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Tour vs. Vuelta

Old 09-12-17, 07:50 AM
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Tour vs. Vuelta

I've watched the Tour for 10+ years now, but this year was my first time watching the Vuelta (finally had access to it on TV thanks to the Olympic channel). I have to say, wow, I really enjoyed watching the Vuelta a lot more! I think the design of the stages made it much more engaging to watch - far less boring days and GC action almost every stage. This year's Tour was especially boring (bad route in my opinion), so maybe I'm a little biased right now. Still, is the Vuelta this exciting every year?

NBC's stripped down TV coverage was interesting too - they never once showed Bob and Paul on screen, so I wonder if they were even in Spain? Also they didn't even use their own graphics on-screen to show the splits, etc. I thought that was kind of neat. And 2 hours of coverage per day vs 3+ made me less tired of watching it every day by the end, which usually happens in July. It's a big time commitment to watch the Tour, especially when so many of the stages are flat!

Thoughts?
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Old 09-12-17, 11:03 AM
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I'm biased because I love mountain stages and finishes and not too keen on flat racing. The Tour is a more important race for the media and the most of the teams/sponsors/riders but this creates a lot of pressure to do well which probably doesn't encourage risk taking.

The Giro '17 was exciting with Dumoulin who hadn't got team support fighting for GC against more established climbers right up to the final stage where his TT superiority kicked in. The elimination of Sky by a police motorcyclist played its part.
This year's Vuelta GC race wasn't really any more exciting than the Tour GC but Contador's fightback from his poor start was worth watching plus that mountain stage win by outsiders Aqua Blue Sport showed its unpredictability.

Sky have dominated the Tour's GC battle in recent years which makes the Vuelta more exciting but we may be about to see the end of Sky's dominance and 2017 could be their high point in retrospect.
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Old 09-12-17, 11:40 AM
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Every year is different for all of the GTs, but the Vuelta is known for its mountain stages and, in many years, brutal steep finishes. Overall, I find it the most interesting of the 3.
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Old 09-12-17, 01:16 PM
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Spain supposedly is the second most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland so there is a lot of interesting terrain. Also Spanish riders have historically been more inclined to be climbers instead of sprinters or big power riders like the Belgians. When ASO became involved with the Vuelta (they own part of it, not sure how much) they started experimenting with shorter more explosive stages which have become a bit of a hit to the point they threw one in at the Tour this year. I heard some commentators actually complaining that the stages were a bit long this year.

Combine this all with very few riders actually targeting the Vuelta as their number one priority you get riders with varying degrees of fitness and teams of varying strength. With a stronger team Froome certainly wins last year and you could see even with a stronger team this year they weren't always able to control things like they have in previous years at the Tour.

I probably enjoy the Vuelta more as a pure sporting event but since the Tour is so important it is a bigger spectacle. I enjoy the grand tours above all other races with the possible exception of Paris-Roubaix which is almost every year the single most compelling and visually stunning day of racing of the year.
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Old 09-12-17, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by busygizmo View Post
Spain supposedly is the second most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland so there is a lot of interesting terrain. Also Spanish riders have historically been more inclined to be climbers instead of sprinters or big power riders like the Belgians. When ASO became involved with the Vuelta (they own part of it, not sure how much) they started experimenting with shorter more explosive stages which have become a bit of a hit to the point they threw one in at the Tour this year. I heard some commentators actually complaining that the stages were a bit long this year.

Combine this all with very few riders actually targeting the Vuelta as their number one priority you get riders with varying degrees of fitness and teams of varying strength. With a stronger team Froome certainly wins last year and you could see even with a stronger team this year they weren't always able to control things like they have in previous years at the Tour.

I probably enjoy the Vuelta more as a pure sporting event but since the Tour is so important it is a bigger spectacle. I enjoy the grand tours above all other races with the possible exception of Paris-Roubaix which is almost every year the single most compelling and visually stunning day of racing of the year.
It kind of seems to me that because the Tour is such a big deal with the media, prestige, etc., it's kind of limited by its traditions which limits the excitement and originality of each year's edition. On the other hand the Vuelta can take risks with more unique stage designs, etc. Same goes for the riding style of the different teams, on one hand it's the last grand tour of the year so it's the last chance for success, and on the other hand there aren't as many preconceived notions going in and not as many established strategies so riders are more likely to attack.

