While it's important never to forget the history and the tradition in which the Tour de France is steeped, efforts to innovate and change the race for the better should not be rejected on face value alone, writes Al Hinds.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

The fanfare surrounding Sky's appearance with yellow helmets on Stage 1 of the Tour de France was spot on.

"Are Team Sky already claiming the Tour de France," asked one Cycling Central commenter. Well, no, they weren't, but the surprise did catch many off-guard.

David Millar perhaps summed it up best with this tweet:


Officially the reason for the helmets is an iniative by ASO to help bring extra attention to the team's classification, a well-meaning idea in itself, but perhaps one that could have been better though out.

I for myself tend to agree with David Millar on this one in thinking the helmets, particulalry with Bradley Wiggins the then green jersey, did look a little odd.

I'm still not completely comfortable with the yellow helmet amendment, but the general idea of reforming the team's classification is not a completely inane idea.

How often do we talk about the Tour with an emphasis on the team, not the individual? All the pre-Tour comment and news was on the relative strengths of the BMC and Sky, and it's hardly a new thing.

Think CSC, Astana, US Postal, T-Mobile; they all stamped their authority on Tours of old, and delivered winners through all-round performances.

Sure the names on the honour roll are individuals, Evans, Sastre, Schleck, Contador, Armstrong, Ullrich, but their wins are all synonomous with team strength.

It's funny then that team's classification rewards a team the way it does. The best three riders on a stage by stage add to a team's cumulative time, with the winner declared in Paris.

In theory that rewards the most consistent team, but often it fails to acknowledge the best team. It also pushes teams to be consistently mediocre rather than forcing them to push one rider to the top.

Take 2011 for example, Garmin-Cervelo took out the team's classification, despite its best rider, Tom Danielson, coming in ninth.

For me, that's an injustice to teams like Leopard-Trek and BMC that worked inside out to trump each other over the three weeks of last year's Tour.

Why do Marcus Burghardt, Amael Moinard, and George Hincapie not get recognised in an official way by the Tour organisation as Cadel Evans does, when their contribution is no less signficant?

There are obvious parrallels with the way the sport is currently set up whereby the UCI's WorldTour points are awarded to individual riders rather than their teams. But that's a blog for another day.

A move to an award for the whole team that wins the Tour de France would a fitting, and a worthwhile reward for three weeks of toil.

Changes need not be feared, but they should not be novel and gimmicky. ASO should be applauded for the new points classification that livens up the middle of the stage at the intermidate sprints, and they shouldn't as an organisation fear other reforms, as long as they are well thought out.