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Race Design Thread

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Re: Race Design Thread

23 Jan 2018 18:51

I've shortened it from the initial length of over 30km (it was from Baeza to Baeza), because the mountain stages won't be the 2nd coming of Jesus and there will be a 40km flat ITT later in the race. Maybe it's a bad decision, but i have tendencies to put too many ITT kms and i want to be more kind towards the climbers this time.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/184088
Vuelta a España – stage 6. Baeza – Úbeda, 23,4km, ITT, hilly.
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This is a slightly different time trial to a normal, hilly test against the clock. It starts with a 5km bumpy ride around Baeza before 8km descent at a regular 5% (max ~8%), after which is a complicated 10km long ascent to the finish line. This ascent is splited into a couple of parts. First part is 6km at a regular 3,6%. next is the hardest part of the entire stage – 1,5km at 8% (max 10-12%). It's followed by a much less regular, but also less steep venture around the historic center of Úbeda before a flat-ish run-in to the finish line.

The stage goes from Baeza to Úbeda. Both are sort of twin cities located on top of a hilly range of Loma de Úbeda (Sierra de la Loma?), which is the source of all the climbing and descending on this stage. They're right in between Linares north and Jaén south. Both are Italian-like reinassance open-air museums and both are listed into the UNESCO WHS as "Conjuntos monumentales renacentistas de Úbeda y Baeza". The majority of the work was done by a Spanish architect Andrés de Vandelvira. Vuelta loves convoluted names, but i think this one is way too long for the profile names.

First is Baeza, or as called by poet Antonio Machado, "the lady". I would argue that Baeza is slightly better preserved to "the queen" Úbeda, but that's probably only me. Baeza started as a minor Roman town of Beatia. After being conquested by Visigoths it was a seat of a bishopric (VIII c.). During the Islamic rule it was a capital of a local taifa. From this time are the remains of an Alcázar on top of a local hill called Cerro del Alcázar (how creative) and the remains of the city walls with Jaén and Úbeda gates. After the reconquista it was a textile centre with strong Italian ties, which can be shown by it's reinassance architecture, mainly from XVI c.

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Catedral de la Asunción de la Virgen, Baeza.

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A crazily detailed entrance of Palacio de Jabalquinto, Baeza.

The are plenty of sights in the city. Catedral de la Asunción de la Virgen from XV c. built on top of a former mosque, XVI c. town hall, buildings of former University of Baeza from XVI c. Palacio de Jabalquinto from XV c. Remains of Arabic city walls with two aformentioned gates, Fuente de Santa María fountain from XVI c. Romanesque Iglesia de la Santa Cruz from XIII c. Plaza & Casa del Pópulo with Puerta de Jaén gate, mudéjar Iglesia de El Salvador from XIII c. and many, many others.

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Iglesia de la Santa Cruz, Baeza.

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Iglesia de El Salvador, Baeza.

The start is on Plaza de Toros, where a bull ring is located. I guess the buses etc. will be concentraded on nearby supermarket and Pabellón (pavilion?) San Andrés parking spaces. The race then goes via quite narrow Calle el Carmen towards Plaza Cánovas del Castillo, where Puerta de Úbeda can be found.

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Puerta de Úbeda.

Sadly, the roads in the historical center (centro histórico) are very narrow, so the race continues alongside the now nonexistent city walls towards the aformentioned Plaza del Pópulo, passing near another remnant of the city walls – Torre De Los Aliatares. From Plaza del Pópulo the race leaves the historical center leading towards the outskirts via Calle Puerta de Córdoba, where a short downhill section starts.

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Torre De Los Aliatares.

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Plaza del Pópulo.

500m later riders will start a small, but sharp 350m at roughly 8,5% ascent on Avenida de Sevilla towards (i think) a military compound Academia de Guardias de la Guardia Civil. After that is a flat-ish transfer using Carretera Circunvalación into Avenida de Andalucía, where a gentle descent will lead back to the downtown, and then via Avenida Alcalde Puche Pardo out of the city.

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Avenida de Sevilla, Baeza.

Next 8km from Baeza are downhill (avg. 5%) towards the Guadalquivir valley. Sadly, it's not really technical with only a handful of gentle turns. After that the climb towards Úbeda starts immediately. First 6km to A-401 (Cerro Picón) are gentle (avg. 3-4%). The first tough part starts after joining A-401. Next 1,5km to the southern edges of Úbeda are at 8% (max 10-12%).

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Profile of the hardest part of the climb to Úbeda.

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Panorama of Úbeda (thx Libertine).

The ride through Úbeda is an interesting one, as the race goes through the historical center. The focal point of this detour is a 2,5km cobbled section. The quality of the cobbles are very varied. The first section is a very picturesque 700m long ride on Ronda Antonio Muñoz Molina, which includes XIII c. Iglesia de San Lorenzo and Puerta de Granada – one of the still standing gates of the Moorish city walls. The cobbles are very smooth.

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Ronda Antonio Muñoz Molina, Úbeda.

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Iglesia de San Lorenzo, Úbeda.

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Puerta de Granada.

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Plaza Vázquez de Molina, Úbeda.

Next in line is Calle del Prior Monteagudo, which leads to the absolute center of the city – Plaza Vázquez de Molina. These 200m are not only uphill (~10%), but the cobbles are also way rougher. I wouldn't say it's more than a 2-star difficulty type cobbles, but for Spain it looks quite tasty. However, it's still only 200m long.

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Ride through the historical center of Úbeda.

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Calle del Prior Monteagudo, Úbeda.

Locales from Plaza Vázquez de Molina: XVI c. Palacio del Deán Ortega, XVI c. Palacio de Vázquez de Molina, XIII c. Basílica de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares, remains of XVI c. Palacio de don Rodrigo Orozco, XVI c. Sacra Capilla del Salvador and many, many others. This plaza (including Calle Baja del Salvador) is 200m long. The cobbles are easier, than on Calle del Prior Monteagudo.

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Plaza Vázquez de Molina.

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Basílica de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares.

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Sacra Capilla del Salvador.

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Palacio de Vázquez de Molina.

After a very short descent on Plaza Santa Lucía, whci has surface similar to that of Calle del Prior Monteagudo, the race continues to go uphill alongside the city walls on Calle Muralla de San Millán and then Corredera San Fernando towards Calle Trinidad. The surface also varies in quality. Calle Trinidad is the last cobbled street of this stage. It's 400m long, roughly 3-4% uphill and possibly the narrowest part of the whole stage. The cobbles are quite easy however. The finish line is located on Calle Bétula near a sizeable Parque Norte city park.

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Finish in Úbeda.

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City walls on Calle Muralla de San Millán.

There are plenty of other sights in the city, which i ommited. These include XVI c. Palacio del Marqués de Mancera, XVII c. Hospital del Salvador, XVII c. Iglesia de San Pablo, Casa de las Torres or very Italian-like Las Antiguas Casas Consistoriales.

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Las Antiguas Casas Consistoriales.

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Casa de las Torres.

This stage exists mainly because i wanted to showcase a potential for a prologue/ITT opener between Úbeda and Baeza, as originally i wanted to have only one ITT, because that's how Vuelta rolls and i don't want it to be a clone of Tour de France... which lately abandoned the 2 ITT system, so maybe i'm just overreacting. Last time both cities were featured in Vuelta 2014 stage 8 to Albacete and on Vuelta 2015 stage 6 to Cazorla. Sadly, both cities are not that much used by Vuelta, as Jaén and Valdepeñas de Jaén normally takes the cake.

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Vuelta 2014 stage 8.

I don't know, how important this stage can be in the greater scale. It's short, but the downhill/uphill format combined with a tricky detour around Úbeda could slightly widen the potential gaps. I'm also not sure, how someone like Landa or Chavez could fare in this one. I guess they'll lose around a minute to somebody like Dumoulin, Jungels, Froome or in-form Uran.

Next stage is one of the longest of the entire race. It also features (only) 14km of sterrato (camino de tierra?) and a cat. 2 finish.
railxmig
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Posts: 300
Joined: 19 Oct 2015 08:38

Re: Race Design Thread

24 Jan 2018 19:15

Yet another mess of a stage. Originally it was not only shorter, but it was also set on Sunday, after the first mountain block. It suffered after i decided to go for the Baeza ITT and a particular climb in eastern Andalucia.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/180506
Vuelta a España – stage 7. Cazorla – Vélez-Blanco, 223km, Medium Mountain, HTF.
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Climbs:
Puerto de Tíscar – 11,3km, 5,5%, cat. 2, 1183m
Alto de la Fuente – 11,7km, 3,6%, cat. 3, 966m
Alto de Carrillos – 11,3km, 3,3%, cat. 3, 1139m
Alto de Vélez-Blanco (Puerto de María) – 7,7km, 4,8% (max 8%), cat. 2, 1131m

Caminos de tierra:
Los Pardos – 5,1km
El Bancalejo – 9,1km

I was torn apart between Cazorla and Jódar. I decided for Cazorla, as it's a bit closer to Vélez-Blanco. This town located on the edge of Sierra de Cazorla is a quite popular cycling spot, used many times by Vuelta. Last time in 2015 as a finish to stage 6 won by Esteban Chavez.

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Vuelta 2015 stage 6.

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Cazorla with XIV c. Castillo de la Yedra.

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Sierra de Cazorla.

This stage is very hilly. Plenty of smaler climbs were left uncategorised, so there's not like a million of cat. 3. The first difficulty of the day is Puerto de Tíscar – one of the hardest ascents of Sierra de Cazorla. It's cat. 2 with 11,3km at 5,5%. Puerto de Tíscar was an important border route between Granada and Castilla in the middle ages and at the top you can find a XIII c. watchtower Atalaya del Infante Don Enrique.

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Puerto de Tíscar.

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Atalaya del Infante Don Enrique, Puerto de Tíscar.

The short descent will lead to the village of Tíscar, which is located inside the Tíscar gorge. In the middle ages it was at the border between the Emirate of Granada and Kingdom of Castillia. From these times is a hilltop tower, which was part of a bigger structure. Tíscar is also home to a sanctuary, which houses an icon of Virgen de Tíscar – patron saint of Sierra de Cazorla. Apparently the Virgen appeared to some local Moorish nobleman in 1319 in nearby Cueva del Agua, which is a large cave/waterfall combo.

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Castillo de Tíscar.

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Cueva del Agua, Tíscar.

After Tíscar is a small bump (max 7%) before another short, but quite steep (max 10%) and technical descent to Pozo Alcón. The road is in some places quite narrow-ish. Pozo Alcón will be the finish for stage 7 of Vuelta 2018. Near Pozo Alcón is a stunning Guadalentín valley. The stages goes on top of the valley (A-326) to Embalse de la Bolera (created in 1970's), where it crosses the river and then turns into GR-9106 towards Cúllar.

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Guadalentín valley seen from A-326 bridge.

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Guadalentín valley.