I forgot to mention, also for me it was also so cool to see what Spain is like, really interesting terrain and historical sites!
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Old 09-12-17, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
I'm biased because I love mountain stages and finishes and not too keen on flat racing. The Tour is a more important race for the media and the most of the teams/sponsors/riders but this creates a lot of pressure to do well which probably doesn't encourage risk taking.

The Giro '17 was exciting with Dumoulin who hadn't got team support fighting for GC against more established climbers right up to the final stage where his TT superiority kicked in. The elimination of Sky by a police motorcyclist played its part.
This year's Vuelta GC race wasn't really any more exciting than the Tour GC but Contador's fightback from his poor start was worth watching plus that mountain stage win by outsiders Aqua Blue Sport showed its unpredictability.

Sky have dominated the Tour's GC battle in recent years which makes the Vuelta more exciting but we may be about to see the end of Sky's dominance and 2017 could be their high point in retrospect.
I'd argue that while on the surface the 2017 Tour and Vuelta GC races were similar, I think they were actually very different. Sure they were both close, but the Vuelta was a true back and fourth battle between Froome and Nibali, whereas the Tour's closeness felt forced to me because of the stage design. There were just so few opportunities to gain/loose time.
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Old 09-12-17, 03:26 PM
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I agree it's hard to compare grand tours from year to year, since they change substantially. This was my first year watching the Vuelta, also. As a GC race, the Vuelta was probably better this year, though neither really ever felt in doubt. The much shorter stages with intense mountain finishes made for very exciting races (Vuelta). And the higher percentage of mountain stages made it much more about the GC guys. Against that is the fact that most of the best GC riders were peaking for the TdF, and the prestige differential definitely makes the Vuelta feel like the lesser race. OTOH, the sense of desperation (to salvage a disappointing season) in the Vuelta makes for some Quixotic attacks and more surprises potentially.

The TdF has the edge on varied stages. It seems like a wider variety of rider types have a chance at stage glory there. The downside to that is that some TdF stages are staggeringly long and boring, and it's just a game of survival, with some minor riders doing TV break-aways until they're inevitably reeled in for a tired bunch sprint.

The TdF also has the edge in the points competition. When Sagan isn't DQ'd, his style of racing brings a fun dimension to the TdF. Even with him gone, you have the cream of the sprint crop in there trying to nab stages and glory.

It's great that all the GTs have such different flavors.
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Old 09-12-17, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevindale View Post
I agree it's hard to compare grand tours from year to year, since they change substantially. This was my first year watching the Vuelta, also. As a GC race, the Vuelta was probably better this year, though neither really ever felt in doubt. The much shorter stages with intense mountain finishes made for very exciting races (Vuelta). And the higher percentage of mountain stages made it much more about the GC guys. Against that is the fact that most of the best GC riders were peaking for the TdF, and the prestige differential definitely makes the Vuelta feel like the lesser race. OTOH, the sense of desperation (to salvage a disappointing season) in the Vuelta makes for some Quixotic attacks and more surprises potentially.
I also thought the Vuelta felt like a letdown the first few stages because of the lack of prestige, hype, etc. and especially because of the Spartan TV coverage in the US. But, I actually enjoyed it more not having to listen to Bob Roll answer for the 30th time "What is the green jersey for", etc...
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Old 09-12-17, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevindale View Post
I agree it's hard to compare grand tours from year to year, since they change substantially. This was my first year watching the Vuelta, also. As a GC race, the Vuelta was probably better this year, though neither really ever felt in doubt. The much shorter stages with intense mountain finishes made for very exciting races (Vuelta). And the higher percentage of mountain stages made it much more about the GC guys. Against that is the fact that most of the best GC riders were peaking for the TdF, and the prestige differential definitely makes the Vuelta feel like the lesser race. OTOH, the sense of desperation (to salvage a disappointing season) in the Vuelta makes for some Quixotic attacks and more surprises potentially.

