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A Step Too Far? Paris Tours The Latest Race To Go Extreme | The Cycling Race News Show

A Step Too Far? Paris Tours The Latest Race To Go Extreme | The Cycling Race News Show

Welcome back to the GCN Racing News Show – a
busy week in the world of pro cycling, Italy continues to build up to Il Lombardia with
the Giro dell’Emilia and the GP Beghelli, the sprinters have their showdown in the Munsterland
Giro, but don’t have it their own way in a revised Paris Tours – we’re asking if
organisers have gone a step too far with the course design this year. Top level cyclo cross resumes in Europe with
the Brico Cross series, whilst the final round of the Red Hook Crit took place in Milan,
with our very own James Lowsley Williams taking part. We shall begin this week with a discussion
around Paris Tours – one of the oldest classics in cycling. It began in 1896, and throughout it’s history
it has consistently re-invented itself. This year, that was in the form of gravel
roads, 9 sectors of the rough stuff through vineyards – organisers ASO clearly jumping
on the bandwagon, hoping to emulate the popularity of Strade Bianche, a race which has become
one of the season’s main attractions, despite being just 12 editions young. It certainly changed the race – Paris Tours
has, in the last few decades, been a race where sprinters have had their chance, where
the question of breakaway or bunch often hung in the balance until the final metres of the
race. This year, the sprinters had no chance, the
peloton was decimated with groups littering the road with still 50km’s remaining. Making the most of the conditions was Soren
Kragh Andersen – the Dane soloing to victory. A consummate display of skill and strength,
but he’d also taken advantage of a spat between Niki Terpstra and Benoit Cosnefroy,
the Dutchman seemingly more intent on seeing Cosnefroy lose than winning himself, although
he did win the sprint for second place, and the staring competition to boot. Before the race had even ended, though, it
became clear that not everybody was overly enamoured with the new route – Quickstep boss
Patrick Lefevre tweeted that his team wouldn’t be returning even if they won. Oliver Naesen said that the gravel was too
extreme, and more suited to a cyclocross event, his opinion backed up by the face that there
were so many punctures – Philippe Gilbert was among those that were affected, along
with Alex Dowsett, who’d formed part of the early break, and was clearly and understandably
frustrated with neutral service. On the other hand, Sep Vanmarcke clearly enjoyed
himself, comparing the race to Paris Roubaix, whilst winner Kragh Andersen was also a fan
of the route, although I guess that is to be expected. To be fair, in many ways, ASO have achieved
what they set out to do – we’re talking about it today after all, and we were talking
about it in the run up, anticipating the race, and I know many people were looking forward
to seeing how it all played it. But is it a bit of a freak show, an event
that you’re curious to watch just to see how good, bad or ugly it is? Is it a good test of skill, or does luck become
the deciding factor? Let us know your thoughts, are you a fan of
gravel, or, was this a step too far, a gimmick which meant that, rather ironically, the race
lost it’s identity? Let us know in the comments section below
*pause* and in the poll on the screen right now. The race marked the end of the road, and gravel,
for Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel. At 39, he will hang up his wheels having ridden
the Tour de France 18 times, taking three stages and spending two days in the yellow
jersey. Above all though, he can be hugely proud of
the respect he has garnered from fans, and from those within the sport, congratulations
to Sylvain, who is this week’s GCN Rider of The Week. Congratulations too, to Jeremy Roy, who was
also riding his last race at Paris Tours – he spent his entire 15 year career in the same
team, FDJ. Retiring for completely different reasons
is Tanguy Turgis. Just 19 at the time, Turgis was the youngest
rider at this year’s Paris Roubaix, where he finished a very credible 42nd. Recent tests have revealed a heart abnormality
that will force him to call a premature end to his promising career. The announcement felt particularly poignant,
when, just hours later, we heard the terrible news that the young Belgian Jimmy Duquennoy
had passed at home on Friday after a cardiac arrest. His team, WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic, understandably
took the decision not to race Paris Tours yesterday. A minute’s silence was held in honour of
Duquennoy, and it goes without saying that we’d like to extend our sincere condolences
