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Race Design Thread

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Re: Race Design Thread

08 Dec 2017 08:33

fauniera wrote:Mont Pèlerin and Nestlé in one stage, where is my flamethrower?

Just kidding.


I have a hit and miss relationship with Nestlé. Their stuff tastes great, but my stomach doesn't like the chemistry they're using. I did not google the Pèlerin name beforehand and it's some weird liberal society. I know nothing about politics and i prefer to stay like that. I have enough problems with EA, Activision etc.

Also shoutout to @LS, as this gorge he found is pretty.

Now to today's stage. It goes through Les Diablerets, Bernese Alps and (mainly) upper Rhône valley with the inclusion of Aigle, Martigny and Sion among others.

Last stage: link

Tour de Suisse – stage 6. Montreux – Anzère, 197km, mountain, MTF.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/154365
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Climbs:
Col des Mosses – 18,7km, 5,5%, cat. 1, 1445m
Col du Pillon – 7km, 5,1%, cat. 2, 1546m
Col de la Croix – 8,2km, 7,4%, cat. 1, 1178m
Côte des Agettes – 8,5km, 6,8%, cat. 1, 1072m
Anzère – 13km, 8,1%, cat. HC, 1562m

I've seen Anzère a couple of times as a pass, but not that much as an mtf. It's similar to Plateau de Beille, which doesn't seem to have a good reputation on this forum. I opted for Anzère just to be different, as Ovronnaz is a little bit overused (but not used as an mtf for some reason). This stage is basically just a warm-up for the next stage. Anzère is not that well known, because it's cramped between bigger Crans-Montana and traceur's favourite Thyon 2000.

The stage starts in Montreux, which is just south of Vevey. It's a XIX c. summer resort on the coast of Lake Geneva. It became a city in 1961 after merging with nearby Châtelard and Planches. In 1936 in Montreux was signed an important treaty regulating the use of Bosphorus and Dardanele straights. Montreux is also home to Mountain Studios used in the 70's and 80's by the likes of Queen, David Bowie, Deep Purple or Chris Rea. In 1971 a local Casino Barrière was burned down while Deep Purple was recording their album and this event was the subject of "Smoke on the water". Many famous people visited or lived in this resort like Hans Christian Andersen, Lev Tolstoy, Igor Stravinsky, Ernest Hemingway or Freddie Mercury.

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Montreux, Lake Geneva and Chablis Alps with Évian-les-Bains in France.

The mountainous area around Montreux is also quite interesting. The region was a major wine center in the middle ages. Nearby Montreux are XIV c. Château du Châtelard and Château de Chillon, where km 0 is located. Château de Chillon is a beautiful XI c. castle right on the shore of Lake Geneva. In the middle ages it was used by counts of Savoy as a summer residence and after XVI c. as a prison.

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Château du Châtelard.

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Château de Chillon.

This stage goes mainly alongside the upper Rhône valley with a detour around Les Diablerets (regions of Saanen and Pays-d'Enhaut). The first town is Aigle. Aigle was first mentioned in XII c. In XIX c. the town was one of the leaders of separating from Switzerland, which resulted in Sonderbund war of 1847. As a result, the Swiss Federal Constitution was created in 1848. In the town is beautiful Château d'Aigle from XIII c. – seat of local, medieval barons. Aigle is also UCI's HQ (Centre Mondial du Cyclisme). I always wondered, if a potential WC course in Aigle with Col de la Croix is possible.

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Château d'Aigle.

The first climb of the day – the well known cat. 1 Col des Mosses starts in Aigle. The road goes through the heart of Les Diablerets massif (Le Chamossaire, Tour d'Aï) leading from Vaud to Pays-d'Enhaut. The area is often used by Tour de Suisse and Romandie and it's very popular in winter – ski resorts of Ormont-Dessous, Col de la Croix, Col des Mosses, Leysin. In XV c. the area was in the centre of Burgundy wars.

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Profile of Col des Mosses.

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Les Diablerets.

A relatively shallow descent from Col des Mosses leads to Château-d'Œx. It was founded in XII c. by the bishops of Fribourg. It's the historic capital of Pays-d'Enhaut. Since the middle ages the area is used to produce Gruyère cheese. Nowadays the town is also known for hot-air balloon contests.

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Château-d'Œx.

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Pays-d'Enhaut.

Next town is Saanen-Gstaad. The history of this XIV c. municipality is closely tied with Bern and Gruyère. Since XIX c. the town became a winter resort (mainly Wispile peak) and fancy boarding schools centre. From the area originates a goat type, known as Saanen goat. I don't remember if it wasn't a finish for a Romandie's or Suisse's Croix and Pillon stage some years ago.

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Gstaad.

Col du Pillon is next on the list. From this side it's nothing special with 7km at 5,1%. The descent leads back to Les Diablerets from where riders will climb Col de la Croix. From this side it's a good cat. 1 climb, but comapred to the other one it's nothing amazing. Both clmbs are quite extensively used in Romandie and Suisse. The long and twisty descent leads to Ollon through Villars-sur-Ollon.

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Profile of Col du Pillon.

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Profile of Col de la Croix, starting from Col du Pillon sign.

Villars-sur-Ollon is one of the major ski resorts in Switzerland. It's also a boarding school centre. It's often used in Tour de Suisse and Romandie as either en route to Col de la Croix or cat. 1 mtf. Villars-sur-Ollon is part of the city of Ollon.

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Villars-sur-Ollon.

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VI c. Abbaye de Saint-Maurice d'Agaune – the oldest abbey in the Alps.

From Ollon the rest of the stage takes place alongside the Rhône river, including a small detour for an intermediate sprint in Martigny. After reaching the outskirts of Sion riders will climb cat. 1 Côte des Agettes – lower part of the Veysonnaz-Thyon 2000 system. This climb is 8,5km at 6,8%. The descent back to Sion is tricky, with 10 serpentines and a short section with a large backdrop.

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Côte des Agettes.

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Martigny.

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View of Sion and La Borgne valley on the descent from Les Agettes.

The last climb of the day starts roughly 6km from the bottom of Les Agettes after crossing the Rhône valley in Saint-Léonard (just east of Sion), where the last intermediate sprint is located. Anzère is a relatively big ski station, but it's mostly overshadowed by nearby Crans-Montana. There are two main roads to Anzère – from Sion and from Saint-Léonard. I think the one i'm taking is slightly harder than the Sion variant. Both are roughly 15km long with generally 7-8% slopes. There are many smaller roads, of which some reach ~20%, so there are many, many other possibilities.

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Anzère.

Anzère from Saint-Léonard is mostly a regular climb with a small false-flat near the village of Ayent. It's the 3rd HC climb of the race with 13km at 8,1% and max 12% near the end. It's sort of a slightly shorter version of Plateau de Beille, which doesn't seems to have a great reputation on this forum thanks to lacklustre racing it produced last two times it was in the Tour. I wouldn't say it's the best option of Bernese Alps, but it's something a bit different than Ovronnaz, Crans-Montana or using Anzère as a pass and i don't want to use any random climbs to the middle of nowhere.

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Profile of Anzère.

This stage is just a warm-up to the next stage, which will be tougher, and i'll use (or rather, forced to use) only one of the Andermatt passes.
railxmig
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Posts: 401
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Re: Race Design Thread

08 Dec 2017 09:32

Because i have some time to spare i'll continue with my race.

Glaubenbielenpass (that's convoluted) is a tough climb in central Switzerland, not far from Lucerne. It doesn't need to be linked with Glaubenbergpass as there is a quite large ski resort of Sörenberg on the slopes of nearby Brienzer Rothorn peak. I decided to be more risky this time and included an alternative side of Glaubenbielenpass, which should compete with some of the Austrian or Italian monsters.

Last stage: link

Tour de Suisse – stage 7. Sion – Sörenberg. Brienzer Rothorn, 176km, mountain.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/157253
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Climbs:
Grimselpass – 11,5km, 7%, cat. 1, 2165m
Brünigpass – 6km, 6,8%, cat. 2, 1007m
Glaubenbielenpass (via Alte Mörlistraße) – 9,7km, 11% (max 28%), cat. HC, 1611m

It's probably the queen stage of this race, even if there are only 3 categorised climbs. Grimselpass is not only the only pass from the Andermatt system, but also it's the only over 2000m pass of the race. I have an alternative, which uses Grimsel, Susten and Oberalp (also possible is Nufena, Gottard and Oberalp option) with a descent finish in Tujetsch, part of the Disentis 3000 ski area, but i've decided to change the stage after discovering Sörenberg.

The stage starts in Sion, which is just below the last stage's finish in Anzère. Sion is the biggest city in the upper Rhône valley and capital of the canton of Vaud. It's continuously inhabited since 6200BC. There are many archaelogical sites around Sion making it one of the most important pre-historic sites in Switzerland. Later it was a capital of a celtic tribe known as Seduni before it was captured by Romans. From the Roman times are the remains of a large bath complex. In IV c. the diocese of Sion was created, which is the oldest in Switzerland. In the middle ages Sion was a prince-bishopry and a trade hub on the Simplon route.

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Neolithic menhirs in Petit-Chasseur necropolis, Sion.

Sion is home to two very characteristic peaks, which are home to Château de Tourbillon and Basilique Notre-Dame de Valère from XIII c. Château de Tourbillon is a former prince-bishop residence from XIII c. The organ in the Valère basilica is supposed to be from XV c. which makes it one of the oldest functioning in the world.

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Château de Tourbillon and Basilique Notre-Dame de Valère, Sion.

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Basilique Notre-Dame de Valère, Sion.

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Château de Tourbillon, Sion.

First 90km are in the upper Rhône valley (here known as Zenden), which includes towns of Sierre, Visp (birthplace of Sepp Blatter) and Brig. These towns were founded in the middle ages by the bishops of Sion alongside the Simplon route.

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Stockalper Palace (Stockalperpalast) from XVII c. Brig.

After leaving the Simplon road in Brig the stage starts to gradually go uphill. The area is home to Aletsch Arena – a major ski complex, home to a couple of glaciers like Münstergletscher, Oberaargletscher or Studergletscher, which are part of UNESCO listed Jungfrau-Aletsch Alps. The highest mountain in the area is Finsteraarhorn at 4274m.

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Finsteraarhorn.

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Oberaargletscher.

Grimselpass south is the easiest climb of what i call the Andermatt group (Nufena, Susten, Furka, Grimsel, St. Gottard and Oberalp). With 11,5km at 7% it's only cat. 1. It's also the highest point of the race and the only over 2000 pass in the race. Grimselpass is a very old (possibly Roman, parallel to St. Gottardpass route) trading route between Domodossola-Lucerne and Lugano-Bern. The descent to Innertkirchen in the Aare valley is long and goes through a couple of tunnels.

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Profile of Grimselpass.

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Grimsel and Furkapass with Gletsch at the bottom.

The village of Innertkirchen is a very important crossroad between Grimsel, Sustenpass and 2011's Große Scheidegg. It's also home to nice looking Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht).

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The classic 2011 stage.

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Aareschlucht.

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Narrowest part of Aareschlucht.

After doing a small bump over Aareschlucht is the town of Meiringen, home to 250m Reichenbach Falls (Reichenbachfälle), known from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Meiringen is known since X c. In the middle ages it was in possesion of a local Resti family. It was a trade centre on the Grimselpass route. Main sights include a XVI c. reformed church and remains of XIV c. Restiturm castle.

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Reichenbach Falls.

