Rouleur Classic

Weekly Wibble: Designing Your Own End of Season Race

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Photographs: Offside/L'Equipe

You’re a magnate with a spare $1million you’re willing to throw at a week long bike race
The season between March and September is so full that trying to put a stage race there is like trying to fit a cyclist in his Tour de France skin suit in January. You’ve therefore decided to hold your race at the end of the season. You’ve got the money and you’ve got the time slot, you can now follow 1’s tips for how to design the perfect end of season race.
DO – provide animals for the riders to be photographed with
It may sound like an unusual suggestion but trust us, the Amstel Curaçao race lasted for 13 years because they had dolphins and everyone liked seeing photos of tan lined skinny cyclists swimming with dolphins. The Tour Down Under has the early season animal photos sewn up with their mix of kangaroos and koalas, and that’s a race which is actually respected.
DON’T – put any climbs on the route
The end of season race is a very delicate symbiotic relationship. The race is only being held because you have paid the big name cyclists a lot of money to go. If you start sticking climbs on the route then that appearance fee will look less and less impressive. Ideally make the stages short: a 60km criterium around your company’s offices is absolutely fine.
DON’T – host the race somewhere people care about cycling
Tour of Qatar, Tour of Hainan, Tour de San Luis; all races that have done well despite drawing nothing more than thinly veiled apathy from the local population. The riders are tired and want to enjoy their start and finish zones in peace. Having lots of people at a finish actually makes it quite difficult to see the distance markers so holding a race in a disinterested land makes sense.
DON’T – expect the race to last more than five years
No one is coming to watch your race and the television coverage is going to be patchy if existent at all. You’re pouring money into a black hole, and once you see how much is going out and that nothing is coming in from it, you might consider moving your money elsewhere. Have fun while it lasts though.
DO – make sure the temperature isn’t too high
You need relatively high temperatures so that riding is comfortable, but not too high that you get complaints. The Tour of Abu Dhabi judged it perfectly this year. A month earlier and riders would’ve been left sweltering under 50 degree heat; in late October, the temperature was a much more comfortable 41 degrees.
DO – keep the sprinter quality down, except one rider
Everybody loves a statistic and one way to make the wider cycling press pay attention to your race is if one second-level Italian sprinter turns up and wins every stage bar one. Then when that sprinter, let’s pull a name randomly from a hat, Andrea Guardini, is suddenly at the top of the victories table, you’ll get some press coverage as well. Possibly.
2 – The age of new CCC signing, Felix Großschartner, when Davide Rebellin won his first race (1996)
68 – The number of years the Tour de France had been running when Davide Rebellin was born (1971)
76 – The number of seasons Davide Rebellin woudl require to match Alessandro Petacchi’s victory total (a win ratio of 1.2 races per season for Rebellin; 6.1 for Petacchi)
A week of final kilometres:
Chris Hoy’s world record breaking kilo in 2004

Mark Cavendish beats Heinrich Haussler by pixels in the photo finish at the 2009 Milan-Sanremo

Mark Cavendish beats his nearest rivals by furlongs in the 2009 Champs-Elysees finish

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