Andorre Arcalis - France  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Wout Poels (NED-Team Sky) - Chris Froome (GBR-Team Sky)  pictured during stage 9 of the 2016 Tour de France from  Vielha Val d’Aran to Andorre Arcalis, 184.00 km - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016
  • Tim Ashton

    Its worth point out that there was 144km of individual time trialling in the 89 tour and a 46km TTT. I thinks its a little disappointing that there has been less and less TT kilometres in grand tours of recent years.

    Admittedly, extra TT’s in this year would only have added to Froome dominance. He is clearly the most well rounded GC rider of this era

    • Someone suggested to me that year there should be a Tour de France “rouleur” parcours that suits the likes of Sagan, Matthews, Degenkolb, etc. Few climbs with more than 6% gradient, and cobbles, shorter time trials, etc. Time bonuses on the mountain stages for Froome, Valverde, Bardet, etc, of course, but nothing that would let them gain too much time. Could be interesting…

      • LePuncheur

        The giro did this in the early 80s to capitalise on the Saronni/Moser rivalry; they also knew that the Italian public wouldn’t watch unless there was a genuine Italian contender, and what better offering than a battle between the two biggest names?

      • Matthew Beaudin

        A flanders stage followed a few days later by a Roubaix stage would be a good start…

        • Maybe just scrap the TdF altogether and do the Tour of Belgium?!

      • Paul Jakma

        I was saying that after last year’s tour – a “rouleur v grimpeur” course, balanced to try make it /possible/ for a Sagan like figure to challenge a Froome for GC. It’d be awesome, if there was a way to calculate such a course though! ;)

      • Andy B

        Cant see anyone beating Sagan in this case

      • Richard Bruton

        A flat longish (40km) team time trial could stop teams from loading their tour squads with climbers, and could leave leaders on all teams more isolated in the mountain top finishes.

      • Richard Bruton

        A flat longish (40km) team time trial could stop teams from loading their tour squads with climbers, and could leave leaders on all teams more isolated in the mountain top finishes.

    • Irenemlopez1

      <<o. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????:::::::!!be947p:….,…

    • Pete

      A very Lance like victory for Froome (team included). I like the idea of an 8 man team but other teams have to actually race like a team to come anywhere near Sky.

      • Patrick Murphy

        Are you trying to insinuate something?

        • Journey Man

          It’s too simplistic to attribute Armstrong’s dominance to drugs, Patrick. So despite your indignation, Pete has a valid point. Armstrong’s UPSP/Discovery teams realised the public, especially the American public, valued the Tour unequally, hence focussed the entire season on winning the GC. There was no secondary goal at the Tour, an the team sacrificed everything for that singular goal. Armstrong also heralded in many of the basic tenets of “marginal gains” by working closely with manufacturers such as Trek to optimise equipment.

          Perhaps it’s time to recognise, despite the glaring flaws, that a comparison to Armstrong could also define a singular, team focus on the Tour with meticulous attention to detail. It wasn’t all about the drugs. How much though, we’ll never know. In this respect, Sky sharply resemble a modern, evolved USPS or Discovery – with no insinuation of doping.

          Another aspect which is worth mentioning about he budget disparity is that didn’t happen by chance. They didn’t find the money under some rock. Sky deserve credit for the entire project and in attracting sponsors in an era where stable sponsorship for cycling is constantly bemoaned as being in short supply. Brailsford et al deserve more credit for this side of their team.

          • Patrick Murphy

            I think you read my comment wrong, or maybe I read yours wrong, or maybe I read Petes wrong! My comment was basically inferring that I thought Pete was suggesting Froome was on drugs? This may go down like a fart in a lift but I don’t actually have a hatred for LA, he didn’t start the doping in cycling he merely took it to another level of sophistication (his methods of doing this, the bullying and general being an ass were bang out of order), but he was a hell of a bike rider.

            The things you describe are certainly true, the Postal / Discovery teams were geared (pardon the pun), around winning the tour and winning the tour for LA (Sky = Froome). Their preparation (not the drugs) was also first class, attention to detail, working with manufacturers and finding those marginal gains (like Sky do now) was certainly comparable to what Sky are doing, they were ahead of the game in EVERY aspect, Sky are ahead of the game without the need for doping.

            Mark Renshaw, when asked on tv about Team Sky was quite complimentary, mentioning that if he can learn from some of the things Sky do in training etc then he gladly do the same.

          • velocite

            That last point in particular is well worth making. It’s good that Oleg is putting some of his money into a cycling team, but it has the appearance of being a personal project rather than a commercial deal. Not so obvious with BMC and I’m but a distant spectator anyway, but it looks a bit personal with Any Rhis, ie it depends on his personal commitment. By contrast the arrangement with Sky might just be commercial, as in the sponsor thinks it’s worth that much. And if so, as you say, that’s because of the Tour, the one race that transcends cycling.

      • Tim Ashton

        I’m not sure reducing teams from 8 to 9 would make a great deal of difference. Definitely can’t see it changing the 2016 result.

        One often not discussed point when people talk about Sky’s embarrassment of riches in talent, is the fact that they are the only team that goes with a genuine singular focus.

        • Dave

          Reducing to eight riders might not make any difference to the GC battle, but it would be a good thing for race safety.

          Introducing a salary cap like a real professional sport is the solution for evening up the GC battle. If each team was allowed to have one star team leader paid outside the cap, some of the Sky domestiques would leave to take those slots at other teams or even capped slots at other teams who make room under the cap for them.

      • jstevez

        Lance beat a juiced peloton unless you’re so naive and think that he was the only one.

