(c) Tim Bardsley-Smith
  • Discussion thread #1: What sort of rider do you think Jay McCarthy will become? What races can you see him doing well at in the years to come?

  • Discussion thread #2: Are you a fan of time bonuses at the Tour Down Under? What do you think the race would look like without them?

    • Arfy

      It’s a good question, but I’m not a fan of them. Let the sprinters battle it out for line honours, or a breakaway succeed, and make the GC riders work hard to keep up with their rivals on each stage, not build a buffer because they’re a better finisher. It’s likely to spice up the race without them.

    • Michele

      I’m not a fan of them, particularly the bonus time at the intermediate sprints.

      The TDU introduced time bonuses for a couple of reasons: one, it was trendy at the time to do so, and secondly, if they didn’t, 60-odd riders would’ve all been on the same overall GC time, and count back from stage end positions would determine the ochre jersey winner.

      Fortunately, the TDU has evolved from having every stage finish in a bunch sprint, to the point where it’s unlikely riders will finish on the same time. For the record, excluding bonus time, Gerrans was only third.

      What would the race be like without them? Great question. You’d hope it didn’t revert back to how the race was run in the early 2000s, where one rider from every team would form the opening stage breakaway, and they’d get home 8-12 minutes before the main bunch. The rest of the week would be a battle between a dozen riders to see who could sprint the fastest.

      Someone once suggested (putting cycling politics aside), why not replace the People’s Choice classic with a Team Time Trial? Get each team to do one lap of the same course, on their road bikes. They could still have their Monday off, and then someone is starting the race on Tuesday in Ochre.

      It mixes the GC up, and adds another prerequisite for the eventual winner to master.

      At the end of the day, it’s the first ‘race’* of the season, so the course can’t be too demanding. That is always going to be a major influence on how the race plays out.

      * Disclaimer: I’m a “traditionalist” and consider ourselves to be in the equivalent of the NAB Cup. “Round 1” starts with Paris-Nice :)

      • JCJordan

        I can’t see the organisation ever getting ride of the classic in the city, just to much opportunity to get big crowds to show off to the sponsors.
        What would be good is to have something like a Norton’s or Greenhill TT (that way we can avoid the cost of bringing specialist equipment) as a prologue on the Monday.

    • Dave

      Yes. It was the weak field (OGE excepted) which was the problem with this race, not the time bonuses.

      Maybe they should be dropped from the intermediate sprints or reduced a bit at the finishes, but they are still good for providing the GC contenders with a reason to race instead of cruising in on bunch time.

      If a change needs to be made to liven it up, make it the elimination of team radio (let the riders still have radios, but tuned to Tour Radio instead of their individual teams) and in-race use of power meters (allow them to be mounted under the saddle for post-race analysis only, as in track races).

    • JCJordan

      The one week stage races such as the TDU have always benefited from time bonuses. They keep the race interest up because the prevent one stage becoming the only one that counts as would happen with Willunga. While the close finish this year did not give us the final day battle for bonus seconds it had in the past, it did leave us wondering if Gero had done enough to protect his jersey.

  • Discussion thread #3: Were you surprised by Michael Woods’ performance at the TDU? What do you expect him to be able to achieve in the next couple seasons?

    • Peter Tregunno

      Having had an “in the peleton” view of Wood’s rise through this sport, I can’t say that I’m surprised. Just very glad that he didn’t loose skin. I suspect/hope that he gets the chance to have a go at the hillier one day classics.

    • I wasn’t surprised either, albeit that is only due to having watched him race in the Tour of Utah. Even if the field in the US isn’t the same as in Europe, and even if Woods seemed to have some high speed bike handling skills to learn, the way he climbed just could not go unnoticed.

      I reckon Cannondale has a new and improved Dan Martin on the team, that may well be more suited for the team in terms of chemistry? I put the question mark, because I am basing my opinion on how Dan was more of an introvert, while Slipstream seems to put a fair bit of importance in off-the-track qualities too.

