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Stage races.... where the best racing cyclist doesn't win?

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Stage races.... where the best racing cyclist doesn't win?

Old 07-24-11, 11:45 PM
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Stage races.... where the best racing cyclist doesn't win?

As a novice rider and casual fan, I don't see the appeal of the The Tour and stage
races in general. Time trails thrown in, start here stop there and start again
somewhere else, pointless final "cruising around" stage, weather, increase of
mechanical problems (body and machine)...etc etc etc... Seems that the winner
is more the guy that survived and has a healthy bit of luck. More "making it through"
than racing to the win. Maybe some see that as the bigger triumph, it's just not
the best "race" for me. Tour is a fitting title..

In contrast, Paris–Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, and other one day races seem
to force the best riding out the racer. Since the distance/time is shorter, the
rider who has the best strategy in every aspect, strongest in a combination
of both hills and flats, etc is the one who wins. Pure racing with little to
get in the way.

Is it the 24 Hours of Le Mans vs drag racing?
Just different strokes for different folks?
Or is there something I'm missing? (go easy)

Last edited by intlman; 07-24-11 at 11:47 PM. Reason: format
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Old 07-25-11, 12:12 AM
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I think you need to think this through a bit more. The Tour de France is most definitely more than just "...the guy that survived and has a healthy bit of luck." You are caught up on your personal definition of "pure racing". There is no such thing. There is a race, and the best person is, by definition, the one who wins.

A word about luck. Luck plays a huge role in any sport. If you think a 21 day race is bad, look at a match sprint at the track where everything, luck, skill, preparation, is shoved into a three minute long race with 15 seconds of actual racing. At least if you fall on stage 5 of the tour, you have a few stages to recover. You hold up Paris-Roubaix as an example of "pure racing", but remember the time when George Hincapie was on the verge of contesting the win out of a breakaway and his steering tube gave way and ended his race?

Competition is about skill, preparation, and luck. Doesn't matter what the competition involves, you never take the element of luck out of it.
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Old 07-25-11, 12:15 AM
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By the way, a last word...

Anyone can try their hand at a stage race. Buy a license, find the nearest stage race, pay the entry fee for the Cat 5 race, and see what it's like yourself. It's not the Tour, but it's the closest thing you can come to it without being a pro cyclist on a pro tour team. No need to wonder about what the race is like when you can experience it first hand. You will find out really quick that, from the view inside the peloton, there are definitely people who can win, and people who are just pack fodder. It doesn't take long to figure out where you stand.
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Old 07-25-11, 12:21 AM
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Are you serious?

A one day effort reflects the best racer? The endurance required to make it over the Alps/Pyrenees and perform a time trial is less than what is required at Paris-Roubaix?

The focus is different. Cadel Evans is a perfect example, if he chose to seriously challenge Paris-Roubaix I think he would be a very serious contender.
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Old 07-25-11, 02:42 AM
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Novice rider + casual fan = clueless
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Old 07-25-11, 03:11 AM
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Seriously?
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Old 07-25-11, 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by intlman
Or is there something I'm missing?
Almost everything.

I like the classic one-day races too, but to suggest they are a better test than the Tour is absurd. Paris-Roubaix is a great and very tough race but can be won by a rider who can't climb worth a damn, for example. It is impossible to win a Grand Tour without being among the best at virtually every facet of the sport - able to live with the best climbers, strong in the time trials and so on. Plus one has to have the physical condition, and the brains, to manage the three-week race in a way that keeps you in contention.

I think it's the brains bit that you are missing more than anything. Cadel Evans and his team got that very right this year, they had a strategy and they executed it to perfection. If you're just watching to see who gets to the finish line first on each stage, you aren't really following what is happening.

As for luck, arguably the Tour is less vulnerable to luck than the one-day races. A minor mechanical problem at a critical stage can trash the strongest rider's chances in a classic, but in a stage race they will have some opportunity to recover.
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Old 07-25-11, 05:15 AM
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I think perhaps you are missing the immense amount of strategy at play in the tour. It is all actually quite complex and is by far my favorite part of watching the tour. I'm sure it is more complex than I even realize given that I have never raced myself. Team dynamics, race for different jerseys and awards, who chases who, doling out efforts for certain goals while also knowing when to hold back in order to conserve your strength, the incredibly tough mountain stages and the supreme effort it takes to be among the first to the top, all over multiple days / weeks. Its pretty incredible really once you look past the surface and dive into what is really taking place over the length of the race
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Old 07-25-11, 06:34 AM
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There is a lot of strategy involved in the Tour that can be difficult to pick up on your own. Europcar didn't just sit back and take it easy when Voeckler got the yellow jersey. They set the pace of the peloton, worked to control breakaways, and kept Voeckler out of trouble. Team BMC also did a lot of work even when Cadel wasn't in yellow to keep him near the front, out of trouble, and a couple of days they worked to launch him on attacks. Being able to set a pace that is to the liking of your GC rider is key to surviving the mountains and being ready for attacks.