to his family, friends and teammates. One race that has remained true to it’s
roots, albeit a much younger event, is the Munsterland Giro. This year’s event finished with a vastly
reduced sprint after crosswinds saw some major splits in the peloton. Upsetting the favourites was Max Walscheid
of Team Sunweb – a Giant win in more ways than one – he got the better of John Degenkolb
and Nils Politt on an all German podium. Down in Italy, racing resumed on Saturday
with the Giro dell’Emilia – a climbers classic which finishes the 5th time up the brutal
San Luca climb, 2km’s long with an average gradient of over 10%. Alessandro De Marchi spent a decent amount
of those final laps out front on his own, a move which looked futile but which ultimately
paid off – the Italian held of Rigoberto Uran and teammate Dylan Teuns to take the first
one day win of his career. Absent from the race was newly crowned world
champion Alejandro Valverde, but he has revealed his new jersey, and we will see that debuted
at Tre Valle Varesini tomorrow, a race which we have live on Facebook. For the second year in succession the sprinters
were foiled at the GP Beghelli – Bauke Mollema tried, tried, and then tried again, and eventually
it worked. He went clear with 2km’s remaining and held
on to take a solo win, ahead of Carlos Barbero of Movistar, who led home what was left of
the bunch. Cyclocross returned to it’s spiritual home
of Belgium at the weekend with two events from the Brico Cross series, which we were
very happy to bring you live over on our Facebook page. The first of those was in Meulebeke, which
I have to say looked like a particularly fun course – there, the dominant forces in the
discipline, Sanne Cant and Mathieu Van Der Poel, showed their class to take the win in
their respective categories. For Cant, it was a display of sheer determination,
she attacked Ellen Van Loy close to the finish, and managed to hold it in a drag race to the
line. Van Der Poel, meanwhile, went clear earlier
on, although he only really secured the win on the final lap, where he rode through the
sandpit for the only time in the race. 8 seconds in arrears at the finish was World
Champion Wout Van Aert. The following day in Ronse, Marianne Vos made
her return to competition and to winning ways, coming home 10 seconds in front of Alice Arzuffi,
whilst in the men’s, it was a repeat one two from the previous day, meaning that Van
Aert has now finished 2nd at his first four races of the season. This is a good opportunity to let you know
what’s coming up on our Facebook page this week – tomorrow, Tuesday, we have live coverage
of Tre Valle Varesini down in Italy, and we’ll also have highlights of Milano Torino, Gran
Piemonte and Il Lombardia. On Saturday, we have the next round of the
Brico Cross series from Gieten, where I will be joined by Beth Crumpton, and then on Sunday
we have a double header – the Hammer Series Hong Kong, and the first round of the Superprestige
from Lokeren, which is available live, worldwide, to everywhere except Belgium and the Netherlands. We’ve put some links in the description
below so that you can set reminders of what’s coming up. Meanwhile, a little further north in Italy,
the final round of the Red Hook Crit took place in Milan. As I mentioned, Hank was there competing for
the first time, and he did surprisingly well – stay tuned for a full video here on GCN
very soon. The event sees riders flying around a tight
city centre circuit, on fixed gears with no brakes. Filippo Fortin is making a bit of a name for
himself in these races, he took a convincing sprint win in the men’s event, made all
the more remarkable by the fact that he’d slipped well down the field at the start after
struggling to clip in. In the women’s event, Rachel Barbieri remains
unbeaten. That’s 3 starts and three wins now for the
Italian. Before we finish for today, there have been
a couple of significant contracts signed in the last week – firstly, Egan Bernal, one
of the hottest climbing prospects we’ve ever seen, has inked a 5 year deal with Team
Sky, whilst Giant have, somewhat confusingly, signed with BMC. That team will be known as CCC Team, but Giant
will also provide bikes to their development squad, and their subsidiary Liv to the CCC
Liv women’s team. And finally, the UCI have announced that the
World Championships in 2022 will take place in Wollongong, on the East coast of Australia. OK, that’s all for this week – I hope to
have your company for our live races over the next week. *Pause* Before that, though, if you’d like
to see whether or not Oli managed to complete his Everesting attempt, click down here. Think of the most you’ve ever suffered,
and then multiply it by 10.

