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What's the proper course for the Tour?

May 5, 2009
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Clearly, people here hated the tour. Hated the TTT, hated the Ventoux on the last day.

So, what is the right way to structure this race? I would submit that the usual formula of a prologue, followed by 6-8 days of sprint stages where the break gets caught at the finish, followed by the usual.... isn't really all that thrilling either.

For me, what made this tour less than exciting is that there were only 2 real threats to win it, Schleck and Contador. Evans was awful, Sastre was bad even if the TTT wasn't there. Not sure if that means the peloton was cleaner, but it killed the need for anyone to take real risks.
 
I don't claim to know better, but I prefer that both the Pyrenees and Alps are treated equal (unlike this year).

But as Alpe D'Huez said in the other tread, it's not just about the road.
I definitely think the use of radios should be limited in some way. Attackers and breaks should be favorised.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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There has to be more mountain top finishes.

Lose the TTT

Longer ITT's

More rolling days for real escapes.

Less true flat stages.

Finish on Alpe d'Huez.

Finish on Galibier
 
Mar 10, 2009
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ThisFrenchGuy said:
I definitely think the use of radios should be limited in some way. Attackers and breaks should be favorised.

Now this I have to agree with.

Having to go back to the DS to get info, versus haveing real time info makes for interesting races. That and it lets riders use their own heads...
 
Mar 10, 2009
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With all the caterwauling about the TTT, I went back and did a re-calc. With or without, the top ten is still the top ten, AC still wins followed by AS. Lance and Frank are tied for third* and Wiggins drops to fifth. Nibali and Kloden switch places to sixth and seventh. Le Mevel moves up to 8 from 10 with Vande Veld and Kreuziger dropping on place each.

But the argument set forth by those against the TTT fail to consider that it would only be replaced by an ITT. ANd unless it's a wicked mtn one, the time-trialers are still going to do well. Certainly replacing it would affect several team and rider strategies, but so does getting caught out in crosswinds (which also favors strong TTTeams, or an idiot fan with an unleashed dog along side the route. In the end, I suspect that much of the complaining had to do with Menchov, Sastre, and Evans' poor team performances - but it is quite clear that they were way off their game anyway.

As for Ventoux the day before the Paris promenade, the only thing I see wrong with it is the nasty long rail transfer the teams (particularly all the support) have to do. We say a hotly contested race with all the top riders performing at the level they should, and all the predictable tactics as well. Really, the only marginally questionable tactic was that of Saxo's Andy Schleck. But he may not have had the legs to put in a sustained attack on Contador, or may have felt that he couldn't make up the 4.11 time deficit - and therefore working for Frank was entirely understandable. Liquigas, with high places for both Nibali and Kreuziger, and a jersey tomorrow, rode a heck of a race.

And seeing Garate win was just icing on the cake. (I frequently scream at Phil for how poorly he sees who is where in a race, and the implications thereof. He said early on there was noone in the break that had a chance, and I yelled what about Martin and Garate:))

In all, it seems the success of the Tour is as much a reflection upon who one roots for. I found the Indurain years as boring as many find the Armstrong years. The all-out doping years in between were not boring. But ultimately, the race is more exciting if there is someone you are actively rooting for, be it for over all, fourth place, the Green Jersey, or even for up and coming French riders like Brice Fellieu.

*dont know the sub-second time splits
 
Jun 22, 2009
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benpounder said:
With all the caterwauling about the TTT....

And seeing Garate win was just icing on the cake. (I frequently scream at Phil for how poorly he sees who is where in a race, and the implications thereof. He said early on there was noone in the break that had a chance, and I yelled what about Martin and Garate:))

In all, it seems the success of the Tour is as much a reflection upon who one roots for. I found the Indurain years as boring as many find the Armstrong years. The all-out doping years in between were not boring. But ultimately, the race is more exciting if there is someone you are actively rooting for, be it for over all, fourth place, the Green Jersey, or even for up and coming French riders like Brice Fellieu.

*dont know the sub-second time splits

This is a dangerously sensible post. ;)
 
Mar 18, 2009
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FFWally said:
There has to be more mountain top finishes.

Lose the TTT

Longer ITT's

More rolling days for real escapes.

Less true flat stages.

Finish on Alpe d'Huez.

