What to do about sprint stages in stage races

What to do about sprint stages in stage races


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fingers crossed this poll thread works :oops:

Lots of discussion of this topic in today's stage thread. Interested to see the community's stance.
Historically I have leaned to the old school cycling mythology but am changing my views over the past number of years after listening more to the riders voices
I don't want to over sanitize racing but I think stage races are kind of unique in that there are 2 races in 1 with different competitors in each 'race' and this is the root of the problem that needs to be solved.
Or is it a problem that needs to be solved?
Interested to find out.
 
We need some sort of anti-Ineos zone. Every time an Ineos rider gets too close to the front of the peloton under certain circumstances (i.e. a sprint stage with no hint of crosswinds), they're immediately DQed. Of course other GC teams do it and there are larger issues at play. It's just that Ineos doing this in every stage race they enter absolutely shits me and I would imagine is an absolute nightmare for other teams as well.
 
Reactions: SHAD0W93
First no sharp turns or narrow roads in the last 10km of a mass field sprint stage.
Next GC teams in general have no business near the front on a field sprint, so take GC time at 5 to 10 KM depending on the layout of the stage and get them away from the sprint.
Next start enforcing the swerving rule.
 
Reactions: jmdirt
I think the poll is slightly misleading. :) There are more ways between "do nothing" and "implement a 8/10/15 km rule".

I am going to repeat a few things I have already said:
I think something needs to change, but I don't want such a rule. (I am already discontent with the 3km rule.)
Alternative in my opinion:
  • if everyone knows it's going to be a full bunch sprint, have a finish on a straight, wide road.
  • best make it slightly uphill, or at least not downhill
  • have full bunch sprints preferably after stages that produce serious gaps in GC, for instance a real time trial and a real mountain stage
  • reduce the number of riders in the peloton by reducing both number of teams and team members
  • if on the other hand you have twisty roads and only small gaps by then put some serious hills before that and/ or make the stage so long that you don't have a full bunch sprint with all legs fresh
I don't want such long GC- neutralized parts, because
a) for me it goes against the nature and flair of racing. (Even if there are usually no non-GC gaps produced on those km, I just think the finish line should be the finish line, a finish line that isn't really one is weird and the wider the real finish and the GC finish are apart that feeling is increased. It makes flat sprint stages really just transfer stages for the GC riders and devalues them further.)
b) I'm not even sure it would help. The reason it might help is because you then have the battling for position on earlier, wider roads, but that might just as well be solved by having the finish on such roads.
 
Reactions: jmdirt
Taking time 10 km out is unfair in the stages when there is splits or let’s say the bunch is already split from crosswind. All this jumble comes from GC teams moving up ever since Sky smartly started to do it. With an increase of sprinter teams and no dominant train. We’ve had 1 crash from dumb spectator and Ewan’s from lapse in concentration. Maybe a TT 30k or mountain stage is the way to go for the first day In order to remove the hopeful GC contenders and more space. Also remove the hard turns and narrow roads in the final kms. Slight bends or turns are fine as it gives a tactical sense as well. Just straight road sprints would get boring.
 
Reactions: jmdirt and perico
I think the poll is slightly misleading. :) There are more ways between "do nothing" and "implement a 8/10/15 km rule".

I am going to repeat a few things I have already said:
I think something needs to change, but I don't want such a rule. (I am already discontent with the 3km rule.)
Alternative in my opinion:
  • if everyone knows it's going to be a full bunch sprint, have a finish on a straight, wide road.
  • best make it slightly uphill, or at least not downhill
  • have full bunch sprints preferably after stages that produce serious gaps in GC, for instance a real time trial and a real mountain stage
  • reduce the number of riders in the peloton by reducing both number of teams and team members
  • if on the other hand you have twisty roads and only small gaps by then put some serious hills before that and/ or make the stage so long that you don't have a full bunch sprint with all legs fresh
I don't want such long GC- neutralized parts, because
a) for me it goes against the nature and flair of racing. (Even if there are usually no non-GC gaps produced on those km, I just think the finish line should be the finish line, a finish line that isn't really one is weird and the wider the real finish and the GC finish are apart that feeling is increased. It makes flat sprint stages really just transfer stages for the GC riders and devalues them further.)
b) I'm not even sure it would help. The reason it might help is because you then have the battling for position on earlier, wider roads, but that might just as well be solved by having the finish on such roads.
I think the nature of a stage race, especially a grand tour make many of your points unrealistic logistically and have a far greater impact on the spectacle or entertainment value of the race. I don't think all sprints should be wide straight boulevards. I'm thinking of many giro stage finishes.
Definitely against reducing the size of the peloton - this will also reduce the number of jobs for pro cyclists and nobody in cycling wants that.
 