In Pozo Alcón the race enters relatively large plains (valley?) of Hoya de Baza located between Sierra de Baza and Sierra de los Filabres south, Sierra de Cazorla west, Sierra de las Estancias and Sierra de María-Los Vélez east. The stage goes through Hoya de Baza from west to east. Of course the name of this region derives from the town of Baza on the northern slopes of Sierra de Baza (another popular traceur spot).

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Hoya de Baza with i assume Sierra de Baza in the background.

Next 50km to Cúllar are sort of empty, with the only inhabited places being the villages of Campo Cámara, La Teja, Cortes de Baza and Benamaurel. Peloton will leave Hoya de Baza in Cúllar for the western part of Sierra de las Estancias – Sierra de Lúcar. The stage also starts to go uphill, where it peaks at 1250m (highest point of the stage) near Oria – the only bigger town in the region. From Oria a long and sweeping descent on sometimes narrowish road (AL-8101) leads to Albox in Almanzora valley, which separates Sierra de los Filabres from Sierra de las Estancias.

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Cúllar.

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Remains of Castillo de Oria, possibly of Moorish origin.

Albox was found by Moors in XIII c. on an important trade route in the Almanzora valley. However, the town was in the continuous danger of earthquakes and flooding of Almanzora hence the only remaining Moorish structure is the Alhambra tower. There are however plenty of churches from XVII-XVIII c. like Iglesia de Santa María or Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Saliente, which commemorates an appearance of the Virgin Mary in the town in XII c.

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Iglesia de Santa María, Albox.

The main meat of this stage is in Sierra de las Estancias. It's a typical Spanish sierra with rocky peaks and large, rolling valleys. It's not very high, barely reaching over 1500m in a couple of places. It's a very dry region, so the area is basically a half-desert. It features a big amount of quality dirt roads, which are in local valleys. They're mostly in south-north direction. I don't know, if these tracks are seasonal river beds or mining roads, as there are some talc mines in the area. I also don't know, how accessible these dirt roads are.

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Sierra de las Estancias.

The main monument of Sierra de las Estancias is Santuario del Saliente, which houses a baroque icon of Virgen de Saliente, which is the patron saint of Sierra de las Estancias. The hermitage itself is from late XVII c. Nowadays it's a local pilgrimage destination.

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Santuario del Saliente.

Sadly, most of the dirt roads in the area are parallel to each other. I managed to include two quite long sectors. First one is 5,1km long, second one is 9,1km, which overall is just over 14km. Both sectors are in quite good quality and considering the weather they'll be 99% dry, so i'm not expecting any real action here. However, if it's wet, then it can be damaging.

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First dirt sector.

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Second dirt sector.

Both sectors are slightly uphill (3-4%), as both are part of two cat. 3 climbs. First one is Alto de la Fuente, which is 11,7km at 3,6%. Second one is Alto de Carrillos, which is 11,3km at 3,3%. Both climbs are mainly a regular 3% drag with short, steeper sections (both are surfaced) near the top (max 8-10%). I borrowed the names from local peaks, so they're probably not the official names, if even there are any. The top of Alto de Carrillos is 24km from the finish line.

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Profile of Alto de la Fuente and Alto de Carrillos.

From the top of Alto de Carrillos the race enters a 7km long plateau to the village of Tonosa. From there the road goes down to Vélez-Rubio. The descent is in some places quite steep and technical, while the road can be at times on a dodgy surface. Vélez-Rubio is located on the southern edges of Sierra de María (or Sierra de María-Los Vélez). The town is sort of a newer and bigger part of Vélez-Blanco, which is located deeper into sierra. The main sight is baroque Iglesia de la Encarnación from early XVIII c.

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Iglesia de la Encarnación, Vélez-Rubio.

Sierra de María-Los Vélez is one of the many isolated mountain ranges of southeastern Spain, which together creates Cordillera Subbética system. The highest peak is Cerro María at 2045m. From the south it's a typical rocky and barren mountain range with a large, rolling base. From north however is more wet and covered with pine trees. The area was quite extensively populated during the prehistoric and two local caves – Cueva de los Letreros and Cueva del Gabar are both listed in UNESCO WHS thanks to the prehistoric cave paintings.

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Rocks of Sierra de María.

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Same thing, but accompanied by the castle of Vélez-Blanco.

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Early graffiti from Cueva de los Letreros.

Vélez-Blanco was an important town in the middle ages. It was home to a Moorish castle, which was replaced in XVI c. by one of the earliest reinassance structures in Spain (thanks to a local ruler Pedro Fajardo). After the Reconquista it was a seat of a local duchy/estate. Outside of the castle the town is home to reinassance Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol from XVI c. Convento San Luis from XVI c. and a string of local Arabic watchtowers deep in Sierra de María. From the vast nothingness of the Province of Almería, the Vélez-Rubio and Vélez-Blanco area (over 8000 pop.) seems to be more suitable to host a Vuelta finish in the near future. Sadly, i couldn't find any information about Vuelta ever hosting a stage in either of them.

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Vélez-Blanco seen from the castle.

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The castle seen from the finish line.

Vélez-Blanco is near a mountain pass of Puerto de María. Riders won't climb the whole climb, but finish a couple of kms off the sumit, just outside of Vélez-Blanco, on A-317, which provides great views of the castle. This climb starts in Vélez-Rubio and it's 7,7km at 4,8% with 8% in the middle. It's a borderline cat. 2/3. It's not a demanding finish and definitely not a garage ramp that Unipublic loves so much, but after a long, hot, hilly and dusty day it can be a bit more punishing than it would initialy be.

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Finish in Vélez-Blanco.

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Profile of Vélez-Blanco.

I still don't expect any major GC action on this stage, unless there will be some rain, but the chances of that are very small. Now it's time for the first weekend mountain block of the race.
railxmig
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Posts: 300
Joined: 19 Oct 2015 08:38

Re: Race Design Thread

25 Jan 2018 17:45

Vuelta a España stage 3: Milán - Superga (179 km)
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After a sprint stage and a time trial the climbers get their first chance to shine in the Vuelta.
The riders can spend their evening in Milan since their won't be a transfer before the next day and the stage starts where the last one finishes. As Milan is in the middle of the po valley the majority is unsurprisingly pan flat. There will be two intermediate sprints taking place, one in Novara and one in Settino Torinese. Shortly after the second sprint riders will ride through Torino.
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When the riders pass this city they still have around 30 kilometers to go, which will mostly be either up or down and will all take place in the close surroundings of the metropolis. First the riders face two third category climbs, to Faro della Vittoria and Eremo. Those climbs shouldn't cause any difficulties for riders who are serious about the gc, but the peloton might get a bit smaller so the fight for positions before the start of the final climb gets a little less dangerous.

Then the last and without a doubt most famous climb of the day, the Superga, starts, which is btw also a climb which really fits into the Vuelta formula. There are no completely crazy 20%+ gradients but with an average gradient of over 9% and ramps with up to 14% this is still very steep, especially for the third stage of a gt. With a length of less than 5 km this is a typical short but steep vuelta mtf, comparable to for example Peña Cabarga with the only very untypical thing for a vuelta mtf being that it's not located in spain.
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This stage will probably not end up being crucial for the gc but such a relatively hard finish early on in the race will make sure riders have to be in good shape for the whole three weeks. The battle between the gc men won't cause huge time gaps, but still this will without a doubt be the 2nd stage in a row which creates differences between contenders and the battle between the climbers would surely be fun to watch.
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Contador tribute:
If you think about Contador and Italy the first race which comes to your mind is of course the giro. Now, I tried to already make giro tributes in the first 2 stages and if I wanted to make a giro tribute stage for climbers that stage probably would have had to be a real mountain stage and I'm not entirely sure if stage 3 isn't maybe a bit too early for a Mortirolo stage or something like that. Therefore I tried to honor Contador by making a stage which hopefully reminds people on the one time when Contador didn't win a big stage race but a one day race. To be honest, Milano-Torino isn't exactly a typical one day race since it ends with a pretty hard mtf, but still this win absolutely stands out in Contador's palmares.
Contador won this race in 2012. He was banned for the majority of the season but made an impressive comeback in the vuelta that year, which he won. Considering the circumstances that season probably could already have been seen as successful but he topped it off with this win which ensured everyone he is back at his best and can challenge Sky in the Tour de France the next season.
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Last edited by Gigs_98 on 26 Jan 2018 15:42, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar Gigs_98
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Location: Austria

26 Jan 2018 13:33

There is a typo in your post Gigs. It is stage 3. ;)
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
Forever The Best
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Re:

26 Jan 2018 14:18

Forever The Best wrote:There is a typo in your post Gigs. It is stage 3. ;)

Was going to say the same.

This time it's Vuelta we're talking about, and i think Vuelta would love to have a HTF on Superga, which for Torino is like Naranco for Oviedo. Still, sad there's no Macugnaga. I guess the next stage will feature Mont-Cenis, Galibier and l'Alpe (2011). I guess Annecy ITT (2009) a bit too north to be somewhat tied with the race?

Now to my Vuelta. I'm far, far away from Piemonte and today i'm introducing a fresh (finished in 2012-2013) borderline 1/ESP garage ramp boasting max 30%. It's also the shortest stage of the race and finally something interesting to talk about, even if i stil struggled with this entry. Finding any information for this region (Costa de Almería) was harder than i thought it would be. Even andalucia.com wasn't as helpful as it normally is.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/180552
Vuelta a España – stage 8. Huércal-Overa – Sierra de Cabrera. La Mezquita, 148km, mountain, MTF.
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Climbs:
Alto de Bédar – 10km, 5%, cat. 2, 612m
Alto del Pilar – 7,7km, 4,2%, cat. 3, 701m
Alto del Ventorrillo – 6,8km, 3,6%, cat. 3, 570m
Cerro de la Mezquita – 8,5km, 9% (max 30%), cat. ESP (1?), 960m

The stage starts in Huércal-Overa. I've chosen this town because it's the biggest settlement (almost 20000 pop.), that's somehow close to Vélez-Blanco. Huércal-Overa will host a start to stage 6.

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Moorish tower of Huércal-Overa with the town in the background.

First 30km are to San Juan de los Terreros on the Mediterranean coast (Costa Almería) alongside the border between Andalucia and Murica through the town of Pulpí, which is home to one of the biggest geodes – a weird cristal something created from volcanic rocks. Wikipedia calls them "geological secondary structures"... whatever that means.

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Inside the Pulpí geode.

San Juan de los Terreros is the first coastal resort of the stage. It's home to two small islets Isla de Terreros, Isla Negra and a XVIII c. sea fort Castillo de San Juan de los Terreros.

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Castillo de San Juan de los Terreros.

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Isla Negra, San Juan de los Terreros.

Next 14km to Villaricos uses a fabulous coastal AL-7107, which is squished between Sierra Almagrera (highest peak – Tenerife, 368m) and the Mediterranean Sea. It's a not-so-well known coastal drive similar to the ones of southern Italy or that of N-340 from Almería to Málaga. Sadly, there aren't any dashcam videos of this route besides this one.

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AL-7107.

