Why are the GTs getting easier?

Sep 1, 2011
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With averaged increased speeds from the 70s to now I thought we'd be seeing more mountain stages and longer mountain stages, why are they being shortened? Is it to keep the race more competitive? Safety, seriously I'd love to see 8 or 9 mountain stages in the tour but that hasn't happened in a while.
 
Aug 19, 2009
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jordan5000 said:
With averaged increased speeds from the 70s to now I thought we'd be seeing more mountain stages and longer mountain stages, why are they being shortened? Is it to keep the race more competitive? Safety, seriously I'd love to see 8 or 9 mountain stages in the tour but that hasn't happened in a while.
The Tour appears to be trying to engineer suspense in the final week - sadly, at the expense of the first two weeks.

Thankfully, even in Canada, the Giro and Vuelta are covered daily.
 
The Hitch said:
What?

They can stay at home if they prefer. Why is the Giro too hard? The last week, we had two young riders who won ─ Ulissi and Capecchi ─ and they did the first two hours at 50kph. Maybe it’s not hard enough.
So the Giro 2011 isn't proof that GTs aren't "getting easier" ?

Now we have Haussler complaining about the Vuelta.

GTs are hardly getting easier, in both the parcours and average speeds.
 
Not really sure they are getting easier. It seems like they are still pretty hard to me - or at least hard enough to separate the men from the boys.

Watch tomorrow and tell me it's easy! :)
 
Sep 1, 2011
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Oh please, of course they are getting easier. Merckx routinely did 5 straight days of mountains in the tour, if he was racing today he'd laugh. Anyways I'd love to see 6h stages in the mountains, if the tour wants excitement then put in a lot of mountain top finishes and you'll see sparks fly.
 
Jun 21, 2011
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Higher average speeds than the 70s does not mean the routes are getting easier. All of the records in athletics have come down over that period and the difficulty of those events are constant, except the marathon.

I find it hard to believe this topic has been bought up following this year's Giro and the effect it seems to have had on everyone who rode it.
 
Feb 4, 2010
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jordan5000 said:
Oh please, of course they are getting easier. Merckx routinely did 5 straight days of mountains in the tour, if he was racing today he'd laugh. Anyways I'd love to see 6h stages in the mountains, if the tour wants excitement then put in a lot of mountain top finishes and you'll see sparks fly.

Or you'll see someone win by 4,5, or 6 minutes.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Because they don't want anybody to be able to rout the whole field on really hard stuff.

Poor Zomegnan had the right idea, he presented a great route and he got fired for it. If not for Bertie butchering the peloton he would have been applauded.
 
not sure about what the term "easier" implies-I'd rather say the conditions in which riders used to practice the sport (going back 20 to 30 years ago) have improved dramatically that-according to many critics-the GTs appear to be easier nowadays.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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jordan5000 said:
With averaged increased speeds from the 70s to now I thought we'd be seeing more mountain stages and longer mountain stages, why are they being shortened? Is it to keep the race more competitive? Safety, seriously I'd love to see 8 or 9 mountain stages in the tour but that hasn't happened in a while.
Did you miss the 90s and the first decade of the 21st century?
It isn't an entirely naive question but it is pretty obvious that for the last 20 years they have had help. I think in the 20 years before that it might be related to a a growing interest and wider expanse of Pro racers. We did learn a lot about training and nutrition back then too. Improvements in Aerodynamics, Materials and mechanical systems. Better gear changing and more gears too.

Grand tours are too hard now
 
Sep 1, 2011
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Ragerod said:
Higher average speeds than the 70s does not mean the routes are getting easier. All of the records in athletics have come down over that period and the difficulty of those events are constant, except the marathon.

I find it hard to believe this topic has been bought up following this year's Giro and the effect it seems to have had on everyone who rode it.
My point was that GTs are getting easier because a 250km ride in the 70s took 7 hours + and today it takes about 6hr 15m on average (based on average winner's speed).
 
Sep 1, 2011
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I realize there are technological advancements, and that's my point, a rider should be able to ride a 200km mountain stage much easier today than in the 70s and therefore they could afford to have more of them in the race.
 
Oct 6, 2010
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Yes there are technological advancements so they go faster, but that in no way means it is easier it just means they push themselves just has hard but due to new technology they go slightly faster. GT's are not getting easier this years Giro is a classic example of that and they all seem to have enough mountains. The aim of the races are to be entertaining, not to physically destroy the riders for the rest of they year.
 