      Alex Howes, Phil Gaimon, Michael Woods, Ted King (last year) and others have been widely followed on social media, and add an angle to pro cycling that is a great addition and evokes interest in the riders and the team.

      Regarding sporting merits for Woods, he is likely expected to fill the gap after accident-prone Dan Martin and be a superb domestique à la Geraint Thomas when Joe Dombrowski starts to go for wins in the mountains and… I actually can’t think of who is the “star” in Team Cannondale spontaneously.

      Just goes to show how important a year long presence in media/social media is.

      In any case, rooting for Woods and team Cannondale this year!

    • Dave

      I was surprised that it was Woods, but not surprised that somebody did it. The TDU crowns a future star or two every year.

  • Discussion thread #4: Caleb Ewan, Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel, Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb and Fernando Gaviria are all sprinting against one another, each of them at peak form. Who wins?

    • thomasrdotorg

      In 2016, roll the dice on the winner. 2017 and beyond; just give it to Caleb. His biggest challenge is to be there for the sprint. Long, long stages with a sprint finish will be the challenge while he’s in his early 20s. But then he will clearly head to an era of dominance as he matures. How long?

      • Neil

        I think Gaviria could have a few things to say about that.

        • VerticallyCompliant

          Gaviria will be handicapped of sorts this year with Omnium track gold in his crosshairs, but look out 2017 when he moves fully to road cycling and Ewan is another season stronger.

      • Dave

        I agree that getting to the finish of quality races will be Ewan’s challenge.

        His major wins so far have all been shorter flat stages (2015 Vuelta stage 5 & 2016 TDU stage 1 – 296km between them) or circuit races.

    • claude cat

      Are we talking Cavendish 2009-2011 edition or the current version? Because at his sheer best, I doubt anyone in that list could touch him.
      Kittel might well be the fastest right now, but we’re yet to see how that works out at his new team.
      I’d like to think Ewan could give them a run for their money. Gaviria too, although he’s now injured.

    • Paolo

      Who knows who will win, but Sagan will be second. Seriously, Kittel without a doubt.

    • Michele

      Peak form, even if some of them are past their best [Cav]:

      Kittel
      Cavendish
      Greipel
      Degenkolb
      Sagan

      Ewan
      Gaviria

      I’ve put a gap between Sagan and Ewan, not to suggest Peter would distanced Caleb by some margin. Both Caleb and Fernando are unique in comparison to the 5 names above them.

      The top 5 have already hit their peaks. I don’t think any of them will get any faster. Kittel might. I think Degenkolb will become more Classics focussed.

      Therefore, though Ewan and Gaviria are 6th/7th on my list, they have the potential to go 1 and 2.

      • Drew

        Someone should do a write on Ewan’s sprint position. Did you see the side on view!? Clearly he’s had to practice and develop that position, because it’s not a natural position on a bike at all. it’s like the superman TT position applied to sprinting. But all the press photos of the sprint are from front on….

        I seem to recall Cav in his HTC daysalso having an extremely low position. A comparison could be interesting.

    • Dave

      Kittel and Greipel are still the best pure sprinters, and it will probably stay that way for another couple of years. After being chased out of Etixx by Gaviria, another year or so of being the third best pure sprinter will probably see Cav retire.

      Of the next group, I think Sagan and Degenkolb need to have Kristoff and Matthews considered in the same category. They’ll do well in some pure sprint stages, but their strength is in getting to the finish on the tougher courses.

      Gaviria and Ewan still have a lot of development to go before they are genuine contenders in quality races, not just stealing a win on the back of the ‘unknown newbie’ factor – a close relation of the ‘century on debut’ in cricket. It should make for a great U23 World Championship this year – the UCI recently changed the rules to allow young WorldTour pros to enter which should have CA recalculating their squad a bit.

