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How to succed in the Grand Tours

Guide to Grand Tours

Okay, here is a guide on how you should act to survive Grand Tours with your team. I don’t say that this is a perfect way, but it has worked for me on both Hard and Extreme difficulty, so it at least works most of the time. The guide is in five different parts: 
1. How to get Stage wins
2. How to win the points jersey
3. How to win the mountain jersey
4. How to win the youth jersey
5. How to win the leader jersey
1. If you have a weak team or don’t think that this Grand Tour is so important for your team, your only chance to win something is probably to try and win a few stages. I you have a sprinter that is reasonably good, about 75-76 in excellent form, he could have a chance to win a big sprint, but it’s not that likely.
Another chance is that you have a decent hilly or mountain rider that you can save for just one stage that he will try to win. This is also unlikely to succeed, but it depends on his form and recovery compared to the others. If you have saved his strength in previous stages he could have a better recovery then the favorites and in that case have a decent chance at least.
The third way is to bring a decent TT rider and hope that he will have a good day in the prologue or in Vuelta Espana, a good team for the starting TTT, but if we stick to the theory that you have a weak team, this is not going to happen.
The best way to get a stage win with a weak team is without a doubt to have a rider in the right break every day, and just hope that sooner or later the sprint teams and the leader jersey team won’t bother to chase. This is most likely to succeed in a flat stage after a couple of hard mountain stages.
2. So, if you know have a stronger team and you want to win a jersey, what do you do then. If you want to win the points jersey, you will have to have different tactics in the Grand Tours, at least in 2006. The 2006 Giro has so many hilly and mountain stages that if you don’t win the bunch sprint in almost every flat stage you don’t have a chance to win it with your sprinter. You will have to use a very good hilly and mountain rider that can compete with the best, probably at least 77-78 in both of them depending a little bit on the difficulty level.
In the Tour you have to have a very good sprinter, you don’t have that much of a chance with a great climber; there aren’t enough mountain stages for that. Your sprinter should have, as always depending a little bit on what form he is in, at least 78 in sprint, but you probably need 80 to have a really good chance to beat Petacchi, Boonen, McEwen and Hushovd for example. You need to be top 5 in almost every bunch sprint and win at least 2-3 most of the time.
In the Vuelta you need either a good climber or a good sprinter, it’s about equal in possible amount of stages to win, but it’s probably a little bit easier with a really good climber because flat stages is more likely to have a breakaway that stays away.
3. Well, moving on to the mountain jersey here, how do you win it? This is also a bit different between the tours. We start this time as well with the Giro. In this tour you don’t get that many points in the mountain prizes, same with the points prizes. This makes a big different between this and the other 2 grand tours because you have to be in the top in every mountain stage to win the mountain jersey, this can be hard if you don’t have a really good climber, but if you at least have a decent one we can make up for that. You can attack a bit earlier then the top riders, instead of waiting for the last climb you can attack on the 2nd or even 3rd last climb to get some more points. This is a tactic that can work, but it can also go wrong, so your best bet it to have one of the top climbers and do your best.
In the Tour de France it’s way easier to win the climber jersey, you can attack at the start of 2-3 really long mountain stages with a good climber, 76+ and win the jersey by winning all the mountain prizes before the last climb on those stages. This won’t work that well on extreme if you have a climber that is one of the top 15 favorites for the stage. The peleton won’t let you go in that case, so if you play on extreme, you need a climber that can keep up with the absolute best, at least until the last climb.
In the Vuelta you need one of the best climbers because there is so many mountain stages, that you need someone with the best on almost all of them to have a decent chance. That’s everything on the climbers jersey, lets move on to the youth jersey.
4. This is the only jersey that not all riders can win, only riders 25 or younger can win this and that makes it perhaps the 2nd most difficult jersey to win after the leader jersey. To win this jersey in one of the 3 grand tours you have to have a rider that will get top 15 and most likely top 10 in the GC, even top 5 in some cases, this can be a most difficult thing to do and will take a very talented rider to succeed with.
To win the youth jersey, you need a very good climber, preferably with decent TT skills and good recovery. The hardest race to win this jersey in is probably the Giro considering that Cunego is competing for it almost every time, at least during the first year. The Tour is a little bit easier, but still very hard. The easiest is clearly the Vuelta, but its still extremely hard to win it.
5. Now it’s time for the most important jersey, the leader jersey. It’s without a doubt the hardest jersey to win, almost all the teams has a rider aiming for it and at least 5 of them is usually strong enough to take it. To win it you need a at least 78-79 climber, someone who doesn’t lose more then 2,5 min a TT to his rivals, because that’s almost impossible to make up for in the mountains. They also need a very good recovery stat and good stamina and resistance.
To start as usual with the Giro, it’s a very hard race to win, at least in 2006. Many mountain and hilly stages makes it hard for the a little bit weaker climbers and the riders with worse recovery then the others, but the prologue and the TTT in the start also makes a difference in the end. To win this race you can’t have more the one bad day, and a bad day is when you are not in top 5 of a mountain stage for example.
The Tour de France is the absolute hardest race to win, especially with the fact that all the great GC riders is there. Several hard mountain stages and 2 long and one short TT makes this a race for all-round riders, you can’t be bad at TT because you won’t be able to make the time back in the mountains.
The Vuelta Espana is least hard of the 3, but that doesn’t make it easy, you can win this race with a really good climber without TT skills because there are so many mountain finishes that you can make up for the lost time in the TT’s.

Okay, that’s everything I have for now, I hope you found at least some of it helpful.
Alexander Löfgren

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