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Race Design Thread

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22 Feb 2018 15:14

I have a Giro finished and ready to post but I will post something different.

Tour of Balkan
A one-week race for the climbers.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/tours/view/7939

Stage 1 is flat.
Stage 2 is hilly and while the previous climbs aren't very hard the last climb is 3,1 km at %11 with 500m at %17! And it is only around 10 kms to the line.
Stage 3 has one biggish climb, Mount Chortiatis, 28 km to the line. The climb is 20 km at %4,5 but it is very irregular and has many descending parts. And there is a km at %13,5 between 1,5-0,5 km to the summit.

Stage 4 is a MTF at Kaimaktsalan Ski Center. The last climb is 19,3 km at %6,8 with some 2 km of more than %10 that ends with more than 15 km to go. There is a climb of 8,7 km at %5,3 at 87 km to go, a climb of 18,7 km at %5,4 with 48 km to go (the last 5 km are at %9) and the penultimate climb is 5,1 km at %5,3 with 28 km to go.

The next stage is a medium mountain stage with these climbs and finish at Mihajlovo Resort:
7.39 Km at 4.5%
15.69 Km at 4.3%
8.74 Km at 5.3%
8.69 Km at 4.5%
14.18 Km at 5.2% (with last 9,5 km at %6,7)
5.37 Km at 8.2%
5.00 Km at 6.8%

Stage 6 is a 34 km flattish ITT.
Stage 7 has these climbs with MTF at Bansko Ski Station:
13.49 Km at 6.8%
10.19 Km at 5.5%
24.49 Km at 3.4%
14.57 Km at 5.9% (with last 10 km at around %6,5 and there is 2 km at almost %10 that ends with 4,3 km to go)
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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Re: Race Design Thread

26 Feb 2018 18:09

After I spent most of my freetime watching the Olympics for the past two weeks I now finally have time to post a vuelta stage again. My last stage was a flat one for the sprinters finishing in Murcia

Vuelta a España stage 8: Alhama de Murcia - Macael (231 km)
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I already had the majority of my writeup ready but when I clicked on preview the site didn't load and the whole text was lost. I really don't want to write the whole stuff again so I will keep everything about the first half of the stage rather short.
The stage starts in Alhama de Murcia where stage 10 of last years vuelta finished. The first climb is the Collado Bermejo where Contador won a stage of the Vuelta a Murcia 2011.
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After two intermediate sprints and a 3rd category climb the really hard part of the stage starts after around 145 kilometers with the 2nd category Puerto de la Virgen.
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Due to it's rather low gradients this climb won't itself won't be crucial but it's the culmination of ascents which will make this stage very hard in the end. After the descent there is only a very short flat section before the next categorized climb to Benizalón starts. The climb is shorter a bit steeper with an 8% steep kilometer in the middle. Moreover there won't be a lot of rest since after only 3.5 km of descending the next ascent starts and ends 4 kilometers later in Alcudia de monteagud. You can see the two climbs on this profile by cyclingcols.
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If you clicked on the profile you can see that these two climbs still don't have very high gradients but this changes now. After a short descent form Alcudia de Monteagud the riders face an uncategorized ramp on a narrow street which will surely hurt after already 210 kilometers. However the stage isn't over yet and there is still one hard climb to come.
But before the riders tackle it they will first descend to Macael where the stage will eventually finish, however they won't stay there but instead go right up the mountain again to the Mirador de Consentino. This climb won't only create action on the road, it will also cause some beautiful pictures, since the route let's the riders ride through the famous marvel quarry of Macael.
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This 3rd category climb is around 8.5% steep and therefore a lot steeper than the previous climbs. Since it's also very close to the finish, this ascent could potentially even be gc relevant. If it's not the steep slopes of this climb will surely cause a great battle between stage hunters.
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Re: Race Design Thread

