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Your Wednesday Daily News Digest

by Mark Zalewski

October 19, 2016


In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Tour 2017 unveiled: less time trialing, fewer climbs but steeper gradients; Froome weighs up 2017 Tour route: ‘It’s going to be more challenging for me’; Bardet reacts to 2017 Tour de France route; Froome still questions Wiggins’ use of TUEs; Cavendish set to ride with Wiggins’ in final race of career; MPCC says 2017 successful, reaffirms call for ban on corticoids; Live on-bike camera feeds, real-time performance data for Abu Dhabi Tour; Mathieu van der Poel ponders road racing; Gary West steps down as Cycling Australia track head coach; 2017 Tour de France 3D route; 2017 Tour de France Grand Depart in Dusseldorf; Froome talks about his 2016 Tour de France victory; An in-depth look at crosswinds and echelons from the Doha World Championships.

Tour 2017 unveiled: less time trialing, fewer climbs but steeper gradients

by Shane Stokes

Avoiding the most famous stage finishes of Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux, the organisers of the Tour de France have opted for a course with many new climbs in the 2017 route. The parcours of the race was unveiled on Tuesday in Paris, and sees the race begin in Dusseldorf in Germany and visit Belgium and Luxembourg before reaching France on day four.

The race will visit all five of the mountain regions in France, beginning with the Vosges and Jura, then tackling the Pyrenees, the Massif Central and the Alps. There will be a total of 23 HC, first or second category climbs, compared to 25 in 2014 and 2015 and 28 in 2016. However the organisers point out the steepness of some of this year’s ascents, with peak gradients ranging from 14% on the Col de Perya Taillade to 22% on the Grand Colombier.

The 2017 Tour de France totals 3516 kilometres in all, spread over 21 stages, and features a short 13.8 kilometre time trial on the opening day and a 23 kilometre solo effort on the penultimate stage. There will be just three summit finishes, namely La Planche des Belles Filles on day five, Peyragudes on stage 12 and the Col d’Izoard on stage 18. The other mountain stages will conclude on descents, designed, perhaps, to help the 2016 runner-up Romain Bardet. He is vying to become France’s first winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.

There will be a total of nine flatter stages which will appeal to rouleurs and bunch sprinters. Providing he is on form, this could give Mark Cavendish the platform to equal or beat Eddy Merckx’s all time stage win record of 34 victories. Cavendish brought his tally up to 30 in 2016 when he clocked up four stage wins.

According to race organiser Christian Prudhomme, one motivation behind the route design is to dissuade what he termed a ‘catenaccio’ racing style. He was referring to the dominance of one squad, taken to mean Team Sky, and he hopes that the route will help to achieve this goal. He has also echoed calls for teams to drop from nine to eight riders in the 2017 race. This too is intended to make things harder to control and to increase suspense.

Click through to read more at CyclingTips.

Today’s feature image is from the GP Zonhoven race. Photo: Kristof Ramon.

  • Dirk Demol

    LOL at Froome’s reasoning:

    However, when asked follow-up questions at the Tour de France route presentation on Tuesday, he backed up his statements that Team Sky should not join the MPCC.

    “Currently there are only a third of the [WorldTour] peloton as part of the MPCC. And I don’t think Sky joining will necessarily solve the issues in our sport at the moment.

    • Bex

      i can understand that, at the moment teams join and withdraw when it suits them and they don’t feel like following the MPCC rules. If some of these rules were set by the UCI then there wouldn’t any opt out approach.

      • It’s a higher standard. Sky started on the premise of having a high (maybe ‘the highest’?) standard when it came to clean riding. Joining the MPCC would be a way for them to gain credibility back. But it seems they don’t really want to have a high standard, which is disappointing.

      • ebbe

        That’s precisely the issue: Currently anybody can (come and) go as they please, because only a third of the teams are MPCC member. Currently, any team owner can always say “Well, big teams such as Sky (Etixx, Movistar, etc) aren’t an MPCC member either, so why should we?”. And the UCI can always say: “Only a third of the teams, and none of the bigger teams, support the MPCC. Why should we adopt their policies?”. And things remain stuck.

        Sky (and Etixx, Movistar, etc) joining would in fact help, because it would take away an excuse from other teams not to join. And, if Sky’s standards were indeed already higher than MPCC (we now know this is blatant nonsense), there would be no harm in joining anyway.

        Froome here is trying to turn that around to benefit Sky’s narrative. He’s doing a “Yeah I’m the best swimmer here, and I’d love to help save this puppy from drowning in the river, as soon as it climbs on the shore where I am and comes to me first. Because me jumping in the river and saving the puppy won’t solve climate change anyway.” – Well, that might be true, but neither will setting the example that it’s fine to let puppies drown because you simply can’t be bothered to save it. That will only make things worse.

        The fact is: No one single act will ever magically solve all big issues on one fell swoop. But many small steps together might. Froome hereby only proves that 1) Sky don’t want to join because they want to continue secretly (ab)using corticosteroids and 2) Sky think the public are perpetual idiots that will continue to fall for their narratives, plays on words, and bending of the issue.