  • Ragtag

    I see the pay inequality point. I will like to turn it on its head, though. The cycling sport is not the best paid in the world by far. I think more should be done to improve the business model of the sport so that ultimately more teams are able to compete with more money in their hands. If other teams are able to make money off the sport then that also gives them a higher purchasing power relative to SKY. Also I will like to add: if you let things be and make it easy for SKY to do this every year then in a few years you might not have a business model at all.

    • prog

      Given the vast differences between football, basket, baseball and cycling comparing money made is irrelevant. It’s the obvious result that the money has on any one given sport that is the running point here

      • Ragtag

        My point is: instead of capping pay, we should look at how the overall pie increases so that more is available for others. I think it is universally accepted that cycling is poor at monetizing itself.

        • Sorry if I’m completely missing your point but wouldn’t more available money just give more money to everyone, including SKY?

          • Ragtag

            At the moment many teams are run by millionaire or billionaire individuals. SKY is funded by corporates. Therein lies the difference. A more self sufficient model will mean an equitable monetary resource base.

    • Journey Man

      What should be done? If Sky have managed to attract this level of sponsorship, especially forming the stable long term partners, which they have, then other teams could do the same. Sky weren’t granted any special rights or competitive advantage.

      Whilst I don’t enjoy the, frankly, total dominance with which Sky has in the Tour, I feel Sky’s business model deserves recognition. It’s an integral part of their success.

      • CanSomeOneTellMe

        Why would Sky need to attract sponsorship? The Murdochs own a huge ugly media empire, the team is owned by them. The team isn’t separate from the Murdochs. That their money has been made with tabloid, pretty far-right politics, hardocre porn industry, etc. That deserves recognition all right.

        • Journey Man

          Team Sky has nineteen sponsors.

  • Arfy

    I think there are a couple of other issues not covered here:
    1. Underdone riders. Aru and Quintana did not live up to their hype, both had relatively strong teams and both were disappointing. Valverde and Nibali both seemed stronger than their team leaders (especially considering they’d already had a full race calendar to date), and team managers must be pondering what to do next year.
    2. Preparedness for “bad luck” and general team support. Both Yates and Porte had their share of bad luck, and weak team support. Porte wouldn’t have lost time on stage 2 if his team had been properly attentive and organised for a bike swap. Chalk-and-cheese with Sky’s organisation when Froome crashed, and you don’t need a big budget to get the basics right. Yates suffered in the final week from not having a strong team on the climbs, although no-one would’ve expected him to be in that position so I guess harder to plan for. Lessons for both teams for next year.

    Of course budgets are still a huge issue, it’s ridiculous to have the best riders all in one team and not riding against each other. Cutting the team numbers will not help, it will simply mean the big-budget teams spend more money per TDF rider so an even bigger pay gap to the smaller teams.

    • Samaway

      1. Agreed, though I think Aru’s condition is fairly easy to explain as the result of constant illness throughout the season. Quintana said he was suffering from bad allergies, which would explain why his form seemed worse than it was earlier in the year. I don’t think either of these cases present a problem for management, necessarily, more of a “cross your fingers for healthier riders next year” situation.
      2. Agreed, that Porte is clearly not very well supported when compared to Froome. However, Porte’s time loss was more “bad luck” than lack of support–i.e., it occurred toward the end of the race, while the peloton was splintering, so his team car was a lot farther back than normal.

      • Dave

        Porte’s problem was mostly about bad support.

        All the BMC domestiques had worked for GVA until they bonked and swung off, leaving the team coming into the final with nobody to look after their GC guys with a wheel or bike swap.

        BMC has not had a team captain since Hincapie finished up, and they desperately needed one at the Tour this year.

        • Dude pedalling

          It seems extraordinarily poor tactics/management that no BMC domestiques were there to give Richie Porte a bike. That wouldn’t have happened at US postal..

          • Andy B

            Couldn’t find one small enough

            • Dave

              The rear wheels are all the same size though.

              • Andy B

                Where’s Simon Clarke when you need him

                • Dave

                  Graduating from replacing wheels for Porte to replacing a whole rider for Australia!

        • Andy B

          I cant help but feel the push for teams to get “something” out of the tour causes this sort of problem, BMC obviously wanted fall back plans if the GC didn’t work out, hence a mixed team. Sky on the other hand were all in for one man

          If BMC were serious about GC you would have Porte and 8 helpers, not 2 leaders and some guys for stage wins.

          Would love to see BMC come next year all for GC and porte
          TVG, Atapuma, Sanchez, Caruso as domestiques for the hills and some big guys for the flats, Should make a strong challenge.

          When you start bringing guys with their own ambitions for a stage win like Gilbert/GVA it throws things into the mix
          They have the ability to put together a very strong GC team if that’s the goal
          Having said that they had a good run out of GVA this year, arguably more than they got out of Porte

          • Dave

            > I cant help but feel the push for teams to get “something” out of the tour causes this sort of problem …

            Not in this case. On day 2 of the Tour they should have still been sticking with plan A of showing confidence in their GC guys. Going all in for GVA would have been fine on a stage in the second week if both the GC guys weren’t going well.

            Going in with two protected riders for the GC was a necessity for BMC, both of them having a long history of fragility in the second and third weeks. The tactics to protect two riders is simple there – keep both of them protected in the peloton, don’t abandon them to chase an unlikely stage win.

          • Journey Man

            Agreed – good points. The crux of the issue is what garners more brand value? A heated duel for a top five or a stage win or two, and a rider in yellow so sponsors can use those photos all year… As a cyclist, I’d remember a three week long dual for the GC, but then I’m not paying for marketing fodder.