The race continues alongside the coast, which here is known as Playas de Vera, through a number of resorts like Palomares, Garrucha and Puerto Rey. Riders will leave the coast in Mojácar and head towards the Sierra de los Filabres. Mojácar is possibly the whitest town is Spain. Even from far away this hilltop town on the northern edges of Sierra de Cabrera makes me blind. This Moorish VIII c. town was an important border fort of the Emirate of Cordoba and (later) Granada. It's home to Moorish seaside tower Torre del Pirulico and XIV c. Iglesia de Santa María. The coastal part of Mojácar is one of the biggest resorts of Costa de Almería.

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Playas de Vera.

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An ad with Mojácar in the back.

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Torre del Pirulico and Arco del Pirulico.

The race heads towards Bédar on the eastern edges of Sierra de los Filabres. This town is half-way the first categorised climb of the day – cat. 2 Alto de Bédar. It's 10km at 5% (max 11%).

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Alto de Bédar.

A quite steep and technical descent leads to the town of Lubrín, which is at the base of an another climb – Alto del Pilar, which is 7,7km at 4,2%. Both climbs are long, but not steep. After 15km of false-descent the peloton will reach the town of Sorbas.

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Alto del Pilar (only last 4km).

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Sierra de los Filabres from the top of Alto del Pilar.

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Lubrín.

Sorbas is a town on the eastern part of a dry, mostly plain region known as Desierto de Tabernas, which separates Sierra de los Filabres from Sierra de Alhamilla, Cabrera and Gádor. This town, similar to Cuenca and Ronda, is located on top of a local gypsium-filled karst formation called Karst en Yesos de Sorbas. This karst system is dotted with caves, like El Agua, Tesoro or La Covadura. The town was founded by Moors as a pottery center. Nearby Sorbas is Los Yesares mine – the biggest gypsium quarry in Europe. Sorbas is often visited by Vuelta, often en route to Calar Alto.

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Sorbas.

Next 30km are inside Sierra de Cabrera, and the only sign of life here is the village of Gafarillos. The road (AL-5103) is twisty, at times quite narrow and not in the best of conditions. There's one cat. 3, which starts in Gafarillos – Alto del Ventorrillo, which is 6,8km at 3,6%. It might not look like that, but this run-in to the main difficulty of the day is quite challenging, as the road is not in the best of quality.

At the bottom of Mezquita the peloton will go through an interesting village, which i'm not sure of the name. I'll use the form of Cortijo Cabrera. It's possibly one of the most Arabic looking settlements in Spain. Combined with hilly, deserted and debris-filled area it looks almost like from Marocco or Algeria. Sadly, there's not much information about this village. It's home to Moorish tower Torreón de Cabrera from at least IX c.

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Typical architecture of Cortijo Cabrera.

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Torreón de Cabrera.

Mezquita is the only garage finish of this Vuelta. It's a borderline cat. 1/ESP. I went for the latter, because of an abundance of 15-20% sections and a 30% near the top. Similar Ermita de Alba and Los Machucos also had ESP, so i guess Mezquita would also get it. This summit is the highest peak (960m) of Sierra Cabrera – a small mountain range on the Mediterranean coast, east of Sierra de Alhamilla and Sierra de los Filabres. Sierra Cabrera is possibly the least populated region in the whole Spain and Cerro Mezquita is in the exact middle of it.

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Profile of La Mezquita.

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Sierra Cabrera.

The road to the top of Mezquita was just recently paved, as some sort of an army facility was established at the top. There is some space available (roguhly 1km^2 according to Google Maps), but because it seems to be an army facility and it's in the middle of nowhere, i don't think it will ever visited by Vuelta. Previously, only the road to Collado Cufría (roughly 1km from the top) was paved.

Now about the climb itself. It's very inconsistent. It starts from a creek called Rambla del Estrecho, just before the village of Cortijo Cabrera. First 1km to Cortijo Cabrera is at roughly 14%. The ride through the village is very complicated. It lasts only 500m, but it includes going under an Arabic arch named Arco de Peter Grosscurth and going through a small parking lot. It's one of the easier parts of the climb, as i don't think it reaches more than 12%, but the road is in a poor state though.

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Arco de Peter Grosscurth, Cortijo Cabrera.

After leaving the village is one of the hardest parts of the climb with 2km at over 11% with many, many over 15% parts (max 22%) interrupted by very short flat sections.

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One of the harder parts of Mezquita.

Last 3km to Collado Cufría are very irregular. 17-19% parts are mixed with false flats and even small descents. The road also narrows down a bit as it goes alongside the northern slope of Mezquita. The surface is also dodgy at some points, but overally i feel it's better, than in the village. There was also a small part of dirt near the top, but it was recently paved. The area is very open and not far from the Mediterranean Sea, so i don't know, if it's windy. Judging by very sparse foliege, at that particular time in 2009 (streetview) it was quite windy.

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Higher parts of Mezquita.

From the top of Collado Cufría follows a 300m long false-descent before the last, newly surfaced 1km to the top. It's avg. at 14% with plenty of over 20% sections maxing at 30%, which is Ciutu Negru territory. However, it's 1km shorter than the Ciutu Negru wall.

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Top of Cerro de la Mezquita.

There is a different, easier and even narrower side to Mezquita, which leads from near the top of Ventorillo through a small rural church Ermita de la Carrasca.

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Collado Cufría from La Carrasca.

Normally garage ramps don't really deliver. This one is similar, if not slightly harder than Machucos from 2017, which created quite sizeable gaps or Ermita de Alba, which sadly wasn't the best race in the world even, when backed by Cobertoria. It is harder, than the typical cat. 1 garage ramp like La Camperona or Cumbres Verdes though. I assume everyone will be on their own, but most of the favourites should be inside a minute.

Next stage will be my take on Alpujarras. It will include Haza del Lino, but it won't be the main highlight of the stage.
railxmig
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26 Jan 2018 18:24

Noooooooo... one of the two nascent Vueltas I had had an MTF at Cerro de la Mezquita on stage 8!!!
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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26 Jan 2018 18:56

Sİerra Cabrera, nice.
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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Re:

26 Jan 2018 23:10

Libertine Seguros wrote:Noooooooo... one of the two nascent Vueltas I had had an MTF at Cerro de la Mezquita on stage 8!!!

I don't know, what you mean by that but if it's as an MTF on stage 8 in one of your upcoming Vueltas then...
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That's a payback for being quicker (by 2-3 days) than me in the idea of using those little Wikipedia gifs in the race recaps. ;)

The production process of this Vuelta is really hasty, as i really wanted to finish it before you start your rampage. I'm still considering this race as unfinished i.e. i'm not happy with a bunch of stages, which are more like placeholders. Glad i did that... there's still one sort of suprise left, but that's at the end of the race.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

27 Jan 2018 17:56

Ok, let's keep the fluids going. I decided to skip most of the stage to keep the posts relatively short.

The first descent finish of the race and also one of the last over 200km stages. Even with only 4 categorised climbs that don't cross over 1350m it's still a high mountain stage.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/163287
Vuelta a España – stage 9. Almería – Albuñol, 219km, mountain.
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Climbs:
Alto El Marchal – 16,3km, 5,8%, cat. 1, 1010m
Alto de Miranda – 12,2km, 4,4%, cat. 2, 1004m
Puerto de Haza del Lino – 18km, 7,1% (max 20%?), cat. ESP, 1301m
Alto Loma de la Señora – 9,2km, 6,8% (max 21%), cat. 1, 1273m

Last 1,5 stages took place in the province of Almería. I guess it's time to visit the capital of the province. Almería was found in X c. as Al-Mariyya. Thanks to it's coastal position and silk industry it soon was a major Andalucian city and a capital of a local taifa. What's interesting, many rulers of this taifa were Slavic slaves (saqāliba) from modern Serbia. It was one of the last cities to be captured by Christians as part of the Reconquista in 1489. In XVI c. it was heavily damaged by at least 4 earthquakes and the War of Las Alpujarras. Since the founding of the Casino de Almería in 1840 the city developed as a summer resort. Main sights are the Alcazaba from XI c. with a triple line of walls and fortress-like Catedral de Almería from XVI c. built upon a former mosque. Almería is also a popular filming spot... a very popular filming spot.

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Alcazaba de Almería.

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Catedral de Almería.

Almería is at the mouth of Andarax river between Sierra de Alhamilla and Sierra de Gádor. The first half of this stage (to Adra) including two categorised climbs is in Sierra de Gádor (highest peak – La Lagunilla, 2249m). Las Alpujarras is a mountain range west of Sierra de Gádor. It's a very popular traceur spot thanks to a number of quite difficult climbs. Both ranges are between Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean Sea. The region was the last stand for Moors in Spain, but they were expelled to Africa and... Castilla after the War of the Alpujarras of 1568-71. Today the Alpujarras are dotted with irrigation canals, farmlands and greenhouses.

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Las Alpujarras.

The first climb of the day – cat. 1 Alto El Marchal (thanks Vuelta 2018 for the name) starts right after the start. It's 16,3km at a quite regular 5,8% (max 10%). It's nothing special, but compared to its other side, which will be used in Vuelta this year it's at least some sort of a climb. If you think it's a good enough climb, then you can try for a finish in Alhama de Almería, which is right at the bottom of the descent. Interestingly, near the top is a village with a curious name of El Marchal de Antón López, hence i guess Unipublic decided for Alto El Marchal.

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Profile of Alto El Marchal.

Alhama de Almería is a town in the Andarax valley heavily connected to Almería throughout the history. It started as a Moorish spa (Balneario de San Nicolás) in IX c. The town is also home to the remains of a XIII c. Moorish tower known as Los Castillejos. Alhama de Almería is the birthplace of Nicolás Salmerón – president of the Spanish First Republic (Primera República) in 1873.

Next roughly 50km are in the exact opposite direction to stage 5 of Vuelta 2018, which mainly uses A-348 road. It's one of the main roads in Alpujarras as it's an alternate connection between Almería and Granada. It goes through a couple of valleys (like Alcolea or Guadalfeo) which separates Siera de Gádor and Las Alpujarras from Sierra Nevada. The stage goes alongside the Andrax valley through the towns of Huécija, Íllar, Instinción, Rágol, Padules, Laujar de Andarax and Alcolea.

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XVIII c. Convento de los Agustinos, Huécija.

This post is allready getting too long, so i won't go into much detail from now on. From Alcolea the race goes across the Alpujarras via A-347 through Berja back to the Mediterranean coast near Adra. Next 30km from Adra to Castillo de Baños are on the coastal N-340, filled with Moorish seaside towers and castles.

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Adra.

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Castillo de La Rabita.

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Hornabeque de Baños, Castillo de Baños.

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Mediterranean coast near Castillo de Baños.

LS kicked off his 21 ESP climbs thread with Haza del Lino. However, he was way more kind to the Rubite side, which i personally am not very fond of. I prefer the more classic, Aubisque-like Polopos side. I'm still unsure about the newly paved Los Yesos side. I also have problems with comparing the Polopos side with Grand Colombier. I just don't see the similarities.

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Profile of Haza del Lino.