      • ebbe

        Another thing to note is that the two teams (I know of, I may have missed something) that have left MPCC did not do so because of MPCC rules, or cortisol level issues, or the fact that these rules didn’t come from the UCI. This is something the media have not covered correctly, which has lead to the audience not fully understanding the entire story.

        These two teams actually left MPCC because they couldn’t live with the following “catch 22”:
        – Race organiser asks for 8 starting riders names per team. No more, no less. 8. (ps, a race organiser can also mandate a different team size for all starting teams, but we’ll stick with 8 here)
        – The team names their squad for the race, and submits the 8 names to the race organiser
        – AFTER the opportunity to replace riders has passed (team managers meeting day before the race start), MPCC asks team to withdraw one particular rider because of low cortisol levels in a test several days earlier (note: this is NOT necessarily proof of PEDs use. A slight fever in the previous week can also lower cortisol levels, as can training at altitude)
        – Team manager says: “Sure, let me call the replacement rider who’s willing to fly in tonight”
        – Race organiser says: “NO! No late replacements. The deadline has passed”
        – Team: “OK, so you want me to start one guy short? I’m going for a good result in a very competitive field here, I need a full team”
        – Race organiser: “No, we’ve set the team size to 8, so all teams have to start with 8. You can’t deviate from that. You have to bring a full team to the start”
        – UCI: “Oh, and actually, we’ll fine you if you don’t bring a full team to the start”
        – Team: “OK, so you want us to start with all the guys that were on the list?”
        – Race organiser and UCI: “Yes”
        – MPCC: “…but except that one guy who tested low a cortisol level”
        – Team: “GUYS FFS, make up your minds! There’s no way to please all of you”

        Lotto Jumbo was dumb enough to start with one rider less. Vino just said “OK, if the three of you can’t work this out, I’ll go with the UCI and race organiser. MPCC, if that means you have to kick me out, you do with that whatever you please.”

        I for one completely understand these teams’ decisions, and would do the same if I was in their shoes. They basically had no choice: Go with MPCC but against UCI and race organiser and face fines… or leave/be kicked out of MPCC. What would you have done?

        • Bex

          great explanation, that’s exactly why the UCI need to adopt the policies or MPCC just packup. they’ve got no real authority behind them and being at odds with the other stakeholders makes the whole thing a loosing battle. If it’s important enough then it should be the same for everyone, or everyone just forget it.

          • ebbe

            I agree with you, but now UCI are pointing at WADA for regulating corticosteroids (etc) and tramadol. Which in my opinion shows UCI have no real desire to tackle this either. So indeed, as you say, this is going nowhere… Until we get a new big scandal maybe? Or somebody dies maybe?

            • Bex

              and now in today’s news digest Prudhomme comes out in support of MPCC. need to link the comments to yours. Unfortunately you’re correct in that it’ll take something drastic to get more movement on this… “leadership” from the UCI is such a joke.

              • ebbe

                Yep, good catch! ASO is just waiting for UCI the fall on its face somewhere somehow.

        • Dave

          The issue of withdrawing riders at late notice was addressed for the 2016 season by the Professional Cycling Council agreeing to recognise the MPCC cortisol rule as a ‘valid justification’ for withdrawing a rider without being fined, and allowing up to two replacement riders at late notice.

          There have been six teams that have left the MPCC so far, and all were covered by the media:

          – Three teams left (LottoNL, Bardiani-CSF) or were expelled (Astana) over the MPCC cortisol rule conflicting with other UCI rules regarding race participation.
          – Lampre-Merida left over a conflict between Italian employment law and the MPCC rules which would have required them to sack Diego Ulissi while he was under contract.
          – Katusha left the MPCC over a conflict between the MPCC ‘self-suspension’ rule and the UCI rules regarding turning up to races that have been entered – and quite rightfully, as Vorganov was eventually found not to be at fault.
          – Orica is unique in that they left the MPCC *without* first getting caught between the MPCC and the UCI or the law of the land. Their explanation was that the main principles of the MPCC had since been incorporated into the UCI’s processes (e.g. the suspension for two positives in a year, PCC allowing replacement riders etc) and they saw no further purpose in the MPCC.

          • ebbe

            Cool, thanks Dave

  • jules

    I see that Froome and Wiggo still do not appear to be on the best of terms

    • Dirk Demol

      Froome just putting testing the waters; I think his thinking is: if he wins the TdF in 2017, he will [by then] have equalled the record held by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

      • Will

        Froome is only on three wins. He’ll need to win in 2017 and 2018 to equal Anquetil and the rest.

        • Dirk Demol

          You must have missed my subtle suggestion.?

          Reading Froome’s comments re Wiggins, I think he is banking in Wiggins losing his 2012 title. That will give him 4 wins, with the 5th coming in 2017.

          • Will

            I did indeed miss your suggestion, it was too subtle. Thanks

  • Dave

    Along with the Belgians, the German rider John Degenkolb was also asked about how his team dealt with the echelons.

    The response didn’t get included in the video because it was a one word answer and would have been bleeped out.

  • Sean

    Very sad to hear the news about Gary West having MND, that’s a sh_t thing to be dealing with.


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