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

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Tonton said:
To the first point: Ahead of the Tour, Bernal's team would be wise to choose a line-up that can help on that stage. After that if he loses ten minutes, so what? And that may mean less mountain help, which now makes a train less possible. I only see benefits here.

To the second point, the point system over the years has evolved in favor of flat stages. That plus ten flat stages, and here we are. Why not change it, make it the same for every stage, and here you have the most consistent rider: Peter Sagan.
No amount of classic domestiques is going to help guys like Bernal, Gaudu etc in such a way that they magically become able to follow the best guys on such a stage. Just like no amount of mountain domestiques is going to help Kittel win Flèche Wallonne. I'm a big believer of classic stages to break the mold, to spice things up, to battle the bore and to shake up GC, but i think something like a 270k PR or 260k RVV just is a bit too much within a 3 week GT.

As for my comment on the green jersey, it was just an observation, nothing more. I do feel however, that points earned, shouldn't be taken away because you can't finish the race. If a rider can earn enough points in the first 10 days before crashing or before quitting, it only means the competition can't do better in 21 days. But less pure sprint stages would only be a benefit imho.

Bye Bye Bicycle said:
Flat stages are part of the DNA of GTs and - just have a look on the map - a geographic necessity. If they bore you, don’t watch them.
Days where the finish of one stage, was the starting point of the next stage, are long gone. So i don't see how it would be a geographic necessity. It's up to the race organizer to come up with a good and varied course. If you think races should represent their environment, then we can cancel Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Paris Roubaix... That's what courses do, connect the sections that could be desisive, in an interesting way.

I also wouldn't know why so many stages should be catered towards a very small selection of riders. There are basically 3 or 4 real contenders for 8 or 9 stages. Why is that? And i'll repeat what i said earlier, if a sprinter can't survive a few km uphill, then maybe he should consider a different carreer. Maybe on the track.
 
ah, but riders also do not like transfers so there is some necessity for flat stages as a way to get from point A to point B

of course the point A to point A flat stages like the ones in Logroño or Nimes or even the Milan debacle should be a no go right away
 
I really don't get how the "long stages bad" argument is still here. I mean say about this years giro whatever you want but you have to admit the the long mountain stages on their own were very enjoyable. Stage 13 was great and stage 16 and 20 at least decent (mind you, stage 16 should have been much harder) so I really don't think you can blame those stages for this giro not quite delivering (I actually think it was a pretty decent race from stage 12 onwards, it's just that anything before that was abysmal, as expected with that route). Meanwhile how can people still ignore just how many short tdf mountain stages of the last decade have been horrible.

The substitution idea, well I find it horrible, but at least I can't really back my opinion up with facts, it's just that I think races will become even more controlled. The problem is that a superdom like Wout Poels is probably way better than any gc rider if he rides a mountain stage after two rest days. Making a substitution rule change like that might just ensure that every gc rider has domestiques with him all the way to the end and the race becoming a war of teammates. Also, maybe it's just me, but I still want a grand tour to be...well...a tour. It should be a race of attrition and at the end the riders should have a few thousand kilometers in their tired legs. I don't want Marcel Kitel to handpick five panflat stages before taking the airplain to Paris to train for his stage 21 sprint while other riders are competing in the mountains. Maybe I'm too old fashioned and not open minded enough, but I just don't think that should be possible.
 
Jan 12, 2012
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Nirvana said:
Red Rick said:
With the current mountain trains, exluding most climbers by adding TT mileage will take the suspense out of almost every GC.
The trains work because there are junior lenght mountain stages in which one team is enough to control the race and with limited gaps due to lack of TT mileage no one attacks but try to control from the start a stage like this and see how long the train lasts with the climbers in need to take minutes and minutes back after a 60/70 kms ITT.