Finish on Galibier

The last one is impossible and the penultimate one I don't really care about, since a mountain is a mountin and I don't care which one it is, unless it's one that can offer something special and different (in terms of racing, not in terms of reputation) like the Puy de Dôme :)

The rest I agree with. The longer ITTs especially, since a Tour is supposed to be won by an allrounder.
 
Jul 9, 2009
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colwildcat said:
Clearly, people here hated the tour. Hated the TTT, hated the Ventoux on the last day.

So, what is the right way to structure this race? I would submit that the usual formula of a prologue, followed by 6-8 days of sprint stages where the break gets caught at the finish, followed by the usual.... isn't really all that thrilling either.

For me, what made this tour less than exciting is that there were only 2 real threats to win it, Schleck and Contador. Evans was awful, Sastre was bad even if the TTT wasn't there. Not sure if that means the peloton was cleaner, but it killed the need for anyone to take real risks.

more mountain finishes, no TTTs. more teams but with fewer riders per team. also have time bonuses for stage wins. ban radio communication.
 
Jun 30, 2009
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Given that Monaco was the start point, I actually thought this years course was pretty good! OK, I'd stick in another mountain top finish and lose the TTT but other than that I was OK with it. Having the Ventoux on the penultimate stage was an excellent idea.

In general though, I always prefer an anti-clockwise course. Pyrenees first, Alps second.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Futuroscope said:
more mountain finishes, no TTTs. more teams but with fewer riders per team. also have time bonuses for stage wins. ban radio communication.


Now fewer riders per team, and more teams...I Like that!

26 teams of 7 riders adds 2 riders to the show.

Totally changes team dynamics.

This year could have added:

LPR - Ireland
Amica Chips - San Marino
Barloworld - Great Britian
Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
BMC - USA
Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo - Italy


_____________________________________
_____________________________________

How does Cav get 5 wins with 2 GC riders, no way?
Astana with 4 GC riders... 3 domestiques?
The Schleks have a better shot with 5 guys riding for two, no sprinters.

That would make for a great race, even with the same course as this year.

How does any team control an entire race with 2 fewer riders from the start. Lose one nad now even a Contador with a dedicated team has only 5 riders to cover everything.

Futuroscope, I think you are on to something!
 
Jul 25, 2009
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colwildcat said:
Clearly, people here hated the tour. Hated the TTT, hated the Ventoux on the last day.

So, what is the right way to structure this race? I would submit that the usual formula of a prologue, followed by 6-8 days of sprint stages where the break gets caught at the finish, followed by the usual.... isn't really all that thrilling either.

For me, what made this tour less than exciting is that there were only 2 real threats to win it, Schleck and Contador. Evans was awful, Sastre was bad even if the TTT wasn't there. Not sure if that means the peloton was cleaner, but it killed the need for anyone to take real risks.

I thought this year's route has been great. One of the cool things about Grand Tours is that they aren't the same every year, that they someetimes favour climbers over TTers and vice versa. If it were a standard formula that would be tedious.

I love the TTT myself, and don't understand what people have against it. All the teams know what's coming for many months in advance so can't really complain. Every Tour winner needs a team behind him, and the TTT is a great way for that team ethic to come to the fore.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I'm posting in this thread because, 1) the original TdF route thread is buried, and 2) because several people both here and particularly in the stage 20 thread have been continuing to blast the Team Time Trial.

I think the TTT belongs. Not every year, but as a definite feature of future Grand Tours. My bias clearly stated, I went back and did a statistical analysis on just how this years TTT affected the final results.

The results? You may be surprised just who among the top ten benefited most. Frank Schleck. followed by Christian Vande Velde, Lance Armstrong, and Andy Schleck. All saw over a 2% increase in average speeds because to the TTT.

I did this not because I dont think the TTT affected the race in subtle but significant ways - it did. Rather to try and point out to a number of folks that are convinced that the TTT either helped Astana, or hurt their favorite team/rider to the detrimemnt of the Tour. That is myopic, and in some cases petulantly so. The TTT is just as much part of the race as is the ITT, the brutal mountain top finish, the cross-wind rides on the normandy coast, and the nasty stage finishes that occasionaly take out top contenders. It is all part of the race.

But it seems that many want the Tour to be Floyd Landis' stunning stage 17 ride repeated every day. Short attention span indeed. Let us blame the TTT and team radio for our inabilities to marvel in the beauty, sublty, and occasional brutality of a grand tour.