100 comments on “A Step Too Far? Paris Tours The Latest Race To Go Extreme | The Cycling Race News Show

  1. Nobody watched Paris Tours before the change, why not adapt and bring a bike with 28-32mm tubeless instead of running 25mm tubulars and complaining when you puncture? Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.

  2. I thought this year's Paris Tours was a great race to watch. Everyone knew there was going to be gravel. Some teams just choose the wrong tires for the job then complained about the gravel. Choosing the right equipment is part of racing.

  3. I didn’t know “road racing” was exclusive to “asphalt roads”. These new breed of racers are getting kind of soft and whinny…

  4. I don't think the race organizers are meanies for making everyone ride over gravel. Better than those big bumpy stones, no? And I grin. Someone just needs to know that rougher roads call for tougher tires.

  5. damn, cycling Is indeed the hardest sport of them all… now I'm scared of riding my bike because of cardiac arrest and heart problems 🙁

  6. I definetely enjoy these more steep and short climbs combined with a difficult environment more than races, where you know the big teams have the strength to catch almost every breakaway. It seems like the riders have to be more aware.
    And of course ill watch a race, with a fellow dane winning, and he probably wouldnt have won if they stuck to the old style. Big congratulations to Søren Kragh Andersen. What a way to end a very successful season.

  7. Dan, your pronunciation of Woolongong makes you sound like a foreigner, haha. It's WOOLongong not WoolONgong. Some locals just call it 'the gong'.

  8. Paris tours was the best race of the last few months since the spring classics. Maybe a bit rough tho, make it a bit easier on the tires and it will be the best race after the world championships.

  9. I loved the new Paris-Tours parcours. It makes the race much more interesting. Sprinters have plenty of other races where they can shine. One more for the classics guys is only good. Let's face it, for guys like Vanmarcke and Terpstra the season ends in April. After that they are just domestiques. Nice to give them a chance to shine at the end of the season as well.

    I don't understand all the whining. It's not a world tour race. Nobody is forced to go there, if you don't like it, skip it. I don't hear Lefevere complaining about Paris-Roubaix. Although, I wouldn't mind if it actually did become a World Tour race.

    Dan asked if it's a gimmick. Don't think so. A grid start is a gimmick. Hammer series is a gimmick. Gravel in a road race always provides epic racing.

  10. Yep definitely a step too for few sectors. Some were really extrem and dangerous to ride with slick tyres. It's no more gravel when a path is mostly made of rocks the size of your thumb. For next year they just have to clean or change few sectors and it will be perfect.

  11. Loved the gravel portions of Paris Tours 2018. Racers' experiences will lead to products that can withstand the stresses of gravel. Improvements will trickle to consumers. Go job to the race organizers.

  12. I'm loving Strade Bianche, Paris-Roubaix and their ilk. It's a small step back to the heroic days of bike racing, when competitors rode over unsealed mountain passes on gas-pipe single-speeds. If they could do it, why's it a problem if you have 22 gears, shifted electronically, on a bike weighing 50% of next to nothing? It means less team tactics and more individual strength and skill.

  13. Dan, with that gravel on the route back in your day-i reckon you would of bagged it.

    p.s. Terpstra is allergic to taking a turn.

  14. Why are you trying to revive your facebook page when facebook seems to be dying. I think a lot of people would love to see the live coverage and the highlights but not a lot of people use facebook ore don't even have it. Don't get me wrong I love your content and keep doing what you do. #askgcn 😉

  15. Torn. Unpredictive racing is fun to watch but at the same got less to do with sport and more to do with chancing

  16. Are we unable to watch cyclocross on facebook in Belgium for competitive reasons with sporza? I'd like your commentary 😮

  17. RIP Duquennoy. Will you be reporting on the large number of suspicious cardiac-related deaths among young racers in the last couple of years? Please do. We need a clean sport.