            • Dave

              Any position in the top twenty outside the podium is interchangeable, and without any other notable achievement (Porte didn’t win a stage or wear a jersey) won’t generate any interest for anyone bar the already established enthusiasts of the sport.

              In Australia at least, that’s a problem for BMC because their target market is fat middle managers and not enthusiasts.

    • David9482

      EXACTLY – changing the number of riders per team will lead to an even larger pay-equity gap!

      If other GC teams bring a sprinter, or another rider who isn’t really suited for climbing support, it’ll actually hurt them more relatively than Team Sky by having less riders to focus on the GC comp.

  • prog

    Like Chris himself pointed out. We are the only team here with9 men but only one objective. Rotating climber domestics and having them finish in the grupetto to conserve energy. I think it’s obvious that when you cant impose a salary or budget cap the second best option is to limit the amount of riders and thus curb the amount of support any one rider can get from a team no matter the money.

  • Jerry White

    I’m sure budget is an issue, but other sports deal with this, look at the Premier League this year small budget teams can win. Tinkov has a pretty big budget, I personally doubt that money is the issue at Tinkov. If Tinkov wanted to win then why employ Sagan, that money could have employed support for Contador. His choice. To be clear I am not criticising Sagan, I think he is great for the sport. The biggest issue at this years tour was the way the other teams seemed to have no clear leaders and multiple objectives. If you want to beat Sky who are totally focused on getting Froome in yellow to Paris, then you need to play the same game. No good hiding behind excuses.

    • Keep in mind that Tinkoff budget was 20mil and Sky is 35mil.

    • MushieG

      Tinkoff also won the green ,polka dot, and most combative prizes, and stage wins. So I would suggest that their tour was very successful.

    • jules

      Well said. Sky are just focused. Spending money doesn’t guarantee success.

  • Roberj4

    Good article. However the insight into Sky’s wage bill and buying up the best riders was no more than what Armstrong did with his Discovery Team and ‘buying up’ his rivals to join his team.

    • Jerry White

      Keep reading the inference that Sky is like US Postal/Discovery, the differences between the teams are massive, we all know Armstrong and his team mates doped and that is why he won, everything at US Postal was about Armstrong, hope you are not peddling the same old boring Sky must be doping.
      look at Man U one of the richest football clubs, struggled since Alex Furgeson moved on. Take Dave Brailsford out of Sky and would they be as successful, I doubt it,

      • Samaway

        The differences are not massive at all: huge budget, long roster of top climbers, five riders leading the group over the highest climbs in the Tour, philosophy of “technological gains,” focus on the TDF above all else, staunch denial of wrongdoing, attribution of wins to a “genius” director sportif, first winner to follow large scandals, etc…

        • Jerry White

          Team was run by Armstrong, no other rider got a look in, Sky have won with 2 riders, Sky focus at the tour on winning the GC, but also focus on many other races, Team Sky is owned by Sky not sponsored, Katusha budget is 32m, a number of other teams are in the 30m bracket etc etc etc, ultimately Brailsford is the brains behind Sky success as he was at Team GB cycling, so are people saying the track team dirty as well. The joke is the peleton still has unrepentant convicted dopers and yet not a peep when they win.
          Stand by what I said no comparison between Sky and Armstrongs team, just a very convenient smear.

          • Andrew O’Neill

            I don’t think that by making the comparison between Sky and US Postal, people are suggesting that Sky are doped.

            @roberj4:disqus made valid comparisons – big budget, focus on one rider, strong team of domestiques ruling the mountains and controlling the race…

            All sounds accurate… No mention of doping…

          • J Evans

            And no-one involved with doping has ever worked for Sky – Yates, Rogers, Leinders.
            The ‘no-one involved in doping’ thing is PR schtick.
            The ‘convicted dopers’ are always labelled as such whenever they do anything: Valverde, Zakarin, for example.
            And people here have clearly pointed out the similarities between USP and Sky – only you brought up doping.

      • Journey Man

        You’re too quick to take offence, Jerry, when no cause is given.

  • Daniel

    Is there also a problem that not all of the best riders prioritise the Tour De France? A loss of depth makes it easier for Froome/ Sky to do what they did.
    I know tennis is an individual sport but it is great that we know the very best prioritise the 4 Grand Slams, then the Masters Series. And after that the tennis pro circuit is a bit of a dog’s breakfast.
    I’m happy to be shouted down but the whole cycling Pro Tour seems like a dog’s breakfast. The traditions of cycling races is great but there are too many choices for teams/ riders. I would like to see the best racing each other in the one day Classics, Grand Tours, world champs, important one week races, etc.
    Off the top of my head maybe this would mean about 10 high priority races, for a total of 50 – 80 days of racing. But I want every road racer doing these 50 – 80 days. Obviously some tradition would need to go, there would race promoters happy, some not so happy, etc. e.g. the Tour Down Under in January may need to move or may exist without the big teams (and excitement) coming. But I want Froome doing the Roubaix, Boonen lining up in the Tour.
    The benefits, as it see it, would be 10 – 15 teams that we all know, that all turn up to the big races and hopefully make it more exciting. The advantage for the riders would be these 10 – 15 teams have a better budget. Maybe absolute performance would drop because, for example, Froome/ Porte couldn’t focus only on the Tour.

    • Journey Man

      Should the Tour be so esteemed? How about UCI points leader? There needs to to be greater praise and recognition for riders winning other races. We are so conditioned to feel like the Tour is the only game in town, which is unfortunate. I for one would like to see a grand presentation for the UCI points leader, which would reward teams for not purely focusing on one race.