The flat stages may seem a bit boring but it usually takes quite a bit of work to have a successful breakaway. The sprinter's teams mark certain riders and won't let anyone get up the road that is a threat. The GC teams also won't let certain riders up ahead. There are lots of attacks that get brought back until the right combination of riders is away; only then will the peloton ease off a bit. Television rarely shows this part but you can watch it online. Lots of riders try for a breakaway, only a lucky few succeed. They are the ones that just happen to be away when the peloton slows down. Once the breakaway is established, the peloton does take a break of sorts but the gc contenders all need to be near the front and this requires teamwork to jockey for position. If there is a crosswind, the teams up front may just step on the gas and try to split the peloton. It happened in 2007 when Astana caught Moreau out, in 2009 and Contador was caught out, and this year they did the same just as there was a crash and Contador was again caught out.

At some point, the breakaway needs to be reeled in. They don't want to do it too quickly or more riders will try to escape. So they ramp up their efforts but it takes teamwork and cooperation between teams that all want to win the sprint. They send riders up front to set tempo but riding exposed in the wind is very tiring so these guys have to rotate in and out and fresh riders need to take their turn. If one team feels they are doing too much work, they'll may just stop sending riders to the front. Sometimes this means the breakaway succeeds. The other sprint teams want a chance to win but they don't like the idea of helping to carry Cavendish to the line. HTC knows this and still does a lot of work up front, helping to carry Rojas, Petacchi and Farrar to the line. It's when they've caught the breakaway and begin to organize for the sprint that it gets very exciting and very dangerous.

It is crucial to get your team together up front to set tempo and protect your sprinter. He needs a clear line of attack so his riders get up front in a line and start cranking the pace up. A high pace discourages attacks and keeps the team together. Of course, the other sprinter's teams are trying to do the same thing but it's not easy getting your riders together when the pace is over 30mph and increasing. Other sprinters try to get right behind Cavendish and there's quite a battle to secure and hold this position. Elbows and headbutts are common as is having a rider lean on you to stay upright or to push you out of the way. And the speed is getting faster and faster. Since it is game over if HTC can keep their train together and launch Cavendish behind Renshaw, the other teams work very hard to disrupt the HTC train and get Cavendish off Renshaw's wheel. If a sprinter doesn't have any organised help, he can still ride on the wheel of another sprinter, then launch his attack and hope to catch the others off guard. Robbie McEwen was the master of hiding amongst the sprinters then popping out and exploding to the line. I've seen Cavendish do this once but he generally relies on his team.

In the Alps, Leopard Trek got two riders in the breakaway. This meant they were not expected to help catch the breakaway but more importantly, it gave the Schlecks allies up the road to help pace them or provide a bike if necessary once they caught them on their attack. Drafting behind a rider provides a nice breather and is especially helpful for a light rider on the flats. When Contador dropped Kloden in 2009 near the top of a climb, it was not a good tactical move as he had no support against the two Schleck brothers. Even if he'd had to sit up just a bit till Kloden got over the top, it would've been worth it.


That's just a small bit of the strategy going on in the Tour. I hope it helps increase your appreciation of the world's greatest race.
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Old 07-25-11, 06:52 AM
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There has always been a divide amongst fans and riders between those who favor stage races and those who favor the Classics. Some riders can excel at one and never really be great at the other (see Armstrong, L) in fact the Merckxs and Hinaults who could win any race are pretty rare.

Obviously, a race that begins at Point A and ends at Point B X hours later is easy to understand. First guy there is the winner but don't discount the huge amount of strategy involved in getting that guy there and the luck, good and bad, that got him instead of someone else there first.

Stage races have much of the same features but you have to get up and do it again (and againX20) and you have to have areas you are good in such as climbing and TTs but you have to be at least competent in flat rolling stages so that you don't lose time even if you're not contesting the sprint. I don't think Contador had the legs to do it this year but if he hadn't lost 1:40 on stage 1 his mental outlook sure would have been better and then who knows?

Anyways different strokes but stage races are definitely "pure" racing.
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Old 07-25-11, 07:38 AM
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So you would rather just have a one game NFL season and eliminate the elements of endurance, mental toughness, weather, different venues, improvement over time, injuries and replacements, etc. etc. etc.. Not to even mention lower revenue.
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Old 07-25-11, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Novice rider + casual fan = clueless
this.

the OP needs to go back to watching 'stick and ball' sports and nascar.
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Old 07-25-11, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by jrobe
So you would rather just have a one game NFL season and eliminate the elements of endurance, mental toughness, weather, different venues, improvement over time, injuries and replacements, etc. etc. etc.. Not to even mention lower revenue.