      I would rate Gaviria as slightly better than Ewan at the moment. He doesn’t have a Grand Tour stage yet, but he’s already beaten all of the big three at least once and chased Cav out of Etixx-Quickstep.

      Boy van Poppel is only a year older than Ewan and Gaviria, so if his continuing development goes well he could well turn out to be as good (or even better) than them.

      • Michele

        Good call re van Poppel. I must admit I often find myself forgetting how “old” he is.

        • Dave

          It’s the opposite for me, I’ll forever be thinking of him as a young rider purely because his parents gave him the name ‘Boy.’

    • Gaviria.

  • Discussion thread #5: How did you read UniSA-Australia’s performance this week? Which riders particularly excited you?

    • Simon

      Better than Drapac’s TDU. The Hamilton’s rides were good particularly up Willunga and Shaw out in the three man break to Vic Harbour.

      • Dave

        I agree about Drapac.

        If I was involved with the race organisation, I would be getting on the phone to Matt Prior to let him know good things will come his way if ONE Pro Cycling does well at CEGORR and JHST.

        • Robert Merkel

          To be fair to Drapac, Peter Konig had a terrific win at San Luis. I’m sure they would have preferred a win at TDU, but a win against WT teams is a pretty fair start to the year.

      • PlodrPete

        I agree that UniSA had a great week, always in the break and animating the race as they do most years. Lucas Hamilton’s acceleration up Willunga Hill was stunning (watch the overhead shot), it forced other riders to respond with urgency; also showed that despite being one of the youngest in the race, he wasn’t intimidated and prepared to have a decent crack. A bright future ahead, the Hamilton’s finished 1-2 in U23 National Road Race.

  • Discussion thread #6: What do you think 2016 holds for Simon Gerrans after the horror story that was 2015?

    • Neil

      Who knows? I was thinking that it might be time for OGE to start putting him out to pasture and letting some of the younger guys take over after last year. I was wrong. He smashed it.

    • claude cat

      What’s more interesting is how OGE manage Gerrans and Matthews expectations. Both a relatively interchangeable.

      • Kieran Degan

        I agree. The classics will be interesting. I suppose they’ll give MSR to Matthews and Ardennes to Gerrans. Surely they won’t waste time with co-leader rubbish.

    • Simon

      He is a very impressive rider wh can just about win any small group sprint and has already won two monuments. I think he can win something equally big this year provided his horror run of crashes has finished.

    • sket

      I hope he can take out Amstel Gold, and with two third placings I’m sure he feels the same

    • jules

      Gerrans knows how to win. 2015 was a bad year for crashes – part of the sport. I reckon 2016 is likely to be good for him.

  • Discussion thread #7: Did you find Orica-GreenEdge’s control of the race to be something of a turn-off?

    • MadBlack

      Turn off for sure but no other team was composed almost entirely (bar one) of Australian and NZ nationals all of whom are in top shape due to their respective Nationals being held a week prior. Then of course you have the Aussie team which has the highest motivation (and incentive) to perform well in front of a home crowd and local sponsors. Go figure, they dominate!

    • Jason de Puit

      It wasn’t a turn-off – it was pretty much the same as 95% of other cycling races as far as I could tell ..

    • claude cat

      I didn’t think OGE’s control of the race to be a turn-off.
      Perhaps, interestingly, the fact that every stage was won by an Australian, was perhaps more of an issue. Don;t get me wrong, I love to see us win races, but it makes me wonder if riders from other countries really gave it a red hot go?

    • Paolo

      Looking at the riders some teams sent, the time of year and the comment from one of Australia’s best it is clear that OGE was maybe the only team that went into the race 100% committed. As much as it’s WT and stuff, for many pro’s it’s still about a few racing km’s in nice weather before “the real races” start.

    • Dave

      A consequence of the organisers spending the money on pumping up the WTDU instead of appearance fees?

    • Simon

      Yes but they were the in form team.

