• Attacks string the peloton out as riders struggle to follow (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Tired of watching cycling races where nothing ever seems to happen?

25 Jul 2018 - 11:27 AM  UPDATED 25 Jul 2018 - 6:16 PM

The Tour de France thinks it has some solutions to liven up the action: Shorter mountain stages, sprints for bonus seconds and a Formula One-like grid start.

"Spectators are becoming more and more demanding and they want to see real excitement," says Luca Guercilena, general manager of the Trek-Segafredo team.

"Endurance is a big part of cycling but if we're able to mix the strain of longer stages with shorter legs that allow space for more attacks, a good mix could be the winner."

Zwift Cycling Central Podcast - Tour de France 2018 - Pepper spray on the peloton, and Alaphilippe's panache

Stage 16 of the Tour de France, with a pepper spray incident and a win by Alaphilippe

Alaphilippe wins an eventful Tour stage
Stage 16 of the Tour de France featured a protest, spectacular crashes and dynamic racing which ended with a swashbuckling win by Julian Alaphilippe.

While mountain stages in the Tour are traditionally more than 150 kilometres or longer this year's Tour features two legs that are relative sprints by comparison.

Stage 11 last week was a 108.5km leg from Albertville to the La Rosiere ski resort.

Stage 17 on Wednesday from Bagneres-De Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet in the Pyrenees promises to be unpredictable at just 65km over three gruelling climbs, including an uphill finish.

"It's not really been done before so it's going to be tough. It's basically up, down, up, down, up. Two-and-a-half hours of full-gas racing," says Geraint Thomas, the Team Sky rider currently wearing the yellow jersey.

"I'm sure it will be good to watch, maybe not to race."

With Team Sky dominating the Tour in recent years and easily chasing down any attacks, the shorter stages should lessen the British team's ability to maintain control of the race with attacks expected right from the start.

One of the downsides of shorter mountain stages is that muscular sprinters have a tough time keeping up with the leaner climbers.

Sprinting standouts Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel each failed to make the time cut in Stage 11 and were eliminated from the Tour.

But the Tour has tried to provide more opportunities for sprinters, too, by adding intermediate time bonuses in the first nine stages of the 2018 race.

Tour de France Power Rankings - Stage 16
Tear gas, crashes, risky descending and attacking on the climbs - Stage 16 to Bagnères-de-Luchon had it all! A few movers and shakers on the rankings, but there's some real potential for movement in the bottom half if those sorry teams can string together a few good performances.

With the stage only 65 kilometres in length, Quick-Step Floors sports director Tom Steels thinks that it will provide a temptation for riders to attack as soon as the flag drops.

"So close to the (finish), it's all about, 'Do I go for it or not?' Maybe if they put it earlier in the race it could have been a bigger battle," Steels said.

"There is some interest there."

Another innovation, a grid start, will be tested in Stage 17, the short mountain leg.

The top 20 riders in the standings will start first, with the yellow jersey wearer in pole position, while lower-ranked riders will be forced to begin in four groups positioned further behind.

Watch the action unfold tonight LIVE on SBS from 10.35pm AEST or in the ŠKODA Tour Tracker.