28 Feb 2018 18:56

Vuelta a España stage 9: Baza - Alto de Haza Llanas (183 km)
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After the medium mountain stage to Macael the next stage will start a bit more westwards in Baza. The first 50 kilometers are pretty easy and mostly flat. The first intermediate sprint of the day takes place in Gaudix. After the riders pass the town the stage starts to get trickier, with the Puerto de los Blancares coming up. There are almost 20 kilometers of climbing in front of the riders however most of that is rather false flat than an actual climb. Of the 2nd half of the climb, which is the officially categorized part the steepest kilometer is only 6% steep but because of the length of the ascent it's still a category 3 pass.
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After the false flat descent the riders head northwards and climb to the village Beas de Granada, another 3rd category climb, although this climb is the complete opposite of the first one (instead of long but flat this one is short but has some extremely steep stretches). After this climbs there are some short descents and ascents in quick succession. After this bumpy section the riders have a long downhill section in front of them which brings them to the city of Granada. Right after arriving in the city the riders will have to start climbing again as the route heads to the Alto de Sierra de Huétor, a 2nd category climb.
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On the descent the riders will complete a lap and join the descent which came before this 2nd cat. climb at the top of the Puerto Lobo. The peloton will therefore ride down the same street again and will again ride through Granada. This time however there is an intermediate sprint taking place here.
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So far this has already not been an easy stage, but after passing Granada for the 2nd time the stage will go from not easy to extremely difficult. First the riders will face the Alto de Monachil, a climb used quite often in the vuelta, the last time only a few months ago in the 2017 edition. There however it wasn't used as a pass like here but as the first half of a much longer climb to the Sierra Nevada. Back then Miguel Angel Lopez made his stage winning attack on the slopes of this climb, most people will however rather remember this as the point where Alexander Winokurow decided the 2006 Vuelta a España in his favor on a stage to Granada.
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There is still one climb to go and it's the hardest one of the day, the infamous Alto de Haza Llanas. This is climb actually consists of two climbs with a short descent between. The first of the two isn't very steep and therefore more of a warmup than crucial. The descent is quite technical and can therefore be used for attacks (as we've already seen but more on that later) but without a doubt, the reason why this climb is so famous is the 2nd half of the ascent. This 2nd half is only about 7 kilometers long and the average gradient of 9.8% is despite being high, not exactly hellish. However these 9.8% really don't tell the whole story since there is another short downhill section on the way to the finish and because the last 2 kilometers are only around 7% steep. In other words, the first 5 kilometers are hell on earth, with one over 14% steep kilometer and countless other stretches of over 15% gradients.
As this is a mtf the peloton will without a doubt completely explode on these gradients (if it hasn't already before) and for such a short climb the time gaps will be huge.
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Contador tribute:
As it has already been a pattern in this week, this stage doesn't focus on something Contador did in the Vuelta a España but on a smaller spanish stage race, and since we are currently in Andalucía it shouldn't come as a surprise that this stage is a tribute to a stage in the Ruta del Sol. This is actually one of the few spanish stage races Contador never won, mostly because he usually rode the Volta ao Algarve as his first race of the season. In 2015 however he won a stage on, you've guessed it, the Alto de Haza Llanas. Despite this race being a rather small one, his win was extremely hyped up, but to understand why one has to know what happened before the win, in the 2014 season.
2014 is widely regarded as Contador's last really good year, however due to crashing out of the 2014 tour de france his big season highlight came two months later at the Vuelta a España which he won after a great battle against Chris Froome. After Contador beat Froome in Spain the rivalry between the two was at its peak and people were already hyping up the battle between the two in the 2015 tour de france. As we know now, it turned out a lot less epic than anticipated, however when the Ruta del Sol 2015 took place that was still future and cycling fans couldn't get enough of El Pistolero vs Froomey (btw, if you ever get upset that Contador couldn't beat Froome in the 2015 tour remember, he at least has the cooler nickname). As both Contador and Froome were on the start line of the race people were already looking forward to the first big battle of the season between the two cycling greats and it was bound to happen on the Alto de Haza Llanas...and it didn't disappoint. Just like cycling fans Contador couldn't wait for the steep gradients of the mtf and therefore used his team to already attack on the descent before the steep ramps started. The tactic worked and while Froome was caught behind a split in the peloton, Contador took off at the front and rode almost the whole climb on his own. His british rival didn't give up though and tried to catch the Spaniard, but he wasn't successful. Contador won the stage in an extremely stylish way.
Froome came back strongly from this defeat and ended up winning the gc, but still this stage will be remembered as one of the best stages of 2015 and one of the most exciting battles between two cycling legends.
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Re: Race Design Thread

04 Mar 2018 14:49

Vuelta a España stage 10: Valsaín - La Granija de San Ildefonso (41 km ITT)
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After a rest day and a long transfer from the north to the centre of Spain the vuelta continues with the next gc relevant stage and the longest individual time trial of the tour.
The start of the stage is in Valsaín. Although the route starts with a few hundred meters of climbing most of the first half of this TT is slightly downhill and generally rather easy. The first time check will be in the little town Quitapesares. From kilometer 12 to kilometer 16 what before was a slightly descending but basically flat road now becomes a real descent, which could get quite tricky since the street is cobbled. That said the street isn't narrow and the cobbles are in very good condition but if it rains the road surface could be a crucial factor. Moreover the cobbles don't stop here as after the descent the riders have to climb a cobbled ascent to the historic centre of Segovia. Despite not being a very steep climb, the scenic roads in this old city are probably the highlight of the route.
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I could keep posting beautiful pictures of what has to be one of Spain's most beautiful cities for hours but enough is enough.