The next climb of the day – Brünigpass, starts in Meiringen. It's cat. 2 with 6km at 6,8%. It's a major road (national route 4) linking Bern with Luzern. The descent leads to Giswil in the Sarnen valley, in a small canton of Obwalden. This small canton is home to the geographical centre of Switzerland and to XV c. Niklaus von Flüe (Bruder Klaus) – patron saint of the country.

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Profile of Brünigpass.

Giswil lies on the southern coast of Sarnersee. The village is home to the ruins of 3 small forts from XIII c. – Rudenz, Rosenberg and Hunwil castles. Probably all the castles were residences of local barons (bailiffs) of the valley and were destroyed sometime in XV-XVI c.

In Giswil starts the most important part of this stage and maybe the entire race. Glaubenbielenpass is a tough climb with roughly 12km at regular 9,3%, which is already a good HC climb. It's of course an obvious alternative if my initial idea won't work. There is a parallel road known as Alte Mörlistraße, which i think in the winter is used as a downhill route. It's a narrow path and i don't know if it's entirely asphalted. This stretch is 2,8km at 14,5% with plenty of 20% (max 28%). The rest of the climb is on the regular Panoramastraße side (it's still 9-10%). Overall, this climb could put a good fight with Mortirolo or some of the Austrian monsters.

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Profile of Glaubenbielenpass.

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28% sign.

At the top of Glaubenbielenpass the race will enter the canton of Luzern and enter the eastern part of Emmental (Emmental Alps). The region is known for a well known type of cheese. The highest peak is Brienzer Rothorn (2350m) near Glaubenbielenpass. This mountain is also home to Sörenberg ski resort – one of the bigger but lesser known in the country. North of Sörenberg is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Entlebuch.

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Brienzer Rothorn.

The finish line is in Sörenberg, on Rothornstraße, near the main ski lift. It's 7km from the top of Glaubenbielenpass. First 4,5km of the descent are quite steep at 8,1% with plenty of 10-12% sections. The road is not the widest in the world and it's quite technical with two serpentines and plenty of tricky turns. Last 3,5km are on a flase-flat.

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Descent to Sörenberg.

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Finish in Sörenberg.

Last two (weekend) stages will take place in nearby Luzern.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

08 Dec 2017 12:55

fauniera wrote:Mont Pèlerin and Nestlé in one stage, where is my flamethrower?

Just kidding.

What do you have against MPS? I've only just read about it, but given whom it is founded by and the description of it, I think it sounds great ;)

...

And nice routes all three! I like some of the more untraditional Suisse designs.
Goodbye, Tommeke; thank you for all you have given us!
User avatar Netserk
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Location: Denmark

Re: Race Design Thread

09 Dec 2017 17:54

Last stage: link

Tour de Suisse – stage 8. Luzern – Luzern, 164km, hilly.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/157266
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Climbs:
Goldau – 4km, 3,4%, cat. 3, 554m
Tschädigen (lap 1) – 2,5km, 6,1%, cat. 3, 588m
Tschädigen (lap 2 & 3) – 1,3km, 8,3%, cat. 3, 588m
Meggen. Englischer Friedhof (x2) – 1,7km, 6,1%, cat. 3, 540m

Luzern (Lucerne/Lucerna) is the 2nd biggest city (losing only to Bern) of central Switzerland and one of the biggest cities in the entire country with over 80000 pop. It's on the north-western shore of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee or Luzernsee) on the mouth of the Reuss river, north of Schwyzer and Emmentaler Alps. Reuss separates the city into two parts – historical centre (Altstadt) on the eastern bank and the newer Neustadt from XVIII-XX c.

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Panorama of Luzern.

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Kapellbrücke with Pilatus peak in the background.

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Lake Lucerne seen from Brunnen.

Lucerne started as a VIII c. St. Leodegar monastery (nowadays it's a XVII c. church). In the early middle ages the city was a trade centre on the St. Gottard and Grimsel routes from Lombardia. It was also one of the first cities to join the Swiss Confederacy in 1332, to ensure independence from Habsburgs. After the reformation period of XVI c. the town was one of the rare cities, which stayed with catholicism. This decision helped to raise its status as one of main Swiss cities, which was lost after the Toggenburg War of 1712 against protestant Zürich, Bern and Basel.

Main sights include two XIV c. (oldest surviving in Europe) wooden bridges over Reuss – Spreuerbrücke and Kapellbrücke with paintings from XVII c. A watch tower Wasserturm from XIV c. – part of Kapellbrücke. XVII c. Hofkirche St. Leodegar – former St. Leodegar abbey from VIII c. XVII c. baroque Jesuit church and the remains of city walls with a couple of towers on nearby Bramberg hill.

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Hofkirche St. Leodegar, Luzern.

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City walls on Bramberg, Luzern.

The stage goes around Luzernsee and nearby Zugersee with small amount of Schwyzer Alps (mainly Rigi and Wildspitz massifs). There's also a small crossover with stage 2 just outside of Schwyz.

First bigger town of this stage is Risch-Rotkreuz on the western shore of Zugersee, roughly 15km from Lucerne. The town was the host of Tour de Suisse 2015. Next town is XIX c. Cham (unfortunate name), which was the host of Tour de Suisse 2017 and has the first intermediate sprint of the day. Last two sprints will be on the laps around Lucerne.

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Zugersee near Cham.

The neighboring city of Zug is much older though. Zug is the capital of the eponymous canton, which in the middle ages was, with Zürich and Bern, one of the swiss powerhouses. Zug seems to like Tour de Suisse with three last editions starting in neighboring Cham, Risch-Rotkreuz and Baar. The town was founded around XII c. probably by the counts of Kyburg. Zug joined the Old Swiss Confederation just after Lucerne in 1352. Zug is also home to a very distinct manor house from XI c. also known as a castle. The town has a quite well preserved historical centre. Main sights include remains of XIII c. city walls, Zytturm gate/tower with an astronomical clock from XIII c. Town hall from XVI c. St. Oswald's church from XV c. and a library of a former Capuchin monastery.

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Zug and Zugersee.

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Zug's "castle".

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Zytturm.

Next roughly 15km goes alongside the eastern shore of Zugersee between the lake and Wildspitz (1580m). Riders will leave the lake in the village of Arth, which is strongly linked with nearby Goldau, where the first categorised climb of the day is. Goldau, with adjacent lands, is tied to small Lauerzersee lake, which was created after a major landslide in XIV c. The region is prone to landslides, as it was destroyed at least a couple of times by these (the biggest one in 1806). The lake is home to a small island of Schwanau, which houses a XII-XIII c. Kyburg castle. In the middle ages it was home to the local landlords of Goldau. The island was heavily damaged by the 1806 landslide.

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Rigi and Zugersee seen from Wachwil.

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Remains of a castle on Schwanau, Lauerzersee.

From Lauerzersee the race goes on the western outskirts of Schwyz (Seewen, Ibach and Brunnen). It's possible, that Winston Churchill spent his honeymoon in Brunnen. The rest of the stage goes in between Luzernsee and the Rigi massif. The lake is a popular tourist destination with various XIX c. resort like Brunnen, Gersau and Vitznau. Gersau is the oldest municipality in the region, being founded around XI c. and through the middle ages a capital of a local micro-state. The town is home to St. Marcellus' church from XVI c. and a couple of villas from XVIII-XIX c.

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Gersau.

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Luzernsee and Schartigrat peninsula with Luzern in the far background.

There are 3x30km laps around Lucerne, which starts in the adjacent town of Küssnacht. The first lap starts in Küssnacht, which makes it roughly 5km shorter than the other 2 laps. These laps are quite lumpy with two cat. 3 climbs. First one is a short 8% murito (Sentibühlstraße) to the village of Adligenswil in the Würzenbach valley. The descent to Lucerne (Dorenbach district) on Schädrütistraße and Schlösslihalde is less steep and in some parts it's quite narrow.

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Adligenswil.

Transition from the descent to Altstadt leads via Hünenbergstraße. Next small climb is 700m at roughly 6% Bramberg, which goes partly alongside the Lucern's city walls. The ascent and descent on Diebold-Schilling-Straße is quite narrow. Next is transition from Altstadt to the adjacent town of Horw via Obergrundstraße. In Horw starts a climb to a small hamlet of Felms, part of the vllage of Kastanienbaum, which includes a roughly 200m at 12% part at the bottom. The top is just over 5km from the finish line. The last two laps include an additional climb in Meggen up to an English cemetery. It's 1,7km at 6,1%, just before 1,3km at 8,3% Tschädigen.

There is a possibility of cutting off the last roughly 7km by reaching the finish line quicker via Bundesstraße, which would move the hills closer to the finish line, but i wanted to have at least one stage directed mainly for a bunch sprint. However, i think the shortened lap could be good for a potential WC course. The finish line is on Hirschmattstraße, at the end of a 280m straight. Each of the previous passages through the finish is an intermediate sprint.

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Finish in Lucerne.

This stage can be either (potentialy) the only bunch sprint (depends on Baden) of the race or just a breakaway stage. Being it on Saturday there should be plenty of spectators, while Luzernsee and Zugersee accompanied by local Alpine peaks should provide good visual shots. The last stage will be an ITT around Lucerne.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

10 Dec 2017 10:49

Last stage: link

Tour de Suisse – stage 9. Luzern. Kapellbrücke – Luzern. Neustadt, 21,2km, ITT.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/157219
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Climbs:
Bramberg – 0,7km, 6%, 478m
Obergütsch – 2,4km, 6,4% (max 12%), 596m
Kastanienbaum – 0,8km, 5,6%, 483m

It's a short and hilly time trial. Obviously it won't provide any balance with many, many climbs this race has to offer, but i'm not going for that as it's mainly a climbers race. The route borrows some parts from yesterday's stage, but does introduce an interesting climb on the outskirts of Lucerne – Obergütsch. The route also extends a bit further south alongside Luzernsee (Seestraße) via Kastanienbaum (another interesting name).

The start is on Bahnhofstraße between the city's theater and Kapellbrücke. The route then ventures to Altstadt and Bramberg, crossing Reuss on Seebrücke. After Bramberg it's back to Neustadt on Geißmattbrücke and then on Bruchstraße into the climb to Obergütsch using Berglistraße and Obergütschstraße. It's a two-stepped climb wth a small false-flat in the middle and two 7-9% sections with max 12%. The surroundings are quite similar to hilly stages of Tour de Pologne. Even the road looks similar.

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Profile of Obergütsch.

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Near the top of Obergütsch.

The descent to Kriens is quite tricky with 4 serpentines before reaching Horw on Horwerstraße. Here the route (to Kastanienbaum) goes alongside the shore of Luzernsee. The road is so close to the lake that there are small parts, where there's just water on the side, not even rail guards. Of course there are plenty of quality views over Luzernsee and adjacent Alpine ranges.

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Lake Lucerne.

In the village of Kastanienbaum is a 0,8km at 5,6% bump. The descent to the village of Sankt Niklausen is quite tricky. Last 4km to Luzern are mostly straight. The finish line is in the same place as yesterday. I don't expect any big time differences. It should be a good stage to settle out any fight left in the GC, if there are any smaller splits. Because it's a very climbing-heavy race i don't think there'll be many of such.

As for the overall race, there are 10 cat. 1 & HC climbs, without using Solothurn, Sölden, Ovronnaz or Andermatt. I've discovered plenty of Austrian-like monsters and Switzerland should be as popular as Austria is, especially as both their national races do a lousy job of presenting their goods. I had a really good fun in Switzerland and i may come back to it in the future.