Lest some get what they wish for let me offer this chain of relationships: Races cater to Sponsors who field teams with astounding riders that us fans go gaga over. Marco Pantani, Floyd Landis, Danilo Di Luca, they all provided us with the abject excitment we think we crave. Do we really want to get road bicycle racing back to that level of excitement? And just because we find a particular GT route less exciting?
 
Jul 23, 2009
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ThisFrenchGuy said:
I don't claim to know better, but I prefer that both the Pyrenees and Alps are treated equal (unlike this year).

But as Alpe D'Huez said in the other tread, it's not just about the road.
I definitely think the use of radios should be limited in some way. Attackers and breaks should be favorised.

I 100% agree with both your points.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Some general points.

If I remember my French geography correctly next year is likely to be much more traditional. The week of predominatly flat stages that normally kicks off the Tour is a function of the topolgy of northern and western France. The cheeky little hills that enliven the Giro are in fairly short supply.

40k should be about the limit for TTTs and flat TTs before the mountains. (Perhas the next time the Tour comes to England they can run a TT on the Bentley 25 course? I'd put good money on it being won in less that 45:57)

Given the Monaco start we were in for the fairly boring second week. Geography again.

Madrid and Milan are both close to some decent mountains. Paris isn't. I think the traditional ITT on the last Saturday, with the mountains being over at some point in the previous week is better all round. Given a 700+k transfer to Paris. I think it is significant that the Showdown was on a mountain with two roads down.

Time trial over, not just up, a mountain.
 
I would start with a short TTT prologue for two reasons:
- It won't give the strongest team that much of an advantage
- The strongest TTT team will take yellow and may want to defend it, wearing them down

Then a few flat stages, followed by a flat TT. After that a few more flat stages, but one of them should have a nasty uphill finish. A hilly stage on friday for an escape group. Then two nasty mountain stages with a hilltop finish during the weekend. During the second week, a mountain TT with several cat 2 hills (no flat sections). This will allow riders like Andy Schleck and Sastre to make up time with their climbing ability, without any wheelsuckers. Then a mountain stage with an uphill finish, a hilly stage for an escape group and another mountain stage with an uphill finish. After that two flat stages. During the last week, a flat windy stage after the rest day, followed by a mountain stage. Then a hilly stages for break-aways and a nasty mountain stage on friday, followed by a long flat TT. How far will the climbers tumble?
 
More teams with fewer riders each would be good, but looking at how big the convoy already is it's probably unlikely.

France doesn't have the geography of Italy or Spain that lets you really mix things up: this race will always be about the long gradual climbs of the Alps and the slightly steeper climbs of the Pyrenees. Puy de Dome seems to have been lost. The Vosges perhaps could be used better, there were splits a few years ago on the stage that finished at Gerardmer just over the top of the Col de la Schlucht, but generally those climbs aren't tough enough. A detour into the Black Forest would be a nice twist one year, there are some big climbs and some steep climbs west of Freiburg that would make a change.
 
Jul 27, 2009
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benpounder said:
I'm posting in this thread because, 1) the original TdF route thread is buried, and 2) because several people both here and particularly in the stage 20 thread have been continuing to blast the Team Time Trial.

I think the TTT belongs. Not every year, but as a definite feature of future Grand Tours. My bias clearly stated, I went back and did a statistical analysis on just how this years TTT affected the final results.

The results? You may be surprised just who among the top ten benefited most. Frank Schleck. followed by Christian Vande Velde, Lance Armstrong, and Andy Schleck. All saw over a 2% increase in average speeds because to the TTT.

....

I agree with you - I also looked at the final results with the TTT times for each rider subtracted, and the results for a revised top 20 are as follows:

tdfnott.png


The only change of any note was, as you said, Frank Schleck level with Armstrong, which might have made Ventoux more interesting.

The final top 10 featured three astana's, two saxo's, two garmin's, and two liquigas'. It's no coincidence that these were the top four teams in the TTT. It might seem obvious and a bit silly to say this but the best teams have the best riders. And the corollary to this is that you just cannot win the tour without a good team (maybe '06 was the exception).

The TTT is a great discipline of road cycling. I have done them myself, and they are extremely hard (especially if you are not the strongest rider) but ultimately very rewarding. Suffering together really does build strong bonds within the team.

Those who didn't do so well in the TTT could do themselves a favour and have a look over the fence at what a team like Garmin is doing right (it's more than just having three excellent men against the clock in Wiggins, Millar and Vande Velde). It might improve their performance not just in a TTT stage but throughout a grand tour.