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Old 02-11-11, 11:41 AM   #1
M21
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Pro Racing

I will start out by saying that I do not race nor have I ever. I do love road cycling. I have watched pro cycling over the last few years off and on. It seems to me that the result of most stage races determines the strongest rider on the best team. It does not necessarily determine the best or strongest individual rider. Most races seem to be won by someone riding in the slipstream of someone else's effort. I think a few long stage races without team riding or any drafting would add something to the sport that it now lacks. This type of race would determine who is individually the best. Maybe there are races like this now, I don't know. Since I do most of my riding solo I think this type of format would be fun to watch. What are your thoughts?
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Old 02-11-11, 11:52 AM   #2
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I will start out by saying that I do not race nor have I ever. I do love road cycling. I have watched pro cycling over the last few years off and on. It seems to me that the result of most stage races determines the strongest rider on the best team. It does not necessarily determine the best or strongest individual rider. Most races seem to be won by someone riding in the slipstream of someone else's effort.
Which is why team composition is such an important part of the equation.

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I think a few long stage races without team riding or any drafting would add something to the sport that it now lacks. This type of race would determine who is individually the best. Maybe there are races like this now, I don't know. Since I do most of my riding solo I think this type of format would be fun to watch. What are your thoughts?
The biggest pro stage races have just such a thing - one or more individual time trial stages. No support from teammates, no drafting of any kind. As far their being more fun to watch, I guess it's a matter of taste. I'd rather see a mass-start event myself. Though I would find an individual time trial more interesting to watch than say, a pursuit race on the track.
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Old 02-11-11, 11:53 AM   #3
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That's what time trials are for... measuring the individual effort. Otherwise, it really is a team sport.
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Old 02-11-11, 12:57 PM   #4
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And the time trials are only interesting if two riders are really really close in the standings, and evenly matched from a time trial perspective. Otherwise, you are just watching someone cranking along at high speed.. you know, like the footage they cut out of the road race stages, so they can show the parts where something is going on: attacks and the final sprint.

From a viewer perspective, criteriums are the most fun to watch. Lots of close riding, sprints, lead changes, crashes...
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Old 02-11-11, 01:01 PM   #5
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I think a few long stage races without team riding or any drafting would add something to the sport that it now lacks.... What are your thoughts?
Boredom is what it would add. It'd be like watching paint dry. Why do you think RAAM gets exactly ZERO tv coverage?

And if what you meant is "a few long STAGES" (within one race), they already do that. They're called time trials, and at least in Le Tour, that's where the race is really decided in recent years.

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Old 02-11-11, 01:18 PM   #6
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An individual rider is nothing without his team behind him.

It is not being patriotic but can you remember the speed that Cavendish passed the other riders to win the last stage of the TDF last year. There were all the sprinters going for it from the hairpin and they were moving- or at least I thought they were till Mark came past them as if the rest were in middle ring.

Many of the Mountain stages have been won by good riders who were dragged up the first part of the climb by a few of their team members. Thus saving the good riders energy for where it matters- The finish Line.

Tactics play a good part of being able to win a stage or a race but not many riders can do it on their own. They do exist but they are rare and cannot do it ALL the time.
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Old 02-11-11, 01:22 PM   #7
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In fact, most stage races are won by the strongest rider. There are three basic skills involved in bike racing: climbing, time trialing, and sprinting. To win a major tour, you need to be among the best climbers and the best time trialist, or vice versa. The leader of any team that's interested in general classification will be on the whole the team's best climber and time trialist. (Even on a team like Leopard-Trek, where Cancellara is indisputably the fastest TT rider, Andy Schleck is still the leader because he's a much better climber and not that much slower in the TT's than Fabian.) On the flat stages, the teams with the best sprinters will try to shut down the break while getting their sprinter into position for the final sprint, but sprinting and climbing are somewhat mutually exclusive (although Laurent Jalabert and early Merckx were exceptions), which is why sprinting is not so important for GC except in the early flat stages. In the mountain stages, the GC teams will try to position their leader for the final 5 km of climbing, which basically becomes an individual time trial once the strongest climbers start attacking each other because drafting then isn't such a big factor, other than the psychological effect of being able to have others pace you up the climb. And of course, it's the fastest guy on the day who will win the time trial.

So yes, usually the strongest rider (in terms of climbing and time-trialing overall) will win a major stage race. But you're absolutely right about the teams. A guy could be the best climber and time-trialist, but if he hasn't got a good team, he won't be positioned to take advantage of this. (It's a testament to Greg Lemond's talent and tactical sense that he was able to win a Tour de France on a "weak" team when he was with ADR.) Especially if the tour includes a team time trial, where the guy could lose too much time to be able to make up.

Also, "riding in the slipstream" is the basis of all bike racing tactics. Even in time trials, you'll see riders trying to take advantage of passing camera motorcycles, or positioning themselves on the road to take advantage of the wind shelter of buildings and hedges.

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Old 02-11-11, 01:41 PM   #8
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It's a testament to Greg Lemond's talent and tactical sense that he was able to win a Tour de France on a "weak" team when he was with ADR.
Very true, I love that race (1989) and never get tired of watching in on the DVD. One of the most amazing races of all time, at least in my opinion.