      • Daniel

        Agreed. Who is better Sagan (Flanders, WC), Hayman (Roubaix), Nibali (Giro), Froome (Tour), Gerrans (Down Under), Cavendish (multiple stages), etc?

    • J Evans

      No, thanks. Let’s not ruin the classics and every other race just so those who don’t understand the intricacies of different types of race can watch ‘the big names’ in every race.

  • jms

    How about banning power meters and heart rate monitors to help stop the relentless tempo riding

    • Robert Merkel

      Not convinced that this would make a big difference. Pros would have a pretty good idea of how hard they can push, power meter or not.

      • Roger That

        Would love to see an academic study on that.

      • J Evans

        Then let them do that.

      • I think Froome was asked on Friday/Saturday about a power meter ban and he said he doesn’t use it too much during racing so it wouldn’t really affect him.

  • jakub

    I think a lot of the boredom is also caused by the nature of climbs used in the Tour. 99% of climbs have almost constant, not so sharp gradients around 7-8%, dragging for 10-15km. What is more, these constant inclines make it perfect for teams like Sky to control the race easily by setting a hard pace. You hardly see this during the Vuelta, where the climbs are shorter, sharper and with varying gradients up to 20-25%. That makes it perfect for attacking and much more entertaining spectacle.

    • J Evans

      The Vuelta is a one-trick pony. Steep climb at the end where the GC contenders sprint for bonus seconds. Good for those of a short attention span, but lacking any depth.

      • jakub

        LOL? Have you even watched previous editions? ’11 Froome vs. Cobo, ’13 Nibali vs. Horner, ’14 Froome vs. Contador and last year’s Dumoulin’s breaktrough lacking depth? Those were thrilling battles stage after stage, in my opinion much more entertaining than any Tour in recent years.

        • J Evans

          Mostly short uphill sprints at the end – all the racing was in the few km. LOL that

        • Robert

          Also the 2012 Vuelta was an interesting GC fight, Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez. Especially because Purito looked like he might win a grand tour, and Contador won while he wasn’t the strongest rider in the race. The Tour has been boring since 2011. I’d love to see more short stages like the 109km L’Alpe d’Huez.

  • J Evans

    Reduce teams to 7 riders (there’s a UCI committee that decides that – and the big teams are on that committee – so that won’t happen).
    Salary cap (but there are ways round that and other problems).
    Get rid of powermeters.
    A more varied parcours.
    The riders who are 2nd to 10th riding with even a semblance of balls.

    • Ride4fun

      7 man teams.
      No powermeters.
      Stages with 20-25% mountains. Now every mountain is an uphill TTT.
      2 short 30k or less TT.
      No team radios. One race radio for safety.

      • Andy B

        Froome still wins

        • J Evans

          The point is not to stop Froome winning; it’s to make it an interesting race.
          Cycling fans want an interesting race; fanboys want to wave pom-poms and cheer on Froomey.
          I don’t care who wins and Froome deserved it as not only was he the best, but none of the others had the balls to even challenge him. There was barely any racing.

          • Andy B

            I don’t think it was a lack of balls..

            • J Evans

              It was a lack of ability too. But in two and a half decades of watching cycling I don’t remember having ever seen such a pitiful display as that second last stage.

        • Ride4fun

          I don’t care if Froome wins. Or Quintana.
          I do not want the TDF from becoming the Timetrial de France. Its 85% there now with Sky. The next high budget team to come along will ramp it up to 95%. Boring.
          Having riders make decisions on the road not with DS in their ear or power meters, etc. Looking for more excitement or unpredictiblity.

  • Patrick Murphy

    Froome won going uphill, downhill and on the ITT’s, the reason the battle for the GC was so boring is because he is 1 level above the likes of Quintana, Porte, Contador, Nibali et al. Then you throw in that Sky have no other objective at the TDF than to bring home the yellow jersey, the other teams need to get their act together and understand this.

    Take a look at BMC, they had 2 leaders and other objectives with GVA. For me, Porte was the most impressive rider at the tour (Froomes performance was expected), with an organised team the battle with Froome would have surely taken on another dimension.

  • Wily_Quixote

    Skinny guy with strong team wins race with a week to go. Just like almost every TdF in the last 20 years. Yawn.

  • prog

    For once you cant fault Froome. He did what he could to make things exciting. The only thing he’s not yellow jersey level at so far is starting controversy in interviews etc :D Got some catch up to do in that department

  • Peter

    So tell me, what strategies/tactics could be used againsy Sky?

    • lefthandside

      1. Hire a GT rider who can climb better than Froome and all of his train AS WELL AS time trialling better than Froome because the TT is where Froome left everyone else behind really

  • Stefan Eckardt

    Sky is a team built for the grand tours, namely the TdF. It is their main focus. They say they want to do better in the classics, but they continue to struggle to get consistent good results in those races, especially the mouments. It’s all for the Tour and the main GC rider. I think the other teams who want their guy to get yellow, there’s really only a handful of them, need to adopt this same model. No having two “leaders” or trying to have guys to support sprinters, climbers, etc. Everybody works for one guy. Period. Look at the most successful tour riders/teams: Froome/Sky, Postal/Lance, Banesto/ Indurain from recent history. Unfortunately, it’s boring as heck for the fans but that’s how you win. Then again if we had 3,4 or even 5 teams with this philosophy maybe there would be more of a GC showdown.
    Another issue is the money. The team with the biggest budget will be able to afford the best riders. Simple. It has to factor in to equation; and does.
    Those are the two biggest factors for me….