The TdF has the edge on varied stages. It seems like a wider variety of rider types have a chance at stage glory there. The downside to that is that some TdF stages are staggeringly long and boring, and it's just a game of survival, with some minor riders doing TV break-aways until they're inevitably reeled in for a tired bunch sprint.

The TdF also has the edge in the points competition. When Sagan isn't DQ'd, his style of racing brings a fun dimension to the TdF. Even with him gone, you have the cream of the sprint crop in there trying to nab stages and glory.

It's great that all the GTs have such different flavors.
giro best scenery
tour best pageantry and creme de la creme of riders
vuelta best racing
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Old 09-12-17, 09:25 PM
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As I gathered, Froome came in close to the podium most days.. and won the big time bonus in a time trial.. so racked up time bonuses.
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Old 09-13-17, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
As I gathered, Froome came in close to the podium most days.. and won the big time bonus in a time trial.. so racked up time bonuses.
If you're talking about the Vuelta he also won a mountain stage, and dropped the other GC riders on a few other summit finishes, which certainly didn't happen in the Tour! So that was definitely a lot more fun to watch...
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Old 09-13-17, 10:02 AM
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Didn't pay for the coverage package so I just got stills , after the fact..
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Old 09-14-17, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
giro best scenery
tour best pageantry and creme de la creme of riders
vuelta best racing
Word.
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Old 09-15-17, 11:52 PM
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While it makes for better TV with the mountain stages, I prefer the TDF because it gives a wide range of variety which encourages sprinters to remain the race after/during the mountain stages.

We discussed this in another thread but one thing I would like to see all the grand tours do is make some shorter stages which encourages more racing. The short stage at the TDF this year was a huge success with lots of racing and breakaways.
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Old 10-06-17, 03:54 PM
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Sorry if dredging this old thread up is a bad thing..... But I just finished watching the Vuelta a few days ago. I got the NBC Gold just so I could see it all. I guess the good thing about the USA's lack of interest in cycling is that I was able to avoid finding out who won the Veulta till I watched all the stages. I had to stay out of this forum as well avoided reading any cycling magazines whether online or delivered to me.

Similar to the OP and others, I've been watching the TdF for the last seven years straight along with my wife. I also caught an a occasional TdF sporadically during previous times, especially during the Lance years. This was the first Vuelta a España that I'd ever seen.

I must say, that after the first few stages were out of the way, I found this Vuelta much more exciting than any Tdf I've ever watched. I actually believed for a while that Froome wouldn't win.

It was particularly the last week that really packed in the excitement. There were so many different races going on with in the race. Those going for a stage, Contador trying to find a way to retire respectably, or just Nibali and others trying to get time on Froome but never succeeding.

I was also impressed that there were few serious wrecks, especially among the favorites. Compared to the TdF where Valverde crashed out in the wet time trial, Cavendish getting caught between Sagan and diminishing space or Ritchie Porte cannon balling into Dan Martin and many other crashes involving race favorites, the Vuelta seemed to have none of this. Despite what to me looked like poorer road conditions in many cases, whether trash or debris on the roads or lots of sharp switchbacks the favorites made it through in the Vuelta.

I'm also impressed that Tejay made it the whole 21 days without getting sick or dropping for other reasons. After TdF 2016 and 2015, I and my wife figured that Tejay wasn't cut out for grand tour cycling. But he did okay and managed to stay in the top 10. Too bad he crashed while going out with Contador, he might have placed much better. Maybe he is coming into his own finally and will show better in upcoming grand tours if he gets another shot.

At any rate... I'm glad I can come in here now and not risk seeing spoilers.
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Old 10-07-17, 03:01 AM
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yah...the giro is the secret crush...the tour is the steady and the vuelta is the lover.
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Old 10-07-17, 03:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post

I'm also impressed that Tejay made it the whole 21 days without getting sick or dropping for other reasons. After TdF 2016 and 2015, I and my wife figured that Tejay wasn't cut out for grand tour cycling. But he did okay and managed to stay in the top 10. Too bad he crashed while going out with Contador, he might have placed much better. Maybe he is coming into his own finally and will show better in upcoming grand tours if he gets another shot.