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Old 02-11-11, 01:47 PM   #9
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... I have watched pro cycling over the last few years off and on ...
I suspect that if you continue to watch stage racing for a while you will come to have more appreciation for the tactical games going on behind the efforts to deliver the strongest riders to be in the right position with fresh enough legs to make the winning moves.
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Old 02-11-11, 10:43 PM   #10
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One race where the individual does come to the fore----Paris Roubaix.

You can have the best team possible behind you but unless there are 3 or 4 of them that have the durability to withstand the rigours of the race- you do not have a team to back you up. One race where the toughest and fittest riders are the ones that succeed. The rest fall by the wayside- or onto the road.
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Old 02-12-11, 02:44 AM   #11
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Watch Ironman Triathlon. They ride a century between the swim and the marathon and there is no drafting allowed. That is a sport that really separates the wheat from the chaff.

Anyone that has earned the right to call themselves an "Ironman" is to be respected.
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Old 02-12-11, 06:33 AM   #12
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One race where the individual does come to the fore----Paris Roubaix.
Weird you say this.. I was looking at DVD's to buy and saw this one http://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Hell-Me...7513722&sr=1-2 about this race and as yet have not pulled the trigger, I will soon.
There a lot more about it too.

Great race that Paris-Roubaix.
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Old 02-12-11, 11:33 AM   #13
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Watch Ironman Triathlon. They ride a century between the swim and the marathon and there is no drafting allowed. That is a sport that really separates the wheat from the chaff.

Anyone that has earned the right to call themselves an "Ironman" is to be respected.
Yes, the full ironman distance calls for no drafting. However, the Olympic distance triathlon allows drafting and becomes a totally different type of race. I think this is still developing tactically. For example, Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield was able to convince the Cdn selectors to put a teammate of his onto the team ahead of a guy that had actually qualified a bit higher. This teammate got out of the water about the same time as Whitfield, then paced him up to the top riders in the cycling leg. Once with the front runners, Whitfield waited until the run to finish on the podium. So you see where this could be going...

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Old 02-13-11, 06:57 PM   #14
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Watch Ironman Triathlon. They ride a century between the swim and the marathon and there is no drafting allowed. That is a sport that really separates the wheat from the chaff.

Anyone that has earned the right to call themselves an "Ironman" is to be respected.
Especially when an athlete wins several at Kona Hawaii like Chrissie Wellington
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Old 02-13-11, 07:02 PM   #15
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Weird you say this.. I was looking at DVD's to buy and saw this one http://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Hell-Me...7513722&sr=1-2 about this race and as yet have not pulled the trigger, I will soon.
There a lot more about it too.

Great race that Paris-Roubaix.
It's on Youtube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4IDCkcnnHg
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Old 02-13-11, 07:11 PM   #16
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Race radios have taken away a lot of tactical decisions from the riders. Break aways are less effective when the entire peoloton knows exactly how far ahead and who is doing the most pulling. Race directors exerting a lot of control from the team car mean no one on the road has to really think until the leadout trains are almost in the station. It's made for some dull racing and I don't mind UCI trying to ban radios.
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Old 02-13-11, 08:04 PM   #17
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cool thanks!
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Old 02-16-11, 10:46 PM   #18
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In fact, most stage races are won by the strongest rider. There are three basic skills involved in bike racing: climbing, time trialing, and sprinting. To win a major tour, you need to be among the best climbers and the best time trialist, or vice versa. The leader of any team that's interested in general classification will be on the whole the team's best climber and time trialist. (Even on a team like Leopard-Trek, where Cancellara is indisputably the fastest TT rider, Andy Schleck is still the leader because he's a much better climber and not that much slower in the TT's than Fabian.) On the flat stages, the teams with the best sprinters will try to shut down the break while getting their sprinter into position for the final sprint, but sprinting and climbing are somewhat mutually exclusive (although Laurent Jalabert and early Merckx were exceptions), which is why sprinting is not so important for GC except in the early flat stages. In the mountain stages, the GC teams will try to position their leader for the final 5 km of climbing, which basically becomes an individual time trial once the strongest climbers start attacking each other because drafting then isn't such a big factor, other than the psychological effect of being able to have others pace you up the climb. And of course, it's the fastest guy on the day who will win the time trial.

So yes, usually the strongest rider (in terms of climbing and time-trialing overall) will win a major stage race. But you're absolutely right about the teams. A guy could be the best climber and time-trialist, but if he hasn't got a good team, he won't be positioned to take advantage of this. (It's a testament to Greg Lemond's talent and tactical sense that he was able to win a Tour de France on a "weak" team when he was with ADR.) Especially if the tour includes a team time trial, where the guy could lose too much time to be able to make up.

Also, "riding in the slipstream" is the basis of all bike racing tactics. Even in time trials, you'll see riders trying to take advantage of passing camera motorcycles, or positioning themselves on the road to take advantage of the wind shelter of buildings and hedges.

L.
Was going to add my $0.02, read this ^^^^^^^^^^, and couldn't do a better job of stage racing 101 if I wrote 20 pages.
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