Reactions: perico
Taking time 10 km out is unfair in the stages when there is splits or let’s say the bunch is already split from crosswind. All this jumble comes from GC teams moving up ever since Sky smartly started to do it. With an increase of sprinter teams and no dominant train. We’ve had 1 crash from dumb spectator and Ewan’s from lapse in concentration. Maybe a TT 30k or mountain stage is the way to go for the first day In order to remove the hopeful GC contenders and more space. Also remove the hard turns and narrow roads in the final kms. Slight bends or turns are fine as it gives a tactical sense as well. Just straight road sprints would get boring.
Remove hard turns and narrow roads but slight bends or turns are fine? This doesn't work at all. There are already guidelines for stage design but we clearly see more is needed.
The poll options are concrete time related measures because saying no downhills or turns simply doesn't work.
Its a bike race criss crossing entire countries and the geography often dictates the course.

Taking time 10k out isn't unfair when its know ahead of time, GC will change their tactics with this knowledge while the last 10k are made safer for those chaising stage wins.
 
Cant approve shrinking the peloton any more than it is. I already think it was ridiculous to shrink it to 8 riders. It was 9–10 riders for over 100 year. Sure things change, but as someone posted above, it will cut jobs and make Tour selection even more cutthroat. That will lead to pain, anger, and then temptation, and ultimately seduced by the dark side of the sport.
 
Reactions: saunaking
I'd say do nothing. I don't like arbitrary rules like the 3 km rule. Back to basics as much as possible, please.

Sure, there are a lot of crashes, but that's part of the game as harsh as it might sound. I don't like the idea of making the sprint stages even more sprinter friendly as some suggest - I like the narrower and bumpier roads as they at least create some excitement as to whether it will actually end up in a sprint.
 
Reactions: Eyeballs Out
I think the nature of a stage race, especially a grand tour make many of your points unrealistic logistically and have a far greater impact on the spectacle or entertainment value of the race. I don't think all sprints should be wide straight boulevards. I'm thinking of many giro stage finishes.
Definitely against reducing the size of the peloton - this will also reduce the number of jobs for pro cyclists and nobody in cycling wants that.
I didn't say all sprint stages, just the ones in the beginning when there are no significant gaps yet. And I think it's possible logistically. Maybe some towns with tighter centres pay more, but then it's money speaking - either there is a financial gain that can be cut down or there is no financial gain and less money would make the system collapse - then the system is built on the wrong basement.

I don't have a clear solution for these problems, I wish I had. I just think this 10k thing isn't what I want to see. I would at least try to make the routes safer.

As to the jobs, that's a pity, but if there is no place, there is no place.

Another possible solution would be to have early mountain stages so tough that many riders are out of contention early or don't have a chance to make it to the end anyway. Riders nobody ever really sees in the race... because part of all this is probably due to so many riders being pretty much equal and in contention.

There were times when most cyclists couldn't make a living from what they are doing. Maybe there just isn't enough interest and money in the system when the only thing people want to watch is the Tour and that's all the system depends on.
 
Cant approve shrinking the peloton any more than it is. I already think it was ridiculous to shrink it to 8 riders. It was 9–10 riders for over 100 year. Sure things change, but as someone posted above, it will cut jobs and make Tour selection even more cutthroat. That will lead to pain, anger, and then temptation, and ultimately seduced by the dark side of the sport.
The number of teams only went systematically over 15 in the '80s, and team size reduction from 10 to 9 came after they had more than 20 teams. The peloton with more than 150 riders is about 35 years old.
 
I'd say do nothing. I don't like arbitrary rules like the 3 km rule. Back to basics as much as possible, please.

Sure, there are a lot of crashes, but that's part of the game as harsh as it might sound. I don't like the idea of making the sprint stages even more sprinter friendly as some suggest - I like the narrower and bumpier roads as they at least create some excitement as to whether it will actually end up in a sprint.
Did you even watch the last part of yesterday's stage? I don't understand how anyone who's not a sadistic cyclist hater could see all the mass pileups that have happened already and think it's all fine. It's farcical if anything.
 
Oct 21, 2020
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Do nothing, its fine as it is, move the rule to 5 km then people will want to move it out to 8 km. look at yesterday, we had crashes 12 km from the Finnish line and then at 8 km and then at 4 km, hell we even had a crash 150 km from the goal. moving the 3km rule doesn't change anything. Start with a prologue is utter nonsense, i haven't heard a single good argument how this would "change racing" the following stages, the route is the same, the nervousness, everybody want to be at the front. Hey, if you have a route in Bretagne the roads are going to be narrow, thats life. The riders say that they wanted a 5km stoppage time yesterday, that hadn't stopped the crashes before that neither had a Prologue on stage 1. Its cyclists and DS responsibility and to a certain extent those that create the route to avoid or limit crashes.
 
The number of teams only went systematically over 15 in the '80s, and team size reduction from 10 to 9 came after they had more than 20 teams. The peloton with more than 150 riders is about 35 years old.
To expand:

1980: 13 teams with 10 riders = 130 riders in total
1985: 18 teams with 10 riders = 180 riders in total
1990: 22 teams with 9 riders = 198 riders in total
1995: 21 teams with 9 riders = 189 riders in total
2000: 20 teams with 9 riders = 180 riders in total
2005: 21 teams with 9 riders = 189 riders in total
2010: 22 teams with 9 riders = 198 riders in total
2015: 22 teams with 9 riders = 198 riders in total
2020: 22 teams with 8 riders = 176 riders in total
 
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