When it comes to the numbers, Haza del Lino is 18km at 7,1%, which is comparable with something like Aubisque. It's one of those rare Spanish climbs, that are genuinely HC/ESP without any steepness gimmicks. I feel Haza del Lino is a really good warm-up climb, as it's long and quite regular. However, there is a narrow-ish, very steep section near the bottom, which reaches the heights of 20% (i guess it's closer to 15%) and according to the altimetrias profile (which i guess is a bit exaggerated), there are also plenty of over 12% parts. The climb does slightly ease up towards the top. The road is at times quite narrow but it seems it was recently widened and resurfaced. Of course, like many other La Alpujarra climbs, also this one has perfect overview over the Mediterranean Sea. There's a video of this ascent from a local race called Gran premio comarca Polopos, 2016 edition.

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Views of the Mediterranean coast from the ascent to Haza del Lino.

Of course i'm taking the descent to Órgiva via Puerto de Camacho, which is not the easiest in the world as it's quite twisty, the road is not that wide and there are moments alongside a cliffside with a large backdrop on the other side. I guess that's one of the reasons, why Vuelta is hesitant towards Haza del Lino.

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Descent from Haza del Lino.

There are many potential uses of Haza del Lino, often with MTF's in Cáñar, Capileira, Trevélez or HTF's in Órgiva or Ermita de Fuente Agria. I decided to downgrade Haza del Lino to a mere warm-up climb, as i'm switching the focus towards Collada de Canseco and it's typically Spanish side from Torvizcón. From the bottom of Camacho to Torvizcón (back to A-348) are 10km of a quite hilly terrain.

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Torvizcón.

Collada de Canseco was used in this thread a couple of times, but mostly mid-stage. The side from Torvizcón, also known as Loma de la Señora, is a typical to Spain very inconsistent, cat. 1 garage ramp with very high max inclines, but relatively low avg. I decided to move the KOM a bit further away to include a 12-15% section just after Loma de la Señora, which tops at roughly 1273m. Including this small section the climb is 9,2km at only 6,8%, but consistently breaking 15% and even reaching 21% in some places. The road isn't the widest, but it seems to be in a relatively good state. Here are more pictures from this ascent.

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Profile of Alto Loma de la Señora.

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Alto Loma de la Señora with outlook over Sierra Nevada.

From the top there are still 2km of bumpy terrain (max 15%) before reaching the very picturesque GR-5204, which links Haza del Lino with Collado de Canseco and later the aformentioned A-348 road, going through the peaks of Las Alpujarras. This plateau lasts for roughly 10km, which includes false-descents and an irregular 3,2km at 3,6% (max 12%) climb to Collado de Canseco, which is followed by another roughly 5km false-descent before the proper descent to Albuñol. The road is quite wide and in very good condition. I'm affraid this 10km false-flat will ruin any potential attacks on Loma de la Señora.

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Las Alpujarras with the Mediterranean Sea in the distance.

The descent to Albuñol is more tricky than it looks like. It's roughly 13km at a regular 6,5%, with plenty of 7-8% parts. The road is wide and in good condition, but it's quite twisty with plenty of sweepers and at least 9 serpentines. The hardest part is halfway through the descent, in the village of Albondón with 4 serpentines and over 8% slopes. Like many roads in the area, also this one provides plenty of views over Las Alpujarras and the Mediterranean coast.

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Descent from Collado de Canseco.

Albuñol is way bigger than i thought. It's actually a quite sizeable town with 7000 inhabitants. It should even be big enough for the real Vuelta. I decided to place the finish line on Calle de Febrero with the run-in on a relatively new A-345 overpass, which goes alongside an irrigation canal.

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Finish in Albuñol.

It could be a very good mountain stage, but i don't like this 10km plateau ride on Collado de Canseco. I expect relatively small groups (5-10 guys) with quite big time splits (over 1min). I don't think it's a stage, where you'll win the race, but you can lose a lot of time if lacking form.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

29 Jan 2018 12:42

After a rest-day transfer from Alpujarras riders will do a large loop around the mountains of Serranía de Cuenca, north of La Mancha. I decided to do it, because Serranía de Cuenca is one of the more picturesque regions in Spain. It's the last over 200km stage for a long while. This stage is sponsored by Streetview... there'll be a lot of Streetview.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/181875
Vuelta a España – stage 10. Cuenca – Castillo de Cuenca, 224km, Medium Mountain, HTF.
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Climbs:
Collado del Brezal – 14km, 3%, cat. 3, 1542m
Alto de la Peña del Acebo – 8,3km, 4%, cat. 3, 1524m
Alto de las Piedras (La Ciudad Encantada) – 9,5km, 4,5%, cat. 2, 1397m
Castillo de Cuenca – 1,5km, 8%, cat. 3, 1048m

It's a false-transitional stage, that focuses on Serranía de Cuenca and Montes Universales. Highest peak is Mogorrita at 1864m (if Sierra de Albarracín included – Caimodorro, 1936m). This entry will be mainly filled with scenery pics, as there aren't many towns and villages in the area. This mountain system is sort of a link between the mountains of València and Sistema Central, separating La Mancha south from Aragón north. This mountain range is full of deep gorges, karst structures, fancy rock formations and pine forests, which is partly covered by the Serranía de Cuenca NP. Sadly, This whole mountain system is way too big to cover with only one stage and none of the climbs in the region are particulary challenging, so i missed plenty of nice places in the region just to keep the stage below 250km. The first draft of this stage went from Teruel. Only the last 80km remained from that stage.

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Rock formations of Las Corbeteras, Serranía de Cuenca.

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One of many gorges in Serranía de Cuenca.

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La Raya y El Escalerón de Uña, Serranía de Cuenca.

The finish on top of Cuenca's castle was one of the first Spanish ideas i had. I mean... i've waited like two years before finally having a chance to use it. The run-in is the same, as most of Alto del Castillo from Vuelta 2017 stage 7. My idea of having a HTF finish on top of castillo is theoretically possible? There's plenty of space and even a relatively sizeable car park at the top.

The only bigger town on this stage is Priego – former capital of a small medieval state. Main sights include reinassance Palacio de los Condes de Priego (former seat of local lords, now a city hall) from XVI c. and the remains of Convento del Rosal from XVII c. It's also the birthplace of a certain Luis Ocaña.

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Convento del Rosal, Priego.

Sadly, because of the length limitations and horrible state i couldn't include CM-2106 road, which is possibly the most beautiful of the region and one of the best in Spain.

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A fragment of CM-2106, Cuenca.

Thankfully, there are more than plenty of crazy rock and karst formations throughout the stage. Below is are some that i managed to found.

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A bunch of views from this stage.

Before Cuenca the stage goes through Ciudad Encantada, which is a set of very distinctively shaped karst rocks. There are walls, mushrooms, fists etc. Ciudad Encantada is on top of the only cat. 2 climb of the day – Alto de las Piedras (at least that's the only name that popped up on two maps that i used), which is 9,5km at a regular 4,5%.

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Profile of Alto de las Piedras.

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Some of the rocks from Ciudad Encantada, Cuenca.

The climbs on this stage are quite long, but not very steep. The hardest is the last 1,5km to the finish line, which is at 8%. The weird spikes at the bottom of Collado del Brezal are caused by the tracker not dealing well with gorges.

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Profile of the climb ot Castillo de Cuenca (Cerro San Cristóbal).

The last 1,5km in Cuenca are cobbled (but they're so easy, that i ommited them from the profile). They go through the historical centre of the city, which includes Plaza Mayor, XII c. cathedral, going underneath the XVIII c. city hall, alongside the hanging houses (Casas Colgades, dating back to XVI c.) and through the remains of the Moorish Alcázaba. The ascent can be seen here (taken from Vuelta 2017). Tl;dr, it's similar to the Ávila finish, if not slightly harder.

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Climb to Castillo de Cuenca.

The finish line is on Calle Larga, overlooking Hoz del Huécar (Huécar valley), which is a good spot to catch the cliffside.

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Finish in Cuenca.

Of course Cuenca is one of the more known Spanish cities and it has more than plenty of sights. Below is a small sample of them.

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The hanging houses of Cuenca.

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Catedral de Santa María y San Julián, Cuenca.

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City Hall, Cuenca.

Sorry for this style of post, but there's not that much to talk about. It's mostly visuals of Serranía de Cuenca and Cuenca itself was just featured in the real Vuelta. I think it's a perfect stage for a breakaway win. I don't think this hill will provide any major shake-ups in the GC, but i guess someone like Chavez or Moreno could try and get a couple of seconds. Next stage is quite similar to this one, but the finale is much harder.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

29 Jan 2018 15:23

railxmig wrote:Ok, let's keep the fluids going. I decided to skip most of the stage to keep the posts relatively short.

You failed :D
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Re: Race Design Thread

29 Jan 2018 18:19

Vuelta a España stage 4: Zaragoza - Teruel (201 km)
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After the opening three days took place in Italy I follow the convention of gt's to then return to its homeland after 3 stages. As I said in my first post, I want to keep things realistic so I didn't want the race to stay in Italy any longer and/or make potential queen stages early on.
While this is a Contador Vuelta it has to be said that it was impossible for me to make a tribute in every stage while still making a route with realistic difficulty. This will therefore the first stage of a few stages without a tribute (there is only one other stage completely without a tribute but 2 more with a rather far fetched one)

So, after the first rest day of La Vuelta riders can stay relaxed for another day...probably. The stage starts in Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon.
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The riders will face southwards and ride through not very densely populated regions. The flat is generally flat but that said, the route is a bit bumpy and there are a few sections which might even be categorized climbs in the tour de france. After 65 the riders pass the first intermediate sprint in Belchite a city known for incredibly sad reasons. The town was almost entirely destroyed in the spanish civil war but instead of removing the ruins authorities decided to rebuild the town next to the remains of the old Belchite, while the ruins have become a landmark with the purpose of reminding people of the terror of war.
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The route remains going southwards while going upwards ever so slightly. The 2nd intermediate sprint takes place in scenic town Montalbán. This is also where the only categorized climb of the day to Valdeconejos starts. This ascent isn't steep but quite long and is actually quite close to being a 2nd category ascent. However still being 70 km away from the finish the pace on this climb probably won't be overly high.
Despite this being the only climb of the day the stage could actually become interesting after this point since the road gets quite exposed and therefore if I'm not mistaken crosswinds could occur. Furthermore from kilometer 174 to kilometer 185 the riders ride over a very narrow road which could make things even more tricky. This is a classic example for a stage where you can't really win but absolutely lose the vuelta.
The finish is located in Teruel.
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User avatar Gigs_98
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Re: Race Design Thread

30 Jan 2018 15:54

Have mixed feelings about your stage. AFAIK more chances for crosswinds are in the Aragón plains rather than the Teruel region, but i don't live in Spain so i don't know much. I'm worried this sudden change from wide and straight roads into a narrow and twisty one not far from the finish line will result in crashes and pileups. I guess the main difficulty of this section is a rather sketchy surface. I would personally move the stage towards the 3rd week, when GC is mostly sorted while hiding the stage as a potential, hidden star of the race. But that's just my opinion of course.