Overall statistics:
Total distance: 1273km
Flat stages: 0
Hilly stages: 3
Medium mountain stages: 2
Mountain stages: 2
MTFs: 2
HTFs: 0
Dirt & cobbles: 7km
Time trials: 2
Total amount of TT: 27,2km

Library:
1. Sankt Gallen. Textilmuseum – Sankt Gallen. Olma Messen, 6km, ITT
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2. Sankt Gallen – Glarus, 168km, medium mountain
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3. Glarus – Baden, 164km, hilly
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4. Windisch bei Brugg – Mont Chasseral, 179km, medium mountain
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5. Murten – Vevey. Palais Nestlé, 197km, hilly
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6. Montreux – Anzère, 197km, mountain
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7. Sion – Sörenberg. Brienzer Rothorn, 176km, mountain
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8. Luzern – Luzern, 164km, hilly
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9. Luzern. Kapellbrücke – Luzern. Neustadt, 21,2km, ITT
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railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

10 Dec 2017 17:16

GIRO D'ITALIA

(Sat) stage 19: Tirano - Aprica, 178 km

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We have reached the penultimate stage of this Giro. The last stage in the mountains begins with climbing right from the start. From Tirano at 435 meters above sea level the riders climb to 2.315 meters at the Cima Coppi of this race, Forcola di Livigno.

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final kilometers of Forcola di Livigno
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descent
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Livigno
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High altitude has been missing from this Giro so far. We now stay on altitude and add two more climbs above 2.000 meters, Passo d'Eira and Passo di Foscagno.

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After the descent to Valtellina and a flattish section a monster is waiting for the riders, Passo del Mortirolo from Mazzo.

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I don't think i have to say much about Mortirolo. We all know the the brutal middle part in the woods, and no cycling fan is left cold by the enthusiasm of the tifosi who change the last kilometers of Mortirolo from a lonely road through pastures into an outdoor stadium.

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The final climb is Valico di Santa Cristina. The usual way to combine Mortirolo and Santa Cristina is by descending to Edolo, climb to Aprica, descend towards Valtellina, climb the second half of Santa Cristina and descend to Aprica. Nothing wrong with that, actually i like it a lot. But today we try something different.

Instead of descending to Edolo we are staying on the ridge road which leads to Passo di Guspessa. This means that Mortirolo is directly followed by 18 km of flattish terrain, which could be pretty interesting.

(Monte Padrio in the background)
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(Aprica lies in the valley to the left)
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The descent to Tirano is steep with lots of hairpins.

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Climbed from the bottom, Valico di Santa Cristina is 13,7 km at 7,7%. The final 5 km are brutal with an average gradient of 10,2%.

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descent to Aprica
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Aprica
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User avatar fauniera
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Re: Race Design Thread

10 Dec 2017 17:37

GIRO D'ITALIA

(Sun) stage 20: Darfo Boario Terme - Milano, 117 km

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Parade. A final chance for the sprinters.

circuit
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Corso Sempione
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Darfo Boario Terme
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Milano
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User avatar fauniera
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11 Dec 2017 11:44

Great stage races.
I've desined a sort stage race in Iran that takes place near the Caspian Sea, in the Elburz Mountains and the area around Teheran.
I'm not 100% sure if it would be better as a pro race or as a big U23 race, it could be too hard as an U23 race and they already have a few good stage racess durning th summer (you'd have to hold this race durning th summer because of the high altitude and potential snowfall), 1 stage would be different, so 'll just post both versions of that stage.
I'll start posting the first stages today.
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11 Dec 2017 19:30

Tour of Hyrcania and Elburz Mountains, stage 1: Sari - Sari ITT; 16.76km
Sorry for the rather generic name, but I don't speak Persian, so I couldn't come up with a more original name.
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The stage race starts with an over 16km long ITT in the town Sari, the provincial capital of Mazandaran that lies between the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains and southern coast of the Caspian Sea.
This one should go to the specialists, overall it will be a race for the climbers.
It's not a very technical TT, mostly on large roads and almost plain flat, so we should get decent gaps.
Sari:
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11 Dec 2017 22:13

Stage 2: Babol - Chalus; 135km
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After the opening ITT we get a short stage for the sprinters and it's almost plain flat.
After 23km the riders will ride alongside the coastline of the Caspian Sea until we hit 5km to go, so wind could be a factor and maybe we could see some action, but otherwise this should be an easy stage for the sprinters, right after an opening ITT for the specialists and before the first mountain stage.
The race finishes in Chalus, a town with over 48,000 inhabitants.
Until 1931 Chalus was just a small village, then Reza Shah Pahlavi decided to transform it into a model city. At the same time they also built the Chalus Rd from Teheran over Kandovan Pass, so building a big Port and creating a model city right here actually made sense from a strategic and logistic point of view and so they also founded a few big factories.
Chalus was also one of the first Iranian cities that had electricity and a modern sewage system.
Today the city's economy is mainly driven by (domestic) tourism.
Chalus:
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Like I said, this one should go to the sprinters, on stage 3 we'll visit the mountains for the first time and Chalus is the perfect springboard for that stage.
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11 Dec 2017 22:56

Time to head into the final week in the former Yugoslavia.

Stage 13: Podgorica - Herceg Novi, 135km

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GPM:
Krsi (cat.2) 12,7km @ 3,7%
Čekanje (cat.2) 10,6km @ 4,1%
Svetog Sergija i Vakha (cat.3) 2,6km @ 6,4%
Svetog Sergija i Vakha (cat.3) 2,6km @ 6,4%

After the lengthy stage into Kosovo and then two back to back mountain stages, the riders will have been grateful for the short drive to Podgorica and then, on the final Tuesday of the race, a rest day in the Montenegrin capital. With a population of a little under 200.000, it is the capital and by far the largest city of Montenegro, one of the smallest and least populous successor states to Yugoslavia; as a result this, the only stage which is in the country for its full length (obviously the last two stages have been in the country partially but this is the only stage which is in Montenegro and Montenegro only) is a pretty short and explosive stage which allows for a variety of options. For the sprinters this might be... scratch that, this is their final chance, but they'll have to really go some to get to the end here.

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The Montenegrin capital's lofty name translates as "beneath the hills" and adequately describes its location, where the Morača floodplain gives way to the Dinaric Alps on one side and the small range containing Montenegro's beloved Mount Lovćen on the other. Nearly 1/3 of the Montenegrin population live in the city or its urban sprawl, on whose site humans have settled since the Stone Age, thanks to the fertile land and the close access to Lake Skadar, which serves as a natural border for much of its width between the Slavic populations of the former Yugoslavia and Albania proper, and sheltered from attack by the mountains. During Roman times Podgorica was not settled, though the city of Doclea lay nearby, ruins of which are now a major attraction in Montenegro. A new city known as Birziminium sprung up in Byzantine times, to be replaced by a Slavic-led settlement called Ribnica, renamed Podgorica in the 14th Century and enduring under this name, save for 46 years between WWII and the fall of Communism in Yugoslavia, when it was named Titograd, in honour of the head of the Yugoslav state. Although Montenegro did not divorce itself of Yugoslavia and indeed for a period endured in union with Serbia (and Kosovo) as Serbia and Montenegro after the old name was buried, the city's old name was restored once the country began to crumble and Communism fell.

Like many cities in the Balkans, the turbulent history of the region reflects in the architectural hodge-podge in the city centre, with the Stara Varoš district showcasing the Ottoman past of the city, having been owned by the Turkish superpower from 1474 to 1878, however since the incorporation of the city into Montenegro proper, the city's beating heart has moved over to a more planned, grid-like Nova Varoš (new town) with this blockish city planning exacerbated by the destruction wrought upon the city during World War II and the unprecedented urban growth following successive Yugoslav city development and regeneration programs. Compared to, say, Zagreb or Sarajevo, therefore, Podgorica is a relatively characterless capital, with plenty of high-rise housing and drag-and-drop city planning, although since independence massive strides have been taken by the Montenegrin government to try to make their capital a more appealing and modern city, including major features such as the Millennium Bridge and the new temple to the resurrection of Christ.

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Because in the 19th Century the Kingdom of Montenegro was formed, the past of Podgorica is not quite as turbulent as that of previous cities mentioned, especially in recent times, as the Montenegrins and their country were by and large spared the violence that marked the Yugoslav wars, however at the same time reconstruction projects have similarly bypassed the country as a result and so their road and rail infrastructure lags behind many of their neighbours. They have, however, hosted a professional bike race, with the Paths of King Nikola (Putevima kralja Nikole) short stage race taking place from 2002 to 2010 around the coastal areas heading inland as far as the terrain covered by me today. Generally it was contested by small teams from Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and similar, with the Perutnina Ptuj team taking the majority of the editions through Croat Radoslav Rogina and Slovene Mitja Mahorić, who won six editions between them. The most famous rider to participate didn't actually win the race but instead placed 2nd - in 2009's penultimate edition (the race was cancelled in 2011 due to insufficient guarantees provided for the race in respect of rider safety) a young rider for the Dukla Trenčín-Merida team fell just short of victory - 9" behind Rogina. That precocious teenager went on to become the biggest ***** of the sport's most modern era.

It is perhaps no surprise then, that we head for the terrain familiar to the Paths of King Nikola, that is to say the range around Mount Lovćen and the coastal roads, linking many of Montenegro's famous resorts - Kotor, Bar, Tivat and so on. Before we get there, however, we have plenty of climbing to do, because we don't want to take the super long way around by the edges of the lake. As a result, over the course of the first 40km of the stage we will climb over 1000m - at low averages, but this will all tally up in the end. This won't be a stage with a lame-duck break, so the sprinters that are able to get over this one will need to set their team to control it hard - over a series of climbs, none of which are especially steep, and two sections of which (one of which has been broken into two anyway) have been categorized as cat.2 climbs.

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Between these two categorized sections of uphill lies the old royal capital of Montenegro, Cetinje, which sits on a karst plateau and hosts the first intermediate sprint - just 26km into the stage, but much of that is uphill. Does a GC candidate dare try to hold a break off until then to gain some seconds? With a population of around 15.000, Cetinje is now dwarfed by Podgorica, but still holds a place in the country's heart as a de facto cultural capital due to its historic capital position and its importance to the region's Orthodox majority. The city was founded by Ivan Crnojević (aka Ivan the Black) during the time of the region being defended against the Turks, moving his base to a more easily-defended location, personally founding a monastery and indirectly leading to Montenegro's first Renaissance architecture. With Venice and the Ottoman Empire disputing the region, it took until King Nikola (he who gives his name to the race) in the 19th Century for Cetinje to reach glory, being named as the country's capital when the Congress of Berlin acknowledged Montenegrin independence. However, that hilltop location that had proven so useful in earlier times was to prove the city's undoing, and the convenience of Podgorica's location for communications and infrastructure links to the rest of Yugoslavia meant it was preferred as an administrative centre for the region during that era, which has carried through to this day. Cetinje still retains some symbolic importance as the seat of the Montenegrin President.

After passing through Cetinje we head up towards Čekanje, the highest road usable as a pass on the shoulders of Mount Lovćen, that indomitable symbol of Montenegrin national identity. At the outbreak of WWI Austria-Hungary controlled the Bay of Kotor to the northwest of the mountain, and so when Montenegro joined forces with their Serbian brethren in the wake of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, it was storming down from this pass that came the first artillery fire.

