While talking with USA National Team DS Mike Sayers about how the race had been going for the team, he noted that, as a first time participant in the race,Valle d'Aosta seems to be a bit over the top for U23s. It wasn't in a boo-hoo sort of way because he acknowledged that his team hasn't been impressive but more along the lines of 5 and a half hour mountain stages being excessive for the U23 ranks, which if people forget is meant as a developmental step between the junior ranks and the pro ranks.
So this poses the question of is the Giro della Valle d'Aosta too hard for a U23 race?
This isn't to be a question of if the riders can do it or not because obviously many riders are able to ride over these mountains and some of them do very well at it. The question that should be answered is one of development. In its current format does this race provide a proper platform for riders to develop on? Or is Valle d'Aosta too excessive for riders that are trying to make the bridge to the pro ranks?
The Giro della Valle d'Aosta was not always a race that was strictly for mountain lovers only. Go back 10 years in 2005 and see that while mountain stages were in the middle of the race, there were bookend stages for sprinters including the final stage, which was won by Oscar Gatto. While the overall time gaps were still pretty big, the stages were shorter with the longest one at 134 kilometers.
The distance of stages isn't too much of an issue as there are rules for the maximum distances but there are no restrictions on what is inside of the stages. You could put 30,000 feet of climbing in there with 10 cobbled descents at a 45% gradient and it could be raced but obviously, that was a bit of hyperbole. The example of the ridiculousness is stage 3 of this year's race where the riders climbed 13,750 feet in just over 100 miles on a stage that took over 5 and a half hours to race. The time gaps probably would have been larger if the stage wasn't preceded by 2 mountain stages and that the excessively hard course saw a large group or nearly 15 riders until just a few kilometers left.
Any stage that is taking over 5 hours at this level, especially in a mountain stage race, is getting out of hand because at that point, you are touching pro level racing. While there are riders here that can handle it, when you only have 5 rider teams and have zero stages that are made for sprinters, it makes it incredibly hard to keep a race under control. Would perhaps allowing a 6th rider or taking away a day or two in the mountains make the race more balanced and offer a better development platform?
Do you think that these the Giro della Valle d'Aosta should make some changes or is status qup the way they should go? Fans, Riders, Directors, Brian Cookson...please let me know.