That was exactly my thought as I read the original post. Try telling anyone in any sport that endures and overcomes an entire season of challenges to stand as champions that it doesn't mean they are the best.

BTW Im a "novice rider and casual fan", too.
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Old 07-25-11, 07:52 AM
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Old 07-25-11, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by hammy56
nascar.
Probably why crits make so much sense to Americans.
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Old 07-25-11, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by hammy56
this.

the OP needs to go back to watching 'stick and ball' sports and nascar.
Or not. This year's Tour of France had more in common with NASCAR than any of the last few years. Six hours worth of racing on many of the stages, over three hours worth of live video coverage and the only exciting parts were the wrecks and the 'last lap' (final 5k for the sprint).

The fact is that flat stages are boring as heck, even with the improvements that were made in the form of intermediate sprints.
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Old 07-25-11, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by therhodeo
Probably why crits make so much sense to Americans.
Too many turns, more like F1.

Velodrome, on the other hand.
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Old 07-25-11, 08:22 AM
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Crits are fun!
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Old 07-25-11, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by johnnyletrois
Too many turns, more like F1.

Velodrome, on the other hand.
That's where it all started! Even roller derby has it's roots from track racing!
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Old 07-25-11, 10:22 AM
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Old 07-25-11, 10:29 AM
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p dumb original post

thats all i got
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Old 07-25-11, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Walter
There has always been a divide amongst fans and riders between those who favor stage races and those who favor the Classics. Some riders can excel at one and never really be great at the other (see Armstrong, L) in fact the Merckxs and Hinaults who could win any race are pretty rare.

Obviously, a race that begins at Point A and ends at Point B X hours later is easy to understand. First guy there is the winner but don't discount the huge amount of strategy involved in getting that guy there and the luck, good and bad, that got him instead of someone else there first.

Stage races have much of the same features but you have to get up and do it again (and againX20) and you have to have areas you are good in such as climbing and TTs but you have to be at least competent in flat rolling stages so that you don't lose time even if you're not contesting the sprint. I don't think Contador had the legs to do it this year but if he hadn't lost 1:40 on stage 1 his mental outlook sure would have been better and then who knows?

Anyways different strokes but stage races are definitely "pure" racing.
This.

Damn near everything else in this thread is drivel. Directly comparing any Grand Tour to a Classic is dumb.
Riders prepare in completely different races for each type of race.

One-day races require you get on it immediately. No waiting to make up time in the mountain stages, no coming back from bad luck, etc.
The Tours require you be in the right place at the right time 21 days in a row. Some bad lack can be overcome later.
Neither of these are a truer test of a rider. They both take an exceptionally well prepared rider to win.

I do agree with the OP on stage 21 though. The tradition of "You don't attack the yellow jersey" is dumb. It'd be like no one allowed to pass on the last lap, or no going for points after the 2-minute warning. The winner should be the best rider after 21 stages of a 21 stage race, not 20. Cadel could have blown out his legs on the TT to make up the time difference. Andy could have anticipated this and saved some for the last stage....but no. We get to see a boring parade to Paris up until the last lap where Cavendish takes the stage win.
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Old 07-25-11, 10:36 AM
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its not a rule its tradition

you might think its a dumb tradition but this is a very old sport and its tradition defines it

andy couldnt have attacked on 21 even if he was classless enough to try. he'd immediately have been chased down by BMC, and incurred the ire of all the teams represented in the break for ruining thier moment in the sun.

the ceremonial final day, and focus on pagaentry and the final sprint are part of the fun of the experience.
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Old 07-25-11, 11:08 AM
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Stage Racing rules and etiquette are very foreign to anyone raised on traditional "stick and ball" sports. The TdF is not about going out full speed and winning every stage. It's about finishing well enough every day to remain competitive. The majority of the riders are there simply to get their top rider to the front. The "stick and ball" guy in me wanted Andy to blast off on the final stage and at lest TRY to win, even if it was nearly impossible. That's where the etiquette of the sport kicks in. I personally prefer the max-effort of a one-day race, but the long-term tactics of a stage race is pretty interesting as well.

Although I prefer the one-day race, I will admit that these stage races are the most grueling sporting events on the planet. I can't think of another sport where competitors compete for 5-6 hours straight every day for weeks on end.
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Old 07-25-11, 11:20 AM
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Op needs to read this book.

https://www.amazon.com/Roadie-Misunde...1614409&sr=1-1
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