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The worst Grand Tour you can remember

Page 5 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
yaco said:
Since when should a GT not have a bias towards climbers - You'll have a boring race with few mountains.
Since they became really dull. Nowadays anyone can look at the TdF route before hand and pick out four or five stages where there might be significant GC action. The other 15 or 16 offer nothing from a GC perspective.

It's not about having fewer mountains, it's about using them differently. Have the same amount of mountains, but put them at the start of stages not the end. Let the climbers get the advantage early on in stages and then see if they can fend off the peloton and rouleurs for the last 50km on rolling or flat terrain.

At least the route will then be raced, rather than what we have now: 150km of soft pedalling, before a train driving a pace so hard up a mountain that no-one can attack, followed by a leader trying to gain 30 seconds in the last 3km.

Giro and Vuelta are fine - they can stay with the advantage for climbers as they are more unpredictable. But the Tour has jumped the shark long ago. Teams here are too strong, so the race is basically always decided on one or two mountain stages, and occasionally a TT - then it's over. Before the mid 80s all-rounders used to be favourites for the Tour; but now domestiques are too strong - they allow a lightweight climber to completely control the race on the flat - which is what makes it so dull.

What you are saying is nice in theory, but I'm not sure that France is lumpy enough in general to provide the type of parcours that you are suggesting. France isn't like Italy where there are medium or high mountains in many areas of the country. Huge chunks of France are pretty flat (I know nothing about this geography myself, but have read enough from those in the know about potential stage designs on here). Let's look at stage 10 of this years race, where they exited the Pyrenees. They opened up with a big climb. Now this is what you want on many stages for your proposed parcours, but you cannot expect a bunch of skinny climbers to hold off 150 riders for 150 kms. After that big climb there was only one more hill, and it was well short of being termed a mountain. You are proposing that after that big Cat 1 climb to open the stage, that the riders be faced with five or six cat 2 and 3 climbs? Yes, that could produce some interesting racing, but I doubt that France is lumpy enough to give us many of these stages.

Of course the other obvious thing to do - which has been mentioned by many already - is to reduce the quantity of team riders. Allow each team only six riders, and then the stages do not have to be as brutally selective....to be selective.
 
Re: Re:

gregrowlerson said:
DFA123 said:
yaco said:
Since when should a GT not have a bias towards climbers - You'll have a boring race with few mountains.
Since they became really dull. Nowadays anyone can look at the TdF route before hand and pick out four or five stages where there might be significant GC action. The other 15 or 16 offer nothing from a GC perspective.

It's not about having fewer mountains, it's about using them differently. Have the same amount of mountains, but put them at the start of stages not the end. Let the climbers get the advantage early on in stages and then see if they can fend off the peloton and rouleurs for the last 50km on rolling or flat terrain.

At least the route will then be raced, rather than what we have now: 150km of soft pedalling, before a train driving a pace so hard up a mountain that no-one can attack, followed by a leader trying to gain 30 seconds in the last 3km.

Giro and Vuelta are fine - they can stay with the advantage for climbers as they are more unpredictable. But the Tour has jumped the shark long ago. Teams here are too strong, so the race is basically always decided on one or two mountain stages, and occasionally a TT - then it's over. Before the mid 80s all-rounders used to be favourites for the Tour; but now domestiques are too strong - they allow a lightweight climber to completely control the race on the flat - which is what makes it so dull.

What you are saying is nice in theory, but I'm not sure that France is lumpy enough in general to provide the type of parcours that you are suggesting. France isn't like Italy where there are medium or high mountains in many areas of the country. Huge chunks of France are pretty flat (I know nothing about this geography myself, but have read enough from those in the know about potential stage designs on here). Let's look at stage 10 of this years race, where they exited the Pyrenees. They opened up with a big climb. Now this is what you want on many stages for your proposed parcours, but you cannot expect a bunch of skinny climbers to hold off 150 riders for 150 kms. After that big climb there was only one more hill, and it was well short of being termed a mountain. You are proposing that after that big Cat 1 climb to open the stage, that the riders be faced with five or six cat 2 and 3 climbs? Yes, that could produce some interesting racing, but I doubt that France is lumpy enough to give us many of these stages.

