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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There has been a trend in some races (most recently the current Vuelta) to include very few real sprint stages. In essence, races like Vuelta (and some "sprint" stages from this year's TdF) are arguably forcing sprinters to become better climbers and/or teams to bring sprinters that can climb fairly well. This clearly concerns some teams and sprinters.

Are we at the dawn of a new era in pro cycling that calls for a different kind of "sprinter," one that is more puncheur/Classics man than he is a pure bunch sprinter or do the race organizers in these recent races just have it wrong?

'Sprinters are being forced into extinction': Riders and directors have their say on lack of Vuelta sprint stages - Cycling Weekly

I will say, in my opinion, while I enjoy the end of sprint stages and a good bunch sprint as much as anyone, I am usually bored out of my mind for most of a purely flat stage. There often isn't anything going on for the majority of 5+ hours and like the only entertaining part is the last 2 minutes or so. It seems like such a waste sometimes. The sprint stages that do include strategically placed, challenging, but survivable climbs are more entertaining to me to be honest, but they do seem to almost automatically eliminate a certain type of rider. Maybe some sort of balance is needed or maybe it's time for a new crit or hammer series type of stage/event designed specifically for bunch sprinter types to be added to race programs. My guess is that it would be a lot of fun for both racers and fans if an organizer had the courage to try something like that.

Here's the Hammer Series Sprint:

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here's some highlights from the People's Choice Classic. It's basically a standard crit, but for World Tour teams. Something like this could work as well IMO.

 

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for me, i don't embrace the vuelta's lack of pure sprint stages. the tour showcases the entirety of cycling skill sets: enough sprint stages and a green jersey competition for the sagan/matthews types
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
for me, i don't embrace the vuelta's lack of pure sprint stages. the tour showcases the entirety of cycling skill sets: enough sprint stages and a green jersey competition for the sagan/matthews types
I think I agree in principle, but what about the Kittell/ Greipel types. They are a completely different kind of rider. A pure bunch sprinter hasn't won the TdF green jersey in some time now. Do we need a different kind of event or stage for them? Are they being phased out of grand tours?
 

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I think I agree in principle, but what about the Kittell/ Greipel types. They are a completely different kind of rider. A pure bunch sprinter hasn't won the TdF jersey in some time now. Do we need a different kind of event or stage for them? Are they being phased out of grand tours?
i think we certainly need to maintain the pure contests that tilt toward the pure sprinters. green is nice but ultimately being the fastest man on two wheels is more significant, and being able to demonstrate it on the worlds largest stages, (grand tours) is important. if they are phased out of giro and vuelta, then those tours are lesser for it, imo. no one but their teammates and DS gets excited about sacha modolo v adam blythe contest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
i think we certainly need to maintain the pure contests that tilt toward the pure sprinters. green is nice but ultimately being the fastest man on two wheels is more significant, and being able to demonstrate it on the worlds largest stages, (grand tours) is important. if they are phased out of giro and vuelta, then those tours are lesser for it, imo. no one but their teammates and DS gets excited about sacha modolo v adam blythe contest.
Agreed and I am completely open on how we get there. I would like to see something a little more entertaining if they can swing it, but a few classic bunch sprint stages should be the minimum. A stage like Milan San Remo or the People's Choice Classic would be refreshing and just what the doctor ordered IMO, but I would also be up for seeing how something like the Hammer Series Sprint would play out.
 

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There has been a trend in some races (most recently the current Vuelta) to include very few real sprint stages. In essence, races like Vuelta (and some "sprint" stages from this year's TdF) are arguably forcing sprinters to become better climbers and/or teams to bring sprinters that can climb fairly well. This clearly concerns some teams and sprinters.

Are we at the dawn of a new era in pro cycling that calls for a different kind of "sprinter," one that is more puncheur/Classics man than he is a pure bunch sprinter or do the race organizers in these recent races just have it wrong?

'Sprinters are being forced into extinction': Riders and directors have their say on lack of Vuelta sprint stages - Cycling Weekly

I will say, in my opinion, while I enjoy the end of sprint stages and a good bunch sprint as much as anyone, I am usually bored out of my mind for most of a purely flat stage. There often isn't anything going on for the majority of 5+ hours and like the only entertaining part is the last 2 minutes or so. It seems like such a waste sometimes. The sprint stages that do include strategically placed, challenging, but survivable climbs are more entertaining to me to be honest, but they do seem to almost automatically eliminate a certain type of rider. Maybe some sort of balance is needed or maybe it's time for a new crit or hammer series type of stage/event designed specifically for bunch sprinter types to be added to race programs. My guess is that it would be a lot of fun for both racers and fans if an organizer had the courage to try something like that.

Here's the Hammer Series Sprint:
The problem is half presentation. And the other half-of-the-problem is the team "tactics" AKA wheelsucking.