  18. I enjoyed the paris- tours. Why are pro riders whinging?? You know you're riding, you do the recce, set your bike up correctly; if it looks puncturous ride on tubeless. If you're not keen don't do it. But stop bitching cos it didn't go your way. Boo hoo neutral service vehicles.

  19. If it's the only way bicycle racing on gravel is televised, I'll take it. I'd rather see it as an all gravel or all road event. Some are excited, saying it will lead to road racing bikes that can handle gravel. I don't see why we need road bikes, road-gravel bikes, and gravel bikes.

  20. If you chucked in some technical sections of single track to a ‘road’ race I’m sure it would be interesting to watch and people would be talking about it but if I was someone taking part I’m sure I’d be none too impressed

  21. Hard pack and small, sparse gravel are fine… beyond that its too much for a road event…Or, whatever standard the Strada B. has set is acceptable imo…

  22. Hey GCN, you guys should do a video on some exercises to become more aero e.g. some stretches to roll your shoulders forward

  23. A few decades ago, the Tour the France was raced on mostly gravel roads. Normal paved roads gave us too many bunch sprint finishes lately and I feel gravel (or cobbles) roads open up the field. It's way more exiting for the spectators and because of this there should be more.

  24. Ho my GOD….Nicki whinning again because they didn't cooperate. If I would of been the AG2R guy I would of sprint him before the end! Boo hoo, it sucks to be U Nicki

  25. Road cycling has been getting a bit soft in the past number of years. New bike tech, pretty kits, and support that amateur cyclists only dream of having. They look like they are out for a Sunday group ride until the last 20 kilometers. Naturally they aren't going to like have to actually do some racing early on throughout a stage. The unpaven surfaces offer a lot of unknown mishaps to only make it more uncertain and challenging which for a bicycle race is the way it should be. I say if the whiners don't like it don't then come to the race.

  26. I may sound like a grumpy old man, but please do not mess with road racing ! First they add disc brakes, then they add gravel…next thing you know there will be sections of single track as the bikes, riders and routes morph into mountain biking. Leave the bikes, the riders and courses alone !

  27. Paris-Tours was fun to watch. If they really want extreme, they need to lay down a fresh load of new, deep, loose gravel on those roads they way they do in Iowa. Now that would be extreme!.

  28. The thought that gravel roads are new to bicycle races is laughable. They may have been absent from road races for a good while, but perhaps that's what pro cycling has been missing. The key to solving le Tour puzzle was discovered well over 30 years ago. Be someone who can time-trial and climb. I loved watching those type of riders struggle at the Roubaix stage of this year's TdF. If the grand tours had more of this type of riding, it would invite a load more of possible overall winners, making the sport more competitive and therefore more interesting. Besides that, if Paris-Tours is a "classic" it ought to have the feel of a classic à la de Ronde or Roubaix.

  29. How many Kim’s of gravel/dirt did they race in the original days of the TDF and other races? This years edition of Paris Tours much more interesting than 200 km of HO hum just to finish in a bunch sprint! Kudos to ASO for changing it up!

  30. As a Sydney-sider, I can't believe the World Championships have gone to the most backwards state by far, when it comes to cycling. Here in NSW, you cope a $150 fine for not having a bell on your bike!

  31. Gravel racing is growing rapidly. If you want to grow your fan base, having pro events featuring gravel sections is a good way to attract viewers, which in turn attracts sponsors.
    Some will like it, others will not, but keeping up with industry trends, especially trends being driven by consumers is key. Disc brakes on road, Di2, 1x drive trains, hydraulic braking and shifting etc.

  32. This Giro Münsterland was my first everyman race! And as a beginner cyclist (with quite a lot of extra weight to carry still) I reached all my goals: finishing, riding up the Longinus climb with atrocious asphalt (many in the back got off their bikes) and escaping the sweep car enforcing the minimum speed 💪🏻🎉
    It was also my first pro-race to watch live and that was very exiting to observe and awesome too! I'm hooked and am already plotting which races will fit into my calender next near…

  33. hey Dan, here in Oz, Wollongong is pronounced "woolengong" Don't feel bad, could have been held in Woolloomooloo. Not far north of Woolongong BTW

  34. It was far more entertaining than waiting for a bunch finish, which was the whole point, and if the teams had prepared, possibly tubeless tyres rather than tubs, then less punctures. Not as harsh as Paris Roubaix in terms of the parcours but enough of a challenge to require bike handling skills, line choice as well as the strength to win.