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The actual climb here is around 6km at 6%, before some false flat and a final uphill ramp; we then descend along the shoulders of Mount Lovćen into a rolling period of roads that takes us to a secondary summit, Krstac. This is rather like the Cols de Valberg and Couillole, or more realistically Soulor and Aubisque; each only has one real side. Krstac is barely more than false flat here, but the descent is long, twisty and very technical, with an absurd amount of hairpin bends. Alpe d'Huez, eat your heart out!

This descent lasts for about 20km and is at around 4,5%, which is nice for the riders because the technical challenges are tough so at least the risk isn't quite the same as if they were heading on a really steep downhill as the regular hairpins mean the speeds achieved won't be so scary. There is, however, an intermediate sprint right at the bottom of the descent, in the famous resort, port and bay of Kotor, with its scenic old town and splendid backdrop.

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Although originally settled by the Romans, modern Kotor was built and fortified by the Venetians, and the city and its population of 13.000 have seen a steady influx of tourists following the breakup of Yugoslavia - although the country was easily the most accessible of Europe's communist states for the west before the Wende, a lot of its cultural heritage remained relatively little-known. With UNESCO inscribing Venetian defence works of the Renaissance era into the list of World Heritage Sites in 2017, Kotor was included within that application and therefore now can count itself a World Heritage Site accordingly. Due to its strategic value and trading importance, it has changed hands between a number of entities including the Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria, a sub-Byzantine entity based on Doclea/Podgorica, Serbia, Ragusa, Bosnia, Venice and Hungary, although its fortifications largely held firm against Ottoman invasions, despite at least two sustained sieges, although the Turks were able to control it for brief periods before the Venetians restored their own control. Unlike much of the area its port status made it strategically important even in the west, with French, Habsburg and even British control of the city being proclaimed during military campaigns, although only for strategic purposes, with the military forces then withdrawing once the campaign ended. It is also close at hand to Tivat airport, which has enabled hundreds of low-budget tourists to access the Adriatic resorts of Montenegro, Kotor included.

The next 40km of the stage are circumnavigating the Bay of Kotor, however, passing through a few scenic fishing villages and towns, with the shape of the bay giving a fjord-like impression. This should be scenic, Sanremo-esque, before we arrive in the stage town for the day, Herceg Novi.

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Although a fair bit younger than its neighbour up the coast, Herceg Novi (the name being an odd mix derived from the Italian Castelnuovo - new castle - with the Montenegrin potentially influenced by German Herzog - duke - as 'grad' is the Slavic word for castle in neighbouring languages, although it just means 'town' in Serbo-Croat) is more than twice the size of Kotor, with a population a little over 30.000. It arose out of a fishing village after Bosnian king Stefan Tvrtko I Kotromanović selected it as a location for a fortress town. Unlike neighbouring Kotor, the Ottoman Turks were able to exert a good deal of influence here, ruling for 200 years before Venice assumed control of the whole bay. It was also bombed from distance by the Montenegrin forces during WWI, firing from the top of Mount Lovćen, but nowadays little of this heritage is to be seen; it is now a health and wellness centre and boat trips to many secluded and quiet beaches attract many tourists to the region, while modern resort features link to the old medieval town giving it the same appealing exterior as much of the Croatian Dalmatian coastal resorts that have become popular in recent years, as a cut-price alternative to the renowned Italian coastal regions.

To finish the stage after 110km would be a bit much though, so instead we have two laps of a short circuit around the city - around 12km in length, this circuit features two halves, in effect, and is in its characteristics reminiscent of the legendary motorbike circuit in Opatija/Abbazia, which spent half its length running along the Adriatic coast in a scenic Croatian town and the other half climbing up and down the foothills of the coastal mountains on major roads. And so it is here, but on a grander scale.

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The first part of the circuit is a short climb up to the monastery of Saint Sava, and more specifically the Orthodox Church of Svetog Sergija i Vakha, a fairly consistent 6 to 6,5% climb for two and a half kilometres on a fairly wide and comfortable road (max 12%).

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This isn't the bigger challenge though, as after this we hang a sharp left onto some smaller roads, for a descent which includes no really sharp corners, but several bends that enable escapees to get out of sight of chasers, due to typically compact buildings in the area. We turn right back onto the main road at Kanli-Kula, the former fort which is also perhaps the most scenic place for an opera festival in the entire world.

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The riders then have a windy trip on the wide open main road around the top of town to its westernmost point, before sweeping onto the coastal road and along the scenic Njegoševa road that takes us through the old town, twisting its way until the last kilometre where it straightens out again - so this makes it a really tough race for the chasing sprinters, because anybody escaping on that climb will need to be caught on the wider stretches of road, but will that burn out too many leadout men to control anybody who sneaks out of sight on the way through the old town? This one could be tricky.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re:

12 Dec 2017 08:25

Libertine Seguros wrote:
We turn right back onto the main road at Kanli-Kula, the former fort which is also perhaps the most scenic place for an opera festival in the entire world.

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Since i just had a stage into Milano i'd like to challenge that with the rooftop of the Duomo. Although i think they are playing concerts there, not operas.

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Bay of Kotor is awesome of course.
User avatar fauniera
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12 Dec 2017 19:46

Tour of Hyrcania and Elburz Mountains stage 3: Chalus - Karaj; 166.7km
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The first stage for the climbers.
The stage starts in Chalus and the road goes uphill right from the start, but for the first 36km it's just a 2% uphill drag, then the real climb starts. Kardovan Pass, 44.6km at 5.2%, that's an ungodly long tempo grinder and we pretty much go from sea level to almost 3,000m of altitude, that should doo a ton of damage.
Chalus Rd. up to Kardovan Pass is also a pretty stunning climb:
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The following descent can be spli in two different parts. First you have the actual descent that is only 13km long and features a few nice hairpins, after that you have 49km of 2% false flat downhill that isn't really technical and features a few short tunnels.
After that we get the 2nd climb of the day. It's the climb up to Nowjan, Ive named it Nowjan Pass (no idea if that's the actual name of the road), 5.6km at 10.3%.
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The following descent dosen't look too technical and the real descent ends with 9km to go, from there onwards it's more of a false flat descent.
The stage ends in Karaj, the fourth-largest city in Iran.
Karaj:
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This one should separate the contenders from the pretenders, we have onee hell of a tempogrinder and almost 3,000m of altitude gain on a single climb at the start of the stage to wear the riders down and a short, steep climb before the final descent.
With the false flat descent at the end I don't see a single rider dropping everyone on the climb and arriving solo, we could se a late attack, we should see a very selected group, maybe around 10 riders. I'd expect to see decent gaps between the various groups, if someone has a bad day he could loose the race on this stage and I already mentioned the fact that it's going to separate the contenders from the pretenders, after this stage we should know the names of th favourites who'll fight for th overall win.
With the next stag bein an easier stage for the sprinters the gc riders won't have to hold back and if a climber already lost a decent amount of time in the opening TT we could see attacks right at the start of the final climb.
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Re: Race Design Thread

13 Dec 2017 00:32

Late catching up. Cool Tour de Suisse :) .
SOLO LA VITTORIA È BELLA
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17 Dec 2017 19:20

Stage 14: Dubrovnik - Sveti Jure, 192km

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GPM:
Gornja Podgora (cat.3) 5,3km @ 5,3%
Sveti Jure (HC) 27,7km @ 6,0%

Yes, the trip to Montenegro was fairly short as we're back on Croatian terrain for this, a Unipuerto mountain stage along the Dalmatian coast which should prove both remarkably scenic and testing for the riders as we're now in the final week - this is the final Thursday, so riders' legs will be tired but there's also not much longer to hold on for and for those who are behind on the GC, there's not much chance to catch back up so they've got to take the few remaining chances. The pacing of this race is such that any mountain stage here would be left to the final climb, so I may as well make it a big one, and like the stages we often see to mythical climbs like Mont Ventoux, I think today's final mountain is tough enough that it will create gaps even without obstacles before. More on that when we get to it, though.

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A short drive along the Adriatic coast from Herceg Novi, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire former Yugoslavia and, indeed, since its discovery by budget airlines and providing better value for money than the more expensive French and Italian riviera cities, this former port has become one of the most popular destinations in the whole Mediterranean, therefore while its permanent population is only around 50.000, at any given moment the number of people within Dubrovnik is likely to be significantly higher than that. The origins of the city are still unclear, as both the Latin/Italian name of Ragusa and the Slavic name that is now the accepted form coexisted for many centuries, while following reconstruction efforts after the city was shelled during the Yugoslav wars, foundations of an 8th-Century Byzantine basilica, lending credence to the official theory that the city was settled by refugees from a nearby Greek settlement during the Slavic incursions into the Balkans in the Dark Ages - although earlier pre-Roman settlements were also attested during the excavations. Its position as a strong fortified town and an important port meant that Ragusa, and the associated Republic of Ragusa, held a degree of independence although it was commonly a vassal state, initially under the Venetians (who also rebuilt the city after a fire) and then for nearly 500 years under the Ottomans, although they did not leave an architectural legacy on the city, which essentially self-governed while paying levy to the sultan, compared to many other cities in the region. The Ottoman influence allied the city with Ancona to provide an alternative trade route to that through Venice, and it swiftly became rich with mercantile trade. It was also one of the last bastions of the Dalmatian language, a descendant of Latin in the region that was eventually squeezed out by the encroaching Croatian over the 19th Century, after the city fell under Habsburg control and bilingual Croatian-Italian government was instituted. It was integrated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1919 and subsequently became a major port and tourist destination in Yugoslavia, leading to its demilitarization and inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s.

When Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, however, the city became embroiled in the conflict; the Montenegrins argued that Dubrovnik should remain part of the larger country on the basis that it had never actually been a part of Croatia until the formation of Yugoslavia, and when the JNA unsurprisingly took up that argument, a siege began which lasted over half a year and caused untold damage to the fabled city. Although it has been rebuilt manifold - after the fire in the 13th Century, an earthquake in the 17th and then after the siege in recent times - attempts have been made to keep the style authentic and the city retains the feel in many parts of the medieval port it once was; this has also enabled the city to develop another future, as a popular filming location with the nearby islands and unspoilt coast alongside the medieval city walls and extant fortifications meaning it has been used in numerous fantasy or history films and TV series, most notably Game of Thrones.

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This will be a very scenic stage, albeit a comparatively less interesting one for the riders, since it will for much of its length have some similarities with Milano-Sanremo - a few small digs and drops here and there as we follow the coast road as it winds its way up the Dalmatian shoreline, but with the prevailing wind direction being a side-tailwind, it could drive the pace of the péloton up. The first part of the stage is through the former territories that were possessions of the Republic of Ragusa, with numerous scenic offshore islands that drive up the touristic value of the area. This area has, however, yet to be seen in the Tour of Croatia, and my suspicion is that that is because the Dubrovnik area is an exclave, separated from the rest of Croatia proper by a short corridor located around the city of Neum, which gives Bosnia and Herzegovina its only access to the sea. This race, however, has no such issue since it is all about peace between the varying post-Yugoslav successor states, and therefore the fact that traversing the Neum corridor entails leaving and re-entering the EU is not a problem on this occasion - it mightn't be for a race, but for the rest of the time the fact that going from Dubrovnik to the rest of Croatia entails two lengthy border crossings has significant impact and indeed the Croatians are, with the help of the EU, undergoing the construction of a large bridge to connect the Pelješac peninsula to the Croat mainland, bypassing the Neum corridor.