Of course the other obvious thing to do - which has been mentioned by many already - is to reduce the quantity of team riders. Allow each team only six riders, and then the stages do not have to be as brutally selective....to be selective.
I think it's definitely lumpy enough; you would only need 3 or 4 stages like this in the race - replacing several of the MTF or downhill stage finishes that they have at the moment. The Pyrenees and Alps are full of lesser foothills which would make for great racing if preceded by an HC climb - you see some of them being used in Dauphine and Route du Sud every year. The Basque Pyrenees especially would be ideal for this and you could also have similar stages in the Vosges, Auvergne, Cevennes, Jura. There would be more than enough options.

Reducing the team size is certainly a decent option as well - but I think there is no chance that will happen any time soon. Making the route encouraging to other types of riders could have a similar effect. If all rounders like Kiriyienka, Thomas, Dumoulin, Tony Martin, Jungels, LLS and Cancellara have an outside shot at winning - then there may well end up being less big engines who are prepared to just control the flat stages, rather than going for the win themselves.
 
I don't mind the multiple stages in the Alps and Pyrenees. What I mind is that they go over the same parts of those ranges (especially the Pyrenees) year on year leaving vast swathes of them unused. A lack of variety means everybody knows the climbs like the backs of their hand, where to go, how to dose their efforts, so there isn't the element of surprise.

You could definitely do a stage that uses the big climbs early and then easier ones later on. A stage like 2009 Tarbes or 2010 Pau is simply not going to work in modern cycling unless you weaken the teams, especially as the latter came the day before a big MTF so the major contenders weren't interested. Simply as the grimpeurs are not going to be able to keep an organized péloton at bay for long enough to make it worthwhile, so you need some more climbs in the run-in.

The 'hard mountain-easy mountain' stratagem is a popular one in the Race Design Thread, inspired by the excellent racing produced by this method, whereby the final mountain is not particularly selective on its own, but the penultimate climb is particularly hard in order to encourage moves here, but also mean that if the group is together, tired legs make the final climb more decisive. The ultimate example is obviously Mortirolo-Aprica; Aprica on its own is not a tough climb - in fact the Giro Rosa had a one-climb Aprica stage as a "hilly" stage in 2015, with Pauline Ferrand-Prévot taking just a couple of seconds' gap over a chasing group of around 25 of the élites - and the climbing depth in the women's péloton is much more limited than that in the men's, as the kinds of gaps opened by the Mortirolo and Signora della Guardia stages this year showed, where the bunch was blown to smithereens 50km from the line (the latter was an AWESOME stage, by the way).

Andorra gives us the possibility to do something like this, by going with the brutal climbs like La Gallina or the normal tough climbs like La Rabassa, but instead of having a ski station MTF, you could finish after La Comella. I proposed this stage in one of my Vuelta designs, but you could leave Beixalis out and have just La Comella if you liked, to create a different type of stage finish. The PRC guys cam up with this stage - leave out Beret at the end and it fits your criteria perfectly. It also upset me because a while ago I was looking for a way to use Beret more interestingly than usual and the stage I came up with was almost identical to that only I didn't use Pla Batalher and I started in Bagnères-de-Luchon. My most recent Race Design Tour had a stage in the Vosges that was mainly about big mountains early, medium mountains late, and looked like this although still with an uphill finish might be outside of your wishes, as I'd guess you'd be looking for something more like the Giro di Lombardia with some tougher climbs early on.
 
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exciting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.
 
Re:

papisimo98 said:
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exiting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.

The Giro GC only got interesting because SK crashed. He was walking away with it before that.
 
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Re: Re:

Richeypen said:
papisimo98 said:
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exiting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.

The Giro GC only got interesting because SK crashed. He was walking away with it before that.

He crashed because Nibali put him under pressure with attacks from a long way out, something you won't see in this Tour. Besides, the Giro GC was far more interesting before stage 19 than this Tour as well. As long as Sky has double the money of most World Tour teams all ASO races will be super boring. With the exception of Paris-Roubaix, but it wouldn't surprise me anymore if they succeed in ruining that race as well.

ASO WT races this year:

Paris-Nice: Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Poels (Sky)
Criterium du Dauphiné: Froome (Sky)
Tour de France: Froome (Sky)

Food for thought... The only ASO races not won by Sky are Paris-Roubaix and Flèche Wallonne. Valverde and Poels are also the only non-Anglophone to win an ASO WT race.
 
