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I've watched more or less every stage of the Tour this year, one thing I've noticed over other years is it seems much tougher this year with loads of the big names dropping out or not making the time cut.

The amount of time spent on the cobbles caused quite a bit of chaos as well.

Been a fantastic race so far though!

Anyone else think this?

27 comments

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Innerlube [47 posts] 5 months ago
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Thought the first week was a bit quiet and not too taxing compared to recent years and recent Giros/ Vueltas. Last four stages have made up for that, but back to the remaining sprinters tomorrow...

Can I chuck in a question about the well worn tactic of sending a rider up the road to supposedley help a GC contender later in the race. The TV pundits always applaud this, but I can't remember it ever actually working in 30 years of Tour watching. Am i missing something?? e.g..what use was Valverde to Qintana and Lande when they caught up with him yesterday, etc??

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CXR94Di2 [2315 posts] 5 months ago
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Sky have turned grand tours on their head.  A constant high pace to dissuade GC riders from making a break.  If they try a break away, the power of a determined high paced team inevitably pulls them back.

 

No other team has the depth of quality that Team Sky has, this is exposed every grand tour.

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Canyon48 [1116 posts] 5 months ago
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CXR94Di2 wrote:

Sky have turned grand tours on their head.  A constant high pace to dissuade GC riders from making a break.  If they try a break away, the power of a determined high paced team inevitably pulls them back.

 

No other team has the depth of quality that Team Sky has, this is exposed every grand tour.

Ha, yeah, it really is quite marvellous how Team Sky are able to control Grand Tours in the way they can.

I don't know why so many people get upset/unhappy about Team Sky. There is simply no other team that operates in the same way Team Sky do to achieve the same goals.

Conversely, Team Sky aren't particularly good at one-day races, unlike the mighty Quick Step Wolfpack!

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SteveAustin [154 posts] 5 months ago
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Innerlube wrote:

..

Can I chuck in a question about the well worn tactic of sending a rider up the road to supposedley help a GC contender later in the race. The TV pundits always applaud this, but I can't remember it ever actually working in 30 years of Tour watching. Am i missing something?? e.g..what use was Valverde to Qintana and Lande when they caught up with him yesterday, etc??

 

i think the theory goes that other gc contenders might/will chase your teammate, so you can sit in their wheel, and not chase down the breakaway, as well as the theory that they can suddenly spring into action and take their leader onto glory. but you are right its not often that a rider gone up the road can help much when their leader catches them.

but you gotta laugh at the tv commentators, flat stage the other day, i wasnt really watching, and had it in the background, heard the commentators getting real excited, thought it was near the end of the stage, but still 40k out, so not really sure how why they were so worked up

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CXR94Di2 [2315 posts] 5 months ago
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Canyon48 wrote:
CXR94Di2 wrote:

Sky have turned grand tours on their head.  A constant high pace to dissuade GC riders from making a break.  If they try a break away, the power of a determined high paced team inevitably pulls them back.

 

No other team has the depth of quality that Team Sky has, this is exposed every grand tour.

Ha, yeah, it really is quite marvellous how Team Sky are able to control Grand Tours in the way they can.

I don't know why so many people get upset/unhappy about Team Sky. There is simply no other team that operates in the same way Team Sky do to achieve the same goals.

Conversely, Team Sky aren't particularly good at one-day races, unlike the mighty Quick Step Wolfpack!

 

Sky do have riders which can and do well in the classics, but their aim/goal is the grand tours wins, the most prestigous. That said Quickstep are the team to beat for one day and individual race wins.  Their team is made up of bigger more powerful  riders for such races, not grand tour GC 

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Yorkshire wallet [2374 posts] 4 months ago
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I feel more let down when some of big names fail to perform as expected. Sky gonna Sky but nobody seems to have an answer to their tactics.

If look over the past few Sky years of the TDF then whatever the course layout, be it more hills, less hills, longer stages, shorter stages, Sky has it covered. I don't think ASO can come up with a course that wouldn't be winable for them.