Yet another transitional stage, but this time with way harder finale and lesser amount of visuals. The peloton will also leave Castilla-La Mancha for Castilla y León.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/181859
Vuelta a España – stage 11. Pastrana – Estación de Esquí La Pinilla, 187km, Medium Mountain, HTF.
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Climbs:
Alto de Brihuega – 3,5km, 6,1%, cat. 3, 1022m
Puerto de la Quesera – 7,5km, 5,7%, cat. 2, 1750m
Estación de Esquí La Pinilla – 9,7km, 4,3%, cat. 2, 1492m

This stage is heavily based on stage 18 of Vuelta 2015 which finished in Riaza after La Quesera.

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Stage 18 of Vuelta 2015.

It was a very important stage. Not because of some crazy GC action (it happened two days later), but because of the breakaway. There was plenty of action on Quesera thanks to Fabio Aru, but nothing substantial happened. It was the stage, where this happened:

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"Sign some autographs and then I do get ghost" /Snoopy the Dog.

Sadly, Roche was just too quick for him. Wait... there's also this... because of course there must be this:

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APM doing their job.

There's not much life between Cuenca and Guadalajara (north of Madrid). Possibly the biggest village in this vast, hilly region known as La Alcarria is Sacedón (2000 pop.). However, i decided for probably the oldest village in the region – (not Travis) Pastrana. It's probably one of the smaller places, that ever hosted a Vuelta stage with just below 1000 inhabitants. In the middle ages it was a capital of a local estate. The main sights include Palacio Ducal de Pastrana from XVI c. – former seat of local lords, Convento del Carmen from XVI c. and Iglesia colegiata de la Asunción from XIII c. which houses a museum of tapestries and a painting by El Greco.

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Pastrana.

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Palacio Ducal, Pastrana.

Not far south from Pastrana is Recópolis – a major archaelogical site on Río Tajo housing the remains of a major town founded in VI c. by Visigoths. It is one of the only bigger settlements in Western Europe known to have been founded between V and VIII c. It was the capital of a Visigothic province of Celtiberia (modern Serranía de Cuenca and La Alcarria?). The city declined after being seized by the Moors and was entirely abandoned in X c.

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The remains of Recópolis.

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Two surviving arches from the basicila of Recópolis.

The first roughly 100km are in La Alcarria. The stage passes thorugh a couple of villages, but it's mostly a no-man's land. There's a cat. 3 climb just outside the town of Brihuega – Alto de Brihuega, which is 3,5km at 6,1%. Brihuega is a town in the Tajuña valley. It started as a Moorish stronghold and a hunting center over Tajuña valley. In 1710 an important battle of the War of the Spanish Succession took place here between French-Spanish coalition and British forces. The battle was won by the coalition. The town was heavily damaged during the Spanish Civil War. Main sights include the Moorish city walls with Castillo de Brihuega, gothic Iglesia de San Felipe and a quite expansive system of Moorish caves in nearby cliffs.

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Brihuega with the city walls.

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Castillo de Brihuega.

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Moorish caves of Brihuega.

Next town is Torija, home to a Knights Templar castle from XI c. The castle was founded on the historic route from France/Aragón to Madrid/Toledo (modern E-90). Thanks to this location it was an important stronghold on the border of La Mancha. Now it's one of the best preserved Knights Templar castles in Spain.

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Castillo de Torija.

After Torija it's back to the vast nothingness of the foothills of Sierra de Somosierra, northeastern part of Sierra de Guadarrama, home to an eponymous natural park. The main pass in the region is Puerto de Somosierra. In 1808 one of the most important battles of the Iberian War took place there in which Napoleon opened his way towards Madrid and La Mancha.

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Battle of Somosierra by Louis-François Lejeune, 1810.

In the middle of this no-man's land is Torre del Burgo, home to a VII c. Visigothic monastery Monasterio de Sopetrán. It was often destroyed during the early middle ages and the modern foundation is from XII c. by the Castillian king Alfonso VI. It was one of the bigger monasteries of La Mancha in the middle ages but it was abandoned in XIX c. Nowadays the building is sadly not in the best of shapes.

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Monasterio de Sopetrán, Torre del Burgo.

The stage merges with the 2015 stage near the village of Tamajón, home to a XVI c. Iglesia de la Asunción, XVII c. Ermita de la Virgen de los Enebrales dedicated to the patron saint of the region and a set of limestone rock formations La Ciudad Encantada.

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La Ciudad Encantada, Tamajón.

Next 70km to Riaza are in Sierra de Somosierra. The lone, not that wide GU-186 road goes across the mountain range peaking at Puerto de la Quesera. The run-in to the bottom of la Quesera is very bumpy with plenty of 10% ups and downs. The proper Puerto de la Quesera is cat. 2, 7,5km at 5,7% (max 11%). It's a relatively regular climb, which starts quite tough (over 7%) but easies off towards the summit. A quite tricky descent leads to Riaza.

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Profile of Puerto de la Quesera.

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Sierra de Somosierra from the top of Puerto de la Quesera.

Riaza is the first town of this stage, which is part of Castilla y León. It's in the region of Tierra de Ayllón on the western foothills of Sierra de Somosierra and Sierra de Ayllón. It's also the sneak peek of the next two stages, which will be in the heart of Castilla y León.

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Riaza.

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Tierra de Ayllón.

Just south of Riaza is one of the biggest ski resorts of Sierra de Guadarrama, located on the slopes of Pico del Lobo (2274m) – La Pinilla. It's a quite popular traceur spot, but i don't remember Vuelta ever visiting it. It might had happened pre-1990. The station has around 20km of slopes available. Combining Quesera with Pinilla is nothing new; actually it's a quite popular combo.

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La Pinilla.

There are two routes to Pinilla. The main one is from the Serrano valley near a historic village of Cerezo de Arriba. The 2nd route is from the descent from Puerto de la Quesera to Riaza. I decided for the main route, as the direct approach from Quesera is mostly a false-flat (3,5km at roughly 4%). The approach i've chosen has the last 3,2km at roughly 7% with the last 1km at over 8% (max 10%). It's a typical punchy relic from the times of Valverde and Purito. I think the direct approach could potentialy work if Quesera was harder or it was much later in the race.

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Profile of La Pinilla.

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Romanesque Iglesia de San Juan Bautista from XI c. Cerezo de Arriba.

The finish line is just before the main station on SG-115. Interestingly, there's plenty of space (3 sizeable car parks). Maybe even big enough to house all the buses. If it was in France, it could host maybe a Dauphine/Route du Sud or even a Tour de France stage.

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Finish in La Pinilla.

I know in 2015 La Quesera was ridden quite hard, but i comsider it more in terms of a warm-up climb. I think it's not a bad warm-up before the punchy finish in La Pinilla. I don't think it'll shake up the GC, but the group at the bottom of La Pinilla should be smaller (30-40 guys) and the time splits slightly bigger than from yesterday (if there were any).

Next stage is the main time trial of the race through a sample of the vast medieval richness of the Valladolid province.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

30 Jan 2018 23:59

I mean nothing by the "noooo!" other than to give you props for beating me to one of my ideas. Though in fairness I have 2 or 3 on-the-go Vueltas, a couple of which could be just about postable in current format but need a little tweaking as well as there being two Vueltas ongoing, so let's not complicate things further.

Instead, let's go to my other well.

Nordic Series 9: Notschrei

The Nordic Series thus far has focused, with the exception of Candanchú, on venues in the Alps; France, Switzerland and Italy primarily. One of the benefits of Nordic skiing from a race design point of view is that it doesn't require the huge drops that downhill skiing requires - while there are Alpine World Cup rounds in Sweden and Finland, these tend to be restricted to the technical disciplines, and offer limited cycling parcours design options, whereas the Nordic venues offer more flexibility. And of course, there's more to cycling than the Grand Tours and the Alps.

That said, while I'm deviating from the template of the Alpine countries, I'm not deviating from the template of mountain locations - I will do in the near future, but a couple of issues recently have prevented me from going to a different well. So here, we're in one of the countries which is most fabled for its love of skiing, both Alpine and Nordic, but at a venue which is neither in the Alps nor the north. That's right, Germany - a land which is at the very forefront of biathlon, ski jumping and Nordic Combined, and that until recently was in a similar position in cross country, however has fallen away in recent times as its golden generation grew old together and retired before reasonable replacements could be found, as well as suffering a perennial problem that the popularity of biathlon in the country results in a constant stream of talents leaving the sport to pick up a rifle. And it's to a biathlon venue that we're going today, the Sparkassen Arena at Notschrei, in the Schwarzwald mountain chain.

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Evocatively translating as "cry for help", this is a long-time resort for all kinds of skiing which has long been synonymous with wintersport throughout the Schwarzwald. Although significantly smaller than Germany's two Biathlon World Cup venues - Oberhof and Ruhpolding - Notschrei is a former IBU Cup (or European Cup as it was back then) host, although in recent years it has been usurped by Arber, in the Bayerischer Wald, and Altenberg, in Saxony, for international competition. The Nordic-Schule here remains very active, however, and among current internationals to call it their original home track Simon Schempp and Annika Knoll can be mentioned, while it also is in close proximity to the ski jumping facilities at Hinterzarten and the Nordic Combined World Cup venue at Schonach - both of which are smaller. The Sparkassen-Arena hosts an annual round of the Deutschlandpokal/Alpencup, has held national championships races such as those here and the para-skiing World Cup, and is also in the process of tendering a revamp that would see it return to international competition. There's also plenty of room for parking at the pass which is just below the arena, with the Waldhotel am Notschrei, and so with the Nordic stadium itself alongside this space, logistically the venue could host races of any size up to the very biggest.

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Sitting among the Schwarzwald mountains and atop a climb which can be approached from at least three sides, the options here are myriad and though the range does not include any nascent Galibiers or Zoncolans, it can still be plenty tough enough. Rather like the Vosges, there's only one borderline HC climb in the region - the 11km, 8% Kandel, but more of that later - but a large number of cat.1 and cat.2 climbs that can be chained together to make some interesting mountain stages nonetheless. The Germans have of course not been especially into their cycling of late and their calendar has become depleted but in the past Notschrei could have been included in the Regio-Tour; the Deutschlandtour is of course being reintroduced, but its scale in the first instance will not be sufficient to justify most of my stage suggestions - however the old version from the early 2000s would be ideal. But failing that, we are also close enough to the French border at the Alsace that it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility to see the Tour de France, or at least the lower level Tour d'Alsace, hop the border to arrive at Notschrei.

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For the most part, traceur opportunities around Notschrei have been focused around the northern side of the climb, shown above, from Kirchzarten. This is mainly as it allows you to back it directly onto Kandel, offering that classic format so beloved of traceurs where the penultimate climb is the hardest. I'm no different, chaining the two together is too tempting not to explore, but it's also worth noting that junction at 4,5km from the line, after which the gradient is 7,7% to the line, and this enables you to link the climb to the Schauinsland climb, which has several different faces, including some very tough gradients, as you can descend through this side of the Schauinsland climb, through the Hofsgrund downhill skiing facilities, until the junction marked for Notschrei on that profile. There's also the opportunity to, through a nodal road which links the summits, to go directly from Schauinsland to Notschrei, which puts the final summit around 5km from the line with a more or less downhill false flat until an uphill final 250m, or alternatively a more standard cat.2 ascent from Todtnau (7,5km @ 6,4%) from the southeast, which brings a number of other climbs into the equation.