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This small resort town became part of Herzegovina as part of the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, essentially to serve as a buffer zone to prevent conflict between the Dalmatian possessions of Venice and the Republic of Ragusa - although the Ottomans simply appropriated the area as their own northernmost sea access. However, while the location of Neum may be a legacy of the historic differences in the area, now the town is almost entirely Croat in ethnicity, as with much of southern Herzegovina, so with the border crossings not causing customs issues as the bike race heads through, the riders shouldn't really notice any major difference from their first, 20km long, incursion onto the soil of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other than that they have to contest an intermediate sprint, though this is liable at this stage to be one that just goes to the breakaway.

Once back in Croatia, we continue to wind along the coast, as the mountains rise directly out of the sea with the road on its shoulders, so there is some up and down, sometimes even to up to 100m above sea level, but no real climbs that would contend with the famous capi of La Primavera. We head through the seaport of Ploče, at the mouth of the Neretva and, though Neum is its only access directly to the sea, the most commonly-used seaport for Bosnia and Herzegovina, owing to its convenient location along the E73 from Mostar and Sarajevo, entering Croatia at Metković so, being at a sizable city, the border crossing is more readily able to cope with the volume of traffic. After this we have the second intermediate sprint at the small coastal town of Zaostrog, before heading along to the ominously named village of Podgora (you will recall Podgorica translates as "beneath the hills", because -gorica is a diminution of -gora; that is to say, this means "beneath the mountains"), where the road turns uphill, and does it big time. But not yet.

Instead, we take on just 5km of climbing, which steepens from false flat to a kilometre at 7,6%, before shallowing out again. We arrive at a T-junction close to the hamlet of Šimići and turn left, which finishes our climbing for the time being and sends us on a descent into the city of Makarska, where the final intermediate of the day takes place. And then, we roll back southwards on the coastal road until returning to Podgora, and... se armó un zapatiesto.

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That's right... you can see what's waiting for us. A bona fide monster climb. Sveti Jure.

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Look, we all know about Sveti Jure, one of the biggest beasts of the Dinaric Alps and almost certainly the hardest climb in Croatia. It is the highest peak in the karst mountains of the Biokovo range, and has an iconic status in the region. It was planned for introduction to the Tour of Croatia this year in fact, to the surprise of many - myself included - who felt that the summit did not provide sufficient space for a finish, however it is feasible to do one of those cramped Vuelta-style finishes like at Los Machucos or Ancáres if we keep the rest of the race caravan at the Vrata Biokova restaurant, hotel and complex around about halfway up.

That was where they ended up having the entire finish in the Tour of Croatia, seeing as snowfall higher up rendered the summit inaccessible, preventing us from having the fun of seeing such a beast of a climb in pro cycling in a warmup race - although even in a remarkably short 107km stage, there was still sufficient action on the climb, seeing Croat hometown star Kristijan Đurasek winning the sprint of the climbing elite ahead of Jaime Rosón, Vincenzo Nibali and Jan Hirt. The rest of the road looks like this and is narrow, dramatic, and brutal. The climb is divided essentially into four sections - that initial 5,3km I mentioned before plus the 700m of major road before the left-hander onto the road up to the summit, then 8km at almost 8%; the finish from the 2017 Tour of Croatia comes a kilometre from the end of this section but before the final kilometre of it, which is the steepest of the entire climb, at 10,4%.

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After a brief flattening out after this steepest kilometre it ramps up again to the completion of the second section of the climb, totalling 12km @ 7,2% - a very comprehensive cat.1 climb in and of itself. This then yields to four kilometres of false flat (the third section of the climb) before things ramp up once more, with a narrow, switchback-laden final 5km averaging a little over 7% once more, with a kilometre averaging 10% in the middle of that and a final ramp up to the line at 14%.

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Tomorrow's stage could potentially damage the racing on this stage, which is why I've gone for such a monster MTF, because nobody can afford to race conservatively on as tough a climb as this - with the sun beating down on you as well, plus as the highest peak in the region and without shelter from the prevailing wind direction, that will become a major factor as well - and gaps should be opened up by the sheer difficulty of the climb this late in the race. Besides, we've had a few multi-mountain stages and then a bit of respite, so a Unipuerto roll-and-blast stage with a high pace leading into the base of the climb and then hitting the slopes hell for leather could well prove more effective than you'd expect given the mixed level of the likely péloton.

Plus, of course, there will be some prestige inherent in being the first to triumph at Croatia's highest paved point and most brutal ascent.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

18 Dec 2017 11:17

Best climb on the Balkan Peninsula. Love Sveti Jure. Still not sure how they can have a finish at the top, maybe we will see it next year.
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26 Dec 2017 16:08

Stage 15: Kravica - Mostar, 51,4km (CRI)

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As we move onto the final Friday of the race, we arrive in our final national stop-off, the patchwork nation that is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Suffering perhaps the most violent and complex divorce from Yugoslavia of all, the complicated aftermath of the events of 1992 to 1995 still manifest themselves in almost all walks of life in the country - although it is known commonly outside of its borders simply as 'Bosnia' for convenience, that is just one part of the country, which is divided manifold. Territory-wise, it is divided into two entities that more or less function separately from one another autonomously - the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, comprising the majority Bosniak Muslim centre of the country and the Croatian-led coastal and southern parts of the country, and the Respublika Srpska, split into two between a chunk of land around Banja Luka in the north, and much of the country's eastern borderlands where it connects to Serbia and Kosovo. The mixed ethnicity area around the city of Brčko serves as a buffer. The country has a long history of conflict going back to the Punic Wars, when the Romans and Illyrians fought on the terrain bounded by the Bosna river, but it is not considered in its own right as a province until well after Slavic settlement late in the first millennium AD. De facto independent states such as the Banate of Bosnia (covering much of the present day country plus a large amount of Dalmatian coastline) followed while the country was fought over by Hungary and the Byzantines, until the biggest change came with Ottoman Turkish advances into the Balkans, and under whose auspices the country would live for the next half a millennium.

Although the Ottoman Turks were the ones that gave Herzegovina its name, it is worth noting that in marked contrast to the inland parts of the modern Bosnian-Herzegovinian state, this southern tip did not become a majority Muslim region, with the predominantly Catholic Croats of the coastal regions and highlands remaining in a delicate balance with the Muslim Bosniaks along the Neretva river and the Orthodox Serbs in the east of the region (which has now been incorporated into Respublika Srpska and is known as Trebinje region). As a result, it was one of the primary targets of the Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosnia, the Croatian-declared independent Bosnian state during the chaos that erupted in the fall of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

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It is perhaps strange, then, that we should begin this, our first Bosnian stage of the race, at a tranquil, scenic spot of natural beauty, but then this is a beautifully scenic region. And since the riders will be suffering alone today, we may as well give them some scenery to suffer in. Not to be confused with the village of the same name close to the Serbian border, which was the site of a significant battle during the conflict, the Herzegovinian Kravica is a collection of waterfalls on the Trebižat river, a tributary of the Neretva, and which is one of the country's premier tourist attractions, as the tufa sinks several metres at a widening through lush green lands, creating a multi-directional waterfall into a large, mineral-rich pool. It is a pretty olive branch of peace - of course what this race is about - and an ideal welcome to the country best known to the world for the horrors of war. And an unassuming welcome to the stage for a brutal ITT which will create monstrous gaps among the GC men especially after yesterday's monster MTF and with just two days to go.

Emerging from the exits to the waterfall, the riders turn onto the M6, for a fast first portion of the time trial, slightly downhill. Although a major road, any drivers heading into Metković and Croatia can use the parallel adjoining A1, and any heading for Mostar would have left the M6 by this point anyway. At the Croatian-dominated village of Prćavci we turn left and climb an awkward little dig of a climb back onto the tufa plateau. This takes us to another tourist attraction for the country, the Catholic pilgrimage site of Međugorje.

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Meaning 'between mountains', Međugorje is a homogenous Croat town, where six local children allegedly witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1981, and which has therefore become a common site of pilgrimage. Further apparitions have been alleged, however in 2017 Pope Francis declared these to be of dubious value, while the original 1981 apparitions were considered to be more meritorious. From a purely practical point of view for today's cycling, however, it serves merely as the first timecheck, outside the town's church as noted above, before continuing along the plateau to the municipal centre of Čitluk. After this we have the toughest climb of the stage, 2km @ a little under 7% before some further false flat up to the stage's high point, 406m above sea level, over 300m higher than the startpoint and nearly 350m higher than the finish in Mostar. A long, slightly downhill plateau road then takes us to our second intermediate, in the village of Čule, before we reach the twisty road down from Mount Hum, which formerly gave its name to a coastal province of medieval days, covering much of modern day Herzegovina as well as the inland Bosnian area around Ljubuški and Drinovci, and whose summit is marked with a large cross which overlooks Mostar to this day.

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The twisty descent takes us down some 200m in around 4km, and is plenty wide enough to be undertaken safely without any trouble. It also takes us down into the outskirts of our finishing town, the tourist hotbed of Mostar, one of Bosnia's best known and best loved attractions. With just over 100.000 inhabitants, the city serves as the capital of Herzegovina and also the cultural centre of the Croatian population in Bosnia and Herzegovina - indeed, the city has historically been divided between the Croats and the Bosniak Muslims, with the Neretva proving the main delineation between the two, the Croats settling primarily west of the river and the Bosniaks predominantly to the East, although there has always been some level of intermingling.

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Although the city's icon is of course the Old Bridge, that steep Ottoman structure that spans the Neretva and is famous throughout Europe for its cliff-diving local daredevils, the entirety of the Stari Grad is part of its UNESCO-inscribed interior, with delightful cobbled streets dotted with souvenir shops, cafés and museums. The city has been settled since Roman times, but the city as known today has its roots in Köprühisar, meaning "Fortress on the Bridge", after the Ottomans fortified the settlement and rebuilt in stone the old wooden bridge that served so well as a transport link. The new bridge was ordered by Suleiman the Magnificent, and swiftly grew to be one of the icons of the entire country. Although pre=Ottoman places of Christian worship remained in use, the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and Roman Catholic Cathedrals were only later - 19th Century - additions, and at time of writing, the latter is undergoing refurbishment and the former being replaced by an adjacent successor following significant damage sustained in conflicts. By contrast, the Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque in the old town has been lovingly restored and is now open to tourists of all creeds, to witness its crafted interior and climb the vertigo-inducing minaret to see the city's best view down over Stari Most.

Of course, like everywhere else in this part of the world, Mostar has also seen some terrible things, such as becoming integrated in the WWII-era fascist Nezavisna Država Hrvatska (Independent State of Croatia), but it was after the declaration of the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina that its darkest hour came, as the JNA attacked the city from Eastern Herzegovina, while the HVO (Croatian Defence Council) was joined by several Bosniaks from the ARBiH in successfully repelling the Serbian advances during 1992. The horrors of Mostar were only just beginning however, as once the Bosnian Serb threat had been extirpated from the Neretva valley, the HVO subsequently fought for integration of the region into the Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosnia, which was at odds with the aims of their Muslim allies, with Izetbegović torn between the need to defend his country from conflict, but the need to do right by the refugees from eastern Bosnia captured by the Serbs as well as prevent his country becoming a weakened satellite to either a Croat or a Serb neighbour, and the two groups then set about conflict with one another, and although no orders from either side can be confirmed and it is unclear who struck first, on May 9th, 1993, the two factions came to blows in Mostar, after which, from June 1993 to April 1994 the Croatian forces besieged East Mostar, cut off by the terrain from external aid, with most of the city's resources having sprung up in the last couple of centuries to the west of the river where there was more flat land, and with the Spanish forces representing the UN providing as much humanitarian aid as was possible, though prevented by both geography and bombardment from providing the trapped population with help on the scale required to prevent great loss of civilian life both from violence, starvation and disease. The old town was ravaged, buildings destroyed, burnt down, and people hid from snipers in alleys and gutters. Perhaps most memorable, however, was the destruction of the Old Bridge, seen as the beating heart of the city. With its fall, Mostar would surely be lost.