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Pitbull Steelers [72 posts] 4 months ago
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CXR94Di2 wrote:

Sky have turned grand tours on their head.  A constant high pace to dissuade GC riders from making a break.  If they try a break away, the power of a determined high paced team inevitably pulls them back.

 

No other team has the depth of quality that Team Sky has, this is exposed every grand tour.

Sky are one of the richest teams in pro cycling with probably only Movistar and BMC comparable in budgets hence their ability to get very good riders to join them.

Riders who would probably be team leaders in other teams are happy to perform minor roles in Sky probably down to financial gains hence the teams ability in GT races to put together amazing teams.  

Persoanlly i love it but i'd also love to see them win more classic races even if it meant the expense of a GT title. Put in a good team and go stage hunting instead.

 

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don simon fbpe [2725 posts] 4 months ago
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Pitbull Steelers wrote:
CXR94Di2 wrote:

Sky have turned grand tours on their head.  A constant high pace to dissuade GC riders from making a break.  If they try a break away, the power of a determined high paced team inevitably pulls them back.

 

No other team has the depth of quality that Team Sky has, this is exposed every grand tour.

Sky are one of the richest teams in pro cycling with probably only Movistar and BMC comparable in budgets hence their ability to get very good riders to join them.

Riders who would probably be team leaders in other teams are happy to perform minor roles in Sky probably down to financial gains hence the teams ability in GT races to put together amazing teams.  

Persoanlly i love it but i'd also love to see them win more classic races even if it meant the expense of a GT title. Put in a good team and go stage hunting instead.

 

I think you're right, Landa looks the shadow of his former self since he left Team SKY, obvioulsy the lack of budget has affected his motivation.

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IanEdward [231 posts] 4 months ago
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Quote:

I don't know why so many people get upset/unhappy about Team Sky. There is simply no other team that operates in the same way Team Sky do to achieve the same goals.

That's just the fundamental psycology of sports fans though isn't it, there are those who revel in watching the biggest/best teams thumping the smaller teams and who would take great pleasure in watching Man City defeating a second division team 8-0, and there are others who enjoy a bit of spirited competition and live for the prospect of the underdog doing well/surprise results (e.g. why this year's World Cup was considered such a success).

Seeing Team Sky en masse at the front of the peloton all day, so sure in themselves that they can comfortably ignore the attacks from their rivals (see Kwiatowski when Valverde attacked yesterday, just telling the other guys to sit tight, no need to react) just doesn't make for a very exciting spectacle to my mind.

 

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alansmurphy [1947 posts] 4 months ago
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Maybe Ian, but surely it's for others to then come up with the tactic, any tactic to stop them.

 

Sky didn't control this year's Giro, quite the opposite. They had to be overly defensive as Froome wasn't yet 'fit' and saved masses of energy. What they did on that single day, from top to bottom, was phenomenal.

 

Movistar and BMC, despite big budgets, don't seem to have as structured or detailed a plan. The 3 leaders for this year's TDF is mad and BMC have irons in too many fires (though Porte's crash didn't help).

 

Some people suggest Bardet attacks, I don't think there's enough planning in what he does though appreciate his team's support isn't great. Alos, he knows his weakness and does little about it!

 

If Sky keep winning, others need to shake it up!

 

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IanEdward [231 posts] 4 months ago
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Aye true, I guess my dis-satisfaction isn't entirely with Sky, it's with the overall state of the racing, in the same way that a lot of my fellow Scots complain about the Scottish Premier League being a bit 'mickey mouse' because no-one can compete with the top 1 or 2 teams, so also are the grand tours becoming a bit predictable. It doesn't help Sky's cause that, let's face it, the Sky brand is hardly squeeky clean and loveable, no matter how many cutesy Orcas they put on the back of their tops...