Proposal #1: Baden-Baden - Notschrei, 194km

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Approaching Notschrei from the north, this is perhaps the "fully loaded" version of a stage featuring the classic traceur double of Kandel and Notschrei, moving down the spine of the mountain chain from the famous "so good they named it twice" spa town at its northwest corner. It is perhaps as strong a mountain stage as you could manage while travelling in this direction, taking care to use as much as possible of genuinely selective climbs rather than the multitude of 4% grinders that you can often find in the region, as we hop onto and off of the Schwarzwalder Höhenstrasse which runs along the peaks of the range. Unterstmatt is a fairly underrated warm-up climb, which has a very steep, inconsistent and technical descent, while the other early-in-the-day climb is a traceur favourite, Zuflucht aka Oppenauer Steige, a climb which, when you take the flat finish out, resembles Cobertoria west. Somewhat frustratingly it is rather difficult to connect to other climbs because of needing to ride along the Höhenstraße for a while to reach an opportunity to descend back into the valley, but here it is just a leg softener.

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After this there are three lesser climbs but each including some steeper ramps, with the intent of making sure that riders' legs have plenty of suffering in them before we arrive at the main focal point of the stage, the miniature Alpe d'Huez that is Kandel.

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Weighing in at just under 12km at 8%, this is a borderline HC climb which on this occasion crests at 35km from the line. The climb is fairly wide and there are few super-ramps, so it mightn't be an automatic "break the bunch to pieces" event, but the opportunities are there, especially as much of the remainder of the stage is a decent, broken up by 2km at 6% into Sankt-Peter. I have incentivized a move earlier on with the intermediate bonuses in Kirchzarten before the final climb, which is the full extent of the Notschrei profile above, officially 13,5km @ 5,4% but gradually ramping up until a final 6,1km @ 8,1%, so offering plenty of scope for selectivity.

Proposal #2: Waldshut-Tiengen - Notschrei, 141km

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Long-time aficionados of the Race Design Thread will probably find this one fairly familiar - it bears a fair amount of resemblance to my queen stage from my Deutschlandtour, from Bad Säckingen to Feldberg, which used the same combination of the first four climbs before descending into Freiburg to do the Kandel-Notschrei-Feldberg trio to finish. Here, to finish in Notschrei but not repeat ourselves, however, we're cutting the stage somewhat short but bringing the steep Schauinsland climb close to the finish, so that final three climb back to back combo should be very dangerous since it's a shortish stage but there's essentially no flat whatsoever in the final third, which takes advantage of the fact that, while the Schwarzwald may lack in monolithically huge climbs, it does offer great opportunities for chaining climbs together.

This would be best suited to a clockwise Tour of Germany, albeit somewhere near the end of the race, where there are already GC gaps. It begins looping around the border with Switzerland before heading northward to the two-stepped cat.2 climb of Egerten, then doubling back on itself to the first major climb, the Tonale-alike Kreuzweg. This has a long rolling descent, but after this it's relentless, with the solid Hohtann climb (also known as Rollspitz), a decently consistent 7% climb above the Wiedener Eck, descending directly to the base of one of the shortest, but also the undisputed steepest, side to the Schauinsland climb.

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We're only climbing this from the junction for Wiedener Eck (7,5km) to the crossing for Notschrei (1km) - so it's short, but that 3km at 11,7% in the middle help justify the cat.1 status, especially as it crests just 10km from the line, with the descent through Hofsgrund mentioned above before the final 4,5km ascent to the line. This should therefore see the key moves made on the Schauinsland climb, as the legs will have been softened enough, there's not enough time after Hohtann for many domestiques to return, and it's too steep to be a tempo climb, especially this close to the finish; even if a group stays together, there's then a fast descent and a final climb which is similar in stats to Ixua, so a pretty reasonable finish in and of itself.

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Proposal #3: Offenburg - Notschrei, 211km

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This is like the previous proposal but amped up somewhat, along with a potentially more interesting finale. Again it's a long loop around the southern Schwarzwald, starting to the northwest, skirting the western edges and foothills before entering in the south and looping back to the north.

Like the previous proposal, we enter the stage lightly, with a period of rolling terrain, but this stage is 50% longer and with three more categorized climbs, though admittedly the first one, Horben, won't really threaten anybody. The stage also features the northern side of Kreuzweg, separate from the eastern side that we descended in proposal one. This side is less consistent than the western side climbed in that stage (descended here), and is divided into two halves - the first part fairly gradual, the final 7km @ 7,5% as noted here. This also backs into the western side of Egerten which could debatably be cat.1 and probably would be were it closer to the finish.

Having hopefully trimmed the group a fair bit, we still have some way to go to the line, so to prevent a consolidation period where a lot of the riders dropped will chase back on, I've stuck the gradual ascent up to Sankt Antonipass, which forms a double summit not unlike La Mozqueta/La Colladiella or Agnès/Lers with the adjacent Weißenbachsattel, though the climbs are not as difficult as those double acts. Nevertheless the secondary summit breaks up the momentum of the descent, so it keeps the riders on their toes before a trickier version of the run-in. First, I've gone to Wiedener Eck rather than Hohtann, but rather than just being the lower summit, I've taken the narrow Steinbühl road, which takes an otherwise consistent 4,5% climb and appends 2km @ 10% at the end, cresting 24km from the line. After the descent we return to the side of Schauinsland profiled above - however with a twist. Instead of going all the way to the Kreuz, we're going to the summit of Schauinsland, but that would entail a very short loop, or a very long route via Freiburg and the full Notschrei climb after a period in a valley road - not conducive to good racing. Instead, therefore, we leave that profile at Gießhübel (meaning 5,1km @ 9,5% - akin to Peña Cabarga or similar), cresting 11km from home, then after a brief hiatus, the last 3,7km of this profile - 5% average - cresting at 5,2km before a slightly downhill false flat run-in. So while the opportunity to make it stick on the steep stuff is there, you then have a mad chase on the tempo climb AND the flattish run-in.

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Ramp between Gießhübel and Stohren

Proposal #4: Balingen - Notschrei, 213km

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The final proposal, approaching the Schwarzwald from the east, is the longest stage and also a slightly unusual medium mountain type stage which would probably be best served either as a very first mountain stage where its less threatening nature can make it a feeling-out process, or as a very last one where the fact that the final climbs aren't too hard means risks have to be taken, since here we arrive at Notschrei from Todtnau, which is a fairly unthreatening climb.

After rolling in from the Swabian countryside, the first real challenge of the day is Moosenmättle, from its least-known northern side. Cyclingcols doesn't have a profile for this side; Quäl dich does - the first 4,2km is at almost 11% and it's narrow and horrible. This does lead to a much more gradual climb which heads past the Nordic Combined venue at Schonach (future series spoiler?) - despite its small size, a fixture on the Nordic Combined calendar thanks to its heritage, as the home of ski jumper Hansjörg Jäkle and Nordic Combined athletes Hans-Peter Pohl and the Hettichs, Urban and Georg - despite the small size of the town and their prominence as sportsmen, they are unrelated - I cannot find any information on whether either of them are related to local biathlete Janina Hettich either, though three sporting families of the same surname in the same town would seem unlikely.

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Anyway, Schonach is partway up a very gradual climb of the kind we often find in German ranges - fairly simple gradients but seemingly relentless length to counter that. Perfect for tempo. Germany is weird like that - a combination of unbelievably steep goat track dead ends or very long, dull tempo climbs. Anyway, this leads us back into the known parts of the range with the HC climb of Kandel, however this time the summit is at 78km to go, even if it could be a finish in and of itself.

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That's because this isn't intended to be the focal point this time but instead to separate the wheat from the chaff, as instead of the direct Sankt-Peter descent into the valley, we're taking the slight climb much further, to Sankt Märgen, to enter a different valley further up, enabling us to take on the Thurner climb, a solid category 2 climb with some steeper ramps. This crests at 43km to go, leading into another potential future candidate for the series, Hinterzarten. Hinterzarten is host to over 100km of Loipe, and the Schwarzwald Ski Museum. It's a renowned ski jumping town, hosting the Women's World Cup and the Summer Grand Prix, but being most famous as the home of former Olympic team champion, World Champion and the first man to win all four hills of a Vierschanzentournee, Sven Hannawald.

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This is with 35km to go, so we have a bit of respite before the final double-kick - the easy side of Feldberg Pass before the Todtnau side of Notschrei. As neither of these climbs are especially difficult, if the race hasn't blown apart early on this is probably a sprint of the elites, but who's going to be there to control it if everybody's been split apart by Moosenmättle and Kandel?
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

31 Jan 2018 20:48

Vuelta a España stage 5: Teruel - Sagunt (207 km)
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After a flat 4th stage the climbers and breakaway riders can have fun again as the riders face the first typical medium mountain stage. There is no transfer so the stage starts in Teruel from where the peloton heads eastwards. The stage starts immediately with a climb, the Puerto de Cabigordo. With 16.9 km at 3.9% this doesn't seem to be a very hard ascent but in the middle of the climb there are almost 6 completely flat kilometers, so the gradient of the uphill parts is actually a lot higher.

There isn't much rest after the descent before the hardest climb of the day to the Estacion de Esquí de Valdelinares starts. Despite being a 1st category climb, the first of this Vuelta btw, this climb isn't exactly a monster. Still if there isn't a break away yet there will be one after this pass for sure.
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After this climb the stage gets a lot easier. On the next 70 kilometers the altitude of the stage goes from 1960 to around 450 meters with a lot of flattish descents and a few short ascents. This lowest point of the stage so far is reached in Montenejos where the 3rd categroized climb of the day, the shallow Puerto de Arenillas, a climb which will most likely not have any impact on the stage.
From the top of this pass there are another 50 kilometers to go before the next and final climb of the day starts. On the way there the riders will pass the only intermediate sprint of the stage in Sogorb.

