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Post-race review: Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var
« on: February 23, 2021, 23:05 »
This thread is a bit of a latecomer, as the race has already taken place. Previously known as the Haut Var[1], but extended with one day last year and now including also the Alpes Maritime on the other side of the, that is where the Var actually runs - and they do cross the river.

As this is my personal preferred "early summer cycling abroad in the sun" region I always tried to follow the Haut Var, and the racing has been mediocre, with lots of French Conti teams and the TV coverage have been absent or poor quality. Not so this year. Due to the virus related "any race could be the last in a long while", cancellations in Spain etc - the parcours was now the best ever, the lineup was the best ever and they actually raced it too, on TV with helicopters and proper cameras and all that. It was a massive level up for the race, with a few exceptions.

There were 3 stages moving from west to east across the region, and if you are going to watch just one stage recorded (I found it on the eurosport player) it is the final stage, featuring a climb of Col de la Madone early in the finale, and the descent - at its most scary with racers going full speed down the snaky narrow roads with - what is unusual for these racers - lots of parked cars, including a few really badly positioned. However, that is what you get in a 2.1 race, even if you level up to looking like a WT race.

The racing was hard and the teams featuring the most was #trek, #israel, #groupama (surprise), #ineos and #ag2r.

Stage 1 featured an uphill drag to the finish nicely pre-empted by a move from #trek Bauke Mollema. No time bonuses, but a rider like #ineos Tao Geoghegan Hart perhaps lost his GC chances here by loosing 13 sconds to the better positioned GC riders.
Stage 2 (t-72's adopted home stage) finished up the Mur de Fayence, earlier won by riders like Sergio Henao, Carlos Betancur and Sean Yates (even if he started with an attack much further out). No surprise to add #israel Michael Woods to that list. No one did a Velte-Slagter.

Stage 3 (t-72's recommended watching stage) featured a short distance with lots of climbing, intermediate between a proper big mountain stage and a media montagna, if you ask me. It proved incontrollable for #israel and the last two climbs starting with the Madone was just great bike racing with any numbers of attacks in the yellow jersey group. Very well deservered victory to #trek Brambilla who seems ready for the season already. Rider of the day was #groupama Bruno Amirail who was just leading, leading, leading and leading the peloton from the front like some kind of climbing version of #quickstepTim de Clerq.  For your viewing pleasure there must be close to 40 attacks from theyellow jersey group, but also in the front group. Hard to keep track of the riders, even with a helicopter,

Recommended for a few hourrs of nice weather TV watching on a day of late winter rain and wind,  with nothing else to do outdoors.

 1. translates to upper Var but strangely the Var region is nowhere near the upper nor lower parts of the river Var's valley, which reaches the Mediterranean just outside the Nice airport. It is in France.  :S
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  • Leadbelly

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    Yeah, all of us in the race chat really enjoyed stage 3. Couple that with what happened in the morning over in UAE and could it have been the best day's racing that we see this year? It'll take something amazing to trump it.

    Obviously I was looking at things through rather I-SUN tinted glasses, but Woods did impress me for two reasons.

    Firstly he's hit the ground running. If you have read the I-SUN thread you'll know I am usually bemoaning the team's slow start to seasons, so it makes a change to have someone be right on it from the get-go.

    Secondly my mind did drift back to last year's TA. Woods won a hilly stage there after attacking the favourites on some super steep slopes and that's his forte those types of finishes (like Fayence), but he then followed that up by cracking on a proper MTF. Now stage 3 three wasn't a MTF, but it was a proper mountain and there were other similarities in that his team wasn't the strongest and he was left isolated. Okay he didn't do enough to bring back Brambilla, but he certainly didn't crack and looked the strongest amongst Fugly, Quintana and co.

    Onwards and upwards. :cool
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  • t-72

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    Just a note on the course design for that final stage: while Le Tour de France last few years have included short mountain stages, they have been short big mountain stages and the racing hasn´t been that different from conventional longer mountain stages with a shorter  ride to the finale.

    Now, what do you think about short media montagna stages? This one followed the recipe of that last stage in the Paris-Nice and they are almost always of the same epic quality. The roads don´t give space for a large mountain train formation into the finale and it is gloves off fighting for hours instead of that final decisive climb. Give me more, is my vote! Giro organizers especially take note, as only one corner of France has this type of terrain, while Italy is practically stuffed with it, except for in the middle of the Po plain.

    Only one thing I prefer to see done differently, if they are racing this way for a really prestigious trophy, it is too dangerous with all those parked cars in the road. I was just waiting for that old disoriented driver to enter the racecourse, like in the Lombardia incident. They need to improve on safety.
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