This TdF (1992) was great. But that stage to Sestrieres was one of only two(!) proper mountain stages, the other being 185km over Montgenevre, Galibier, Croix de Fer and Alpe d'Huez. There were actually loads of medium stages (skirting the Pyrenees, proper Vosges and Massif Central stages, a Limburg stage) but also plenty of sprint stages and massive timetrial km's by today's standards. When the proper mountain stages arrived the climbers knew what they had to do and they went out and got on with it. Noone's waiting for tomorrow when the big rendevouz points are limited and properly big.
 
I think most of the common sense solutions to improve GTs have already been proposed numerous times here in other threads - reducing # of riders per team, limiting or prohibiting race radio (and possibly power meters), harder medium mountain stages, etc. There's no need to drastically change the nature of the sport.

But it seems like "The Man" is mostly happy with the way things are right now.
 
These are my thoughts as a TV viewer, who has little time to watch GTs and wants action from the gun:
--prologues that maximize excitement, i.e. Bologna this year or the nighttime drag race about a decade ago in the Giro
--Fewer flat/sprint stages. OK, if you want a bunch sprint finish, at least make the preceding 200 k or so interesting: tight turns, some hills/muritos/bergs etc., to give a few puncheurs a chance to get into the mix. But, in general, the trend of sprinters just dropping out when the road goes up is not a good one. So deemphasize that part of the race and focus on the green jersey as an all-around title, with more mid-stage bonuses or even Strava segment type bonuses, i.e. take 10km in the middle of a stage and time each rider. Doesn't matter if you're in the break or the bunch. Use RFID chips etc.
--I like short stages. So more of them, please. Acually would love a Criterium International type day, with 2 short stages including an ITT.
--2 shortish ITTs are fine, say a total of 50 km including prologue. One could be hilly.
--Circuits, like last year's WC in Innsbruck. Now THAT was a great race. Why not in a GT?
--In the TdF, at least, break up the Alps/Pyrenees dichotomy. As noted above the Massif Central has some big climbs, as do the Jura/Vosges.

in the end, though, the riders make the race.
 
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Gigs_98 said:
Yeah I guess the crucial difference is that nowadays it's only about dropping your rivals while back then it was about dropping your rivals as early as possible.
Mainly the objective is to minimise risk. If you have lots of chances you can always wait for the next one where you might feel a little better and your rival might look a little weaker - Grand Tours only really open up when someone good is forced into doing something drastic, whether that's the Froome/Schleck/Landis last-minute mountain raids, or the Basso/Lemond situations of having to get loads of time back on a breakaway outsider. The former is more likely if you have a more limited number of mountain stages but make them proper mountain stages; the latter is more likely with a string of long classic-style stages preferably in terrible weather (but this Giro had close to that on stages 6, 7 & 8 and it didn't happen).

But more generally, is it really 'time to liven up the Grand Tours'? This Giro wasn't a 2010-style epic but neither was it a 2012-style stinker, and looking back at the last twenty years or so its overall record for entertainment is very good. The TdF is often not great, but it has its own value purely in its importance - like the European Cup final this week, the actual match was rubbish but there was still a great sporting tension just from the importance of the outcome, the drama that builds outside of what's actually happening. If you want every stage to be Montalcino 2010 or Galibier 2011 then you're missing the point imo. One of the great things about road cycling is that there are also races like Strade Bianche or RVV or E3 which are always good. Or the last thirty minutes of every single M-SR. Most of the French Cup and Belgian Cup races are online as well these days. Apparently some people even like the Vuelta but I draw my line short of that one...
 
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I think a lot of people have this backwards. It’s not mainly the route of the GTs that separate them, it’s who goes there. No route in the world would not favor 2013 Sky, or 2019 Ineos. The team that wins these GTs often have two guys on the podium, or at least top 5. That says a lot. If you don’t enjoy the very peak performances produced by the greatest athletes, teams, prep and tactics throughout a year for one race, don’t watch the tdf. Check out the giro, where the second best come to duke it out and nobody truly dominates. There are about 9 months on non-tdf action every year.
Even in this giro people complain, and seem to forget that in a relatively tt heavy race, a pure climber won out of nowhere, beating all the main favorites by attacking them while they were preoccupied with each other, and then proving to be the strongest climber in the race. And all the “great” ideas itt... I mean, it’s like guys actually think that no one thinks these races through. I can guarantee you we haven’t thought about half the things needed to consider from an organizational, promotional, sponsor, team and athlete POV.
 
