Remco Evenepoel‘s criticism of a phase of off-road racing within the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Friday have sparked additional debate on the rising pattern to introduce sterrato gravel roads into highway racing.
After dropping the race chief to Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-hansgrohe) on the uphill end at Antenas del Maigmó on stage 3, Evenepoel was at pains to emphasize afterwards that Vlasov was a deserving winner and had taken the lead truthful and sq.. However he was scathing in his criticisms of Valenciana’s unprecedented introduction of a sterrato part, saying it was “getting near mountain biking” that the race was “onerous sufficient already” and that the sterrato had not contributed something to what he described as “a gorgeous race.”
Evenepoel additionally insisted that the peloton usually had blended emotions concerning the introduction of gravel sections
“Typically within the groups and within the bunch, there’s frustration that we go on such small roads which can be, I’m not going to say harmful, however you can’t win one thing with it, however you possibly can lose it. You’ll be able to have a flat tyre so it’s at all times a threat,” he argued.
On the stage 4 begin of La Valenciana in Orihuela, riders and administration appeared divided on the knowledge of getting sterrato throughout key levels, with some arguing that in multi-day occasions at the least, the attainable disadvantages outweighed the advantages.
“I’m not eager to see gravel in a stage race,” Matteo Trentin (UAE Crew Emirates), whose team-mate Juan Ayuso, a GC contender, had a mechanical on a nook of the gravel sector, informed Cyclingnews. “I believe we’re going too far, to a spectacle we don’t want.”
“Strade Bianche is Strade Bianche, it’s a race that was born and developed that approach. It’s additionally particular due to the Tuscany roads which aren’t the identical as all the opposite gravel roads yow will discover in Italy.
“Somewhat than attempt to replicate that, perhaps it’s higher to search out one thing that’s particular to this race.”
As for the precise downsides of stage 4’s six-kilometre remaining climb, which included almost two kilometres of tough gravel, Trentin argued that “it was steep sufficient already and the floor was not ok. It wasn’t appropriate for highway racing. That is highway biking, it’s not gravel racing.”
As for Evenepoel’s comparability, Trentin stated: “Perhaps [yesterday] was not mountain-biking, however for positive it was gravel racing. If you wish to discover gravel racing there are circuits for that.”
Like Ayuso, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) additionally had mechanical issues, puncturing on the sterrato.
“I don’t assume it added any worth to the race, as a result of the climb was tremendous onerous, the strongest man received. The one factor you’ve is what occurred to folks like Ayuso. Okay a puncture and a technical incident can occur on any floor, however, like I stated earlier than, that is road-racing.”
Trentin prolonged his level to the inclusion of the cobbled sectors from Paris-Roubaix within the Tour de France, which the race is because of sort out once more this summer time.
“It’s onerous sufficient as it’s and we noticed previously that a number of GC contenders misplaced quite a bit within the cobbled sections. However there’s a motive why there are Grand Tour riders and there are Classics riders. You can’t combine the 2 issues.”
The skilled Italian racer has labored quite a bit to assist rider security. He argued that stage racing and gravel shouldn’t combine for security causes.
“You’re going to have crashes. We noticed that a couple of years years in the past within the Tour. There have been extra crashes than anything. I don’t know if it actually provides one thing or if it’s higher simply to make one other one-day race.”
Trentin even argued that Paris-Excursions, which has not too long ago added off-road segments to its finale didn’t must undergo the fields and vineyards of central France to be a superb race.
“It’s not a practice in Paris-Excursions, so why are you including one thing that’s sort of a vogue proper now? What are you going to do when the subsequent vogue comes?”
Former Flèche Wallonne winner and Israel Begin-Up Nation director Rik Verbrugghe concurred with Evenepoel.
“It doesn’t change something on the general classification. The one threat is that you’ve got a flat tyre. So typically it’s fascinating however I believe it’s higher to maintain it in Strade Bianche and never within the stage races,” he stated.
“Firstly due to rider security, then you possibly can solely lose the race due to a flat tyre or dangerous luck as a substitute of an actual sporting determination.”
“Okay, Remco misplaced the jersey, and with or with out gravel it could be the identical end result. However Valverde had a flat. It provides additional stress for nothing. So it’s okay to have gravel in races, however not in each race.”
For an allrounder like Chad Haga (Human Powered Well being), the gravel sections in a stage race has each optimistic and destructive sides.
“I’m not fully against it, I believe it may be a enjoyable aspect so as to add in typically,” the 33-year-old American stated. “Particularly if it is a approach to join components of the course that you simply couldn’t join in any other case.”
That was the case, for instance, within the 2019 Vuelta a España within the Pyrenees, which used an off-road part to attach between two climbs within the finale.
Nevertheless “Friday felt un-necessary,” reasoned Haga. “We rode down a paved approach to get to the group buses. So, there actually was a paved approach we may have taken.
“It wasn’t essential, nevertheless it wasn’t detrimental both. It was simply one other thorn within the aspect in an already very onerous day. However basically I believe it’s an fascinating aspect so as to add into races at occasions.”
Whereas aware of the organisers enthusiasm to introduce new parts into their occasions, Haga – who described the Friday gravel sector as ‘a bit of gnarly at factors’ – concurred with Trentin that the case for retaining gravel sections in one-day races, not stage races, was a powerful one.
“Sooner or later races are already an all-or-nothing scenario. In a stage race there’s positively extra to be misplaced. However there are arguments on each side.”
He partly confirmed Evenepoel’s declare of dissatisfaction within the peloton over the sterrato segments.
“There’s some grumpiness amongst some riders, nevertheless it’s additionally to be anticipated that we’ll see an increasing number of stuff this in racing, as a result of each organiser needs to search out the factor that makes race thrilling and convey within the viewers. That’s what the game is.”