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The bridge had withstood months of shelling from June 1993, but as the HVO took on a position of greater power in the struggle, the old Ottoman bridge took on significance as an icon of Bosniak status in the city, and so once it was easily accessible from tank fire, on November 8th, it was repeatedly bombarded until it crumbled into the Neretva a day later. It had been the only bridge to survive the JNA's siege a year earlier, and now the Neretva was uncrossable. Cut off from aid almost entirely, Mostar bled and bled until the HVO, taking defeats elsewhere and losing ground, was persuaded under strong pressure from the USA to enter confederation with the Bosnians, thus laying the groundwork for what became the Washington Agreement, itself a precursor to the Dayton Agreement, and bringing the conflict between Croats and Bosniaks to a close - although for some time afterward the mixed nature of the town was protested by many elements among the Croat majority that remained (they had been roughly equal in number with Bosniaks before the war, but during the conflict the HVO had forcibly relocated many non-Croats east of the river).

Mostar awoke from the ceasefire and looked around to see over 500 civilians confirmed dead - likely over 1.000 given other deaths not recorded but occurring during the siege, and around 2/3 of the city east of the river, and almost 1/4 west of it, in ruins. It was the most heavily destroyed city in the entire conflict, topping even Sarajevo. Around 2.000 died in the war in total, between military and civilian loss of life.

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Reconstruction began soon after independence, with help from various international funds. Those who had played roles in the city's history involved themselves most centrally - the Hungarian army sent divers and plant to recover the broken sections of the bridge that remained in the river, while the Turks sent Ottoman architecture specialists to ensure that the reconstructed bridge resembled its predecessor as precisely and accurately as possible. The new bridge - dubbed Stari Most as with its original - was inaugurated in 2004 to great fanfare, with fireworks and bridge-jumpers to celebrate this symbolic rejoining of the city between its constituent parts. At great expense (over $15m) and with assistance from several countries integral to the history - most notably Spain (whose forces were stationed here to provide humanitarian aid where possible), the Netherlands (whose peacekeeping forces had been stationed elsewhere in the conflict), Turkey, Italy and the USA - the city is being reconstructed to this day, from the inside out, with the loving, painstaking reproduction of the beautiful inner city having come first, in order to promote and generate the tourist income that is helping to fund the reconstruction of the rest of the city. It seems to be working, but even so the inner city is marked with signs as a reminder of the tragedies that unfolded here, with memorials in English, Serbo-Croat and other languages poignantly marking iconic spots, such as this restaurant wall overlooking the Stari Most, this plaintive memorial stone underneath the tower on the western side of the bridge (the tower itself hosting a remarkable and evocative photography exhibition recording in great detail the suffering undergone in Mostar over those three years), and even at a souvenir stall at the Old Bridge. The Bosniak population recovered somewhat and although it still lags behind the Croatian population they do still have fairly even splits, while the Serbs have dwindled to an abject minority, though three Serb-majority villages en route to the Nevesinje pass to the southeast of the city have been incorporated within Respublika Srpska as the municipality of Istočno Mostar, patterned after similar divisions in Sarajevo, though Istočno Mostar is rather isolated and distant from the city in comparison; following a constitutional crisis, provisions were made to unify the city, which had until then been divided with duplicate institutions to serve the Croatian and Bosniak populations.

Because of the narrow cobbled streets it would not be viable for me to take the riders over Stari Most or through the heart of the old centre of Mostar, therefore we cross the bridge adjacent to it to the south, giving us a great view of the old bridge, before turning left onto Ulica Maršala Tita, taking us down past the Old Bridge museum and on nice tarmacked roads running parallel to the old town centre cobbles, giving potential for great camera shots down into the old town and also for fans to watch the riders go by from the old bridge. You can see the bridge we cross in the background of this shot, as well as the long building that Ulica Maršala Tita stands in front of, to the right in the background, so you can see where the riders will be headed.

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We then pass the Muslibegović House, a startlingly well-preserved Ottoman villa that is open to the public in summer, before continuing on towards a left turn at the bus station, crossing back to the west of the Neretva, turning left once more at the Mepas Mall, the largest shopping precinct in Bosnia and Herzegovina, before finishing at Španski Trg (Spanish Square), named for the forces which had fought to provide aid in the city, and which provides a unique vision of past and future in the city, with the Gymnasium and higher education facilities in modern, rebuilt style on one corner, and shelled, burnt-out hollows of buildings standing opposite as a permanent reminder of what came before.

After two weeks of intense competition, with the rolling terrain and tricky weather conditions, our riders will suffer a great many pains on their 50k+ odyssey against the clock, but while we may talk of riders dying a thousand deaths, let's face it: in comparison to a real thousand deaths, it's pretty trivial.

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User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

30 Dec 2017 23:11

Stage 16: Mostar - Trebević, 188km

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GPM:
Ivan Sedlo (cat.2) 14,7km @ 4,0%
Igman (cat.1) 10,9km @ 6,0%
Trebević (cat.1) 11,1km @ 5,5%
Luke (cat.3) 2,5km @ 6,1%
Trebević (cat.1) 11,1km @ 5,5%

It's now the final Saturday of the race, the penultimate stage, and we're rushing headlong towards a conclusion with our final mountain stage of the race. Far from the trickiest of them, there's no brutal summit finish like Sveti Jure nor are the mid-stage climbs of the length and difficulty that framed the Kopaonik stage. At the same time, while the final climb is easier than in the Kranjska Gora and Prilep stages, there are more climbs and the stage is longer, so this will play into the factors that affect the racing as well - not least that the vast majority of the stage is slowly milling its way uphill, from close to sea level in the Neretva valley up to the plateaus of the Dinaric Alps.

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The riders will be happy to learn that there is no transfer awaiting them after the difficult time trial yesterday especially on the back of a comparatively lengthy one from Sveti Jure to Kravica. Realistically therefore it is likely that the race caravan will stay in Mostar throughout that period, and it is once more from that beautiful old city that we set off on the last long odyssey of the race, over 180km through Bosnia and Herzegovina to end near to the country's capital which, I'm sure you will have recognized by now, is where we're headed as the final destination of the race, to come full circle on our race for peace, from where the state of Yugoslavia was first proclaimed and where Tito first addressed the populace on day one, to where the state most famously collapsed in brutality on the final day. To get there, however, we have a pretty tough stage, although the first part of the stage is more renowned for its scenery than its difficulty, since much of it is simply uphill flat or false flat, through the valley of the Neretva river. The trip from Sarajevo to Mostar and vice versa is regarded one of the most beautiful train or bus journeys in the Balkans, as the mineral-rich river carves a scenic gorge and as the riders travel through these valleys it is easy to see why the region got its reputation.

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The Neretva will be our companion through the first half of the stage, through the Herzegovinian backdrop. Our first notable stop-off is Jablanica, famous for its beautiful elevated dammed lake and the destroyed bridge, although this is not the original bridge destroyed by the Tito-led partisans in the war against the Nazis in the 1940s, but rather a reconstruction which was built - and subsequently destroyed - for the 1969 film "The Battle of Neretva" which dramatized the event. It is also a town which punches above its weight in the production of footballing stars, as in a region which doesn't have an especially significant footballing tradition the small town of 10.000 has produced three of Bosnia's better-known players, the 70s/80s Yugoslav star Vahid Halihodžić, more recently Hasan Samihalidžić and, most recently, Lazio midfielder Senad Lulić.

After this, however, there's some slowly grinding uphill and then more valley roads until we reach the first intermediate sprint, in the city of Konjić. Konjić is one of the oldest settlements in Bosnia and Herzegovina, settled by Illyrian tribes as they expanded along the Neretva. Little is however known of its time from this period until it was mentioned as a possession of Ragusa in the 14th Century, after which the Ottomans assumed control of the region for several hundred years. As the northernmost major population centre in Herzegovina on the main route to the rest of Bosnia, it was of huge strategic importance in the conflicts of the area - not to mention the large bunker built by Tito in the nearby area, which has an unassuming house front but can be toured as a huge underground complex with tunnels and chambers to this day. This was part of the reason that, despite not being an area with a Croat majority unlike much of the rest of the Neretva downstream from this point, the HDZ claimed this as part of their "Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosnia" while the JNA fought tooth and nail to keep the strategic city also. The latter group shelled the city without respite from May 1992 until the Dayton Agreement was signed three years later; nevertheless the city swoll considerably with refugees from surrounding areas, while defence was focused on opening up the routes to Sarajevo and Mostar to enable aid to get both into Konjić and out of it to those cities, both themselves beleaguered and under heavy assault. Serbs captured in the military operations in Bradina and Donje Selo, vital to these efforts, were interned at Čelebići prison camp where Bosnian Serb detainees were subjected to torture and brutality and some 30 are believed to have perished over seven months in camp conditions. Conventional posterity has seen the Serbs take the majority of the blame for the bloodshed in the region, but it is also clear that other groups are far from blameless in the brutality.

Away from the horrors of war, the city's most famous landmark is Stara Ćuprija bridge, a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina and regarded as the best preserved Ottoman bridge in the Balkans. Built in the 17th Century, the iconic structure was damaged heavily in WWII when the deck was blown up by the retreating Germans, but the piers and much of the arches remained intact. For the remainder of the Yugoslav period a makeshift solution was kept in place before, following the cessation of hostilities, the bridge was fully restored in the early 21st Century.

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After we leave the Neretva at Konjić, in favour of a smaller tributary, the road starts to head uphill in earnest, on our first categorized climb of the day. Known as Ivan Sedlo (Ivan Saddle), this pass - which has been superseded by a tunnel just below the summit which we take - historically signals the border between Bosnia proper and Herzegovina provinces. It was the site of significant strategic battle during Case White, or the Battle of the Neretva, and a memorial to the partisan proletarian forces stands close to the summit. Although its overall stats are meagre it is a climb broken down into multiple sections, none of which are especially challenging especially given the nice wide roads on which the climb is undertaken. This is more like one of those Catalan highway climbs we sometimes see, so like a smaller version of, say, the Port del Cantò or a bigger version of the Alt de Lilla. It consists of around 5km of false flat - in the 2-3% kind of region, then a much steeper 5km @ 7%, including the toughest ramps - up to 13% before a descent into the village of Šunji, then around 2km false flat once more before ramping up to a final 1800m at 5%, which gradually get steeper until the final 500m are at 8%. On that final false flat lies the Serb-dominated village of Bradina, mentioned above for its strategic purposes and the violence suffered by the Bosnian Serb population during the conflict in the early 90s; although historically Croats have made up a tiny minority of Bradina's population, its most famous resident is one of those - notorious leader of the Ustaše and the fascist Croatian puppet state during WWII, Ante Pavelić - so not necessarily somebody that we especially want to honour, but must at least be aware of due to his significance in the volatility of the region's politics. So let's move on to the summit.

