it was race on. The peloton wouldn't stop if Peter Sagan had a flat in Paris-Roubaix, but that's not what happens in a Grand Tour.
 
PS: i think shorter stages can work, both in their own right as with a different function within the tour itself. That being, as a counterweight for longer stages. Have one hard 260km stage (not necessarilly a mountain stage), followed by a 110 km stage. But again, stage design is key.

I would also like to see a classification for "best climber" based on total climbing time, and not who passes the top first.
 
Not enough hilly or one-day classic type of stages, surely you can fit 5-6 of those in a 20-stage race. Also having a short criterion stage as a prologue might be an interesting idea, send out cyclists in several heats and give away green jersey points and bonus seconds on each lap for each heat
 
I certainly am against:

- Mono climbs mountain stages. That's why I like La Vuelta the least even if sometimes has more action than the other 2. This is a high endurance marathon like Libertibe said. Do not dilute it.
- Along with the same lines go the short stages. In that respect I agree with Libertine 100%. It must be well placed and designed. It should be a bullet not the solution.
- Against the opinion of the majority here, I am against multi time trials. Or one long TT. One more than 40-45 km makes the race boring as well. In the 90's we saw some of the most boring races won by Indurain. Sure we had Pantani entertaining us but the whole point is having a good fight for GC.
- Somebody recommended having more classic type stages. I agree with that. But it is also not the solution. Note that the Tour is doing more of that recently, but still failing with the rest of the design.
- Be careful with backloading the mountain stages. Just have one well placed in front to clear the scenary for GC. I used to hate those Tours in the 80's when you had to wait 10 days straight for the first mountain stage. And those were really flat stages. At least those Tours had the hard, long, multi mountain stages to compensate.
 
Ironically the best time trials in terms of upsetting race balance are the pan flat 30km time trials since the specialists will gain more time relative to climbers. A single 30km flat time trial near the end of the race and perhaps a shorter 10-15km flat time trial earlier in the race is plenty.

Still nothing we suggest will stop teams from braking for the yellow jersey or the racing jury/UCI from rigging the race for the yellow jersey so I'm afraid there isn't much we can do about the root issues.
 
Re:

Escarabajo said:
I certainly am against:

- Mono climbs mountain stages. That's why I like La Vuelta the least even if sometimes has more action than the other 2. This is a high endurance marathon like Libertibe said. Do not dilute it.
- Along with the same lines go the short stages. In that respect I agree with Libertine 100%. It must be well placed and designed. It should be a bullet not the solution.
- Against the opinion of the majority here, I am against multi time trials. Or one long TT. One more than 40-45 km makes the race boring as well. In the 90's we saw some of the most boring races won by Indurain. Sure we had Pantani entertaining us but the whole point is having a good fight for GC.
- Somebody recommended having more classic type stages. I agree with that. But it is also not the solution. Note that the Tour is doing more of that recently, but still failing with the rest of the design.
- Be careful with backloading the mountain stages. Just have one well placed in front to clear the scenary for GC. I used to hate those Tours in the 80's when you had to wait 10 days straight for the first mountain stage. And those were really flat stages. At least those Tours had the hard, long, multi mountain stages to compensate.
I think you read my first post (i also mentioned classic style stages), and like i said, monoclimb mountain stages could be interesting to shake up the GC early on, bring variation in the first two weeks, without sending the sprinters home after 2 days. A 190km stage with one 5-10k climb within the last 15k before the finish, sprinters would finish within the time limit, a break could go all the way, and you could see some GC action. Three monoclimb stages in the first two weeks don't necessarilly have to mean you get less mountain stages in the last week.

Also, ITT's are as pure and fair as it gets. Man against man. But, that doesn't mean you can't mix it up. When was the last time we saw a real climbing ITT in the TDF? Personally, i'm all for a short prologue, one longer flat (ish) ITT, and one shorter true climbing ITT, where real lightweight climbers can take time back on the tempoclimbers.

We need a better balance. More variation. Not 10 stages tailored towards sprinters, and 10 towards climbers. But overall still hard enough to shake up GC.
 
The Giro has set the template of not what to do - Weekends, particularly Sundays are prime viewing times but yet 3 of the four Sundays comprise two ITT's and a flat sprint - And if we included Saturdays add one flat sprint and an ITTi - Weekends should be reserved for the more exciting type stages.
 