While the riders have headed westwards until they reached Segovia they are now going in the opposite direction and on the way to the finish pass the third and last time check at San Cristobal de Segovia. The finish however is located at the Palacio Real La Granja de San Ildefonso a beautiful castle which used to be a summer residence for Spanish kings.
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Due to its length of over 41 kilometers this ITT will be crucial for the gc and might turn things upside down.

Contador tribute:
After tributes to the Vuelta a Valencia, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Ruta del Sol the Vuelta a Castilla y León is next in the row. It's quite a long time ago that Contador won or even participated in this Spanish stage race, but despite that he is the record winner with 3 victories in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In these four editions he also won 4 stages, two of them individual time trials and one of them, in 2008, started in Valsaín and finished at La Granija de San Ildefonso, just like in this stage. Tbf though the routes aren't very comparable as in 2008 the Castilla y León stage took the shortest route between the two places and was therefore less than 10 kilometers long. He took the lead of the general classification by winning this ITT (logically since it was the first stage) and sealed in the overall victory with a win on the mountainous stage 4 to Montaña Palentina.
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Re: Race Design Thread

06 Mar 2018 18:09

Vuelta a España stage 11: Cuéllar - Soria (205 km)
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After one of the most important stages of the race, the longest ITT of this Vuelta, the race continues with a relatively easy stage, which shouldn't be underestimated though as the gc contenders have to be very careful not to unnecessarily lose seconds.
The stage starts in Culler and heads northwestwards for the first 120 kilometers without any big difficulties in the route. The only highlight is an intermediate sprint after 68 kilometers in Arando de Duero. After these 120 km the stage gets more hilly with a few uncategorized ascents as well as two third category climbs. Both La Galina, and the Puerto del Mojón Pardo are relatively easy, even for 3rd category means, but especially the first one will cause some stunning helicopter pictures.
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After the 2nd pass the road flattens out again as the riders pass the 2nd intermediate sprint in Abejar. From there, there are only around 30 kilometers to go. These 30 k are mostly flat, with the big exception of the last 5 kilometers, which already take place in the city of Soria, where the riders first descend down to the river Duero, before they climb up to the Parco el Castillo. This climb is only around half a kilometer long, but on this short stretch the road rises around 50 meters. Said differently this is a short but really steep 10% ramp which reaches its highest point only 3 kilometers away from the finish. These last 3 kilometers are mostly on relatively good and wide roads, but there are lots of sharp turns, which makes this stage even harder to control for sprint teams. One thing is certain, after the climb the peloton will be completely stretched out and even a short gap over the top of the climb might be enough to stay away for a great Cancellara like Puncheur. This should cause a very exciting finale.
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Contador tribute:
Yeah...about that...there isn't really one. The Vuelta a Castilla y Leon 2010, which Contador won, finished in Soria so if you want that's your tribute, despite ofc not being a big one. But that's what happens if you try to not be repetitive by just using loads of vuelta mtf's. Anyway, stage 12 is even worse in this regard as it has absolutely no tribute, but it will be the last stage like that. From then onwards I can return to wasting my time by writing texts about Contador :D
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Re: Race Design Thread

17 Mar 2018 15:05

Vuelta a España stage 12: Tarazona - Barbastro (219 km)
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As I've already written in my last post, this is the last stage without a Contador tribute and since Milano Sanremo is currently going on and I want to finish this post before the finale I'll keep this short.
The stage starts in Tarazona, beginning with mostly flat roads and an intermediate sprint in Huesca after 140 kilometers. Around 20 kilometers later the stage gets a bit trickier with a few climbs in quick succession. First an ascent to Agulas which is relatively long but gets more of a false flat street near the end of the climb. After a climb to Yaso the third climb of the day is the only categorized one to the little town Biergo. After a short descent there is another short ramp to go, but after that the stage gets easier again for the last 20 kilometers. If strong teams put the hammer down here sprinters like Kittel or Cavendish could be eliminated from the peloton which could cause a very interesting battle for the stage win. Maybe there will even be attacks by some stage hunters on this bumpy section.
Stage 12 finishes in Barbastro.
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Re: Race Design Thread