Re:

papisimo98 said:
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exciting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.
ASO can't do what the Giro is doing because the way the Giro is raced is, in large part, different because of factors that ASO can't really help (nor should want to help) - namely that the Tour de France is globally a much bigger deal. As a result, the Tour is much more important to sponsors and therefore being placed well is much more important; as a result you have a lot more conservative riding from those in good positions because they are afraid to lose that all important position; a strong Tour finish makes you more appealing to sponsors meaning potential better contracts, and also a lot less is left to chance, which results in much tighter control and fewer variables. Being held in July also means that the weather tends to be much less of a factor than it can be in the Giro. The Tour also requires much more space for its caravan and assorted media owing to its larger reach worldwide, which has the effect of limiting their ability to finish at some of the toughest spots where space is insufficient.

In addition to this, the options for the legit hell-slopes that have often made the Giro what it is in recent years (if not directly then indirectly thanks to their effect in following days) are comparatively limited, although the options for high altitude climbs are better because the Giro often has to be careful with which high altitude roads it uses or come up with contingency plans due to the time of year. Having a lot more of the type of grinding climbs that suit the kind of hanger-on GC contender whose climbing style is not suited to fast changes up and down in tempo like, say, van Garderen, plus the high stakes meaning fewer riders willing to gamble to make gains, means you would be hard pushed to generate Giro-style racing unless you can get some of the legit monster climbs steep enough to force riders to go it alone and negate the effect of drafting and pacing onto the route, and that would require the right towns to want to host, and potentially some widening or resurfacing of roads to make them passable for the whole race caravan.
 
Re:

Hugo Koblet said:
So what do yo guys think could theoretically be done to make the Tour more interesting? I have a few ideas:

Structural changes:
- A limit on team salaries: This would even out the teams, so that we won't have one team much stronger than every else.
- Reduce the size of the teams: Smaller teams would make the race harder to control both on mountain stages and on flatter stages. It might also reduce the number of crashes in the peloton, particularly towards the end of the stages. 6 man teams sounds good.
- Bigger time bonuses: I'm very unsure of this one. Theoretically, I don't like the idea of time bonuses. I also don't know what impact it would have on the racing. It might be the case that the riders would wait even longer to attack in the hope that they would get time bonuses. The idea though is that you force the not so strong finishers to attack from further out and reward attacking riding.

Route changes:
- Reduce the number of sprint stages: I think there should be a few stages for the sprinters, but completely flat stages are really boring. Get rid of some of the number of sprint stages and in in some more classics-type stages, or at least make the sprint stages somewhat interesting by including some hills.
- Spread out the mountain stages: Having three mountain stages in a row only reduces the will to attack on the first or second mountain stage. The riders are not willing to risk they GC position by blowing up on the next stage(s).
- Don't have an ITT right after a mountain stage: The same argument as above. The riders seem to save energy for the ITT.
- Don't have the hardest stages at the end of the Tour: Again same argument as above. Most riders tend to peak for the third week, making the racing dull in the first two weeks. And again many riders aren't willing to risk anything in early stages because they know the hardest stages are still yet to come.

To make things more interesting the main things I would do are:

- Have time bonuses and have significant ones for leading the race at the halfway point. Every race I've seen with a time bonus had made things more competitive.

- Get rid of team radios(this is the #1 thing that makes races boring as everyone knows where everyone is so no one needs to gamble) and just have more general radios. People would still safe but then it would be an actual contest.

- Reduce team sizes - Bigger teams lead to more control over the race and allow Team Sky's/USPS where one team has a ton of strong riders.

- Reduce flat stages and add significant point bonuses for leading at certain points. This would make the flat stages more interesting. I've seen time bonuses for parts of the stages before and they were good.

- Never do another Team Time Trial - I don't think I've ever really seen a good one.

- I also am considering just having one or two super long ITT's, like 100km. Then the Time Trialers will still have a shot at winning and it will still be the same amount of stages, because honestly, TT's aren't super exciting to watch for the most part. The TT guys would theoretically get a huge bump from these but would also lose out in the mountains, forcing the mountain guys to attack earlier in the day for big gaps. The only problem is it will still likely benefit people like Froome.
 
When going in the way of increasing TT-mileage and reducing the number of high mountain stages, then there's two things to consider in order to not put climbers in a too big disadvantage:

1) In those select few real mountains stages there should as little flat or false flat valley sections between the climbs as is geographically possible. Preferably none at all. It would also slightly reduce the advantage a rider with stronger team could have.

2) One mountain stage every year should be minimum of 210 km long and go to high altitudes significantly over 2000m. Its July after all, its not like the snow is gonna be a problem. Those conditions don't necessarily have to be met in a one single stage, but it would be preferable.

