Published on 01/24/2022 18:00
Between cancellations and postponements, cycling has not escaped the penalties of the pandemic. However, the second-tier French occasions had been the oblique beneficiaries, recovering trays worthy of the World Tour.
Any scenario generates winners and losers. Even the most dramatic, which the profiteers don't at all times welcome. Let's be clear: no cycling race organizer is completely happy about the present COVID-19 pandemic. But it's clear that some of them benefited from the cancellations in shambles and regal uncertainties to convey collectively an unusually prestigious line-up.
Among them are the brave considering heads of second-tier French racing, people who tv channels purchase for a pittance, people who solely fans know. It is just not a query right here of Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix or the Tour de France, however of the Etoile de Bessèges, the Tour de la Provence or the Classique de l'Ardèche. Belonging to the UCI ProSeries calendar (decrease stage of the Word Tour) or to the continental circuits, they are by no means an goal for the nice champions, content material to animate the debates between native heroes, as a preparation for the main occasions.
Foreign cycling occasions cancelled, French races maintained
It is subsequently a query right here of the results skilled by these races between 2019 and 2021, by the evolution of the status of their beginning record, put into perspective with parallel cancellations and postponements. Only the occasions at the begin of the season can be talked about right here, for the sake of completeness. This qualification applies to all the races contested earlier than the begin of Paris-Nice, ie between mid-January and the starting of March. For the most uninitiated amongst you, it is best to know that aside from distinctive occasions, the cycling calendar is mounted from one season to a different, the season conserving the similar sequence. Thus, the scheduling of the exams stays related, solely the dates change barely. This component is especially helpful for evaluating the affect of the cancellation of occasions on the startlist of others, because it naturally avoids any calendar bias.
Still nil in 2019, the pandemic started to shake up the cycling calendar from the second half of February 2020, till placing the entire of sport below a bell at the finish of Paris-Nice. The 2021 season was then marked by quite a few postponements and cancellations. These had the particularity of being geographically focused. No extra-European winter race was contested. Many Iberian proofs have been moved. All the French races have taken place. Differences in overseas insurance policies, open borders and native well being restrictions might clarify such variations. Within France, a brief lull in contamination following the second confinement, coupled with the systematic institution of a well being bubble, gave rise to a positive context for sport, to the nice pleasure of the organizers in France.
The following timeline illustrates these upheavals. Based on the begin of the 2020 season, it distinguishes the occasions maintained of their place in 2021 from the races postponed or just canceled. In doing so, he clearly highlights the persistence of the French calendar in the face of the deforestation of overseas occasions, till acquiring a half-tricolor begin to the season. It clearly reveals that the French races have been rid of their rivals, subsequently encouraging the total worldwide peloton to participate.
The cycling world in France
It is now a query of evaluating the results of these main calendar adjustments on the status of the grids. For this, we used the index Startlist Quality of Procyclingstats. This one, whose translation could be just like ” starting list prestige makes use of a site-specific rating as a benchmark.
Its operation is just like the UCI rating, giving extra worth to occasions at ranges beneath the World Tour. It may subsequently be described as “more just” on this respect. The higher a participant is ranked, the extra status factors he brings to the version of a race. These scores vary from 50 factors for a runner in the world top-10 to 1 level for a person ranked between the 500and and the 1000and sq..
In the graph beneath, this index is measured over a three-year interval, from 2019 to 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, no exogenous issue is meant to exist, as the pandemic has not but taken impact for races. wintry. In 2021, on the different hand, the outcomes might be instantly correlated with many parallel cancellations.
Thus, the yr 2021 does certainly look like a wonderful classic for the French organizers. As the graph illustrates, all the second-tier French races at the begin of the season have seen the status of their area enhance considerably, whereas it appeared comparatively steady between 2019 and 2020. For the Etoile de Bessèges or the Tour of the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, this worth even varies from easy to double, symbolizing the extent of the impact delivered to gentle.
Usually absent in the Gard, the well-known INEOS-Grenadiers formation had thus introduced the heavy artillery to the final version of the Etoile de Bessèges. Egan Bernal, Filippo Ganna, Michal Kwiatkowski or Geraint Thomas then set off from Bellegarde to attempt to take over from Benoit Cosnefroy or basic classification. It was lastly the Belgian Tim Wellens, winner of 4 Grand Tours phases, who gained at the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-des-Mines d'Alès. The winner had by no means counted such an inventory of prizes since Fabio Baldato, winner of the Etoile de Bessèges in 2003.
The French impact confirmed overseas
The solely exception on this graph: Paris-Nice. Whatever the yr and the context (in 2020, many groups had withdrawn from the race earlier than its begin, forcing the group to name on extra runners and different formations), the “race in the sun” maintains a beginning roster of related status. Could this distinction vis-à-vis the different circumstances studied be as a consequence of the pure status of the occasion, the just one categorized on the World Tour calendar?
To discover out, it's essential to dwell on the overseas occasions at the begin of the season maintained in 2021, all ranges of classification mixed.
Once once more, there's a sure stability in the status of the startlist for the most well-known races, whether or not they are World Tour occasions (UAE Tour and Het Nieuwsblad) or main classics conferences (Kuurne-Bussel -Kurne). On the different hand, extra native occasions, reminiscent of the Trofeo Laigueglia or the Samyn get pleasure from the same impact to second-tier French races.
Usually reserved for transalpine runners, the Italian traditional had certainly seen the world's cream of the crop land in Liguria. The nice Bauke Mollema had additionally gained, forward of the idol Egan Bernal and the promising Mauri Vansevenant. The first Italian, Giulio Ciccone, was relegated to the 5and place.
If we observe this logic, the lower in cancellations and postponements for this 2022 season ought to produce the reverse impact. With the upkeep of all the classics and Spanish stage races and the return of occasions from the Middle East, the French organizers ought to return to their former requirements. However, the introduced grid of the GP la Marseillaise, the opening occasion of the French season, at the moment shows a startlist high quality of 342, which is lower than the 443 of final yr, of course, however greater than the 298 of 2020.
An analogous phenomenon is noticed close to the Etoile de Bessèges. Has France (partially) succeeded in successful the loyalty of the cycling world?
By Jean-Guillaume Langrognet