Monday, 26 June 2017

Hotels du Tour 2017

Last year it seemed that the big teams at the Tour de France – the likes of Sky and BMC – were getting a good deal. Perhaps stung by the criticism levelled at them in 2015, not only did ASO provide better quality hotels, they continued to match big budget teams with big budget hotels.

But what are things like this year? Who can remember a tweet or complaint from a rider about their accommodation this year? Has hotel quality improved? Or maybe riders been silenced by their teams keen to stay on the right side of race organisers?

Nevertheless, previous years have shown variations in the quality of hotels between teams. For 2017, the question is have ASO taken the opportunity to shuffle the hotel options around – give more questionable quality hotels to the big teams, and reward those who’ve had a bad deal in previous years?

Well, it looks like they might have – there’s a different feel to the hotel distribution this year.  

Lets look at the data for 2017.

Materials and Methods

As before, Ive used the Roadbook for the Tour de France to identify the hotels each team gets to stay in, and then looked them up on TripAdvisor to get levels of satisfaction. TripAdvisor uses a 5 point scale to assess customer satisfaction (from Excellent to Terrible): Ive combined the top 2 categories to calculate satisfaction. Sometimes hotels have lots of reviews, others not so many. Reviewers in expensive hotels may be more critical – who knows? Either way, the analysis is not adjusting for anything like that.


Results

2017 Hotel Quality

The first thing to notice is that this year, the overall level of satisfaction for Hotels in the Tour has risen. Maybe ASO have been consulting TripAdvisor for their hotel selection? Maybe reviewers on TripAdvisor are getting more generous in their assessments? Or maybe hotels in France are just getting better?

In 2016 the total satisfaction score was 38583.65 – this year it had risen to 38787.39. So a small rise which translates into a daily satisfaction increase of around 0.4%.  In fact, this is the second year that satisfaction levels have risen – although last year’s increase was more substantial.

The 2017 GC

Back in 2016, Trek Segafredo ran out winners of the Hotels du Tour GC, followed by Bora, Orica, BMC and Sky.

This year, it's a completely different GC – the teams with the big favourites, the likes of Sky, BMC and Trek are nowhere. Winning the GC is Bahrain-Merida – surely sending Nibali into one of his strops given his decision to miss this years race. Lotto-Soudal finish 2nd, with Katusha rounding off the podium. FDJ are 4th, with Cannondale continuing to bounce back from their lack of World Tour results in 5th.

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But what a race too! Bahrain-Merida took the yellow jersey (hotel?) on stage 3 only to suffer a stage 6 fringale of catastrophic proportions, falling to 18th on GC. Down, but not out, it takes an eyebrow-raising revival to catapault them back into contention by just stage 9. Hotel doping? Maybe I need to start looking at Booking.com and Expedia too.




The Favourites

Given that last year’s GC was packed with teams containing the top GC riders, it was tempting to think that maybe there’s a correlation between performance and hotel quality.

Whilst correlation does not equal causation, at this stage Chris Froome may be looking around for a motorhome. Just as his form has been inconsistent, so are his hotels. In fact, Sky’s Tour never gets going – never getting above 15th on the GC and eventually finishing a lowly 20th.

Quintana (or Valverde) has little to smile about – Movistar finish 13th – with Contador’s Trek a little worse off in 15th.

If this was to be the year for Romain Bardet, then ASO haven’t exactly done AG2R any favours. Not suited to the early flat stages, they spend their time bouncing around the bottom of the GC with Sky, only to pull themselves away from the lanterne rouge once they get to the mountains and finish 11th . A prophecy perhaps?

Which leaves BMC and Richie Porte. Demonstrating he’s escaped from Froome’s shadow, BMC never really threaten the GC but still finish the Tour in 6th place – and are the only big team that get close to their position from 2016.



The Key Changes: 2017 - 2016

So if there has been a changing of the guard, who has fared best and worst?

No doubt the biggest decline is in Team Sky, falling 16 places on GC in 2017. Quick Step / Etixx fell 12 places and Trek 14.

Shooting up (the charts) are last  year’s lanterne rouge chasers Lampre. Changing their name to Bahrain-Merida has seen their GC position rise 19 places. Getting Alpecin on as co-sponsors as also helped Katusha: its not just their hair that’s benefitted, but their GC position has risen 11 places.

But pity poor old Giant Alpecin/Team Sunweb. Last on the GC in 2016, they are last again in 2017 (not forgetting 17th in 2015). They are nothing if not consistent. But no wonder Tom Dumoulin chose to ride the Giro.



The Best and the Worst Hotels

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in France, then you could do a lot worse than the Inter Hotel Vamcel – this year’s highest scoring hotel (97.2% satisfaction). Orica get to stay here on stage 11. But pity Team Astana who get to ‘enjoy’ the luxury of the 33.6% rated Campanile, Bergerac. Not just for 1 night, though – but three! As they say for every Chateau there’s a Campanile – and for stages 9-10 (including the rest day) its Wanty Groupe Gobert that get to stay in the Chateau des Vigiers at Monestier (87.7% satisfaction). Perhaps a little surprising was to see the Novotel in Dijon amongst the lowest scoring hotels (stage 7 for Orica and Direct Energie). I last stayed there in the early 80’s and it was alright, but perhaps it’s changed a bit since...

The Best and the Worst Stages

The best hotels seem to be found at the start, middle and end of the race - some psychology there from ASO perhaps? However, the gap between the best and the worst hotels also happens at the end of the first week of racing, although the second week is not too bad.








Conclusion

They say in cycling that the Tour is the Tour, but also that what goes around comes around. Looking at these results you might agree. There’s definitely been a reshuffling of the pack. Last year’s winners have fallen from grace, whilst others have risen from the depths. Maybe Sky’s experience will revive talk of motorhomes? And if ASO have some kind of hotel rotation policy, then maybe it’s only visible over a longer time period. Or maybe ASO’s hotel algorithm is just chance: some teams like Team Sunweb will be wondering what they’ve got to do to get decent hotels.

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