Vuelta Espana 2016 - stage-7
  • mattNYC

    Personally I think it should be left alone, and an agreement should be reached and self-policed by the peloton. If the obvious 3-4 big GC names can come to an agreement, things should change pretty quickly. The peloton needs a mindset shift, not more rules.

    Implementing a rule change won’t fix the problem – the mess will just happen a few k further out. And moreover, it will detract from the race. A race after all, is meant to be about getting from A to B first. Not “A to B, except for you skinny guys, you’re A to B-3km. But for you big guys, or for you skinny guys helping the big guys (but not the skinny guys helping the skinny guys), it’s still A to B. Well…., except for you skinny guys who are doing well, but not quite as well as the other skinny guys, you’re still racing to B. If you want to. And you quite skinny guys, I guess you can race all the way to B as well”

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      I prefer self policing as well, but with the rule change the mess won’t necessarily occur earlier. There is no incentive for sprinter leadout trains to start working too early; they simply run out of steam getting to the GC time check and they have nothing to support their designated sprinter.

      The early GC checkpoint does detract from the race. Does it detract more/less than losing a number of GC contenders to sprint crashes in non-contending stages? That’s what the argument should be. You can always say it’s part of racing, for sure.

      • mattNYC

        Of course I want something to be done to avoid losing GC contenders to totally unnecessary/stupid crashes – but I’m just saying it needs to be done from inside the peloton (which it sounds like you agree with from the start of your response), rather than by adding new rules. Like with everything bike racing-related, there are so many shades of gray. A new rule is an overly simplistic solution. It doesn’t account for all the varying factors that would dictate who should be in the mix for the win, and who should be showing some common sense and holding back a little. The peloton though, would know exactly what “should” be happening.

        And yeah I’ll concede that a with a 3k rule- a shitshow in the preceding few k’s wouldn’t be guaranteed – in some situations it may be helpful. But on the flip side, there’s plenty of occasions where the trains are organised and the stress levels are maxed out, way before the 3k mark. In races / stages like those, having a bunch of GC riders in the mix racing to the 3k-to-go mark, wouldn’t solve the problem.

        • winkybiker

          Self-policing hasn’t worked yet. Do you think that anything has changed that means self-policing will work in the future?

          • mattNYC

            Obviously not. I’m not suggesting that the status quo continues. Obviously there needs to be a discussion amongst the teams/riders – I just think handling it internally is the better approach instead of more rules.

            • winkybiker

              OK, but what would trigger such a discussion? Why hasn’t it happened? What incentive is there for a GC rider to co-operate rather than gain those precious few seconds? I think the reason there is no informal agreement is that it just isn’t practical. As soon as one GC rider decides to take advantage of the “truce” in the final few km, the whole thing collapses. I’m sure none of the GC riders actually want to be mixing it with the sprint trains, but to sit on the back of the sprint bunch is also to risk crashing; but let a gap open for safety and your rivals will potentially take advantage (admittedly by risking more). Being at the front with your own team-mates is the “least-worst” option that currently exists.

              • mattNYC

                It seems the trigger/impetus already exists – probably from the fact this topic comes up repeatedly in the press via an assortment of riders/ds etc. The incentive I suppose, is not being involved in an unnecessary and possibly race(or season)-ending crash. That would be incentive enough for me, but then I’m not a pro-rider.

                I understand the current “logic” you’ve outlined, but I think most (or at least a lot of) people (and riders it would seem) agree it’s fairly nonsensical, and a recent development in pro road racing – so clearly it must be possible to revert back to how things were, without piling on new rules.

                But if you disagree with the idea of it being sorted internally – what’s your proposed solution?

                • winkybiker

                  I don’t really understand why it now seems to be a “thing” that GC riders get crashed out in the sprints (or cause others to crash), whereas we don’t remember it being such an issue in the past. I don’t really have a solution. I agree that two finish lines is too complex, but remain sceptical of the stability of informal consensus fixes.

                  Perhaps there’s a Darwinian process that could come into play. Get crashed out a few times and you might be less keen to mix it with the sprint trains. Once it’s happened enough, perhaps it stops happening as much. Then a new guy comes along……

                • Rodrigo Diaz

                  I would give this a whirl (3 or 5 km GC timecheck) experimentally, see if it makes a difference. It won’t make it worse, I think. If it complicates matters without a positive effect on crashes, then take it back.

                  Heck, I’m an engineer, so it’s test, test, test…

            • btw, barriers in the final 3km (and safe course design) is one of the ideas talked about at the recent Road Commission – http://www.uci.ch/pressreleases/the-uci-bring-key-stakeholders-together-further-improve-riders-security-races/

  • Patrick

    what about the flat stage races where it is the sprinters and classics guys who take the GC? makes no sense to take GC times early then. sure you can have different rules for different races but where do you draw the line and how do you keep the sport understandable (or at least no more complex than it is already)?