At any rate... I'm glad I can come in here now and not risk seeing spoilers.
Now you can watch the Giro.........don't miss stage 18.
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Old 10-07-17, 05:23 AM
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How the Vuelta a España became cycling's most dramatic grand tour | VeloNews.com
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Old 10-07-17, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
Now you can watch the Giro.........don't miss stage 18.
Unfortunately NBC Gold only lets you see the rides for the season you subscribed. They start the season right before the TdF. So I can't see the 2017 Giro. I know that Tejay won stage 18 though. I suppose that maybe I can find it on youtube. Have not looked yet.

Last edited by Iride01; 10-08-17 at 02:18 PM. Reason: clarity on what "it" referred to.
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Old 10-08-17, 05:51 AM
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NBC, Gold or not, doesn't have the Giro, independent of your subscription year. In 2016 it was on BEIN Sports. I can't remember where I had to creep on it for 2017. We'll see what odd US broadcaster 2018 brings. I'll bet the back 40 and Hop Sing's top knot NBC won't have the Giro next year.

NBC is in bed with race organizer ASO. Giro is run by RCS. It's a tangled web of coverage across the UCI calendar.
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Old 10-08-17, 01:46 PM
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That's a great article! Thanks for pointing it out.
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Old 10-09-17, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I was also impressed that there were few serious wrecks, especially among the favorites. Compared to the TdF where Valverde crashed out in the wet time trial, Cavendish getting caught between Sagan and diminishing space or Ritchie Porte cannon balling into Dan Martin and many other crashes involving race favorites, the Vuelta seemed to have none of this. Despite what to me looked like poorer road conditions in many cases, whether trash or debris on the roads or lots of sharp switchbacks the favorites made it through in the Vuelta.
Just theorizing here, but, since the Vuelta is the shortest grand tour by distance, that equates to less hours on the bike. So even if the number of crashes per km was the same the Vuelta should have less crashes. Plus I'd have to guess that in those super long TdF stages the riders are much more crash-prone at the end when they're tired, which is also avoided by the Vuelta's shorter stages?

There are lots of other reasons to love the Vuelta's shorter stages (discussed in the article linked above) but I think not having 2/3 of the contenders unable to compete because of crashes is another great reason for shorter stages! I mean, who watches the first 4 hours of those long boring flat TdF stages anyway????
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Old 10-09-17, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by xg5a View Post
Just theorizing here, but, since the Vuelta is the shortest grand tour by distance, that equates to less hours on the bike.
The 2017 TdF was 3,540.0 km (2,200 mi)
The 2017 Vuelta was 3,324.1 km (2,065 mi)

A difference of 215.9 km (135 mi)
Excluding the time trials and mostly ceremonial last stage for both events that leaves........

The 2017 TdF 18 stages 3310.5 km (2057.0 mi)
The 2017 Vuelta 18 stages 3152.6 km (1958.9 mi)

A difference of 157.9 km (98.1 mi)

So while many have said stages are shorter in the Vuelta. The mileage difference doesn't seem significant to me.

I am wondering if they were too wore out from all the rest of the season and maybe a little more wary. Or perhaps they just honed their skills better from the previous events that they might loose again during the "off season" and have to regain again next year.
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Old 10-10-17, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
I'm biased because I love mountain stages and finishes and not too keen on flat racing. The Tour is a more important race for the media and the most of the teams/sponsors/riders but this creates a lot of pressure to do well which probably doesn't encourage risk taking.

The Giro '17 was exciting with Dumoulin who hadn't got team support fighting for GC against more established climbers right up to the final stage where his TT superiority kicked in. The elimination of Sky by a police motorcyclist played its part.
This year's Vuelta GC race wasn't really any more exciting than the Tour GC but Contador's fightback from his poor start was worth watching plus that mountain stage win by outsiders Aqua Blue Sport showed its unpredictability.

Sky have dominated the Tour's GC battle in recent years which makes the Vuelta more exciting but we may be about to see the end of Sky's dominance and 2017 could be their high point in retrospect.
I would argue Sunweb with fewer riders were hurt as well on the crash Losing Kelderman for Tom was no small thing..
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Old 10-10-17, 07:31 AM
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I suspect it is less a matter of more kms and more a calamity per km ratio with high stakes Tour pressure => risk taking / "get in front" now increasing the rate
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