  • velocite

    Firstly, I don’t think the GC battle was boring. I wouldn’t say a 4′ advantage was ‘mammoth’. Until Quintana was dropped on Ventoux many thought he was a danger. And the battle for placings was pretty interesting. And I don’t see how reducing the team size will achieve anything: a rich team dedicated to the TdF in the way of Sky will still have the advantage. And it’s not only money, it’s tactics and organization on the road. Compare Froome’s fall with Porte’s. Froome had a bike in seconds and 5 riders to bring him back. We saw Porte standing forlorn beside the road, and then he rode back mainly on his own. And BMC is not exactly poor.

    • Dave

      > I wouldn’t say a 4′ advantage was ‘mammoth’.

      Good point, it wasn’t. We were spoiled by being allowed to get used to the close battles in the years before Wiggins won the Tour with Sky.

      > We saw Porte standing forlorn beside the road, and then he rode back mainly on his own. And BMC is not exactly poor.

      Nothing to do with money, all about the team all working for a GVA stage win on the day. Orica is estimated as having half the budget and didn’t have any trouble with simultaneously working for the stage win and protecting Yates on the same day.

    • I was talking about Stage 20 when I described the gap as ‘mammoth’ – realistically there was never going to be a challenge to Froome on that stage.

      But I think the ‘boring’ (I don’t write the title) aspect was to do with the rest of the top ten as much as any challenge to Froome. Coming into the Alps everybody knew that it would take a disaster for him to lose, but it seemed that the rest of the GC guys were largely happy with their spot and there was very little attacking as a result.

    • Robert

      The four minutes on GC might not be huge, but it was never under threat. I don’t think that Froome was riding at his limit this tour.

  • Lynn

    The Tour de France, like many of the top Tours, seem to have little interest in attracting the interested, but less fanatic, fan of sport. They cater to fanatics. A friend of mine is a great athlete and appreciates any sport, but he says the Tours seem to treat the average fan as “suckers,” thinking we can actually fall for the hype that a stage win is so great. The bottom line to non-fanatics is the overall winner. They even call it something arrogantly stupid: the “GC.” Look, it’s called the race, and it’s the only race that counts, not stage wins. As for polka dots, green, white, who cares. I love the sport and watch every year, but I admit I tire of Liggett and Sherwin trying to make the other jerseys and individual stages really matter. So, Rafal Majka won the polka dot jersey. About 6 people care. The Tours need to stop insulting the audience. The overall winner is what matters. Concentrate on that, have less of the long, flat, boring stages. Yes, I KNOW there is excitement even on flat stages, but I’m pretty much a fanatic. I even know who Rafal Majka is. Most people won’t and yes, I think that’s a shame because it’s a great sport that should attract more people. In a year when a team dominates like Sky, well, it’s called a salary cap. It saved the National Hockey League and it makes the NFL the most watched sport in America due to the parity of competition. But even with no cap, if a team dominates, it’s better to deal with that than trying to make the average fan care about the winner of stage 9.

    • NYCRider

      This doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever.

      Firstly – how does your friend’s athletic ability (as an aside I take issue with any non-pro or non-ranking amateur being labeled as an athlete) add any extra weight to their thoughts around the TdF? It’s implied that they’re not a cyclist or a fan of the sport of cycling.- surely that’s the angle that matters here right? Your point is around accessibility for the casual fan, correct? If they can bench 250 or play high-level amateur soccer at weekends, that has zero bearing.

      Secondly – I’m confused about this notion that these “Tours” are somehow treating the average fan as a “sucker” by making them think stage wins / the other jerseys hold weight. What a load of garbled bollocks. Yes the yellow jersey would probably be viewed by most as the pinnacle of cycling achievement, but stage wins (and the green jersey) are still a very big deal, especially for non-GC riders/contenders (sorry for the.use of GC there by the way – what should we use instead?). Cav is at 30 stage wins now – that’s a big fucking deal. A tour stage win holds weight that’s equal to or greater than most one day races. Nobody, either within the race organisation or the tv commentary team, is insulting anyone in the audience by celebrating or focusing on a stage win. Even a single stage win can drastically alter the trajectory of a rider’s career – particularly important in a sport where the pay for most riders is significantly less than in other professional sports

      Thirdly – if anything I would have thought the converse to your point is true. That the stage win is more likely to provide instant/easy gratification for the casual fan, not the tracking of the yellow jersey competition. What do you think is more likely? That after stage 1 the casual fan said “oh my god that sprint was crazy exciting and did you see that crash?!” or that he said “ah shit that sucks for Rodriguez already being a minute and a half off yellow”?

      Fourth – on the theme of conversely – are you kidding me about Sherwen and Liggett? I am sick to fucking death of hearing them explain multiple times per tour, every tour, things like – what “HC” means, what those “special” bikes are they ride in a TT, why someone’s teammate is or isn’t attacking, what every jersey’s colour signifies, who Peter Sagan is, etc etc. As if every broadcast is geared towards someone tuning in to a bike race for the very first time. Surely they are perfect for your needs? I think McEwen and Keenan did a much better job of crediting the audience with a bit of pre-existing knowledge. Hopefully they continue to get more of Phl and Paul’s air time next year.

      I don’t disagree with the notion of salary caps, shared revenue, smaller teams or many of the other ideas being mentioned by you or others in this thread, to try and spice things up. The TdF is by no means perfect and I really hope that next year’s edition has a more closely contested race for yellow. But to discount all the other aspects/traditions of the race and at the same time try and make it appeal more to the lowest common denominator type of viewer just seems like utter nonsense – what a bland pile of shite the race would be then.