  • NEcyclist88

    But why stop there? Why don’t we just make the grand tours a series of individual hill climb time trials?

    Rider safety is an important issue and one that does need to be addressed, but once you start breaking up times for different categories of riders depending on the profile of the stage, haven’t you also begun to defeat the purpose of grand tours altogether?

    • Luke Bartlett

      just test their vo2 max and threshold/weight for gc, then peak power for sprinters.

      • Crompensation

        Zwift. Is also a solution

    • Dave

      Time trials distort races and should be banned, or at least changed so that the top three get time bonuses and everyone else finishing on the same time.

  • I agree that there should be some conversation about safety but I think a lot of it can be solved through proper course preparation. Choose a wider road to finish on, ensure all obstacles are marked or choose a finish area that has very limited furniture. There are times where sprinters get bonus seconds for winning the stage. How would this play into the GC time rule? I don’t think that taking the time at 3km is the proper move.

    • Yes both the Vuelta crashes were down to problems in the course (the pole and a late, tight corner) – something to look at.

  • darrindg

    Do the time bonuses for stage wins shift to the 3km mark too (where such bonuses exist, of course)? Sounds like the 3k mark will become point of craziness- just when the sprint trains are trying to set up.

    Personally I think it should be left alone. It’s a race, don’t try to over complicate it. Crashes happen in sprint finishes quite often – often also coinciding with sharp turns near the end or unmarked/unremoved road furniture. Design better finishes and remove the crap on/near the road would probably help more than the proposed change (maybe also remove time bonuses – though weren’t they added to try and have more of the GC contenders more interested in making every place count at the end of a stage?)

  • Morten Reippuert Knudsen

    come on… cycing is also about staying on your bike. We are also seeing riders crashing in the netral zone? whats next in the hunt for margial gains – take they to take the time at the start line and just calculate power/weight ratio and declare a winner?

    Seriously – take the time on the finish line, no gifts for crashes etc… it part of the fucking race. riders who dont want to risk crashing an loosing their GC ambitions can stay away from the front if they chose to.

    Im sure that the sprinters will give them an elbow if they keep medeling in when the sprint is opened up – wich will make the skinny climbers stay away from the front and accept their meaningless 10 sec losses

    • Dave

      “To finish first, first you must finish”

      – legendary motorsport commentator Murray Walker.

  • Dave

    No. It already compromises the sporting integrity too much as it is, cycling would be a laughing stock if it was made worse. When was the last time you saw Usain Bolt racing for the 70 metre mark, or a footy team celebrating their being in the lead at three quarter time?

    In my opinion, the following changes would be better options that would improve safety without compromising the sporting integrity:

    1. Tighten the application of the 3km rule to eliminate the abuse of it (e.g. Sky sitting up and losing over a minute at the Tour) so it only applies to those riders who have actually been involved in a crash. No blood, no time correction.
    Have a mechanical? Learn to do a pre-ride equipment check or ride better gear next time.

    2. Alter the counting of time gaps between groups on the finish line. Rather than splitting times when there is a 1 second gap (which is measured between the back of the front group’s last rear wheel and the front of the next group’s first front wheel) it could be allowed to have a 3 second gap – but only where both of the groups in question have at least 15 riders, to protect the right of riders to gain time with a late attack. That gap would be 50 metres for a race finish at a speed of 60 km/h, more than enough room to allow the GC riders to ease up a little bit to increase their safety margin while still requiring them to race all the way to the finish.

    3. Have the 3km rule for crashes extended to the start of the bell lap where the finish is contested on a circuit.

  • JBS

    I must be in the minority, but I personally think the idea of having GC cutoff line has some merit, with a tweak. Rather than having a 200 km flat stage with the GC times taken at 3 km to go, why not plan the route so the sprint stages are 200 km + 1 lap (~ 3-5 km loop around the finishing location). Essentially you end up with a mini kermesse for the sprinters tacked on to the end of the stage; or if there is an interesting break, a mini handicap.

    The crowds at the finish line get to see the GC contenders come in at the “end” of the stage. Plus they get to see the set up for the sprint finish (how far ahead the break is, etc) and the sprint finish a few minutes later. The obvious issue would be stragglers behind the peloton getting caught in the sprint finish. But that could be managed by having the loop of the right size and monitoring the stragglers; they could be directed to the side of the road to let the sprinters past. Lets be honest it you’re 3 mins down on a flat stage you aren’t in the hunt for the GC anyway. Provided they aren’t eliminated by a time cut those riders wouldn’t be penalised at all by standing by the side of the road for 30s.

    Nothing more than my thoughts, and I don’t see why it would have to be implemented for all stage races straight away. Maybe one or two of the 1 week stage races could get inventive and trial it. If nothing else it would be a point of interest for them to promote.

    • Tim David

      Not a bad idea – and worth trying. The interesting thing would be to watch the adaptation in tactics that comes from this or any change. Sometimes the adaptation causes new issues!

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