The final climb is probably a familiar one to most of you, since it was raced only a few months ago in the 2017 Vuelta and if you can't remember it anyway just turn on the TV tomorrow since it will be the final obstacle of the 2nd stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. It's the Puerto del Garbí an extremely irregular pass with some super steep ramps which are great for attacks.
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Both my stage and the stage in last years Vuelta finish in Sagunt but now that a certain rider isn't active anymore I don't think it's likely to see attacks on this climb if they use the same descent again. I therefore decided to instead of using the 2017 route, my route uses a more narrow and very steep street which brings the riders quite close to where the climb started. Many race organizers would not be happy to see a descent like this in their race but then again this forum seems to agree that using the Crostis is perfectly fine so I don't see why this descent shouldn't be usable then.
The last nine kilometers to Sagunt are basically flat and will make it difficult to keep an advantage. If you are in a small group though it should be possible to stay away from everyone since I wouldn't expect a big peloton after such a steep climb.
Sagunt is probably one of the most beautiful host cities of my Vuelta. The town was already created in the Roman era, and some remains like a Roman theatre are still existing. Besides that there is also a huge medieval fortress located on a hill next to the city.
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Contador tribute:
In this case there isn't one big but two small tributes.
First of all Valdelinares. This climb was used as a mtf in the 2014 Vuelta. The stage was won by Winner Anacona, but still this stage almost felt like a win for Contador.
El Pistolero was very dominant for most of his 2014 campaign. He won a stage in the Volta ao Algarve, the gc of Tirreno Adriatico, was only beaten by Purito in the Volta Catalunya, won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and after a great duel between him and Froome he only lost the Criterium du Dauphine due to a mixture of a bad team and a very ballsy Andrew Talansky. For many he was the favorite to win the Tour even more so after his main rival Chris Froome had to abandon after a crash, but then on the first mountain stage of le tour he crashed himself and fractured his leg leaving cycling fans all over the world with a two week long Vincenzo Nibali one man show. His injuries were so bad that Contador at first claimed he couldn't ride the Vuelta, but surprisingly for most people he started anyway although it was seen as rather unlikely that he was back at his best again. Contador already surprised many people by finishing with the gc favorites on the first mtf to La Zubia, but the climb to Valdelinares was the point where everyone could really see he was here to win. Shortly before the finish Contador attacked and immediately created a gap. Anacona won from the breakaway so Contador was the best placed gc rider of the stage. Quintana and Rodriguez caught Contador on the line after they were pulled back by Moreno, but many other riders, for example Chris Froome lost over 20 seconds. This surely wasn't one of Contador's most impressive performances but mentally one of his most important ones.
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Secondly, the Puerto del Garbí. As I've already mentioned the Puerto del Garbí was part of the vuelta route 3 years later in 2017. It came on a similar spot in the race, just one stage later than here, on day 6.
Shortly before the Vuelta El Pistolero announced that the Vuelta would be the last race of his career after a very disappointing 2017 campaign without a single win up to this point. People hoped Contador could finish his career in style by winning La Vuelta or at least performing well but after just three stages it hardly could have looked worse. In a stage to Andorra Contador lost minutes on a 2nd category climb and it looked as if he couldn't have any impact on the race. Alberto blamed stomach problems for his bad performance but nobody really believed that. The general opinion was, he is simply past it and can't compete against the best athletes anymore. When Contador was the first rider out of the peloton on stage 5's uphill finish with only 3 other guys (Froome, Chaves, Woods) finishing with the same time, that came as a surprise. However it was yet to be seen which of his two performances was the outlier.
Stage 6, the stage over the Puerto del Garbí was not the day where people expected to get an answer to this question. On the top of the climb there were still 36 kilometers to go, way too much for such a short climb and although Contador was always seen as an aggressive rider nobody really expected him to be as aggressive as he ended up being. Contador put absolutely everything he had into multiple attacks on the steepest ramps of the climb and only a hand full of riders could follow him and almost all serious gc contenders were dropped by his accelerations. Due to a lack of collaboration in Contador's group he got caught again but this stage will be remembered anyway. Yeah, at the end his attack wasn't successful, but this tribute for his first crazy attack in the 2017 vuelta should represent all the crazy attacks by Contador with which he usually didn't achieve much but made the race singlehandedly entertaining. The 2017 Vuelta was only the third time the Tour-Vuelta double has been achieved, the first time since 1978 and it was the first time since 1998 someone won two consecutive gt's in a season, but still, when the curtain fell everyone only talked about the man who ended up finishing 5th, and stage 6 to Sagunt shows why.
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User avatar Gigs_98
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31 Jan 2018 22:03

While I'm usually much against the concept in a regular road stage and find it gimmicky, with that descent, it would make a pretty sweet double-ascent, actually. If the loop is deemed too short (I don't think it is), you could do the loop the Vuelta did. BTW, I don't think the descent is narrow, it's just steep and open (and with some rough edges).
Goodbye, Tommeke; thank you for all you have given us!
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Re: Race Design Thread

01 Feb 2018 17:49

Vuelta a España stage 6: Valencia - Alto del Campello (188 km)
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Stage 6 of my Vuelta starts in Valencia, Spain's 3rd biggest city, and capital of the Provincia de Valencia. in terms of cycling this part of spain is probably mostly known for it's preperation race the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which is the first relevant stage race in Europe of the season.
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The first 60 kilometers of the stage are completely flat with an intermediate sprint in Alzira as the only highlight. The first real obstacle of the day is the 3rd category Alto de la Drova. After another flat section the riders face two passes directly after each other. First the hardest climb of the day, the Monte Safor, which is a 1st category climb and might therefore motivate some riders who hunt the mountain jersey to get into the break of the day. Especially the first half of this ascent is quite steep with long ramps of over 10%.
The Monte Safor is actually a very spectacular mountain a bit in the west of pass I use, but since I didn't find any name for my climb I just named it after this famous sight.
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Directly after the descent the a lot flatter climb to Beniarres starts. If these two climbs came near the end of the stage they could have quite a big impact but since Beniarres tops out with over 60 kilometers to go the big showdown will start a bit later on the last two climbs of the day. Firstly the Alto de El Portillol, a relatively gentle but 8 kilometers long pass. Since the stage finishes with an uphill finish I wouldn't expect attacks out of the peloton at this point, but in the battle for the stage in the breakaway the first moves could happen here. On the descent the riders already come quite close to the finish but instead of going directly to the finish line they make a loop, use a different descent and then after a short flat section start the last climb of the day.

This last climb is a typical Vuelta murito. It's extremely irregular but still has an average gradient of around 12% for over 2, almost 3 kilometers. But that's only the average gradient, there are many ramps of over 15% and even one 21% ramp quite early on the climb. Despite its short length the time gaps on these kind of mountain top finishes can be pretty big so you gc riders should better try to be well positioned before the climb starts while guys like Purito (if he was still riding) would have to use the steep ramps to gain a lot of time on guys like Nibali who usually struggles on extremely high gradients on short climbs.
The stage doesn't finish on the highest point of the climb. There is a very short but steep descent followed by another very, very short flat section after which the stage finishes. That said, this isn't Xorret de Catí where you have a proper descent after the top of the climb. Whoever goes over the top of the murito first will most likely win the stage. Logistically this finish could be a bit complicated since the stage finishes shortly before a crossroad, so there is no real parking place. That said this has already been used as a finish for cycling races before and the Vuelta has shown a talent for making finishes at places where it should actually be impossible to finish.
The first 5 km of this profile show how the final looks like (a bit less than 5 km actually)
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Contador tribute:
If you make a Contador tribute Vuelta that can easily be understood as a listing of great performances by Contador in the Vuelta. That would be the easiest thing to do but it would also be kinda boring since I would have to make a lot of stages like yesterday where I pay tribute to a stage where he only attacked but didn't win. I therefore decided to reduce the Vuelta tributes as well as possible and instead include a lot of climbs which should remind people of great performances by Contador in smaller races.
Beside the Vuelta there are a lot of small stage races taking place in spain, one of them the already mentioned Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Contador wasn't very successful in this small preperation race mostly because he used the Volta ao Algarve or the Ruta del Sol as his first race of the season in most years. He therefore never won the gc in Valencia but he won one single stage, which finished at the same place as my stage, on the Alto del Campello.
In 2007 Contador, back then only known as a huge talent but without any success in gt's so far due to a number of reasons, lost a lot of time in the first three stages of the race, but when the peloton tackled the brutal finishing climb on stage 4 he wanted to test his legs and pedaled away from everyone. And those guys were no amateurs. In the top 10 of the stage you'll find names like Valverde, Brajkovic, Frank Schleck, Luis Leon Sanchez and Samu Sanchez.
Here is a video of the final kilometers of that stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rptiI-d5g8&t=695s
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User avatar Gigs_98
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Re: Race Design Thread

01 Feb 2018 17:56

I don't know, if this nordic series shouldn't be its own thread. It is race design, but i think the concept is different enough to be its own separate entity. Germany (& Austria) are very easy targets as these countries don't really have any prominent tours (or they're doing a rather lousy job *ekhm* Österreich-Rundfahrt *ekhm*).

Last stage: link

EDIT: Somewhat i missed to post stage 12, so i'm adding it here.

Coca is not the most fortunate name ever – coke, cocaine, kaka. However, Castillo de Coca is one of the most beautiful of Spanish castles and it deserves a stage.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/181721
Vuelta a España – stage 12. Castillo de Cuéllar – Castillo de Coca, 39,2km, ITT, flat.
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This time trial takes place in the flat region of Tierra de Pinares, just south of Valladolid. This region has an abundance of castles and historic towns. The original draft of this stage went from the capital of the region – Medina del Campo. Because now i'm approaching Coca from east, i've moved the start to Cuéllar – home to another castle.

This time trial is a typical oldschool Spanish test – 40km, flat, straight and open roads without any technial parts. Lately the trend had changed towards more hilly and more technical courses. It starts in the town of Cuéllar. The town was founded in XII c. In the middle ages it was a textile center. In 1256 Alfonso X elevated the town to a royal city. The town started declining in XVII c. after the government of Castilla moved to Madrid. From Cuéllar are Diego Velázquez – 1st governor of Cuba and Juan de Grijalva – one of the first conquistadors to land in Mexico.

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Cuéllar seen from the city walls.

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Strasbourg in Castilla.

The start is in the castle's courtyard on Calle Palacio. The stage then goes through one of the castle's gates and then via Carretera Valladolid towards Íscar. Between Cuéllar and Íscar are a couple of villages – Torregutiérrez, San Cristóbal de Cuéllar, Vallelado and Mata de Cuéllar.

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Castillo de Cuéllar seen from the start.

Íscar is a town on the border of Segovia and Valladolid provinces. It's home to a small hilltop castle from XII c. However, this hill was populated since prehistoric. Other sigts include romanesque Iglesia de Santa María from XII c. and also romanesque Iglesia de San Miguel from late XI c.

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Castillo de Íscar.

From Íscar the race goes straight to Coca through the villages of Villaverde de Íscar and Fuente el Olmo de Íscar. The roads are wide and mostly straight, occasionally covered with pine trees.

Coca started as a quite powerful town around 500 BC. Later it was a minor Roman town of Cauca, which was home to plenty of villas. Interestingly, Roman emperor Theodosius I was born here. In the middle ages Coca seemed to be a rather unsignificant village. I'm not sure, why the Archbishop of Seville – Alonso de Fonseca y Ulloa in XVI c. decided that this village will be home to his castle – possibly one of the most lavish in entire Spain. Later it was the seat of the Fonseca family.

This castle is very large, mudéjar style and has sort of 3 tiers. I don't hink it's bigger than the Teutonic castle of Malbork, but that one is more of a fortified complex than a "real" castle. Other sights include the remains of XIII c. city walls with Puerta de la Villa, XII c. Torre de San Nicolás – the only remaining part of the old location of Ermita de San Nicolás, destroyed in XVIII c.

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Castillo de Coca.

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Puerta de la Villa, Coca.

