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Changing styles: spring classics

Old 04-24-15, 02:52 PM
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shinyandfree
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Changing styles: spring classics

I was reading this article: Preview: Liege could close spring classics season in dramatic fashion - VeloNews.com

and it mentions that the style of racing is changing and larger groups are arriving at the last kilometer. Having only followed the spring classics for maybe 5 years (and also having a lousy memory due to the indiscretions of youth) it's hard for me to put this in context. What do you folks make of this? Is this an accurate statement, and if so what is motivating it?
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Old 04-24-15, 05:50 PM
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I'd be really interested to see what the veteran bike race watchers say!

My guess: less dope and better organized teams and radio means riders usually can't attack solo 30 k out.
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Old 04-24-15, 08:53 PM
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Better training methods, from a younger age, better athletes, more of them. It's not a motivation thing: it's a "level playing field", physically. The human component has been approaching its limits since first race. In the beginning, there might have been 1 or 2 physically dominant specimens, but nowadays, there's 10-20, resulting in the pack finishes we're seeing more of. Even in his doping heyday, Armstrong couldn't just ride away from everyone else at will unless the route favored it (long climb or TT). His doping/talent resulted in day-in/day-out consistently high levels of performance because of doping fueled recovery. He excelled at stage races, not one-day classics. Of course, the best sprinters can ride away from everyone else, but then they're done after 2-300m and wasted for miles, so they sit in & conserve.

Of course, this level playing field then necessitates tactics to win races. And the riders today are not the sharpest they've ever been. (I remember an article--I wanna say by Zabriske, but am not sure--where the lack of riders skills on the bikes, their lack of respect for the peloton hierarchy, was blamed for the seeming increase in crashes these days. While I don't necessarily buy that, it sort of dovetails with this lack of cycling knowledge/tactical acumen.) In the old days, they not only had to think for themselves, they had to out-think they're opponents because there was a good chance they weren't the most gifted athlete out there. Tactics was all they had.

My $.02 & understanding.
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Old 04-26-15, 06:53 PM
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Quote from Purito in CyclingNews:

" As for the reasons why so many riders are now reaching the finish of the Classics like Flèche and Liège in a single front group compared to 10 years ago, Rodriguez argued that “The differences between leaders and domestiques is much smaller than it used to be. Everybody’s in better shape, the peloton is at a higher level across the board. So the difference between me and Moreno, say, is much less.

“It’d be nice if somebody went for it on La Redoute and made it to the finish, but it’s much harder now to break away to do that. The Astana riders tried it this time round, and they didn’t succeed." "
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Old 04-26-15, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Quote from Purito in CyclingNews:

" As for the reasons why so many riders are now reaching the finish of the Classics like Flèche and Liège in a single front group compared to 10 years ago, Rodriguez argued that “The differences between leaders and domestiques is much smaller than it used to be. Everybody’s in better shape, the peloton is at a higher level across the board. So the difference between me and Moreno, say, is much less.

“It’d be nice if somebody went for it on La Redoute and made it to the finish, but it’s much harder now to break away to do that. The Astana riders tried it this time round, and they didn’t succeed." "
Kind of implicity raises the question about doping. If everybody was doping 10 years ago, then did that increase the difference between elite riders and domestiques? I would have thought it decreased it. And if everybody is in better shape now, then why have I heard it said that the end of doping is evidenced in part by increasing race times (admittedly usually said for mountain stages, not Classics)?
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Old 04-27-15, 01:17 AM
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I'd say it's more a case of there being much greater depth across the field. There are more cyclists competing around the world => there's a greater number feeding into the pro peloton => the pro field are all 99th percentile athletes, whereas back in the day a few 95th percentile athletes who happened to grow up in Belgium could wangle their way to a contract. Also, training methods that top coaches were using in secret for only the top handful of riders are now common practice; every Joe Domestique or Stagiaire has a power meter, and pro training and nutrition techniques can be googled.
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Old 04-28-15, 01:32 PM
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I'm going to go with simply more riders and teams in the race over the long haul and that the recent differences are that style and tradition are catching up.

