Are gravel and pebbles part of the Tour de France? – .

Are gravel and pebbles part of the Tour de France? – .

There is always an interesting challenge for Tour de France officials every year – how do you spice up what is a pretty proven plan of a three week grand tour?

The answer? Mix in gravel and cobblestone areas.

The 2022 routes of the first Tour de France Women and the Tour de France see both routes heading towards unpaved surfaces.

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Of course, the gravel and cobblestone were what the first Tour riders raced over a century ago. Flash-forward 100 years, and dusty, bumpy surfaces are back in fashion.

What’s old is new, isn’t it?

But the real question is: do they belong to races as important and demanding as the two versions of the Tour de France?

Opinions seem divided. Some argue, why not? If you are a complete cyclist, what harm will a small piece of dirt or cobblestone track do? Others claim that off-road surfaces present an unnecessary diversion that leads to undue negative consequences for anyone with bad luck, an accident or a flat tire.

Here our VeloNews The European editorial team is looking into the question: are gravel and cobblestones part of these races?

We see gravel in the Tour de France Women, and cobblestones à la Roubaix, are they part of a stage race?

Andrew Hood : I have mixed feelings about these mixed surfaces. On the one hand, yes, it’s bike racing, and a big pro should be able to handle it all. And in recent years, these cobbled stages have delivered some great races.

On the other hand, 90 percent of Tour de France-style riders have never raced Paris-Roubaix and only a few rub shoulders with the Strade Bianche, so one has to wonder if he is fair or even a a little perverse to send them to shake the cobblestones. .

It’s preparing the race for unnecessary and gratuitous crashes, punctures and mechanical issues, which organizers seem to think add to the drama and excitement of the race.

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Team leaders hate these steps, and rightly so. Months and years of work, sacrifice, preparation and not to mention millions and millions of dollars in salaries are spent preparing for the Tour.

What do these surfaces really bring? Cheap sensations, I say. We have Strade Bianche and Paris-Roubaix, and those are two of the best days of racing anywhere in the world.

Let’s keep the grand tour riders on the paved roads, and let the strongest – not the lucky ones – win.

Sadhbh O’Shea: Most GC runners actively try to avoid these terrains throughout the year and only dip their toes when they have to.

The argument of opponents when it comes to these surfaces is that they add a lottery element to the title race and any runner could lose at any time.

Read also : The boss of DQS: “The cobblestones have no place in the Tour de France”

For me, that’s what makes these little additions even more exciting. Grand Tour winners must be the most rounded riders and be able to face any terrain in front of them. It’s not just about mountains and time trials.

Provided the organizers don’t go overboard with these unorthodox scenes, then I think there is room for them in a grand tour setting.

The women will take on gravel roads – pictured here is the Strade Bianche race – in the first Tour de France Women. (Getty Images)

Jim Coton Why not? It’s not like one of the best guys in the GC is a cobblestone classics rider and therefore has a clear advantage over the other.

A stage race is a test of everything in a cyclist’s toolbox, from climbing and sprinting to things like handling the bike, positioning, and descending. And riding over rough terrain should be another item that needs to be tested to some extent.

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Sure, the risk of a flat tire means pebbles and gravel can make a stage a game of luck, but you don’t see race organizers skipping descents for fear of slightly slippery pavement or canceling flat stages. when the wind starts to blow.

The possibility of punctures and mechanical issues on unpaved surfaces is just another thing teams need to plan for and learn to mitigate.


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