Timmy-loves-Rabo said:
it all stems down to a topic that musn't be discusses.
Yeah...

Thing is; no matter how tough these guys are they are still only human. Organizers want clean races therefore they really have to restrain themselves from making the races too insane. A little bit of insanity is fine, just not every day. In fact I'd even say that this way you really notice when a stage is something out of the ordinary.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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I know we are not supposed to discuss it here, so moderators remove my post if it is over the line, but I wanted to add that I don't think harder, longer and especially more mountain stages will help with doping problems. And don't forget that cyclists are humans: They're not lifeless things that we can wear down for our own excitement. ProCycling and GTs are already on the edge of what's healthy for you (or over the edge), should we push it just for our own satisfaction on our teli-facing couch?
 
Mar 17, 2009
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jordan5000 said:
My point was that GTs are getting easier because a 250km ride in the 70s took 7 hours + and today it takes about 6hr 15m on average (based on average winner's speed).
It's not that the stages are easier, rather that many things have changed in that time. Road surfaces in the mountains have improved, bikes have improved, training (not doping) has improved massively etc. As late as the 70's hydration was not taken seriously, if anything it was still considered foolish to drink "too much"!
Riders would not have the luxury of air travel between races & frequently would be expected to ride to their hotels, if they were fortunate enough to be billeted in a hotel and not a school hall.
Up until not that long ago even star riders would be getting ready for the day's stage not in a swish coach, not even a camper van, but in the open tailgate of a teamcar. No cordons, no aircon, just like a Cat 3 rider at his local crit!

The idea of climbing an alpine or Dolomite climb on an 80's bike and then, more importantly, descending on it at breakneck speed doesn't make me want to push the limits at all. The climb would be bad enough, but when you bear in mind my Super Record equipped ALAN was 8kg dead it isn't that different to a professional's ride now. The descent is where it would be harrowing to say the least. Brakes from the 70's & 80's were dire compared to dual pivots with modern compound pads. Super Record were the best available, especially if you had Modolo sintered pads installed, but even then you could almost hear the brakes deciding if they would work. God help you if it was wet! To descend at the speeds that Fuentes, Merckx etc did was testament to their faith more than anything else.
 
Also we have the element of chance often removed from the races now; with one notable exception in the wind and rain in 2010, the GC contenders all know where each other are at all times. The quality of domestiques has gone up thanks first to Banesto then USPS and Telekom, so that long range attacks are increasingly likely to be futile, so regularly everything comes down to the one climb or the one ITT; and with that one climb, the riders are better protected by their domestiques so they're fresher and more able to keep up, thereby gaps are smaller.

Another problem is the continual search, less by the Tour, but more by the Giro and Vuelta, to find bigger and harder climbs. This means that sometimes when you have two heavy mountain stages back to back, riders are reluctant to leave too much on the road on the first day in case they don't gain enough and lose it tenfold the next day. The Tour doesn't bother with searching for new hard climbs, it just sticks a keynote climb that will get all the pre-race hype there instead.

Also, over time the gap between the pure climbers, the rouleurs, and the GT contenders has been increasingly blurred; there are only a handful of examples remaining of the old-fashioned pure climber who lost minutes upon minutes in every ITT - Joaquím Rodríguez being the most obvious example. Even people like Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre and Igor Antón, whose ITTs are regarded as suspect, limit their losses incredibly well in comparison to some of the mountain goats of the past. Of course, the problem can be flipped over, in that so many ITT specialist riders were able to become mountain goats thanks largely to the glory of three letters that were popular in the 1990s, that the amount of ITT mileage has had to come down in order to allow the mountains to still be decisive even as the gaps created by them decrease.
 
Aug 2, 2010
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jordan5000 said:
Oh please, of course they are getting easier. Merckx routinely did 5 straight days of mountains in the tour, if he was racing today he'd laugh. Anyways I'd love to see 6h stages in the mountains, if the tour wants excitement then put in a lot of mountain top finishes and you'll see sparks fly.
yes..

especially if you consider that he was:

a)at the gruppeto.
b)in his couch, since he wouldn't be able to keep with the average speed nor the climbers.
 

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