    • Peter

      The French were asking themselves the same question at TDF when Team Sky dominated. Some fans then turned ugly. I think the better ‘problem’ to have when your local team dominates.

    • JCJordan

      OGE suffered/benefited from two key aspects to this year’s race. Firstly, the TDU seem to have every 3 years a lull year when the WT seen a less than spectacular standard of team. Not bad riders but more stage chasers or neopros who just don’t want to chase GC. This coupled with a completely lack luster effort from the wild cards (Drapac just did not seem to want to be here this year).
      When you are as committed to the goal as OGE are this just made sitting on the front an easy way of achieving that goal.

  • Discussion thread #8: If Richie Porte can almost win the TDU without really trying, what’s he capable of when in top form?

    • Neil

      TDF win.

      • MadBlack

        I beg to differ! He’s yet to proof to the world he can cope in a 3rd week of a grand tour. And frankly I believe he never will. He’s good for the one week races though.

        • Neil

          All fair. I guess the question was what is he capable of when in top form. For mine, he has shown he can climb and TT with the very best. It seems as though each time he has done this in a GT, he’s gotten sick. It will be interesting to see what happens when he stays healthy.

          • the million euro question this season, is how the BMC team cooperates amongst itself, at this years TDF, when aiming for GC.
            Dennis & Porte / Phinney & Van Gaarderen.
            I can foresee more dummy’s being spat out when it comes down to who’s riding for who – Porte or VG…..

            • Michele

              I don’t reckon you’ll see any spits from Phinney.
              He’s too classy for that. [I still have a man-crush on him from Thereabouts].

        • Michele

          Sorry for the semantics … I think Richie can cope in the third week of a grand tour. I’m not just sure he can string together 3 weeks [if that makes sense :) ].
          I’m not convinced he can win the Tour either, but after Cadel’s win, I will never say never. [I do want him to win a Grand Tour].
          There might be a year where everything just falls into place for him.

          • Dave

            Good way of putting it.

            In the 2013 Tour de France he was great in the third week, but almost useless to Froome in the second week.

            • Adam Fuller

              So do you think Sky might have been saving him for the third week? It is a team sport and there’s no need to risk the overall strategy by having every rider go hard on every stage.

        • Sean Doyle

          They said the same about Cadel as well.

        • sket

          But he’s only had two opportunities as leader, right? 2014 TdF where he was 2nd choice after Froome abandoned, and then 2015 Giro where he was plagued by bad luck, etc. As super domestique though, he’s been instrumental in the third week numerous times. Agree with Michele, more about being consistent (and lucky) over three weeks as it is for everyone!

      • Dave

        Getting a nice thank you card when TJvG gets his TdF win.

        • Neil

          The same TJvG who sulked out of the race last year? Who only can climb with the big guns at the Tour of Oman? That TJvG?

          • Dave

            He’s one week closer to getting through to the finish than Richie is.

      • jules

        agree. he’s capable. incredible how people are so willing to write him off, when he’s shown himself to have just about every necessary winning quality. getting sick and fading in the 3rd week sucks, but it’s a brutally tough race. this is one negative against so many positives. Richie is capable of winning it.

    • Simon T

      individual time trial would be nice to add to TDU

      • claude cat

        Logistics of having to bring out another set of bikes to Australia might make difficult.

        • Michele

          Nah, get them to do it on their road bikes. If it’s good enough for Qatar, it’s good enough for Adelaide.

        • Dave

          Should be less of a problem if the Victorians invest in the future of the Jayco-Herald Sun Tour and give more teams an incentive to have a longer stay in Australia with two TTs.

          TT bikes aren’t compulsory, so some teams might opt to bring over TT bikes only for their GC rider (and perhaps a TT specialist to target the stage win) while the other guys would just ride road bikes with clip on bars and faster wheels.

      • Kieran Degan

        Would possibly get some more GC riders and eliminate the need for time bonuses. Good idea.