21 Mar 2018 17:58

So...will there be a whole month in which I'm the only one posting something in this thread? What happened :eek:

Vuelta a España stage 13: Balaguer - Port de Cabús (187 km)
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After two flat stages the climbers finally get their time to shine again in only the 2nd real mountain stage of the whole Vuelta. The beginning of the stage isn't very spectacular though as it starts with 114 mostly flat kilometers with an intermediate sprint in La Seu d'Urgell after 101 km as the only highlight. However around 10 kilometers after this intermediate sprint the peloton leaves Spain and enters Andorra and ofc that can only mean a lot of climbing on what remains of the stage. The climbing starts with La Rabassa, one of the least spectacular but most used climbs in Andorra, which makes sense since it's rarely featured at a crucial point in the stage but works great to tire the peloton. The climb doesn't have any crazily steep sections, it gets flatter at the top, but with 13.3 kilometers at around 6.8% this is a really hard climb which will already hurt a few riders.
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After the descent the athletes ride through Andorra la Vella, where the 2nd intermediate sprint of the day takes place. Directly afterwards the next climb of the day starts, the 1st category Collada de Beixalis. In most stages you would see the Alto de la Comella between La Rabassa and Beixalis, but the next days will be quite difficult and I didn't want to overdo by putting all climbs available into the route otherwise the Collada Gallina would be in this stage as well. Since I didn't use the Alto de la Comella, the Beixalis starts with 6 kilometers of not very steep climbing which the riders will already have in their legs before the part of the Beixalis which is usually ridden starts. These next 6 kilometers are a lot harder than the first ones, with brutal ramps up to 16% and a whole kilometer which is 13% steep. This climb is a leg breaker. Since there haven't been many mountain stages so far I wouldn't expect any long range attacks, but the peloton could be massively reduced after going over these steep gradients.
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After a tricky descent there is still one climb left, the 2nd big mountain top finish of this Vuelta, the Port de Cabús. While the first one on stage 9 on the Alto de Hazallanas was difficult due to its steepness, this climb is very hard because of its length and the altitude. The ascents starts very gradual with a few kilometers with a gradient of around 5%. After this little warmup the climb gets harder with multiple stretches of over 10% and even a 9.7% steep kilometer. At the end the climb flattens out a bit again, but after a very hard day of racing in the riders legs and on over 2000m altitude even those lower gradients can be enough to create a difference.
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Contador tribute:
In his long career Contador has ridden lots of stages in Andorra, many of them memorable. He almost got his comeback win on the Collada Gallina in the 2012 vuelta, but was caught on the last meters with the finish line already in sight, he showed Armstrong who's the boss in Andorra Arcalis 2009 when his team was seeing the 7 time tdf champion as their leader. Some stages to Andorra were memorable for Contador fans, for worse reasons, like abandoning on the way to Andorra Arcalis after one last heroic attack at the beginning stage 9 of the 2016 tour de france, he lost a lot of time on stage 3 of the 2017 vuelta, which in retrospective cost him a chance to fight for the general classification.
As you see, I could have used lots of climbs as a tribute, and lots of climbs in Andorra would imo make a better mtf, but since I've been trying to honor his success in one week stage races, I had to use the climb where he won the only Volta Catalunya stage and subsequently gc, of his career. That said the Port de Cabús wasn't really climbed back then as the stage finished further down the mountain in Pal, somewhere in the middle of the climb. As this is the first of 3 mountain stages in a row, such an easy mtf wouldn't create any action, so I decided to let the riders go all the way to the top of the climb. Actually, the climb used in 2011 was so easy that before the race Contador himself claimed it wouldn't be hard enough to create differences. But as often, Contador wasn't telling the truth and won the stage 23 seconds in front of Michele Scarponi and Levi Leipheimer.
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As some may wonder, why I used La Rabassa instead of the more difficult Collada de la Gallina as the first pass of the day, that should be a little tribute to the 2008 Vuelta a España where he finished third on a mtf on this climb, while dropping all rivals in the general classification, confirming his status as the leader in a very strong Astana team with guys like Levi Leipheimer.
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21 Mar 2018 18:49