So you end up with massive powerful team sponsored by a billionaire megalomaniac who just happens to own most of the British and American right wing press vs. some teams sponsored by Dutch flooring manufacturers, German kitchen manufacturers, Italian bottled gas distributors etc. It's almost a big Dodgeball-esque with Global Mega-corp Gym vs. Friendly Joe's Gym (I'm not bothering to google the actual names of the teams from the movie, you get my point...)

 

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StoopidUserName [532 posts] 4 months ago
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How often do Coppi/Aquentil/Van Looy/Merckx/Hinault/any legendary sprinter or one day racer and their respective teams get a kicking from the modern cycling fan?

 

People are either unaware or have forgotten that all the major names in cycling history from at least Coppi onwards had amazing teammates around them paid to sacrifice themselves for the star...and that very much includes god himself (obviously he still would have won a lot...but not as much).

 

Team Sky just did what other historically good teams did and used their money/power to hoover up the talent for their big names. It's a tried and tested method and when Sky fold another team will fill the void (as already mentioned BMC and Movistar already have the budget but don't seem as well run).

 

Obviously it's nice when other teams try and break the stranglehold...it's also quite nice watching a British rider potentially join the very biggest names in cycling - when froome retires it may be another 50 years before we get another British rider or team who does something similar...enjoy it while it lasts!!

 

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IanEdward [231 posts] 4 months ago
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Fair points, I'm a relatively recent MTBer turned roadie (5-10 years ago) and even more recent follower of the races (after my wife ill-advisedly insisted on the Sky family pack, not realising this gave me access to virtually un-interrupted cycling on TV!).
 

The impression I had of the historical racing was gruelling mano-a-mano, tit for tat attacking and counter attacking on the slopes, not attritional 8 man team efforts. I guess also the issue with grand tours is that there are competitions within competitions, Sky might be going for GC and I'll bet Quickstep are happy to let them have it so long as Quickstep get enough stage victories/KOM, similarly Bora and the green jersey?

I think ultimately I personally just get bored of the same people winning all the time, found the CX season started to pale slightly as Van der Poel just kept motoring away on the first lap, at least the CX World Champs provided some relief!

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StoopidUserName [532 posts] 4 months ago
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I reckon race radios and possibly even power meters have a detrimental effect on modern racing. 

 

Not knowing what others are up to at that point and not being able to pace yourself exactly could brings back the best bits of the old days...in theory. Plus with no direction riders could just attack when they feel like it rather than being directed to attack (or more likely sit still) by their director sportif

 

They should try it in a race or two. Just pick a couple of races a year and see what happens - the riders might even enjoy it!!

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Rich_cb [812 posts] 4 months ago
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I think further lowering the number of riders per team might make things more exciting.

It would make it so much harder for one team to control an entire stage, it would also decrease the number of riders overall and reduce teams wage bills. You could also bring in another wildcard team for the GTs spreading the money a bit further.

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StoopidUserName [532 posts] 4 months ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

I think further lowering the number of riders per team might make things more exciting. It would make it so much harder for one team to control an entire stage, it would also decrease the number of riders overall and reduce teams wage bills. You could also bring in another wildcard team for the GTs spreading the money a bit further.

 

Could just mean more pro's being unemployed...and more pro's likely to dope to ensure they are employed?

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Rich_cb [812 posts] 4 months ago
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StoopidUserName wrote:

Could just mean more pro's being unemployed...and more pro's likely to dope to ensure they are employed?

Could mean more pros being unemployed, the pressure to get/keep a contract is already so huge I doubt it will increase the temptation to dope significantly.

If it makes the teams more financially secure it will benefit the riders as well.

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nniff [268 posts] 4 months ago
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I'm not sure that Sky isbad for the sport - quite the reverse.  They operate a strategy to win the GC, which sometimes brings them the mountains jersey too.  Other teams, particularly Quickstep and Bora win more stages and one day races.  They don't chase stage wins unless the whole thing falls apart or the GC battle leads that way.  What they do do, is use their resources very efficiently to put someone right up at the front on a regular basis.  They don't fire people off up the road, they don't panic - they dig in and make sure that one of their number covers the ground in the least time possible.  For a lot of the race, it's anonymous, just sitting near the front of the peloton, but having played a sensible game they can then light the blue touchpaper, like that day in the Giro and the past two days.   Lotto look like trying the same thing, but they blew it yesterday by going way too early and their man (on his own) ran out of gas.