A) A tour is a tour, because it crosses lots of country. Any 100-150 miles-in-a-day race-whether in cars or boats or bikes or what have you frankly gets boring and mind-numbing to watch after a while, and if you've seen it more than once. The difference in bicycle tours, you're seeing some drop dead gorgeous sights and touristing spots at a speed you can appreciate it from angles you can appreciate it...well, maybe-California frequently is empty arid mountain desert as is Vuelta but still...actually no you're frequently not. And that is the problem. USA broadcasters go to commercial breaks or throw up graphics during scenics shots intentionally done for tourism and local interest (which BTW is why host towns even agree to host the races in the first place)...and the US commentators tend to know jack (apart from what is on Wikipedia) or say jack about the area.

B) Tactics...The teams whine about lack of interest and problems getting and l keeping sponsors...and then consciously choose to make their race not a race, but a group training ride. It is no wonder sponsors don't hang around long and international viewership is low.


Without even mucking about the formula of the racing, there' stuff to be done to make people actually want to watch bike racing. 5+ hours of horse-race commentary will always and forever dull your senses and put you to sleep after a while. IMHO.
 

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Some of it just terrain. As Valverde and a few other Spaniards have stated there is a reason Spaniards are climbers and not sprinters, the Spanish terrain lends itself to learning to climb. Even the Spanish one week races rarely have a true sprint stage. That is really just due to Spanish terrain.
I'm another who is bored to tears with flat sprint stages. Give me a few strategically placed climbs and it should be more entertaining.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Some of it just terrain. As Valverde and a few other Spaniards have stated there is a reason Spaniards are climbers and not sprinters, the Spanish terrain lends itself to learning to climb. Even the Spanish one week races rarely have a true sprint stage. That is really just due to Spanish terrain.
I'm another who is bored to tears with flat sprint stages. Give me a few strategically placed climbs and it should be more entertaining.
I can see that to some extent, but prior to 2015 I think, the Vuelta included a number of true sprinter stages and attracted more sprinters as a result. Degenkolb has won like 10 of those stages, but Ewan, Sagan, and others have had success there as well. Here's an example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Vuelta_a_España
 

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Degnekolb and Sagan can both climb at least to a point. That is also why for the most part you get the 2nd level sprinters at the Vuelta and you end up with Valverde winning the points jersey. (He has 3 of them, the record is 4.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Degnekolb and Sagan can both climb at least to a point. That is also why for the most part you get the 2nd level sprinters at the Vuelta and you end up with Valverde winning the points jersey. (He has 3 of them, the record is 4.)
Cavendish, Pettachi, Farrar, and Hushovd aren't known as climbers though and Cav won the sprinters jersey in 2010.... They can add pure sprint stages if they want to.
 

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Degnekolb and Sagan can both climb at least to a point. That is also why for the most part you get the 2nd level sprinters at the Vuelta and you end up with Valverde winning the points jersey. (He has 3 of them, the record is 4.)
sigh.
zabel, bennati, abdou, jalabert (when he was still a sprinter mainly), petacchi, guidi, cavendish, greipel, have all won the sprint competition in the vuelta. It's true they have made the race into a valverde/rodriguez worship alter the last years but that does not change the fact that they have made plenty of sprint friendly vueltas in the past.
 

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One of the side effects of more live coverage of the TdF this year on international feeds was that viewers were more exposed the hours of rolling peloton non-racing. 200+Km of a scenic trip through France with 20Km of racing at the end doesn't cut it for many TV audiences, although it is seen as vital for the villages and regions on the route as part of their efforts to attract visitors and tourists. I've no idea dea how to balance these sometimes conflicting requirements but maybe in the points competition, they could have more intermediate sprints with higher points awarded. This could encourage the sprint teams to keep the pressure up and allow the GC guys to get on with their own time based competition...... but the small guest teams, who rely on breakaway TV coverage to please their sponsors, wouldn't like it.
 

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Kittel would have won this year had he not crashed out
 

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I think to the non enthusiast, a sprint is a sprint no matter who is in it, so to that end, I don't think we need flat stages based around the big guys who are pure sprinters, when it comes down to 5 guys charging for the finish, it's still going to be a sprint. I'd rather see rolling stages with more points for intermediate sprints for Classic type of riders than guys who have no intention of finishing the second half of the grand tour.

If you want to watch pure sprinters, there's always the track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think to the non enthusiast, a sprint is a sprint no matter who is in it, so to that end, I don't think we need flat stages based around the big guys who are pure sprinters, when it comes down to 5 guys charging for the finish, it's still going to be a sprint. I'd rather see rolling stages with more points for intermediate sprints for Classic type of riders than guys who have no intention of finishing the second half of the grand tour.

If you want to watch pure sprinters, there's always the track.
I consider this to be the core of the sprinters need to evolve argument. Basically rolling stages or stages with climbs are more entertaining and they need to be able to be competitive in those stages. It has its merit as a position, but I think grand tours can pull off more of a mix and address every fan's desires if they are a bit more creative.

Yes Kittel would have won, but only because he basically won every flat sprint stage, which is extremely rare. I think I lean toward some stages for the puncheurs and some for the bunch guys as outlined above.
 
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