Professional cycling’s three Grand Tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana – are run over three weeks. Those 21 days of action are constructed by race organisers to provide unfurling action culminating in a showdown in the final week.
That’s the theory. Sometimes, however, long stage races have back-to-back flat or transition days, where little happens until the final kilometre. Some would like to see these pruned out of Grand Tours, whereas others think they add to the overall mix and balance out the climbing days and time trials to provide variety.
Just this week, Giro director Mauro Vegni has said that he would like to see shorter stages, so even those at the involved in race organisation at the highest level think there is still scope for Grand Tours to improve.
We asked Cycling Weekly readers whether they thought reduced the length of the Giro d’Italia and/or Vuelta a Espana to two weeks would benefit the races, and here’s a selection of the answers we received.
Do you agree, or disagree with any of the points made? Have your say in the comments section below.
No, because a shorter race means less chance for the general classification boys to make it a spectacular race but they should sort out the rules so they allow sportsmanship instead of penalising it.
Why not shorten the most boring one of the three Grand Tours? The French one: so predictable and very little variation. The Giro is most interesting!
No, short tours end too soon, but perhaps they need to look again at long, boring flat stages that are just for the sprinters. They also need more uphill finishes to create more spectacular racing that we all love.
The only reason for shortening would be to allow for more races to be run in other places, and get the participants. We see that now with the Giro d’Italia/Tour of California date clash, but it is inherent throughout the season. If the Giro does start in the US, will that affect change? Will the US market ever develop? I wonder if they ever look at ending the season in Australia and not starting it there; end it around October 15-November 1 with the Tour Down Under, then start back up January 15ish with the Oman/desert races.
I don’t care if more riders can ride all three if they shorten the other two. A Grand Tour should remain at three weeks. You can’t change the bar to suit commercial needs of sponsors, etc, who want the best riders at all events, it’s not on.
Grand Tours should be left at three weeks. I never get bored with watching them, and reducing the length would be a shame.
The Giro d’Italia is good as it is, the organisers always seem to strike a balance between flat, hilly and mountain stages, which not only gives the spectators something different almost every day but also gives different types of rider a chance of a stage win. The Vuelta a Espana, though, is a different matter. Endless flat and featureless stages where even the riders frequently get bored and ride into a ditch – the Vuelta could be shortened to two weeks by trimming out the unnecessary sprint days.
Actually, it should be the other way around. The Tour de France should have a fourth week but with two rest days. Giro and Vuelta without further changes.
Grand Tours = three weeks. However, as already mentioned the long, flat, boring stages need to be sorted. Maybe a shorter point-to-point sprint stage. Or even a criterium-length stage in the afternoon after a morning individual time trial on the same course. Something to mix up the TV viewing but also disrupt the riders’ fatigue routine.
Video: Secrets of the toolbox – Giant-Alpecin