      PS knowing who Majka is doesn’t make you a fanatic. Even the most casual of NFL fans could tell you who the 3rd/4th biggest name on a a given team is….

    • J Evans

      Cycling fans care about all the things you don’t care about.
      Cycling will never be football (the real football – played with a ball-shaped object and a foot) and there’s no reason to want it to be. There is no benefit in popularity. The people who want this are only interesed in money – money doesn’t make good sport.

  • alexvalentine

    Going down to 8 riders per team is just a band aid, if cycling was managed like a professional sport we would see the following moves made:

    1. Revenue Sharing
    There is zero economic incentive to invest in a cycling team. Every other professional sport has TV revenue sharing and ticket sales. Right now we have a couple of teams with high budgets, and all the rest are scraping by with budgets that will never allow them to contend. The sponsorship situation in the sport is a joke too, look at all the teams being propped up by oligarchs/states and the bike industry. 15 years ago there wasn’t a single primary team sponsor from the bike industry. If you take out state sponsored and bike sponsored teams, the UCI world tour is down to like 6 teams.

    2. Salary Cap
    Imagine if the NBA didn’t have a salary cap? The only competitive teams would be Boston, NY, and LA. Have a salary cap and overage penalties that are fed back to the other teams.

    • Dave

      Both right on. Another point to take from professional sports:
      3. No prizemoney, or negligible amounts.

      ——–

      The problem with attempting (1) is finding the revenue to share. Most races are propped up by governments who will only cover the gap between costs and revenue, and the income from TV rights is negligible when cycling is typically shown on state TV stations as daytime filler or even paid programming.

      If ASO were to hand over half of their profit from all of their cycling events put together and the 18 WorldTour teams were to share it, it would only be a share of about €500,000 per team (a a figure also known as Peter Sagan’s monthly pay) and there would only be a bit more coming from RCS Sport if they did the same. This only emphasises the need for (2) as the sport needs to present more opportunities for less risky sponsorship if the size of the pie is to be increased.

      A salary cap model I’d like to see for cycling is allowing each team to have one marquee signing exempt from the salary cap, but with a heavy luxury tax on highly paid marquee riders (i.e. any portion over the salary of the highest paid rider inside the cap) which would be fed back into the sport and split between equalisation payments and a stability fund. Super domestiques would disappear overnight as they would be quickly poached to sign as marquee riders, and negative race strategy would also fail when no team would have the ability to control it.

      NBA teams have the advantage of the local market to build their ‘story’ for the fans and give the sponsors something real to connect with. Cycling teams don’t really have that, so signing a marquee rider would be a good way to give sponsors something worth investing in which won’t change every second season. It certainly worked well for getting the Indian Premier League (cricket) off to a good start with each team being allowed a marquee player to build their brand around.

    • J Evans

      Going down to 7 riders would be more than a band aid. Also, it can be done – or it could be if the UCI had any authority/competence at all.
      I like both of your ideas, but greed will stop both from happening. Also, there are legalities with both – salary capping is illegal in the EU. Therefore, it would have to be voluntary. That won’t happen. And even if it did, teams could easily get round it.
      However, both should be tried.
      But we’re stuck with the UCI – they do nothing about motorbike dangers, crowd encroachment, CIRC did nothing, the disc brake farce, their committment to ethics (whilst the torturing rulers of Bahrain are about to start up a team), motor-in-bike blamed on one person and her team apparently unaware of it, the preposterous new weather protocol. Etc. and so on.
      Only by getting rid of the UCI could anything actually change.
      Sponsors have disappeared because the general public still thinks cycling = doping.
      Cycling doesn’t need more money – it needs financial parity.
      But the UCI, the teams and the race organisers are all focused on profit.
      And there are plenty of other thing – suggested here and elsewhere many times – that might help and should be tried: banning powermeters, radios, etc.

    • I do like the idea of smaller teams. Couldn’t see it realistically go lower than 8 for a GT and yes, it’s debatable how much that’d change things. UCI Regulation 2.2.003 does say that GT organisers can fix team sizes to as little as 7 riders (with approval from the PCC) – https://embed.gyazo.com/cef5bca3205668514c2232be8dfd0069.png – though any reduction would be fought by the riders/CPA.

      Same with the budget cap (as opposed to a salary cap for individuals) – anything that sees the riders potentially lose out on money/jobs is incredibly hard to imagine.

      I think revenue sharing would only produce a very small profit per team – I think inrng worked out what the ASO could feasibly pass on to TDF teams and it ended up something like $300,000. RCS even less. Not that I think either would particularly want to do that.

      So there are things that could be changed but some pretty big obstacles in the way.

  • Jerry White

    Regarding money I think the author is being economical with the facts, Katusha 33M, BMC around 30M, Tinkov around 30M. But how much better story to suggest Sky money wins everything because they are 20M ahead of Movistar.

    • Sky 35M, Katusha 32M, BMC 29M, Tinkoff 25M ….

      https://twitter.com/RenaudB31/status/755292372196466688

      10M more than Tinkoff sounds pretty good right?

      • Dave

        Keep in mind that 25M estimate for Tinkoff does not include the salaries of Contador and Sagan which are paid by Specialized.

        • Oh, I didn’t realize, thanks for the info.

      • Dave

        Keep in mind that 25M estimate for Tinkoff does not include the salaries of Contador and Sagan which are paid by Specialized.

  • David9482

    Am I the only one who thinks part of the reason it was so stifled is that the riders are cleaner than in the past and that therefore long-range attacks don’t work the same as before?