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Emerging from the tunnel at Vukovići, we are now unmistakably on Bosnian territory; now the likelihood is that most villages we pass through will have their mosque as their most prominent religious building. We are on a higher plateau now, and so there's little respite after Ivan Sedlo, but the road then narrows down after the town of Tarčin, where we leave the E73 European route before it becomes the A1 motorway, and head between the mountains that ring the bowl in which the Bosnian capital sits, on our way to the town of Hadžići. This scenic town has become something of a retreat for those who work in Sarajevo, but like many cities the conflict has radically changed the makeup of the urban area; while it has always had a Bosniak majority, the Serbian population has all but vanished, owing largely to the ease with which one can move into the Respublika Srpska from here (indeed, a large number of the former Hadžići residents of Serb origin are believed to have moved into Istočno Sarajevo and the surrounding area) - and so the Muslim population has climbed from around 2/3 to over 90%.

The city is also the setting for our first cat.1 climb of the day, a more or less consistent 11km at 6% tempo grinder up to the Igman plateau. You had to know this was going to be here after I forewent Pokljuka and Sjenica - for the Igman plateau was where all of the Nordic events took place during the 1984 Winter Olympics, presented to Sarajevo to much fanfare, the first winter Olympiade to take place under socialism, and to this day a somewhat unique event. Much amusement and satirical discussion arose from the providing of the Games to Sarajevo. It was clearly self-evident - and has been proven so in the time since the breakup of Yugoslavia - that the overwhelming majority of the wintersport interest in the region lay in Slovenia and Croatia (and indeed, the host country's biggest successes at the Games came from a Slovene, Jure Franko in the men's Giant Slalom. But the scale of mountains required made Zagreb a tough proposition, and the urban area needed to house the trappings of the Games made Ljubljana, Kranj or Bled unlikely. So the Yugoslavs based their appeal to the IOC around Sarajevo, a majority Muslim city with an Ottoman bazaar at its heart, completely alien to the Games' history of Alpine resort towns and North American conurbations with nearby mountain access. Sarajevo's location as a large enough city to host the arena sports while also being surrounded by mountains with fairly reliable snow made it an attractive proposition due to logistical ease, a far cry from today when Games seem to be handed out based on distant yet-to-be-built white elephant clusters that allow lucrative construction contracts to be handed out to friends of the organizers and the officials, pricing realistic, viable and easy bids like Munich and Oslo out of the game.

Anyway, on the Igman plateau, overlooking the city from the south, two bowl-shaped extrusions were sited and set aside for the Games, with Veliko Polje ("large field") to host biathlon and cross-country skiing, and Malo Polje ("small field") set aside for the ski jump. It was a transitional time in the Nordic sports, with the biathlon being shortly before the women's events were added to the event; it was also the last Games dominated by Classic style skiing before the skate style became de rigueur. Little remains of the Nordic stadia, the biathlon range is now just an overgrown concrete rectangle off to one side, but the central command building remains, as the field has been cleared of landmines and is now a very popular retreat for Bosnians wishing to escape the bustle of Sarajevo, popular for picnics, walks and mountain biking in summer, along with, of course, cross-country skiing in winter. Because of its prominent position overlooking the city, Igman was a site of significant struggle during the Siege of Sarajevo, and a Slovene-built tank still sits on the field to this day, not far from the burnt out remains of Hotel Igman.

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The ski jumps, by contrast, remain in comparatively good order, and although they are closed off by concrete at present, with the European Youth Olympic Festival arriving in Sarajevo - indeed shared with Istočno Sarajevo - in 2019, they are expected to be pressed back into use; the adjoining bar remains functional, serving the many tourists attracted to the site by its Olympic history and its relative peace. The Olympic podium still stands, in worn and tired concrete and still with Vučko, the Olympic mascot, depicted in crude orange.

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I have located the second intermediate sprint at Veliko Polje, with no respite after the climb to the plateau, in order to try to incentivize some harder racing from earlier and also to make fighting for the intermediates tougher if we have a battle for the points jersey going on. Not long after passing the two fields, the road forks in two, with one corner heading further uphill to the Alpine resort of Bjelašnica, one of the two resorts that hosted the Alpine skiing at the 1984 Games (the other behind Jahorina, which is in Respublika Srpska and just a bit too tough to connect to here without making a 240km+ stage unrealistic at this stage in the race) and rapidly growing again as a resort as Bosnia starts to come in (ironically enough) from the cold as a tourist destination, especially as the Dalmatian coast and the Slovene ski resorts' popularity has started to see prices rise to come more into line with the well-established neighbours in Italy and Austria.

After this there is a further fork in the road and once more we turn left, which sends us descending into the plateau below on a road which is similarly consistent and organized to the climb; it is also the first time we will cross into Respublika Srpska, as just before we reach the base of the descent we cross onto the Serb-dominated territory, as the village of Krupac was both majority Serb and strategically important during the conflict, as it prevented the Bosnians from being able to use the main Igman road as a supply route, restricting them from mid-1993 onward to the unpaved forest trail from the Igman plateau into Hrasnica and the Sarajevo tunnel under the airport. We therefore avoid Ilidža but we do travel close by to the airport; for many visitors to Sarajevo, taxi drivers will take them via this section of Respublika Srpska to avoid traffic on the M17/M18 junction, especially for people visiting locations in the eastern part of Bosnian Sarajevo. This means we head through the planned new town of Dobrinja, which commenced with the opening of Dobrinja I and II in 1983 as parts of the Olympic village; further parts were added and due to their proximity to the lines on which the population was divided, these areas were heavily shelled and suffered enormous damage during the war. There are whole sections where literally one side of the road is in the Federation and the other side is in Respublika Srpska, with Dobrinja IV and much of Dobrinja I now being considered part of Dobrinja but also known as Istočno Novo Sarajevo, where the relatively downtrodden Istočno Sarajevo bus station is located.

We stick to the Serb-controlled side of the line, however, and soon enough we're climbing again, on our way to the stage finish at Trebević. This mountain, peaking at 1627m, is one of the smallest peaks overlooking Sarajevo but also one of the closest, making it a popular day trip and excursion and due to its biodiversity a natural park that provides clean air and beautiful views for the people of the city. It has been controversial; after the Bosnian Croats elected to erect a large cross on Hum hill overlooking Mostar, the Serbian Orthodox community felt it would be similarly poignant to erect a similar monument overlooking Istočno Sarajevo to the Serb war victims; this was blocked by High Representative Miroslav Lajčak and the Sarajevo Association of War Victims, feeling it inappropriate to raise a monument to the war victims from the same spot the Bosnian Serb forces shelled the city at great length and to enormous destruction. As it is, therefore, the mountain is still most famous for perhaps the number one icon of the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, the abandoned, graffitied and partly destroyed bobsleigh track, now a concrete icon of a forgotten unified past and a monument to how it can all go horribly wrong.

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The finish is not at the summit of the climb, but it is there that I will be handing out the king of the mountains points as the last two-three kilometres to the summit are false flat. The finish will be the second time up the climb, as there is a loop to be undertaken first, therefore the first time around we take on all of the below climb, the second time we stop where I have marked the Mount Trebević resort. This overall climb is 14,2km @ 5%, but the categorized amount is 11km at 5,5%, with the steepest section being in the middle of the climb, around the area of the SunnyLand theme park, which is 3km at almost 8,5%.

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At roughly the Pino Nature restaurant and complex, you can take the turning to the start of the aforementioned bobsleigh track, but the finish is at the Trebević resort village.

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The first time we pass through here, 37km remain (34 at the actual summit). After this, there's a short downhill that leads into a secondary summit on the shoulder of Mount Trebević (we don't reach the peak, obviously, but two roads link to one another, one the main route from Sarajevo and the other from Ilidža, just after their respective summits, so it gives a double summit akin to La Colladiella and La Mozqueta in Asturias. The climb around the other side of Trebević, around the hamlet of Luke, is a cat.3 climb at 28km to go, before a straight and very fast descent back into Dobrinja. As a result, there's next to no respite between the descent and the final climb to the line, broken up only by a final intermediate sprint on the second time through Dobrinja. Just a kilometre from the finish there's a viewpoint stop renowned as one of the best views over Sarajevo, and why this mountain was such a strategic point in the conflict. But more about the erstwhile capital when we get there tomorrow - but the riders had better not have been waiting on that to stake their GC claim on - this is the final weekend and not one individual climb today is going to be the difference maker, so you've got to work on the cumulative value. This is just about the last chance for the diesels or the tempo climbers, so they've got to make it count.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

08 Jan 2018 20:29

Stage 17: Sarajevo - Sarajevo, 144km

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GPM:
Hambina Carina (cat.2) 2,9km @ 8,6%
Zmajevac (cat.3) 3,0km @ 6,6%
x6

And so, eventually, after two and a half weeks and seven countries, we've come to the end of our trip around the former Yugoslavia. But there's no simple parade available for the riders, I'm afraid, as the final stage is potentially dangerous, although not as dangerous as its host. The course consists of two overlapping circuits around the city of Sarajevo, each with a climb on it, and alternating between the southern and northern loops in order to offer both challenging terrain and take in a lot of what the city has to offer, which is a lot, as Sarajevo is a fascinating place which is rediscovering its identity both as a national capital and as a tourist destination and which has played an important role in history in recent years.

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Sarajevo itself has around 275.000 inhabitants, but when the entire metropolitan area that sits in the Miljacka valley is incorporated, including Istočno Sarajevo, this figure is doubled. Although settled since Illyrian times, there is no single Roman settlement to which the city can trace itself and so the city's accepted history begins with the Ottomans, arising as a stronghold of Turkish Europe in the 15th Century. Owing to this historic religious diversity, the city has occasionally been dubbed 'the Jerusalem of the Balkans' and is unique among European cities in including both Catholic and Orthodox cathedrals, a synagogue and a mosque within the same neighbourhood. With the Ottoman conquest of the region, the regional governor Isa-Beg Ishaković set up his capital here, with the central mansion for travellers' stays and the governors' palatial grounds - or "saray" - giving rise to the city's name, originally Bosna-Saraj in Ottoman Turkish (now Saraybosna in the modern language) but as Slavic languages were dominant in the area and few cities in the Ottoman Balkans had, or referred by name, to a saray, the need to specify Bosna became limited and a suffix, disputed in origin between Slavic locatives -ovo and -evo and the Turkish -ova "field". The city also became a centre for Sephardic Jewish culture in Europe in this period, as they were welcomed by the Ottomans and therefore following their expulsion from Spain they formed a significant minority, joining the Catholic and Orthodox Slavic populations with the Ottoman Turks and the large numbers of Bosnians who either adopted or had already adopted the Islamic faith.

The great progenitor of Sarajevo, however, is its second governor, Gazi Husrev Beg. Born of a Bosnian muslim father and an Ottoman Turkish mother (who just happened to be a sultan's daughter), he was a great military leader of his time and a Bosnian national hero. His urban improvements included a madrasa which remained a great seat of learning for hundreds of years, a caravansaray for travellers, a bazaar for traders, and one of Sarajevo's greatest attractions, the iconic Gazi Husrev Beg mosque, next to which his Türbe lies for visitors to pay their respects to this day. His vakuf accounted for a lot of the urban development and maintenance of the city all the way into the 20th Century, and his legend looms large over the city, quite literally as the minaret of the Gazi Husrev Beg mosque stands tall over the central Baščaršija district, the old Ottoman town.