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Torre de San Nicolás, Coca.

Coca is located on the bank of Río Eresma, which is in a shallow valley. The last roughly 1,3km are slightly uphill with the hardest part at the bottom with the first 500m at 6-7%. I could be sneaky and include some of the narrow street roads, which are on quite ugly cobbles, but i decided to be a bit milder and only roughly 100m near Puerta de la Villa, 300m from the finish line are cobbled. The finish line is in front of the castle. I wanted it to be a classic test against the clock. Next is the only sprint stage of this week.

A transitional stage towards the more mountainous regions of northern Spain.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/181708
Vuelta a España – stage 13. Valladolid – León, 187km, Flat.
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I wanted to have at least one sprint stage this week and i also wanted to move closer towards the more mountainous regions. This stage was actually created as a result of the next stage, which was sort of my version of a banter on a particular climb, but it changes since then. Because of this, i'm actually unsure of the next stage as i don't really have good options if i want to (and i do want to) leave the Sunday stage intact.

Both hosting cities – Valladolid and León are more than just well known, and their history is rich enough to fill whole encyclopedias. Both were once capitals of the kingdom of Castille during the middle ages, before the government moved to Madrid. The stage goes through the open, straight roads of Tierra de Campos – one of the main argicultural regions of Spain.

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A perfect representation of Tierra de Campos.

Valladolid has more than plenty of sights to offer. Below is a small sample of them:

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Valladolid.

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Plaza Mayor and city hall, Valladolid.

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Academia de Caballería, Valladolid.

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XIII c. Iglesia de San Pablo, Valladolid.

The finish in León is borrowed from Vuelta a Castilla y León. It's on Avenida del Ingeniero Sáenz de Miera in front of Estadio Reino de León, on the west bank of Río Bernesga, at the end of a 1km straight. The run-in is on Avenida Facultad de Veterinaria (that's an interesting name) on the other side of Río Bernesga. I've just changed it from Avenida Lancia (on the map below), as the road is narrower, than i thought it was.

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Finish in León.

A sample of the historical center of León:

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XIII c. Catedral de Santa María de la Regla.

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XI c. Basílica de San Isidoro de León – with tombs of various kings of the kingdom of León and (later) Castille.

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Former town hall from XV c.

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Casa Botines from the end of XIX c.

There are plenty of towns visited throughout the stage like Medina de Rioseco, Villalón de Campos, Villada, Sahagún, Cea, Almanza and Villarente. The last part of the stage, starting from Sahagún is in a hilly region of Los Oteros, which are the southern foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica) in Cantabria and Asturia. There are a couple of hills to climb, but all of them are very easy. Alto de Rueda del Almirante (near Monasterio de San Miguel de Escalada) is the only categorised climb of the day with 2km at 4,5%. It's there, so the breakaway can fight for something and maybe to help decide the combativity award.

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XIII c. Puerta de San Sebastián, Medina de Rioseco.

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X c. Monasterio Real de San Benito, Sahagún.

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XV c. Castillo de Cea.

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X c. Monasterio de San Miguel de Escalada.

It will end either as a bunch sprint or a breakaway win. It depends on how strong the sprint field is and how many of them are willing to stay in the race. Tomorrow starts the 2nd mountain block of the race. Next stage is a borderline mountain/medium mountain affair in Asturias. Because i'm approaching them from north there will be no Cobertoria/San Lorenzo etc.

EDIT: I think Gigs_98 and i decided to post at the same time. Sorry for that. Here's Gigs_98's stage.
Last edited by railxmig on 12 Feb 2018 23:12, edited 1 time in total.
railxmig
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Posts: 300
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Re: Race Design Thread

03 Feb 2018 18:06

I had problems with this stage and i'm not the biggest fan of the outcome, but i need a transition towards the next stage, which i actually like.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/186880
Vuelta a España – stage 14. León – Cotobello, 179km, Mountain/Medium Mountain, MTF.
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Climbs:
Alto de Santo Emiliano – 6,6km, 4,6%, cat. 3, 515m
Alto de la Mozqueta – 6,5km, 8,2%, cat. 1, 848m
Alto de la Espesura (la Bobia) – 3,5km, 7,7%, cat. 3, 577m
Alto de la Colladona – 6,8km, 6,7%, cat. 2, 850m
Alto de Cotobello – 10km, 8,4%, cat. 1, 1198m

Originally i had a finish on Cubilla, because i was baffled, why it was considered ESP. I decided to get rid of my frustrations here. Sadly, the Cubilla stage was in the middle of my Vuelta. Changing it for something entirely else would result in rebuilding a significant chunk of the race, which i didn't wanted to do. Cobertoria – Ermita de Alba would be a lazy option, which didn't really worked in 2015. There's also a bit forgotten Cotobello, which is not so popular on this forum and it was used only once by Vuelta in 2010. I thought, why not this one? It's not a bad climb – almost borderline 1/ESP.

The 2010 stage was way harder than this one with San Lorenzo and Cobertoria as run-up climbs. It was also at the end of a mountain block. The time splits were okay, but nothing out of this world. I doubt this stage will change this potential outcome. There are some minor run-up climbs on Valle del Nalón, which even include one cat. 1, but i don't think they're a replacement for San Lorenzo and Cobertoria.

While searching the profiles for the climbs of course i stumbled upon this bastard. I know, that sites like PRC and APM covered Spain to the point of complete ruination. Below is their version of this stage. I guess Faya los Lobos is AS-521.

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...of course.

The stage starts in León. The first 55km to Pajares, which this time is an intermediate sprint, are slightly uphill with a small descent to the town of La Robla, where peloton will enter the Cantabrian Mountains, which was mainly a mining region. Many towns of this stage were founded as mining centers.

On Pajares riders will enter the region of Asturias. The modern Spain's roots are in the kingdom of Asturias, which was (with Navarra) the only Christian kingdom in early middle-ages' Spain. Kingdom of Asturias gave birth to the Kingdom of León, which then gave birth to the Kingdom of Castilla. The capital was i think Monte Naranco north of Oviedo. In XIX c. Asturias was an industrial and mining center. Many towns have preserved their industrial character. Nowadays Asturias is home to some beautiful gorges, countryside pre-romanesque chapels and carcasses of XIX c. industrialism.

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IX c. Iglesia de Santa María del Naranco, Monte Naranco, Oviedo.

In the middle ages Pajares was one of the main mountain passes linking Asturias with León. On top of Pajares is a ski station of Valgrande-Pajares and the famous Cuitu Negru (in this case with a distracting shaky cam). While from north Pajares is a proper cat. 1, from south it's not even worth categorisation, so i decided to have the first intermediate sprint of the day at the top.

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Puerto de Pajares.

The descent leads to Pola de Lena in the famous Lena valley, which is the traceur center of Spain with Ciutu Negru, Cobertoria/Gamoniteiro/Puerco (Cuchu Puercu?), Cubilla etc. Both Pola de Lena and Mieres further down the valley were coal mining centers. Nowadays they're home to various mining museums and manor homes from XIX c. Mieres is also a campus of the University of Oviedo.

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Pola de Lena.

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VII c. Ermita de Santa Cristina de Lena.

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Plaza del Requejo, Mieres.

From Mieres the stage moves to Langreo in the Nalón valley (Valle del Nalón) via cat. 3 Alto de Santo Emiliano. It's a relatively easy and regular climb with 6,6km at 4,6%.

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Profile of Santo Emiliano.

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Valle del Nalón.

The Nalón valley is heavily urbanized, as some of coal mines are still operative. The modern Langreo was created in 1983 after combining a bunch of smaller towns like Ciaño, La Felguera, Riaño etc. Langreo was founded in XVIII c. as a mining and industrial center, mainly producing steel (Fábrica de La Felguera). There are plenty of post-industrial museums in the town, with the biggest one the Museo de la Siderurgia de Asturias in the former Fábrica de La Felguera.

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Langreo.

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Former Fábrica de La Felguera with an ugly structure of the museum.

From Langreo the race goes into the Samuño valley (Valle de Samuño) – another former mining center, where the next climb – Alto de la Mozqueta is. It's the first cat. 2 climb of the day with 6,5km at a fairly regular 8,2%. This climb is part of Alto de la Colladiella, which just 3km from Mozqueta. The descent back to the Nalón valley is quite steep, twisty and narrow.

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Profile of Mozqueta.

The descent ends in the village of Santa Barbara, where another climb starts – Alto de la Espesura (or Alto de la Bobia). It's short, but quite irregular with plenty of over 10% sections and a small plateau at the top. The descent to San Martín del Rey Aurelio is also quite complicated. It's worth noting that it's a climb, that APM didn't used, so i'm more than happy about that.

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Profile of Espesura (la Bobia).

After the descent to San Martín del Rey Aurelio there are roughly 10km of flat in the Samuño and Villoria valleys including an intermediate sprint in Pola de Laviana. Next climb is cat. 2 Alto de la Colladona, which is 6,8km at a fairly regular 6,7%. It's quite often used in the real Vuelta. A quite tricky descent leads to Cabañaquinta in the Aller valley.

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Profile of Colladona.

Cabañaquinta is the main "district" of Aller, which is composed of various municipalities. It's home to the ruins of a XIII c. fort Castillo de Soto and two ancient chapels dating as far back as VIII c. Ermita de Miravalles and Ermita del Cristo. After a short flat in the valley the final climb of the day starts.

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Castillo de Soto, Aller.

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Ermita de Miravalles, Aller.

Cotobello is an Asturian sleeper, but it shouldn't be enough to generate any cosmic gaps. It's a very strong cat. 1 with 10km at a very stable 8,4% (max 13%). It's located in the heart of Sierra de Murias y Santibáñez (highest point – Pico los Pozos, 1563m). A the top of this climb is a local mirador. Interestingly, the official name seems to be Coto Bello, but Vuelta in 2010 used the form of Cotobello.

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Profile of Cotobello.

Cotobello was used by Vuelta only once in 2010. The stage was won by Mikel Nieve from a breakaway. Apparently it was his first big win in his career, which is quite hard to believe. He seems to me like Rui Costa or Thomas Hitle... Voeckler – has this spider sense to find himself in the right breakaways. Way behind him Purito managed to put 35s on Nibali. Time gaps were generally quite big. However, it was not only at the end of a 3-day mountain block, but the stage also featured San Lorenzo and Cobertoria.

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Profile of Vuelta 2010 stage 16.

I decided to use Cotobello mainly because it seems to be largely unused on this forum. I guess it's just not popular or this climb has some sort of a stigma, like Plateau de Beille.

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Cotobello.

It's not a great stage, but i needed something to kick-off the next mountain block. Next stage is a borderline GC/transitional mountain stage, which also includes a not so popular combination.
railxmig
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03 Feb 2018 19:37

Actually, I've been trying to find a way to get a Coto Bello finish onto a first day of a weekend for a while, but I've never been happy with a route I've included it in, and also as there are so many stage opportunities around the central mountains of Asturias and most of the unused terrain is to the west of the province, I've not yet really found a place for it. I quite liked the 2010 stage and thought they would have gone back by now.
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