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'Nothing to do with road cycling': Riders and managers react Paris-Tours gravel

Joe Robinson
8 Oct 2018

Lefevere and De Gendt criticise gravel paths of Paris-Tours yet Vanmarcke quite liked it

Certain riders and team managers took particular exception to the inclusion of gravel sectors in this year's Paris-Tours, taking to social media to express their dislike. 

The one-day Classic updated its usual fast and largely flat parcour for 2018 by including nine sectors of gravel tracks through various vineyards in the final 60km of racing. This caused a barrage of punctures throughout the day, affecting the overall result.

Some teams saw multiple riders succumb to flats on course with Dimension Data having half of their entire team puncture at one point or another.

Eventually, Soren Kragh Andersen took a fine victory from Niki Terpstra. The latter was riding his last ride for Quick-Step Floors and it was Terpstra's team manager, Patrick Lefevere, who was the first to voice concerns over the adjusted route.

While the race was in progress, Lefevere took to Twitter writing 'This will be the last time that Quick-Step do this race, even if we win. Nothing to do with road cycling.'

Whether the Belgian's opinion would have changed if Terpstra had nabbed the victory will never be known but it does seem odd that the man who has guided the likes of Tom Boonen, Johan Museeuw and Philippe Gilbert to countless titles at one-day Classics Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, races that also tackle surfaces beyond tarmac, would complain.

His stance was seconded by Lotto Soudal's Thomas De Gendt who at least saw the comical side of things while watching the race at home.

The Belgian suggested a new collection of races by writing 'I don’t like the trend of all these gravel races. But I can imagine that some riders like this kind.

'Why not put them in separate classification and combine all gravel races. Gravelcup is born.'

De Gendt then followed this up with a light-hearted joke.

Although, it's worth saying that not all took exception like De Gendt and Lefevere. Sep Vanmarke (EF-Drapac), a rider who actually competed, commented that he actually enjoyed the new-look course.

Vanmarke tweeted: 'Had a lot of fun today in Paris-Tours on the new final! I liked it! Felt a bit like Paris-Roubaix. Didn’t have high expectations today because I’ve been ill last 10 days and couldn’t train much, but sometimes you can surprise yourself. So I’m happy with this performance.'

Vanmarcke rolled in seventh following an attacking race in his best result since the Grand Prix de Quebec last month.

Similarities have been cast to Strade Bianche, the Italian race that navigates the white gravel roads of Tuscany but it was clear at times that the severity of surface was much greater than the Spring race.

Realistically, however, teams and riders are going to have to adjust to more races including gravel sectors as ASO, organiser of Paris-Tours and other races, chief among them the Tour de France, have made it clear they plan to factor in more gravel more regularly.

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