I enjoy seeing how the Sky plan unfolds and how the others react - usually not that effectively because they've had people all over the countryside all day whereas Sky have been sitting in a nice tidy bunch.

As far as the Green jersey goes, Sky (and everyone except for Sagan) are nowhere; for the KOM, Thomas and Froome are 4th and 12th.  If Sagan had to retire, that would spice it up even more.  To put that competition into context, Sagan has 339 points, Thomas (having won two stages) has 63.  There are 3 riders with 129-100 points.

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nniff [268 posts] 4 months ago
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PS - and another thing - they're still doing marginal gains - on the cobbles their spare wheels people were fluo-green so that riders could spot them and their musettes are now fluo-green too, so that they're easy to pick out (they used to be Brand Black) and their roadside bottles have a gel attached to the side.

 

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Canyon48 [1116 posts] 4 months ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

I think further lowering the number of riders per team might make things more exciting. It would make it so much harder for one team to control an entire stage, it would also decrease the number of riders overall and reduce teams wage bills. You could also bring in another wildcard team for the GTs spreading the money a bit further.

I'm not sure (I'm not disagreeing, I'm just not sure).

It seems to me that lowering the number of riders from 9 to 8 has removed some of the "wildcard" riders and instead played it safe by just trying to protect the team leader.

I wonder if there were still 9 riders if Caleb Ewan would have been included (and essentially given the freedom to do his own race in the sprints), rather than team Mitchelton Scott focus only on Yates.

Certainly, it seems that with 8 riders, Team Sky have little/no problem controlling the Tour the way they have done previously, FDJ and AG2R seemed to be able to control the race at points - though they now seem to have collapsed a bit.

Hats off to Bardet though, willing to attack on the mountains even when it's obvious no attack will stick.

Power meters and sports science have slightly neutralised races though. Once a team is riding at their max climb power, no attack will stick because they'll blow eventually.

nniff wrote:

PS - and another thing - they're still doing marginal gains - on the cobbles their spare wheels people were fluo-green so that riders could spot them and their musettes are now fluo-green too, so that they're easy to pick out (they used to be Brand Black) and their roadside bottles have a gel attached to the side.

 

I noticed that, I thought that was quite clever to be honest, you really can't miss the Team Sky support staff!

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Beecho [431 posts] 4 months ago
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All I have to say is Alpe d’Huez! Even the missus was shouting at the telly. Immense stage. Previous day wasn’t bad either.

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Moist von Lipwig [143 posts] 4 months ago
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Canyon48 wrote:
Rich_cb wrote:

I think further lowering the number of riders per team might make things more exciting. It would make it so much harder for one team to control an entire stage, it would also decrease the number of riders overall and reduce teams wage bills. You could also bring in another wildcard team for the GTs spreading the money a bit further.

I'm not sure (I'm not disagreeing, I'm just not sure).

It seems to me that lowering the number of riders from 9 to 8 has removed some of the "wildcard" riders and instead played it safe by just trying to protect the team leader.

I wonder if there were still 9 riders if Caleb Ewan would have been included (and essentially given the freedom to do his own race in the sprints), rather than team Mitchelton Scott focus only on Yates.

Certainly, it seems that with 8 riders, Team Sky have little/no problem controlling the Tour the way they have done previously, FDJ and AG2R seemed to be able to control the race at points - though they now seem to have collapsed a bit.

Hats off to Bardet though, willing to attack on the mountains even when it's obvious no attack will stick.

Power meters and sports science have slightly neutralised races though. Once a team is riding at their max climb power, no attack will stick because they'll blow eventually.

nniff wrote:

PS - and another thing - they're still doing marginal gains - on the cobbles their spare wheels people were fluo-green so that riders could spot them and their musettes are now fluo-green too, so that they're easy to pick out (they used to be Brand Black) and their roadside bottles have a gel attached to the side.