If there are gonna be less mountain stages and over 100k of flattish TT-ing, then those mountain stages have to be real deal, not some half-arsed gimmicks we have seen all too often in recent past.

In the end the easiest way is to reduce team sizes. 7 riders per team in GTs and 6 in shorter stage races and one day races. That way even the biggest and richest teams would have to choose which parts of the race to prioritise and in which parts risk of being undermanned.It would certainly open up a race more and level the playing field quite a bit. Which is precisely the reason this reform is so unlikely to happen.
 
Salary caps.

TDF has been ruined as a sporting contest - since 2012 - by the dominance of Sky - a dominance directly proportional to their budget advantage over other teams.

What's the point of "sport" if you can just buy your way into total dominance? What's anyone supporting? May as well just go down to the stock market and cheer for the biggest company.
 
Re:

The Hegelian said:
Salary caps.

TDF has been ruined as a sporting contest - since 2012 - by the dominance of Sky - a dominance directly proportional to their budget advantage over other teams.

What's the point of "sport" if you can just buy your way into total dominance? What's anyone supporting? May as well just go down to the stock market and cheer for the biggest company.

It's all very well saying it's budget, but when Wiggins won Tour, BMC & Trek had bigger budgets. You would expect the budget of the team continually winning Tour de France to have a bigger budget, just like if British Cycling win more medals they get more lottery funding, this is how it works.
 
As Libertine Seguros alluded to,there are many GT designs in a thread on this forum that would address most of the issues that are being raised here. Just to answer to a few points:

The '15 TdF began with more than a prologue, yet crashes happened. I don't think that there's a magic bullet: when you throw 200 thoroughbreds, fresh, in the arena, this will always happen. The only thing I can think off is to ensure that stage finishes end on wide roads for the last, say, 5 km. Centreville, with all the speed bumps and roundabouts that were added since the '90s, don't cut it anymore. The finish in front of the church or city hall is becoming increasingly dangerous and inadequate.

Riders make the race: this year's TdF is by far the best design in recent years, looking at the list of stage winners confirms it. What GC riders do is up to them.

More ITT, flat, come on. I lived the BigMig years. Stage 9 and the race is over. Luxembourg anyone?

Course-wise, there's a comfort zone, money, that make certain areas must-do and ignores gems: I designed some stages in the St. Jean Pied de Port area, climbs like Arnosteguy, Beillurti, Burdincurucheta, Urdanzia, many others that can be put back to back to back and would be uncontrollable by the USPS or Skys of the world.

This '16 TdF is not the worst GT that I have watched, and it's not over BTW. The '12 edition, to me, was the worst one of any GT.
 
The problem isn't so much the mountains as to the way the race has been laid out under Prudhomme. He's tried to make a layout different from the past, but in the process has made some boring races.

The most exciting era in modern racing was 1985-1990, and Prudhomme has shied away from many of the iconic MTFs of that era. Luz Ardiden has been used once every ten years. It's been 13 years since La Plagne. 25 years since Superbagneres last appeared. Mt Ventoux is iconic, but there's nothing in the lead up leading to a stage tailor made for Sky. In those days the Alpe was used every year, and a stage like that and everyone is gunning for it for the prestige. Now you can't use it every year now, but those others are prestigious in their own right.
 
Re: Re:

samhocking said:
The Hegelian said:
Salary caps.

TDF has been ruined as a sporting contest - since 2012 - by the dominance of Sky - a dominance directly proportional to their budget advantage over other teams.

What's the point of "sport" if you can just buy your way into total dominance? What's anyone supporting? May as well just go down to the stock market and cheer for the biggest company.

It's all very well saying it's budget, but when Wiggins won Tour, BMC & Trek had bigger budgets. You would expect the budget of the team continually winning Tour de France to have a bigger budget, just like if British Cycling win more medals they get more lottery funding, this is how it works.

Interesting logic. You seem to be arguing that the Tour is a meritocracy and Sky 'earned' their position of dominance via sporting virtuosity. i.e. the money follows sporting virtue.....

I hold the precise opposite: Murdoch/Sky wanted maximum exposure, this entailed winning the tour (with British riders), it worked out a financial plan to achieve this and has proceeded to enact it with brilliant efficiency.
 