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Old town Sarajevo is a marvellous synthesis of east and west, with the Ottoman architecture, trinket stalls, coffee shops and čevabdžinici also combining with a laid back atmosphere and far less aggressive sales and hawkers than you might expect from a similar bazaar in tourist hotspots of the eastern Mediterranean such as, say, Egypt or Turkey. Restaurants are bountiful and it's always easy to find somewhere to drink a Bosnian coffee and eat baklava. But the city isn't just a relic of Ottoman times, and an island of the Middle East in the Balkans. Instead, there's a literal line drawn in the ground to show you where east meets west, just to the west of the Gazi Husrev Beg roofed bazaar and the Tašlihan ruins, where the old Ottoman town meets the urban planning from the late 19th Century, when Austria-Hungary took over control of the city from the ailing Turkish imperial rulers, and classical Viennese architecture characterizes this side of the centre of the city, with wide open streets and classicist trim replacing narrow alleys and externally-hung wares. It wasn't the first time the Austrians had had designs on the region - in the late 17th Century they had attacked the region during the Great Turkish War and razed Sarajevo, which like other cities in the era was then left plague-infested and in ruins, but upon reasserting their authority the Turks restored the city to its former glories, if not its former population levels. Occupating in 1878 was followed 30 years later by annexation, which became a major source of conflict between the Austro-Hungarian ruling forces and the neighbouring Serbian state, who had under the auspices of pan-Slavism designs on the region with its large south Slavic in general, and Serbian in particular, populace. Pan-Slavic and Pan-Serbian groups sprung up, with the most notorious being the group known as Young Bosnia, of which the most famous member is of course Gavrilo Princip, who was the one who carried out the final and most important act of a group plot to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, which set in motion the chain of events that became World War I.

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On that corner there was a monument erected in the aftermath of WWI, however when the area was annexed by the Axis puppet state of Croatia, this was torn down and presented to Hitler as a gift - a perspex sheet decorated with the outline of this monument stands on the opposite corner, by the Latinska ćuprija (Latin Bridge), while the Museum of the Assassination includes a lengthy presentation of the event and important artefacts including the very weapon used in the assassination and Princip's photofit.

After the war, as a symbol of the unified cross-cultural nature of Yugoslavia and as a mark of the impact they had had on the city, a new and ornate synagogue was erected for the Sephardic community. Unfortunately it was destroyed during the war, since when the much smaller Ashkenazic synagogue has served as the communal worshipping grounds for all of the city's Jews, which for obvious reasons greatly diminished. Bosnia was greatly divided during the second World War, but generally the upper echelons of Bosniak society opposed the Ustaše, though this didn't stop the city from coming under heavy fire in the latter days of the war, after which an eternal flame was set up in the Austrian part of town, while appalling post-war conditions and devastation in rural and mountainous areas led to an enormous swelling of Sarajevo's population, and the city grew far wider into the surrounding hills and mountains, resulting in a hastily built network of cobbled and ill-paved steep roads on the various hills, which serve as the backdrop for today's cycling. High investment led to the Winter Olympic bid previously mentioned - the city became the first Socialist host of a Winter Olympics, and the events are still a source of great pride for the Bosnian people today. The Games were considered at the time one of the greatest there had ever been, and were a great example of Yugoslavian pride and unity.

Eight years later, the city lay ruined.

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No city suffered more than the people of Sarajevo in the conflicts that came out of the downfall of Yugoslavia. The city was besieged for no fewer than 46 months, with the Serbs successfully blockading the city as early as May 1992, while bombarding the city from the surrounding mountains. 18.000 men from the JNA and the Bosnian Serb forces surrounded the city from elevated vantage points and launched a prolonged assault on the city, killing 11.500 people and injuring a further 56.000 while others were housebound for months on end and reliant entirely on external help. Entire parts of the city were off-limits, while the entire west-bound highway from the centre of the city through Zmaja od Bosne and past the Olympic village became dubbed "Sniper Alley", with the city defence forces and the Serbian-led aggressors camping out in various high-rises and launching a deadly game of cat and mouse, while consistent shellings of the city have led to marks being painted in red on the pavements beneath as permanent reminders of the destruction, dubbed "the Sarajevo rose" - dozens of these markings criss-cross the city, illustrating the indiscriminate nature of the violence.

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The city was defended as best as it could be by the defence forces - and in fairness we must also be clear that the Sarajevan defences also included a great many Bosnian Serbs opposed to Karadžić and his supporters - with the help of the UN, at first over the dangerous forested Igman path and later through the 800m tunnel under the airport that was for several months the only way by which much-needed supplies could be ferreted into the city. Tunel Spasa ("Tunnel of Hope") is now only partially open while the strafed, bullet-ridden house that served as its beginning point has been converted into a museum.

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They couldn't protect from the shelling, however, and many landmarks were horrendously damaged, including the Baščaršija square, on which the iconic Ottoman fountain Šebilj stands, and of course the Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque, not only the most prominent piece of architecture in Stari Grad but also emblematic of the Muslim population of the city, therefore a prime target to the Orthodox Bosnian Serb forces for psychological and symbolic reasons. While the city remains divided (although of course the Federation has all the central parts, Istočno Sarajevo mainly consists of suburbs), there has been a huge reconstruction project that has restored a lot of the city's former glories, as well as instating modern skyscrapers and shopping precincts to the west of the city (geographical concerns regarding the hills and mountains allied with an insistence on protecting the cultural heritage of the old town preclude building these in the centre), though you can still see the effects of the war all over the city, with charred and broken brickwork, bullet-ridden buildings and damaged roads still bearing the scars.

And so it is the most apt place for the Trka Kroz Bivšu Jugoslaviju to finish; we began at the place the country was first proclaimed, and we end at the place it most spectacularly disintegrated into chaos and hatred, a conflict marred by genocide and brutality. A place which gave birth, indirectly, to Yugoslavia through the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, and a place which suffered most for its fall - and given this was the city that was most touched by war, it is the perfect place to complete a race of peace.

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The start/finish area is in the Skenderija part of town, opposite the old Olympic hall, and at the easternmost end of Sniper Alley. We include Sniper Alley, or at least part of it, in the southern circuit, but the northern circuit bypasses this for the most part. Both circuits continue along the banks of the river until the spot where Franz Ferdinand was shot. At this point, outside the National Library, an iconic imperial building destroyed by shelling in the conflict, the northern circuit continues along while the southern circuit switches to the south of the river and begins to climb on a horrible little ascent called Hambina Carina after the road which forms the main body of the ascent.

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This is a horrific little climb when you consider the riders will take it on six times. It consists of a narrow and inconsistent 750m at 7,3% beginning at the Careva Džamija, or Emperor's Mosque (actually older than the Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque). This leads to a sweeping left that raises us onto a major road which is flat for 500m or so, before a left turn onto Ulica Hambina Carina, where it gets really, really nasty.

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The first part of this road is narrow and cobbled for around 300m before we get out of the urban area and into the newly asphalted roads - they also serve as a potentially terrifying little rat run for those travelling into the city's eastern quarters from the airport but wanting to avoid the difficult traffic around the old Olympic village. Even after the road transitions back to tarmac, it doesn't get any easier for the first 600m of this section of the road average no less than 15% - max 24% - and even once there's some respite it ramps back up again so that the last 1400m of the climb - which is less than 3km in length but given cat.2 because of this - average 11,7% with over 10 ramps above 20%. This is an Alto de Aia, a Mirador de Ézaro, a Montelupone. This is a muro.

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As both circuits are 12km in length - almost exactly - this means we will face this beast almost immediately from the start, and the final time we see it is 20km from the finish - so it's also at 44km, 68km, 92km, 116km and 140km from home. The summit of the climb is when the road joins the climb up to Trebević that we undertook yesterday, at the SunnyLand theme park, at which point we turn right and descend yesterday's final climb for a couple of kilometres before taking a right that sweeps us back toward the city. A couple of switchbacks later, and we turn right onto Sniper Alley at the University of Sarajevo before a wide open straight of over a kilometre that takes us past the national museum and the colourful Sarajevo City Center mall back to the start/finish.

The second loop (even numbered laps) continues past the national library and climbs up past Žuta Tabija (aka the yellow fortress), one of the medieval fortifications of the city, and up to one of the city's most beloved landmarks, the remains of Bijela Tabija, the white fortress. This former fortification is a popular tourist spot because it offers the best views over the whole city, and it's pretty scenic itself.

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Ascending to the fortress, however, takes us past a couple of sobering reminders of the city - first we pass one of the main city cemeteries, in honour of the Bosnian Armed Forces, where line upon line of graves marks hundreds of dead, mostly young Muslim men who almost all died in 1992. And a little further up, the fire station, with its monument outside to the dozens of firefighters who also lost their lives trying to save others during that difficult time. Against such a backdrop, the statistics of the climb seem meaningless as the suffering of the cyclists is pretty irrelevant, but it's essentially 2km at 7,5% before it flattens out after the fortress to the summit at Zmajevac, where there is a restaurant with the best views in the city, and another enormous cemetery to mark the horrors of war.

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The last time we crest this ascent will be at 8,5km from the line, so by extension we also see it at 32,5km, 56,5km, 80,5km, 104,5km and 128,5km out. There is then a long and twisting descent through the Sedrenik district to the old Olympic stadium, which hosted outdoor - the last time this happened - speed skating, along with the other olympic venues for stadium and arena sports such as figure skating - it was here that the first 'perfect score' was ever achieved in the sport, by Great Britain's Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean - ice hockey and so forth. The national outdoor stadium is also next door, so we traverse between the athletics/football stadium and the wintersport halls, pausing briefly to note the former short track which has been converted into a cemetery. The scars of war hang heavy over everywhere in Sarajevo.

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After passing the battle-scarred Olympic venues, we head directly southwards for a flat final couple of kilometres, hanging a right at the Ali Paša Mosque onto Ulica Maršala Tita, our final shout-out to the man who embodied the country the race is all about, and who is of course a divisive figure in both the east and the west to this day. As with Gavrilo Princip, Sarajevan souvenir stalls will sell you Tito paraphernalia to this day, and many who lived through the war and its rebuilding will still hark back to those days nostalgically. The boulevard runs all the way into the eastern end of town, becoming Mula Mustafe Bašeskije at the eternal flame, but we are headed westward on it for around 200-250m before hanging a sharp left at the Marijin Dvor district, between the Sarajevo City Center mall previously mentioned and the UNITIC twin towers, known colloquially as Momo and Uzeir after a local comedy duo, one being Bosnian Serb and the other Bosniak, and whose location at one end of Sniper Alley and with the names representing humour and good relations between the two embittered ethnicities in the city made them into a symbol of strength and resistance for the people of Sarajevo. Here you can see them as they were then, and now:

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The final corner is essentially a hairpin, a double 90-degree left crossing a boulevard, with then around 300-350m to the finishing line, with a gentle left around 50m out. But let's face it: it's the final day of a two and a half week stage race, and the riders are going over 12 climbs today... it won't be a sprint, so we don't have to fear too much. And bonkers stage design was a feature of racing in the old amateur east, such as that Peace Race stage won by Zdzisław Wrona which featured a 2km drag race down a wide open highway, before a tight and tricky pinch point of a hairpin 150m from the line.

This will be the final battleplace of the race, and while it's not a massive mountain stage and it's not especially long, there's more than enough to throw caution to the wind in hunt of a victory, and plenty of opportunity to blow it from a position of strength too. Sarajevo is a fascinating and vibrant city which is putting its past behind it and rediscovering itself, and I love it; it's a remarkable synthesis of cultures which has led to its vibrant history but also at times threatened to destroy it. It is a melting pot in all of its connotations. Lovingly crafted architecture of centuries gone by and pristinely-kept religious artefacts and historic monuments sit next to charred, burnt remains of socialist era brutalism, which in turn sit next to Imperial Austrian ornate terraces and boulevards and narrow cobbled Turkish paths. It's a city of contrasts, of cultures, of joy and of sorrow. And it's the perfect place for us to end our race.

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