    • Simon

      Who knows with Ritchie? Part of me says he can never do it given his history of having a bad day but I’m not privy to the inside knowledge about his drive, mental state and hunger for success. Obviously very talented and when he came through far wiser heads predicted a GT win. Let’s hope so.

    • Patrick Murphy

      I think with Porte you can always feel a REALLY bad day on a GT is lurking, whereas with the other main GC guys hit a bad spot they someone find a way to limit the losses. I like Porte as a rider, wish him well but just not sure he’ll ever quite make that top step.

  • Neil

    Slightly different topic, but I feel like we need to talk about Bobridge. The guy is an absolute enigma. Talks up the Nats time trial: finishes nowhere. Rides the road race: smashes the entire peloton and OGE team into the dirt. Goes into TDU with expectations: unsighted. What is the story?

    • Dave

      Working for Nizzolo at the TDU, and potentially already focusing his training on the track world championships.

  • Discussion thread #9: What else or who else stood out to you in the 2016 TDU? Who exceeded expectations? Who underperformed? Anything else about the race you’d like to discuss?

    • Greyhound

      How about the Pro Conti team that was in the race. Can’t recall their name at the moment.

    • Arfy

      Team Sky. They backed Ben Swift for sprint stages, he finished nowhere. Henao was a surprise for their GC ambitions, although he came close he’s a climber and would always struggle in an all-round role on a course with short climbs. GT was doing a lot of work, perhaps to gain race fitness, but surely he’d have been a better selection for GC.

    • Geoff

      Stand out for me – Robbie McEwen commentating. I didn’t bother watching much of the TV coverage (still haven’t really recovered from that game last year when you had to drink whenever Old Willunga Hill was mentioned) but I thought he was a breath of fresh air. Would love to hear him teamed up with Sean Kelly on Eurosport for the real races.

      • Cameron Harris

        Agree – I reckon Robbie acquits himself well, regardless if all the other crap channel 9 throws into the mix. Robbie and Keenan is the new dream team? I’m sad to say that Liggett is really showing his age, or his lack of care, with the number of obviously incorrect calls he made across the course of this year’s race.

        C!

        • Geoff

          Matt Keenan would be ideal for a dream team – his droning voice would put anyone to sleep

        • Dave

          I still rate Dave McKenzie pretty highly, he did a good job with the TDU’s live commentary for the crowds at the race.

          Matt Keenan really needs three things to improve his call:

          1. A producer who understands the distinction between the play-by-play call (Keeno) and the colour commentary (Macka, Robbie etc).

          2. Two colour commentators alongside him instead of just one. Macka does an admirable job at trying to hold off the deluge of statistics and factoids, but he needs backup!

          3. Ditch the green and gold pom poms. Even the likes of Mark Taylor and Ian Healy would be embarrassed by the unrestrained enthusiasm we hear from Keeno on the nights when Aussie riders are doing well.

          For the Tour de France this year, I’d be really happy if the ASO World Feed went with Keeno and Sherwen doing the main call, and SBS having Macka and Henk on colour commentary the race. Keep Robbie doing what he does best – stage previews and rider interviews.

          • Cameron Harris

            I forgot about David – he did a pretty good job at the Giro last year alongside Keenan.

            Given the reported thoroughness of the TdF broadcast diary with the names of the chateaux (chateauses?) and departments, maybe an ex travelshow francophile hubbard to add colour?

          • Kieran Degan

            I forgot about Henk. I love his passion. He has a really unique, untrained vibe. One of the least wankiest people in the cycle world.

      • sket

        Robbie didn’t even have to open his mouth to stand out with support like the cringe-worthy Tim Gilbert!

        • Simon

          Bit harsh, he is a link man and I think he does a good job. He’s not meant to give expert commentary but provide colour and continuity. It’s about offering a service to those who follow racing and those who may just tune in. At the end of the day it’s entertainment and I think we’re fortunate to have a live feed and highlights. Cycle racing is still a niche sport in oz and I’m just happy to see my sport on tv apart from the mainstream usual stuff.