Sure, there are things you can do, and Libertine and Tonton have great suggestions. But GC-wise, you've got to cut ASO some slack. They've basically phased out flat time-trialing the last two Tours give everyone not named Christopher a chance. They've gone heavier than ever with the descents this year just to try that out. But the dominant GC contender is on the strongest team and they've been able to maintain a stranglehold on the race. I don't think it's only a matter of parcours. As Yates said today, when Poels is doing 450 watts at front attacking becomes moot. Froome has simply been the only guy who hast been able to drop his own team so far.

And beyond Mortirolo it gets gimmicky. On Angrilu in particular riders are just grinding up at their own pace, it's not attacking climbing but sheer W/kg. And also, the man who paced the top two GC guys up the Zoncolan last time the Giro went up was none other than Wout Poels.

At least ASO's has had better luck with the way they've tweaked the green and the polka dots.
 
Tonton said:
More ITT, flat, come on. I lived the BigMig years. Stage 9 and the race is over. Luxembourg anyone?
Since you lived in those years you should have realized that Chiappucci was never gonna attack on the Saises, had he not gotten 5 minutes in Luxembourg.

Pantani was not gonna attack on the Mortirolo if he was at less than 30" from Berzin. Indurain was not gonna follow him if he could say the same.

Pantani also was not gonna attack on the Galibier if he wasn't at 3' from Ullrich.

But we live in the Froome era now, where things have improved a lot. Now we get to stage 9 and the race is...over? But on the GC the gaps are smaller and it looks good I guess.
 
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One way teams could try to take out the dominance of Sky on a stage is to try to do something similar to what Chaves did in the Giro and have the team come up and ride flat out to drop as many guys as possible in a short amount of time instead of over an entire climb.

As for the best route to try to disrupt the way things are, probably a 2015 type route without the crosswinds and have the Pyrenees similar to this year.
 
Re:

carton said:
Sure, there are things you can do, and Libertine and Tonton have great suggestions. But GC-wise, you've got to cut ASO some slack. They've basically phased out flat time-trialing the last two Tours give everyone not named Christopher a chance. They've gone heavier than ever with the descents this year just to try that out. But the dominant GC contender is on the strongest team and they've been able to maintain a stranglehold on the race. I don't think it's only a matter of parcours. As Yates said today, when Poels is doing 450 watts at front attacking becomes moot. Froome has simply been the only guy who hast been able to drop his own team so far.

And beyond Mortirolo it gets gimmicky. On Angrilu in particular riders are just grinding up at their own pace, it's not attacking climbing but sheer W/kg. And also, the man who paced the top two GC guys up the Zoncolan last time the Giro went up was none other than Wout Poels.

At least ASO's has had better luck with the way they've tweaked the green and the polka dots.
*To give every lightweight climber not named Christopher a chance*

I think that is at the heart of the problem. Lightweight climbers generally do not make exciting racers (there are exception of course, like Pantani, but they are few and far between). They generally can't gain time on anything other than high mountain stages, and even then they can't go on gentle gradients or too early, because they suffer more in the wind than heavier, more powerful riders. So you get them just waiting for the hardest one or two stages in the race, or trying to snatch a few seconds in the last 3km.

Look at how much better the Vuelta was last year, with Dumoulin hanging around, forcing the climbers to go from further out and having to try to take time in more unorthodox ways. There was significant GC action on about 60% of stages.
 
Re:

papisimo98 said:
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exciting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.
As far as I'm concerned, I didn't see any attacks from 100k to finish by any GC contender in the Giro. For two years in a row, the Tour did.

Problem of the Tour is Sky's depth.
 
Re: Re:

Alexandre B. said:
papisimo98 said:
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exciting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.
As far as I'm concerned, I didn't see any attacks from 100k to finish by any GC contender in the Giro. For two years in a row, the Tour did.

Problem of the Tour is Sky's depth.
huh? :confused:
 
Re: Re:

Eshnar said:
Alexandre B. said:
papisimo98 said:
This Tour has been a bit disappointing. The only exciting things have been the controversies, not really the racing.
Such a difference from the the Giro. I would wake up knowing that when I clicked online to watch, something amazing had happened.
Snooze fest.
Maybe they need to look at what the Giro is doing.
As far as I'm concerned, I didn't see any attacks from 100k to finish by any GC contender in the Giro. For two years in a row, the Tour did.

Problem of the Tour is Sky's depth.
huh? :confused:
Col de Chaussy last year - attacks from Valverde, Nibali, Contador.
Attacks from Valverde and Contador in the Andorra stage this year.