    • Paul Jakma

      Except, if you go back further still, past the hormone years, there were even bigger gaps.

      Despite that, there were similar tactics. E.g., Merckx had a loyal train of super-domestiques to grind the energy out of the other teams and their climbers (which Merckx wasn’t).

    • J Evans

      Zero evidence of any link between the two.

      • David9482

        No solid evidence, but the characteristics of the race indicate it might be cleaner:

        1. GC riders can’t recover well enough to attack all out each day
        2. Domestiques are closer in capabilities to the leaders – eg. GC leaders from other teams can’t out-pace climbing domestiques – 10-years ago, there was a clear gap between riders at Lance’s, Ulrich’s and Basso’s level and their helpers.

        • J Evans

          So, you think their helpers were clean?
          They weren’t. This is a known fact.
          Correlation does not equal causation.

          • David9482

            I didn’t say “clean”… I said “cleaner”.

            I definitely believe that whatever people are using is not as drastic as the epo/hgh/etc. programmes of the 80/90/00’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams are ahead of testers, but it isn’t the same magnitude. Also, don’t forget that most of Team Sky spent larger periods of 2016 at altitude.

            • J Evans

              You misunderstand.
              You said ‘there was a clear gap between riders at Lance’s, Ulrich’s and Basso’s level and their helpers’
              Replying to that, I said ‘So, you think their helpers were clean?’
              There’s no evidence that they were cleaner and there is no evidence that because the sport is clean (no evidence for that either) long range attacks are no longer possible.
              Contador 2012 Vuelta; Quintana 2014 Giro – two long range attacks off the top of my head, which won grand tours.

              • David9482

                Ok, I understand – I think that when Lance was on his programme it was more intense than his domestiques (cost of the programme as a function of his salary). So, Lance and the other top leaders were head and shoulders above the lesser GC riders and Lance’s domestiques. Lance’s helpers were not clean, but not as dirty as Lance.

                Of course this is speculative, we’ll never find evidence to support any of this. I’m just trying to explain why this year’s GC competition was very different than in past years.

                Yes, 2012 and 2014 had those two long range attacks, but the Tour hasn’t had a legitimate long-range attack for a couple years.

                • J Evans

                  Because they all – very quickly – accepted that they couldn’t beat Froome and so didn’t try, instead aiming to come as high in GC as possible by riding conservatively.
                  Nothing to do with being cleaner or less clean.

              • David9482

                But back to my initial point – the 2016 year seemed that the gaps between riders were pretty small.

                So, whatever Sky is doing (even if the gains are mostly from living at altitude), it isn’t that much better than everyone else. However, because they had 3-5 men that could put all the other GC men in difficulty is suggestive – I’m not entirely sure what it is suggestive of though, I can only guess.

            • Nomad

              The studies on altitude training show a modest 1-2% gain in performance.

              OTOH, the Morkeberg paper on blood manipulation says; “altitude exposure increases the endogenous EPO production and therefore diminishes the ratio between exogenous and endogenous EPO during rHuEPO administration, and thus the sensitivity of the direct EPO test.”

              “Blood manipulation: current challenges from an anti-doping perspective.” (Morkeberg, J/Hematogy Am Soc Hematol Educ Program/2013). Morkeberg states blood manipulation is still “widely abused.”

              http://m.asheducationbook.hematologylibrary.org/content/2013/1/627.long?view=long&pmid=24319242

              Also, The CIRC report from last year has said a culture of doping still exists but that it’s been primarily pushed underground, and mentions that AICAR (metobolic modulator) is popular within the peloton. Interestingly, AICAR & TB 500 were found in the possession of Colombian doping doctor Alberto Beltran when he was arrested a few years back in Spain.

              AICAR also difficult to differentiate between endogenous & exogenous sources, so a threshold ratio is currently utilized:

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24978834

              IMO, not much has changed…same as it ever was.

        • Nomad

          I think with Wonderboy if there was any clear gap with some of his domestiques it was because he made sure of it. Remember the time Landis put him in difficulty on a MTF? Wonderboy flushed his BBs down the toilet for misbehaving.

          I don’t think Wonderboy was the only high responder to oxygen-vector doping back then. Didn’t Landis go on and win the 06 Tour, and didn’t Heras win 4 Vueltas in a row after he left USPS?

          Wonderboy was a control freak with his team…none of his domestiques we going to show him up.

        • Nomad

          Perhaps some are cleaner, but, IMO, others seem to be going full-throttle with O2-vector doping.

          Here’s another way of looking at it: How can Sky’s domistiques drop like a lead balloon a climber like Valverde, whose had a significant history of oxygen-vector doping?

          And taking a look at Piti’s recent achievements: He’s out-kicked the young Bucks on the Mur 3 yrs in a row now, and he’s finished on the podium in last year’s Tour & this year’s Giro…all in his mid-30s. In addition, his 2013/15 Alpe d’Huez times, which put him in the all-time top 100 list, is almost a minute faster than his previous best time set during his Puerto heydays when he was 10 yrs younger (…still high-octaned?).

          So, from a scientific standpoint how could “any” clean rider drop a top GT contender, one with a significant history of O2-vector doping, on these high climbs day in and day out

  • David9482

    An 8-man team won’t change anything. If anything it will hurt Sky’s rivals who don’t dedicate the full-team to 1 GC leader. Teams with more than one goal will have even less (relatively) man-power to compare with Poels/Thomas/Landa/etc.

  • Lach

    I really enjoyed this years tour, didn’t think it was boring. *shrug* ??