 

I noticed that, I thought that was quite clever to be honest, you really can't miss the Team Sky support staff!

They also drafted in 50 volunteers for the day so they could have better coverage with spare wheels on each sector.

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Moist von Lipwig [143 posts] 4 months ago
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Canyon48 wrote:
Rich_cb wrote:

I think further lowering the number of riders per team might make things more exciting. It would make it so much harder for one team to control an entire stage, it would also decrease the number of riders overall and reduce teams wage bills. You could also bring in another wildcard team for the GTs spreading the money a bit further.

I'm not sure (I'm not disagreeing, I'm just not sure).

It seems to me that lowering the number of riders from 9 to 8 has removed some of the "wildcard" riders and instead played it safe by just trying to protect the team leader.

I wonder if there were still 9 riders if Caleb Ewan would have been included (and essentially given the freedom to do his own race in the sprints), rather than team Mitchelton Scott focus only on Yates.

Certainly, it seems that with 8 riders, Team Sky have little/no problem controlling the Tour the way they have done previously, FDJ and AG2R seemed to be able to control the race at points - though they now seem to have collapsed a bit.

Hats off to Bardet though, willing to attack on the mountains even when it's obvious no attack will stick.

Power meters and sports science have slightly neutralised races though. Once a team is riding at their max climb power, no attack will stick because they'll blow eventually.

nniff wrote:

PS - and another thing - they're still doing marginal gains - on the cobbles their spare wheels people were fluo-green so that riders could spot them and their musettes are now fluo-green too, so that they're easy to pick out (they used to be Brand Black) and their roadside bottles have a gel attached to the side.

 

I noticed that, I thought that was quite clever to be honest, you really can't miss the Team Sky support staff!

They also drafted in 50 volunteers for the day so they could have better coverage with spare wheels on each sector.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2621 posts] 4 months ago
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CXR94Di2 wrote:

Sky have turned grand tours on their head.  A constant high pace to dissuade GC riders from making a break.  If they try a break away, the power of a determined high paced team inevitably pulls them back.

 

No other team has the depth of quality that Team Sky has, this is exposed every grand tour.

No other team are as well prepared, dedicated, focussed on one purpose as a team, have individuals to a man prepared to turn themselves inside out for the team, have riders who know precisely what their task and inportantly place is within the team.

They have quality absolutely but they are ruthless in picking a team for a sole purpose and do more than any other to attempt to reach that. THAT is what is exposed every grand tour.

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madcarew [901 posts] 4 months ago
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I think we need to say "currently no other team is as focussed....". Sky's approach is exactly the same as that of Discovery that led to Lance's domination (hopefully without the drug taking), and in more recent times Astana. It seems that there's only enough depth in the peloton for one 'super team' both amongst riders and staff. Until you get a physiological freak like Contador or Evans, that dominance is unlikely to be challenged. Disco and Lance were much criticised for concentrating almost solely on the tour. At least Sky is taking on the Giro and Vuelta too

As for "Is it the toughest tour?"... Each year the riders say this year's tour is the toughest. I think ASO have done a good job overall of providing a good stage for an exciting contest.

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Chris Hayes [345 posts] 4 months ago
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Interesting comments re: Sky and their face pace detering explosive attacks.  Of course whilst this tactic has proved effective, it also suits the virtually teamless-Tom Dumoulin who can clearly manage the high pace - but struggles with the explosive attacks.  Can't wait for the Pyrennes...and the TT.  What a parcours!

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Yorkshire wallet [2374 posts] 4 months ago
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The problem with the tour is that half of the teams aren't really doing anything other than be filler or just there for the occassional stage victory or breakaway. If every team was focused on actually winning the big prize things might be more exciting. 

The problem is this is mirrored throughout sport. Look at F1 only really 3 team capable of winning. The rest are just kicking about hoping for freak conditions and crashes.