Nice of you to not use La Comella, where he lost the Vuelta last year.
Very good stage btw. I would have used Gallina instead of Rabassa because the latter featured in the last years Vuelta stage where Contador cracked and he has a 3rd place on both MTFs (Though the Gallina stage finished at Canolich)
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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21 Mar 2018 18:52

La Comella was in the Catalunya stage though ;) But the stage finish is already crapping on that one :lol: :p

I think the most pure Contador tribute would be La Rabassa -> La Comella -> Vallnord
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Re:

21 Mar 2018 19:41

Netserk wrote:La Comella was in the Catalunya stage though ;) But the stage finish is already crapping on that one :lol: :p

I think the most pure Contador tribute would be La Rabassa -> La Comella -> Vallnord

Yeah, forgot that. But still, Comella's effect was bigger in the Vuelta stage imo.
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Mar 2018 11:46

Gigs_98 wrote:So...will there be a whole month in which I'm the only one posting something in this thread? What happened :eek:

I am now lost in bafflement by how awful the French road system is with constant road islands in the middle of nowhere, sudden width and surface changes, road signs on roadsides (i recommend Seyssins near Grenoble) and an abundance of rail crossings in certain departaments (still, not as bad as Switzerland).

I maybe have something for either this thread or unknown climbs or unknown mtf's one. I was working with Fumanya-Pradell hoping to have a finish in Saldes, which is hone to a number of camping spots. That would basically mean the finish right at the descent from Pradell. When researching Saldes i found out that above the village is Mirador and Sanctuary of Gresolet. While it doesn't have much space available it is sort of the size of Camperona or Els Cortals. It could be just enough for Catalunya or even Vuelta (Muchachos).

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Profile of Mirador de Gresolet.

The Gresolet climb starts in Saldes, right at the bottom of the descent from Pradell. It's roughly 4,5km at roughly 7,3%, which should be a cat. 2 for Vuelta and cat. 1 for Catalunya. The road is asphalted and looks to be in a relatively fine condition. The parking at the top is not big, but should be just enough for the basic finish installations. Here's a video of the climb from a motorcycle.

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Road to Mirador de Gresolet.
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Mar 2018 12:41

Vuelta looks great. Nibali Giro will be awesome as well. Obviously will boycot Froome Tour.
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Mar 2018 13:25

railxmig wrote:
Gigs_98 wrote:So...will there be a whole month in which I'm the only one posting something in this thread? What happened :eek:

I am now lost in bafflement by how awful the French road system is with constant road islands in the middle of nowhere, sudden width and surface changes, road signs on roadsides (i recommend Seyssins near Grenoble) and an abundance of rail crossings in certain departaments (still, not as bad as Switzerland).

I maybe have something for either this thread or unknown climbs or unknown mtf's one. I was working with Fumanya-Pradell hoping to have a finish in Saldes, which is hone to a number of camping spots. That would basically mean the finish right at the descent from Pradell. When researching Saldes i found out that above the village is Mirador and Sanctuary of Gresolet. While it doesn't have much space available it is sort of the size of Camperona or Els Cortals. It could be just enough for Catalunya or even Vuelta (Muchachos).

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Profile of Mirador de Gresolet.

The Gresolet climb starts in Saldes, right at the bottom of the descent from Pradell. It's roughly 4,5km at roughly 7,3%, which should be a cat. 2 for Vuelta and cat. 1 for Catalunya. The road is asphalted and looks to be in a relatively fine condition. The parking at the top is not big, but should be just enough for the basic finish installations. Here's a video of the climb from a motorcycle.

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Road to Mirador de Gresolet.

Excellent find. Would be a very good final to increase the gaps even more.
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Mar 2018 19:01

So, I was writing the write up for stage 14 but when I click on preview the website tells me it can't determine the dimension of the image. However I have several images in my post and only ten minutes ago I could get a preview without problem and when I delete my newest pictures and only the ones I had when the preview was still working remained, the preview function still didn't work. So I assume/hope this is some kind of forum bug. Has anyone else had that problem?
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Mar 2018 19:34