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Bolder said:
These are my thoughts as a TV viewer, who has little time to watch GTs and wants action from the gun:
--prologues that maximize excitement, i.e. Bologna this year or the nighttime drag race about a decade ago in the Giro
--Fewer flat/sprint stages. OK, if you want a bunch sprint finish, at least make the preceding 200 k or so interesting: tight turns, some hills/muritos/bergs etc., to give a few puncheurs a chance to get into the mix. But, in general, the trend of sprinters just dropping out when the road goes up is not a good one. So deemphasize that part of the race and focus on the green jersey as an all-around title, with more mid-stage bonuses or even Strava segment type bonuses, i.e. take 10km in the middle of a stage and time each rider. Doesn't matter if you're in the break or the bunch. Use RFID chips etc.
--I like short stages. So more of them, please. Acually would love a Criterium International type day, with 2 short stages including an ITT.
--2 shortish ITTs are fine, say a total of 50 km including prologue. One could be hilly.
--Circuits, like last year's WC in Innsbruck. Now THAT was a great race. Why not in a GT?
--In the TdF, at least, break up the Alps/Pyrenees dichotomy. As noted above the Massif Central has some big climbs, as do the Jura/Vosges.

in the end, though, the riders make the race.
--prologues are good
--flat finish stage with difficulties is a breakaway stage most likely. Strava segment type timing would be totally ridiculous.
--2 stage days are not allowed in GTs.
--I wouldn't call Insbruck wait for the final climb that great. Good definitely. GT''s are raced more conservatively than one day races, so on that kind of course it would even more likely be a wait for final climb.
--yeah, designers are lazy
 
That's funny cause I'm pretty sure 2013 is pretty much considered the best Tour route in the last 9 years. You can't prevent domination when somebody is that strong. Maybe the 2011 Giro is a better example cause Contador had a much weaker team.

But the recent trend where there is never any suspense in the Tour and the Sky/Ineos leader never even has to prove how good they are uphill is absolutely infuriating.

And riders do make the race, and they make 100% shittier races on shitty routes
 
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Bye Bye Bicycle said:
Flat stages are part of the DNA of GTs and - just have a look on the map - a geographic necessity. If they bore you, don’t watch them.
Yip. Especially in France, where bigger parts of the country are just flat and that's absolutely okay, if flat can be sprint royale flat or Paris-Tours flat. Just mix it well.

Personally I really would love to see a Grand Tour first week like Le Tour of 1980. Or as I call it...a week in hell.

Prologue: 7,6k
Stage 1a: 133k
Stage 1b: 46k TTT
Stage 2: 276k flat stage
Stage 3: 283k hilly stage via Wanne, Haute-Levée, Rosier, Theux, Forges
Stage 4: 35k hilly itt
Stage 5: 250k with 20k sectors of cobblestones
Stage 6: 216k with another 20k sectory of cobblestones (which were cancelled due heavy rain)

Okay...and then they had more shorter flat stages and more ttt and itt, which is nonsense. But these first seven days are so demanding and challenging, that everybody was already tired, when the mountains started. They entered the first mountain stage with 57 hrs of racing.
 
Short prologues gives the sprinters a chance to don the jersey so I am okay with that. I think team time trials should should be relegated to the past. Too many times a GC rider's race is over by stage 4 if his team is weak in the TTT or if there is a fall or an incident during the TTT. Short TTTs are completely pointless because the time gaps are negligible. I would like to see them gone.

Sometimes a well designed intermediate stage can have a bigger effect on the race than the mountain stages. I'm in two minds also about the super short mountain stages, It's become a bit gimicky. I also think having quite a few long stages as just seen in the Giro where teams now only have 8 riders generally means you are going to get many breakaways because the mountain domestiques are being saved and the flat domestiques are being flogged. Unless the team is very strong and has an A Grade sprinter it seems now that many teams won't chase.

