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ith.During this years Tour, f

    • 2283 posts
    March 9, 2018 7:47 AM +0330

    PARIS, France -- As Chris Froome stepped off the podium with another Tour de France champions yellow jersey Sunday, his rivals and many observers were left asking two questions. Fernandinho Jersey .Firstly, how could the triple Tour champion be beaten, and what can be done to stop his teams domination that stifled the three-week race of excitement.Make no mistake, the Tour remains the worlds biggest and most prestigious bike race. It is also an event that far exceeds its purpose as a sporting event, as race director Christian Prudhomme reminded on Saturday. At Morzine, he first spoke of Sky, comparing them to the Paris Saint Germain of French football, but then directed his thoughts to the Tours social impact on society.On the road of the Tour there are hundreds of thousands and millions with smiles on their faces, said Prudhomme, adding in reference to recent terrorist attacks such as the July 14 Bastille Day tragedy in Nice.We had smiles on the faces [of those fans], but it was not only for the champions. They said, We want to live as we want to live in our Western World.However, turning back to the face of the Tour as a sporting event, many believe this years race will not go down as one of the memorable because of Skys stranglehold. That is not to detract from the achievement of Sky and Froome and even his main rivals.Sky selected a Tour team stacked with winners in their own right. They protected Froome in every front, especially in the Pyrenees and Alps where they rode at a tempo so strong that it stifled anyones ability to attack. Prudhomme believes reducing team sizes to from nine to eight riders would animate the Tour.More than ever, its time to have teams with one less rider, said Prudhomme who, like many, felt that Skys collective strength basically shut down the race in the mountains.Nevertheless, Prudhomme expects many team managers would need convincing of this proposal that would also need the ratification from the Union Cycliste Internationale.The biggest teams would not want to even like to hear of this talk, Prudhomme said. But perhaps they can understand that it is about the greater interest of cycling.Matt White, head sports director of the Orica-BikeExchange team that saw Briton Adam Yates finishing fourth overall and winning the white jersey as the Tours best young rider, was all praise for Froome.He is a Tour great, White told ESPN. But it is not just because of his results. A lot of riders win the Tour. What stands out is the way he has handled unfair criticism of their team and the alleged this and alleged that ...But White believes several things have led to a lack of excitement in a Tour dominated by Sky. He cited Skys superior annual budget, the stage lengths, and a peloton that is cleaner than that of the dope-fueled 1990s and early 2000s.Asked if he is better versed on how to beat Sky and Froome now that Orica-Bike Exchange has gone up against the Briton in the race for general classification with Yates, White said: They have very few weaknesses, and I guess ours is our bank account.It is hard to compete with those guys with the budget they have got. Seven of their riders here would be our highest-paid athlete. Then you have got guys like Leopold K?enig who was sixth in the Tour last year is not even here ... Nicolas Roche too.Every single rider on Sky [in their Tour team], except for the two work horses -- Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard -- would be a leader of any other team. That is what we are dealing with.During this years Tour, four of 21 stages were longer than 200 kilometers. We dont have to keep racing the same distance as we have been since time began, White said. Its been proven that shorter races make more exciting races. Team time trials are a great event. They should be included every year in the Tour.White also believes less doping has impacted riders ability to attack.The sport has changed for the good, but it shows now that people are human, White said. Thats a good change but maybe that has made the racing a bit more negative because people are human. People cant do superhuman things any more, and we have seen that.Take Froome out of the equation with his super team ... between second and 10th places it would be the closest Tour in modern cycling. Why? All those riders are on a similar level.When things are so close [on the general classification] people are cautious. That is because theyre not superhuman. They have to make more judged analytical decisions.Charly Wegelius, head sports director of the American Cannondale-Drapac team, lauded Sky its ironclad and talent-rich structure that is based solely around the annual goal of Froome winning another Tour.I dont agree it is a gamble because if you have Chris Froome in your team you have a very clear objective, Wegelius told ESPN. If you dont keep him upright or the air doesnt stay in his tires you just wait for next year. I