Patrick Levefere says he doesn’t understand cycling’s ‘fascination’ with gravel sectors

Quick-Step riders have found a new unpaved sector in this year’s Tour de France route

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Patrick Lefevere has questioned the “fascination" with including unpaved sectors in the Tour de France.

The Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss has recently discovered that new gravel sector will be included in the 2020 Tour de France after his riders recced the climb.

While exploring the 2020 Tour route, Bob Jungels discovered a goat trail that will be included on the Col de Madeleine.

In his column for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Lefevere said: “Honestly, I don’t understand [Tour de France organiser] ASO’s fascination with goat trails.”

“What value does it add? It’s the opposite of spectacular.”

Lefevere points to the summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles during last year’s Tour, which ramped up to 24 per cent in a final 900 metre-long off-road section.

Despite the hype, the stage wasn’t as thrilling as some anticipated with most general classification leaders finishing within 20 seconds of each other.

This year, the Tour will feature gravel on the Madeleine and the Col de la Loze, both of which feature on stage 17 of the race.

But Lefevere doesn’t welcome the prospect.

He added: “Riders don’t attacked with those extreme cols at the end. It’s like the most boring sprint stages.

“Apparently it appeals to the imagination, but personally I find it ridiculous.”

Lefevere says the trend started with the inclusion of the Angliru in the 1992 Vuelta a España, with races now determined to make riders go higher, steeper and further.

A number of high-profile events have been adding unpaved stretches into their courses in recent years, including the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, prompting a response from cycling’s governing body.

In February, The UCI has responded to the trend of including unpaved roads in races by adding new rules about gravel segments.

The rule states that the race organiser must provide detailed descriptions of the gravel sectors to teams, including length, type of surface, difficulty and road width.

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Organisers must also ensure the course can be ridden in all weather conditions, that the course is stable and safe, and that and drivers of race vehicles have the skills to tackle the section as well.

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