I thought the Giro race design was horrible and even riders like De Gendt said it was as boring as hell to ride in the first half. Also leave the circuit races alone in the GTs there is already enough of that in the one day races and what is the point of having a hard climb followed by a 40 km descent, I think most mountain stages that finish on a descent are pointless especially when the riders have been up and down all day anyway. Individual time trials are part of the sport, they just have to mix it up more with the routes and lengths. I actually thought the TTs in the Giro were well designed. Sprint stages are also part of the sport but some years they could maybe have more intermediate stages that suit the sprinters that can climb. As for time bonuses I think they should just have time bonuses in all stage races instead of picking and choosing.
 
Why would sprinters need to wear the yellow jersey to begin with? Should we start changing the routes so that the climbers can wear the green jersey as well? Or maybe sprinters want to wear the polkadot jersey too?

Maybe a part of the problem is trying to accomodate certain riders/types in an artificial way. Not too many climbing in the first two weeks because maybe sprinter A or B might not be able to sprint or even finish in time (god forbid they wouldn't be able to snatch the yellow jersey after a "long" prologue). Not too many ITT km (the most pure and fair of all GC action, man v man, no teammates doing the heavy lifting), or this or that guy who wants to win the "general" classification (maybe some people need to think about what "general" means), might not be able to win.

Maybe organizers should also start thinking about shortening stages that pass through open fields when there are crosswinds, or tiny guys might get blown out of contention. In fact Let's keep the entire peloton within 1 minute of each other, until the final stage, with one MTF, winner takes all.
 
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Logic-is-your-friend said:
Why would sprinters need to wear the yellow jersey to begin with? Should we start changing the routes so that the climbers can wear the green jersey as well? Or maybe sprinters want to wear the polkadot jersey too?

Maybe a part of the problem is trying to accomodate certain riders/types in an artificial way. Not too many climbing in the first two weeks because maybe sprinter A or B might not be able to sprint or even finish in time (god forbid they wouldn't be able to snatch the yellow jersey after a "long" prologue). Not too many ITT km (the most pure and fair of all GC action, man v man, no teammates doing the heavy lifting), or this or that guy who wants to win the "general" classification (maybe some people need to think about what "general" means), might not be able to win.

Maybe organizers should also start thinking about shortening stages that pass through open fields when there are crosswinds, or tiny guys might get blown out of contention. In fact Let's keep the entire peloton within 1 minute of each other, until the final stage, with one MTF, winner takes all.
Not saying that sprinters need to have a chance to get the jersey but after a short prologue they often are because the prologue is too short for the TT specialists as against banning the prologues completely. They don't keep it long anyway unless it is flat stage after flat stage. I often think the race planners are slaves to the terrain. To get from point A to Point B and then not having to transfer the riders far to the next stage is often a challenge when it's in a part of a country than is generally flat. Rides hate transfers because it cuts into their rest time after stages. Obviously planning an interesting route is a challenge and the weather is also a problem in the mountains especially with the Giro as the first grand tour.

I wouldn't mind seeing a longer TT now and then and even some shorter sprint stages. There are plenty of options. Even with rest days they can make changes. Last year it was longer than usual till the first rest day in the Tour. Cobbles, crosswinds etc is just part of racing in general. The organizers have to capture the TV audience but also make it safe and reasonable for the riders. Sometimes a fine line.
 
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Logic-is-your-friend said:
Why would sprinters need to wear the yellow jersey to begin with? Should we start changing the routes so that the climbers can wear the green jersey as well? Or maybe sprinters want to wear the polkadot jersey too?

Maybe a part of the problem is trying to accomodate certain riders/types in an artificial way. Not too many climbing in the first two weeks because maybe sprinter A or B might not be able to sprint or even finish in time (god forbid they wouldn't be able to snatch the yellow jersey after a "long" prologue). Not too many ITT km (the most pure and fair of all GC action, man v man, no teammates doing the heavy lifting), or this or that guy who wants to win the "general" classification (maybe some people need to think about what "general" means), might not be able to win.