  35. Should we start comparing the death rates for professional cyclists with other elite athletes. Given the evidence that the stress on the heart is a risk factor for elite athletes surly the recent deaths must be a concern.

  36. Road bikes are designed and built for tarred roads. Aren't the competitors profession road races? Why stop at gravel sections, why not go full offroad. The only reason for the high viewership is people wanting to see the carnage.

  37. A lot of fun for the public, less for the riders. Whatever, riders have become showmen and with the generalization of the levels, I prefer to see some incertitude than a massive sprint where we all know the winner. A bit chance is better for the others.
    In my opinion, a BIT of gravel is the future of cycling like it was his past. Road cycling should not become a course of sprinters, even if that is what we see on mountainous stage, otherwise i go see a crit

  38. strade bianche was a favourite with many people earlier this year. Calling for many fans asking why isn’t it a monument. Paris tours was just as entertaining, minus a few big names. I for one liked it. Just needed it to rain

  39. I like it! However, at this point in the season we have a lot mentally fatigued riders. Racing on gravel requires much concentration. At this point in the year, team directors are beginning to focus on next season. Nobody wants to see riders seriously injured, and especially so at the end of an all too long year.

  40. At 1:18 in that's some professional bike handling skills there… Bring the right equipment and gravel can done easily. Winners in dirty kanza are getting no flats, over significantly worse conditions. 100 psi tubular tires aren't going to hack it you knew it but pressed your luck and got burned. Don't blame the course on an inability to adapt at all. Quickstep floors is being drama queens.

  41. Everyone seems to be forgetting that when Paris Tours started in the 1890's there was NO tarseal – it was either gravel or cobbles, on steel bikes with no gears and solid tires. You could say it is returning to its roots and the Prima Donnas on Quickstep should Harden the F**k Up!

  42. trends clearly show that gravel is a genre that people are enjoying, so i think it is a great adaptation. makes it harder for riders and teams in many regards, and makes it interesting for the viewers to have more variety.

  43. About Paris-Tours. First of all it was great. It brought a new level of exitement for mixed terrain racing this late in the season (when CX has started already). It is a different race than previous years. But it is the kind of race that a few middle age guys watch together over coffee at the bike shop (we're in Boulder, CO) and then go riding. Again love the new Pairs-Tours!

  44. Loved it. Honestly pure sprint races are rather boring as 99% of the race is meaningless. you only really need to watch the last 1k… every now and then a breakaway makes it a little exciting but with all the computers and radios – it becomes boring. Love the classics – especially Strada – and the cobble sections of the tour and now Paris Tours… and i agree equipment and planning are as much about racing as anything. More please.

    Maybe the days of sprint races on the road are in decline. The less predictable the race flow – the more exciting the race. Forget all the traditional this and that — keep exploring different ideas. That cobble section in the Tour was "must watch" for the entire length of the stage. That is awesome!

  45. Nowadays if you have a flat it's almost certainly your fault for choosing the wrong material so I don't think we are talking about luck but we are talking about decisions made ahead of the race. A little heavier tire (maybe tubeless) could have made the difference.

  46. I would love to see more gravel at the pro level. I would love to see a stage race have one day of gravel or a one day race that is gravel. Gravel is becoming the new road in the USA, because of the more unique areas you can go and see, and lack of vehicular traffic. I think seeing the pros do a gravel race will shine a light on the greatness of gravel. Speaking of the greatness of gravel… maybe a global cycling gravel channel would be in order. It could encompass all that is gravel and cyclocross, then just leave GCN to road. Just a thought.

  47. About time we see some variety in Pro road cycling. Tired of seeing stick insects climbing up mountains and bunch sprints after 200km of nothing.

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