          • Dave

            I agree. He did a better job as the anchor (i.e. ‘link man’) this year, and in some respects he’s actually better than Mike Tomalaris – he certainly hogs the camera less and doesn’t talk over the top of the expert commentators like Tomo does. Sure, he might not be a cycling specialist, but SBS have a soccer specialist anchoring their cycling coverage so he can’t do any worse.

            I did like his one liner about ‘when my cousin Phillipe raced here.’

            Overall, I would rather what we got this year than a return to the SBS days of live coverage on only the final day (often demanding the stage be shortened so they could save on satellite bandwidth and throw to a soccer game) and just 25 minutes per day crammed in before the evening news.

            • VerticallyCompliant

              Tim is definitely getting better each year. He’s come on leaps and bounds since his first effort. And his promotion during live throws in nine news updates are professional and better at promoting to the masses then some experts who can come across boring in short updates.
              He’ll be better again next year and 9’s coverage – although with room for improvement – was great.

              • Dave

                The interview by Simon Clarke on The Cricket Show during the Boxing Day Test was also pretty good for promoting a niche sport, and far better value than SBS could have offered with a promo spot at half time during an A-League match – it’s interesting to note that even women’s cricket is smashing the A-League in the TV ratings this season!

                I did spot Tomo prowling around down at the VH stage finish this year. It would seem that only providing short snippets for World News Australia doesn’t warrant SBS shipping out his hair and makeup team from Sydney (SBS don’t have any presence in Adelaide) as he certainly looks nowhere near that grey on TV in July!

                • jules

                  SBS runs on an oily rag. they’ve had their budget squeezed really hard.

    • Cameron Harris

      Caleb’s superman sprinting style – he knows how to get long and low!

    • Dave

      Best TDU from an overall perspective – pity the racing was so dull.

      • Simon

        I tend to agree as I remember watching it pass when I was last there a few years back and thinking procycling was like watching grass grow. However the city and government get right behind it and do their best to make it a great week but watching the racing apart from the last 20-30kms, is predictable. Get rid of the radios and power meters it has become so robotic.

    • Simon

      Just a late thought, what’s the gos on the performance of the SRAM wireless setup. Team’s happy? Any issues?

    • Simon T

      yer any ski resort could accommodate TDU riders for say 2 days
      why not extent the TDU by 3 days
      individual time trial
      and 2 days in ALPINE

      fallscreek could easily

  • Discussion thread #9: What else or who else stood out to you in the 2016 TDU? Who exceeded expectations? Who underperformed? Anything else about the race you’d like to discuss?

  • Simon

    Adam Hansen solo breakaway for 4 of 5 laps at Stirling during Stage 2!

  • Deryck Walker

    No mention of Caleb Ewens super super aero sprinting position? Except for the CT insta video, does anyone have some good shots of him side on full flight? From the vid it looked like he had most of his torso in front of the bars and over the front wheel, even more aero than cavs famous position.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BA6mVoBpSwp/

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  • Bex

    I have a question, why wasn’t Ferrar penalised for the bike swap? Ritchie only got a wheel on the TDF and got a 2min penalty, a whole bike is worth a lot more than that surely. Sure he was never a GC contender but surely the rules apply to everyone equally.

    • Dave

      The UCI Commissaires used their discretion to let Farrar go without a sanction because of the circumstances – it was a legit crash and he somehow got caught out behind all the ‘proper’ service options available. That was a good and reasonable application of the discretionary authority.

      Richie was quite rightfully given the applicable sanction at the Giro last year because he had all the other options available: teammates, the team cars and at least two neutral service cars.

      How all the Shimano cars managed to get ahead of Farrar before the climb that split the race is something that I hope would have been addressed by the chief commissaire at the post-race debrief.

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