Maybe organizers should also start thinking about shortening stages that pass through open fields when there are crosswinds, or tiny guys might get blown out of contention. In fact Let's keep the entire peloton within 1 minute of each other, until the final stage, with one MTF, winner takes all.
Well, before they decided to favour sprinters with the point system was way more likely to see a GC rider winning the green jersey (or the points competition before they made green the jersey) and even the sprinters able to win it were good enough at climbing to be able to finish in the top 10 of the GC like van Looy, Altig, Kelly.
The green jersey beeing a pure sprinters competition is only a recent distortion of the history of such competition, just think that at the Giro they need to adapt the point system to the Tour one in 2013 to make possible for Cavendish to win the competition because was beaten by di Luca, Evans, Rodriguez...
 
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Nirvana said:
Logic-is-your-friend said:
Why would sprinters need to wear the yellow jersey to begin with? Should we start changing the routes so that the climbers can wear the green jersey as well? Or maybe sprinters want to wear the polkadot jersey too?

Maybe a part of the problem is trying to accomodate certain riders/types in an artificial way. Not too many climbing in the first two weeks because maybe sprinter A or B might not be able to sprint or even finish in time (god forbid they wouldn't be able to snatch the yellow jersey after a "long" prologue). Not too many ITT km (the most pure and fair of all GC action, man v man, no teammates doing the heavy lifting), or this or that guy who wants to win the "general" classification (maybe some people need to think about what "general" means), might not be able to win.

Maybe organizers should also start thinking about shortening stages that pass through open fields when there are crosswinds, or tiny guys might get blown out of contention. In fact Let's keep the entire peloton within 1 minute of each other, until the final stage, with one MTF, winner takes all.
Well, before they decided to favour sprinters with the point system was way more likely to see a GC rider winning the green jersey (or the points competition before they made green the jersey) and even the sprinters able to win it were good enough at climbing to be able to finish in the top 10 of the GC like van Looy, Altig, Kelly.
The green jersey beeing a pure sprinters competition is only a recent distortion of the history of such competition, just think that at the Giro they need to adapt the point system to the Tour one in 2013 to make possible for Cavendish to win the competition because was beaten by di Luca, Evans, Rodriguez...
I'm aware. I think i've had a discussion about that in this topic a few days ago (could have been a different topic). But that wasn't my point. The point is, that i think there are too many factors taken into account. Which makes the race boring, predictable, repetitive... Starting with a prologue that can't be too long or hard, so that sprinters might take yellow in the coming stages. This means by default that the next stages should be sprinting stages. Can't put any climbs into the first week or maybe bigname sprinter A has to go home after 2 stages and we can't have that. Let's not make the ITT too long, or fanfavorite mountaingoat Z will lose too much time.

This implicates that a scenario that starts with the mountains and ends with 4 sprinting stages and a long ITT is basically out of the question (not that i'm partial to such a scenario, i just mean it's just not even an option). It could be even interesting for sprinting stages, only the sprinters that survive the mountains have a shot (and those that can't get over a mountain will probably not even start the race to begin with) and the sprinter that wins those stages in the final week, might not even be the fastest, but the one that conserves the most energy in the mountain stages. I'm not making a case for such a scenario per se, but i think they need to break the mold.
 
Why not have a Paris-Roubaix stage (or even a Roubaix-Paris stage) on the final weekend? Every time they put a cobbled stage in TdF it's always before the mountains - I don't see any reason why it can't be after, especially as they are prepared to do massive transfers before the final Sunday.
 
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zigzag wanderer said:
Why not have a Paris-Roubaix stage (or even a Roubaix-Paris stage) on the final weekend? Every time they put a cobbled stage in TdF it's always before the mountains - I don't see any reason why it can't be after, especially as they are prepared to do massive transfers before the final Sunday.
Because sprinters historically do well on cobbles, and all the sprinters are gone in the last week. Same reason most of the sprinting stages are in the first week. Also because they hope that people that lost time on the cobbles will attack in the mountains.
 

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