Easiest to check for the Tours, but I'd bet the same holds for classics.

With 10 teams a 5 man break with riders all from different teams has only 5 teams chasing and if just a bit of politics starts they have a chance. With 15 teams it is 10 chasing.

The thing is this builds over the years. A 5 man break can still win with 15 teams if it is the 3rd or 4th such break. But the strategy of leaving a small break out there and chasing it down too late for a counter has been fine tuned over the years and more and more there never is a break involving strong riders.

Fewer teams and riders would make for more exciting racing, but I do not see that happening.

Race directors seem to be trying to create more ways to create a split. Cobbles, intermediate sprints and the like. But with more and more emphasis on just the big prize makes the little prize attempts less effective.
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Old 04-29-15, 11:03 AM
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I was watching a race from a few years ago and Sean Kelly (I think his voice epitomizes the word 'drone') made the point that the current points system encourages making 'safe' bets. Basically, coming in 4th or 5th or 10th place is worth points which are valuable, so riders are less likely to commit to a big move if it has a low chance of winning because if the move doesn't work out they will almost certainly be dropped and get no points.
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Old 04-29-15, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by shinyandfree View Post
I was watching a race from a few years ago and Sean Kelly (I think his voice epitomizes the word 'drone') made the point that the current points system encourages making 'safe' bets. Basically, coming in 4th or 5th or 10th place is worth points which are valuable, so riders are less likely to commit to a big move if it has a low chance of winning because if the move doesn't work out they will almost certainly be dropped and get no points.
I'd agree with this. It seemed last year like a few solo breaks got away because once someone moved, nobody wanted to jeopardize 2nd place for the sake of an outside shot of the win. Case in point, Terpstra in Roubaix last year. Not only that the other QS riders wouldn't chase, but everyone else pretty much settled for 2nd so there was no cooperation in the chase. It struck me a few times last year that if there was one prize for 1st, and a big dropoff to the prizes for 2nd to 5th, guys would be more liable to work together for all the marbles.

The downside of that may be that it could be harder to form a break, though, which wouldn't change the perception of what's happening this year.
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Old 04-29-15, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by shinyandfree View Post
I was watching a race from a few years ago and Sean Kelly (I think his voice epitomizes the word 'drone') made the point that the current points system encourages making 'safe' bets. Basically, coming in 4th or 5th or 10th place is worth points which are valuable, so riders are less likely to commit to a big move if it has a low chance of winning because if the move doesn't work out they will almost certainly be dropped and get no points.
Not to get sidetracked, but how does the point system actually work, and why is it never mentioned?

What is the point of the point system?
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Old 05-04-15, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post
Not to get sidetracked, but how does the point system actually work, and why is it never mentioned?

What is the point of the point system?
Basically there are points allotted to a rider based their finishing position. Bigger races mean more points. These points are used to determine which teams get a world tour license. Lot of weird things about this system; it doesn't do anything for domestiques, who are pretty much worthless from a points point of view, also the points stay with the rider, not the team. So, if a rider has a ton of points at the end of the season and then jump to a new team, that new team gets the points. Sometimes you'll see teams benching good riders at during the last year of a rider's contract because they don't want points going to a different team.
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Old 05-04-15, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by shinyandfree View Post
Basically there are points allotted to a rider based their finishing position. Bigger races mean more points. These points are used to determine which teams get a world tour license. Lot of weird things about this system; it doesn't do anything for domestiques, who are pretty much worthless from a points point of view, also the points stay with the rider, not the team. So, if a rider has a ton of points at the end of the season and then jump to a new team, that new team gets the points. Sometimes you'll see teams benching good riders at during the last year of a rider's contract because they don't want points going to a different team.
Great explanation.

I can see why the points are rarely mentioned. Nobody would understand!
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