May 23, 2015
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TT's and monoclimb stages, especially when you have a train to help with steady pace, require quite similar skills. Maintaining high pace for 20-60 minutes. So if most stages are monoclimb stages or with 1 or 2 earlier climbs where everyone knows that nothing will happen, it is very easy to make an argument that there should be no TT's because they just make the gaps bigger and are dull anyway.

If there were a few proper hard mountain or hilly stages, the required skills would be changed more into long term durability, even if some of those stages ended up being uneventful. With those, the TT's might add a different type of riders into the mix instead of just favouring the same, and those short stages might work better also. And of course they should learn how to televise the TT's.
 
DanielSong39 said:
Ironically the best time trials in terms of upsetting race balance are the pan flat 30km time trials since the specialists will gain more time relative to climbers. A single 30km flat time trial near the end of the race and perhaps a shorter 10-15km flat time trial earlier in the race is plenty.

Still nothing we suggest will stop teams from braking for the yellow jersey or the racing jury/UCI from rigging the race for the yellow jersey so I'm afraid there isn't much we can do about the root issues.
But what if the best ITT'ers are also the best climbers?
 
I think someone mentioned this: What if the long flat ITT, comes later in the GT? I mean, historically, by having it early, the tempoclimbers -still fresh- will always get huge gaps vs the climbers. Often this puts a stranglehold on the rest of the tour, with people riding / defending a 2nd to 10th place in GC, doing the work for the leader. Case in point, number 3 in GC attacks, but instead of letting the leader do the work, the number 2 in GC will defend his 2nd spot and the leader can just follow in his wheel.

But with the long ITT coming later, the tempoclimber (who usually is a better TT'er) will not be as fresh. And he does not know exactly how much time he will be able to take back. It's an unknown factor. It's a gamble.

I'm usually not a fan of artificially implemented trickery, but i did have a crazy and possibly lame idea (just thinking out loud) that might be ***, but could be interesting too. I haven't really thought this through, so don't burn me if it's ***, lol. What if there was a day with a short stage early in the day, and then later in the day there is a stage with only the top 20 or 30 in GC. Not unlike how play-offs work in ballsports. You can only participate if you reach the top 20 (or 30). This would obviously be in favor of the stronger rider with the weaker team. A short mountain stage, but you start with only the best riders. Ideally, this would be held on the penultimate day, before the "Champs-Elysées" stage (or similar final "borefest" stage).
 
Breh said:
DanielSong39 said:
Ironically the best time trials in terms of upsetting race balance are the pan flat 30km time trials since the specialists will gain more time relative to climbers. A single 30km flat time trial near the end of the race and perhaps a shorter 10-15km flat time trial earlier in the race is plenty.

Still nothing we suggest will stop teams from braking for the yellow jersey or the racing jury/UCI from rigging the race for the yellow jersey so I'm afraid there isn't much we can do about the root issues.
But what if the best ITT'ers are also the best climbers?
Well then they deserve to win the race.
 
Re:

Logic-is-your-friend said:
I think someone mentioned this: What if the long flat ITT, comes later in the GT? I mean, historically, by having it early, the tempoclimbers -still fresh- will always get huge gaps vs the climbers. Often this puts a stranglehold on the rest of the tour, with people riding / defending a 2nd to 10th place in GC, doing the work for the leader. Case in point, number 3 in GC attacks, but instead of letting the leader do the work, the number 2 in GC will defend his 2nd spot and the leader can just follow in his wheel.

But with the long ITT coming later, the tempoclimber (who usually is a better TT'er) will not be as fresh. And he does not know exactly how much time he will be able to take back. It's an unknown factor. It's a gamble.

I'm usually not a fan of artificially implemented trickery, but i did have a crazy and possibly lame idea (just thinking out loud) that might be ****, but could be interesting too. I haven't really thought this through, so don't burn me if it's ****, lol. What if there was a day with a short stage early in the day, and then later in the day there is a stage with only the top 20 or 30 in GC. Not unlike how play-offs work in ballsports. You can only participate if you reach the top 20 (or 30). This would obviously be in favor of the stronger rider with the weaker team. A short mountain stage, but you start with only the best riders. Ideally, this would be held on the penultimate day, before the "Champs-Elysées" stage (or similar final "borefest" stage).
Well peloton etiquette is largely responsible for the "borefest" too. If the peloton hit the gas pedal on the the "Champs-Elysées" stage when the leader had a mechanical or crashed the race would be a lot more interesting.
 

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