  • Arie Beets

    What makes the tour boring is the radio contact, do away with that and let the riders sort it out and not the mathematicians in the team car, also to make it more interesting in the time trails, no radios again and run it in reverse and let the yellow jersey start first and set the time

    • Bob L

      I completely agree. I have been calling for a couple “radio-free” stages every year for quite a while now. Just have that guy on the motorbike with the chalkboard. I absolutely love the idea of running the time trials in reverse order. Put the leader out there as a rabbit and let the other riders go after him. Why should the yellow jersey get such a huge advantage in TTs?.

    • Patrick Murphy

      I think a middle ground solution would be to only have 1 rider per team have a radio, but I agree, none needed in ITTs.

  • Berne Shaw

    Two diametrically opposing forces create boredom. Doping reduced to micro doping and ASO stacking the route to favor French climbers. In the era of major doping there was extreme fluctuations of rider abilities as in the “tour of two speeds”. This created winning time differentials of large dramatic breakaway amounts. Strangely the faux seven winner Armstrong with the giant lie he worked harder and was a super athlete and the best of the dopers NOT TRUE. Was exciting to many despite weirdly predictable. But they loved the speed differentials a la pantani contador flying away.

    Two the all mountains short TT with uphill TT has produced such a hard exhausting tour that all riders fear making to deep an effort one day only to lose enormous time the next with a bad day. Thus big efforts are paradoxically punished and team tactics nullified.

    It isn’t necessary to bring back doping nor to take away Sky budget. Removal of micro doping would produce more variation in ability strangely for example Valverde at 36 would not be able to ride three years in a row at peak form the whole season. And the return of less mountains and more flat,TT would allow real all rounders to compete and challenge even Sagan.

  • I wonder whether the Olympic games may have lead to more conservative racing on the part of many who are conserving for the next big race?

  • Patrick Murphy

    I really don’t understand why there is so much call to change things like salaries and parcours? It seems like everyone wants this to stop Sky from winning when what needs to happen is if teams are serious about GC ambitions rather than relying on Froome abandoning they just need to up their game and come up with better tactics. Whilst Sky have diversified to offer genuine challenges to 1 day races their focus is the Tour, when they are at the tour their sole ambition is the yellow jersey, nothing else. There isn’t one other team that has that focus, Movistar were pretty useless this year, Valverde looked than stronger than NQ from the outset!! Surely their data (if they actually collect any) would have told them that NQ wasn’t in good enough shape to challenge Froome, a smaller gamble would have been to back Valverde. AV only lost 18s in the first TT to NQ, you can be sure that would have been smaller if he was team leader, he’d of found a few more watts from somewhere.

    BMC were also a shambles, 2 joint leaders to start with. PLEASE!!!! Grow a pair and choose one, splitting resource like that when you need total focus to beat Froome and Sky was comical. They should have backed Porte who was clearly on the form of his life, if it all went wrong then GVA and TVG would be capable stage winners to salvage something further down the line.

    In summary, if you want to beat Froome and Sky, you need to focus on the GC 100%, pick a team solely with that goal in mind AND I would suggest that maybe some discussion with other teams takes place to form some kind of alliance.

  • J Evans

    To reiterate: the point is not to stop Froome winning; it’s to make it an interesting race.
    And if you thought that was an interesting race, one can only assume that you are either a fantatical Froome/Sky/British cycling fan or you never saw a Tour prior to 2012, nor do you watch any other race during the season.

  • Berne Shaw

    First and foremost Froome is a once in a generation rider with true all rounder capacity rider skills and tactical savvy like Lemond actually. Having had an undiagnosed illness before he is extra strong now as it sparred him having the wearing out that all racers experience with more tours and full on seasons. Even without a super team he would contest and likely win. He is that good.

    That said two other factors are involved. One micro dosing creates an artificial level field of wannabe racers at peak form for a prolonged time. They are not good enough to overtake like in the days of full on doping. The result is false leveling of the race but no one can then attack.

    Two ASO making artificial all mountains and uphill short TTs wears out everyone and makes attacks carry the risk of injury and exhaustion the day after. Done to promote French climbers and undo all rounders like Froome. ASO must stop this!!!!!!

    If they change paradoxically Froome will have more not less competition

  • david

    What if the general classification was changed to be points based rather than time based? With a little spreadsheet fiddling I found that there were a total of 5392 sprint points awarded and 1529 mountain points. By multiplying mountain points by (5392/1592) to bias them equally and then adding each rider’s sprint points + adjusted mountain points, I get a top 10 of:

    Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team
    Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
    Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling
    Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
    Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha
    Rui Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida
    Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
    Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling
    Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky

    Of course, it isn’t that simple. The points break up would have to be tailored to make it genuinely even (my maths clearly favours climbers), and it would change the dynamic of the race altogether (no one will let a break away go). But to my mind this modified top 10 includes most of the more interesting/entertaining riders, and it would mean that each climb and each sprint would be genuinely raced.

    • Patrick Murphy

      I think a points based system would be confusing for most people, for us enthusiasts not, but the rest of the viewing audience who maybe only ever watch one bike race a year it might turn them off. I doubt ASO and associated sponsors would risk that.

  • James_Casper

    So it wasn’t just me who thought the climax to this tour was akin to Police Academy 5.

    Thank goodness for the Giro and Vuelta. Time to make Grand Tours a 2 week long race. Won’t change the overall winner. We are just put out of our misery 7 days earlier.

BACK TO TOP

Pin It on Pinterest

17 NEW ARTICLES
December 9, 2016
December 8, 2016
December 7, 2016
December 6, 2016