Ok, looks like it works now
Vuelta a España stage 14: Sort - Loudenvielle (227 km)
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The 2nd weekend begins with the queen stage of this Vuelta.
The stage starts in Sort and it doesn't start easy with the first climb of the day, the Alto de Enviny, kicking off basically at kilometer 0. Despite being one of the easiest climbs of the day this is still a very hard ascent which will determine who can get into the break. As there is a good chance the winner will come from the early break and as there are lots of mountain points up for grabs the group that gets away here will most likely be a very strong one.
After the descent the riders ride through a false flat valley for almost 30 kilometers until the next and first 1st category climb of the day starts, the Puerto de la Bonaigua. To be honest, I've never been a fan of this climb. (although I still like it more than the pass which almost always used directly before or after the Bonaigua, namely the Puerto del Cantó. At this point I could claim, the reason why I used the Enviny and not the Cantó as the first climb of the day is because Contador abandoned the 2016 tdf on the Cantó so it shouldn't be used in a Contador Vuelta, but in fact I just can't stand that pass. It's just a completely boring looking mountain highway where nonthing ever happens) But in this stage it serves it's purpose. There won't be any attacks this early but the riders will start to feel the culmination of uphill kilometers in their legs.
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After the descent the riders pass the only intermediate sprint of the day in Viella, before facing another more or less 30 kilometers of false flat. In the process the peloton will also go from Spain into France, the home country of the greatest cycling race on earth, Paris Roubaix (the tour de france takes place here too). After riding through Fos the athletes tackle the third climb of the day the Col de Menté. This is the steepest climb of the day at around 9% for almost 10 kilometers. Don't forget that this climb tops out still 100 k away from the finish so expecting attacks here is completely unrealistic. Still this pass will add to the difficulty of the stage.
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While it would be wrong to say the rest of the stage is only up and down, it's true that there aren't many flat kilometers left. The next real climb is the easiest of the day, the Col des Ares which is only a 3rd category ascent. It's followed by a descent and a road which starts false flat but gets steeper and steeper and at the end transforms into possibly the hardest climb of the day, the Port de Balès.
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The first time this pass was used in a big cycling race was in the 2007 tour de france after it was paved just for being used in that race one year earlier. Ever since the Port de Bales has become one of the most overused climbs in the Pyrenees. It makes sense though, since it links to many other overused climbs very well while at the same time being both pretty difficult but also very scenic.
This is very the real racing will probably start. With already close to 200 km in their legs and four categorized climbs behind them, this fifth one should finally be too much for most domestiques. A team could either try to completely shred the peloton, or some outsiders could try their luck to gain time. Moreover there is a very tricky descent coming up which should further motivate attackers who could increase their lead here. The riders don't descend all the way to the valley though, since before they arrive in Bagneres de Luchon they turn right and tackle the last climb of the day the Col de Peyresourde.
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As the riders don't descend all the way to Bagneres de Luchon that also means that you have to scratch the first four kilometers of this profile to get the climb used in my stage. What remains are still 9 kilometers at over 7%, so a proper first category climb which after so much climbing already could create huge time gaps. A good comparison is probably the Passo Valparola in the 2016 giro, where nothing happened on the more difficult penultimate climb but due to already heavy legs the actually not so difficult last climb of the day caused huge time gaps which ultimately was one of the deciding factors of the race. To be fair, altitude probably played a big role in that stage too, but then again I think this stage all in all actually has more climbing than the one in the 2016 giro.
The last few times when this climb was used close to the finish the racing hasn't been great, but that's mostly because whenever that was the case in the last decade there was the uphill finish to Peyragudes coming after the pass, which has always frightened riders to attack earlier. The last time the Peyresurde was used before a downhill finish in Loudenvielle, like today, the racing was actually great, but we'll come to that later.
Loudenvielle actually used to be a regular stage host in the tour de france, but in previous years has been replaced by Peyragudes and Bagneres de Luchon where stages seem to finish almost every year.
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Contador tribute:
Since many of the climbs in this stage are used quite often I’m sure you could find some kind of tribute for most of them, but I want to focus on the last two.
When I started making this vuelta this was one of the first stages I made, for the simple reason that making stages over the boarder was just such an obvious thing to do. I could get tons of Vuelta a España tributes all over Spain, but there is a very limited range of options if you want to honour Contador’s success in other countries, so I basically had to use every chance I got. Therefore it’s tour de france tribute time.

Although, before I get to the tour de france I want to follow my principles and first write about a smaller French stage race. Due to obvious geographic reasons, a tribute to Paris Nice or the Criterium du Dauphine was never really possible, but there is another stage race in France, Contador once won, being the Route du Sud, which he won in 2015. His main rival of the race was Nairo Quintana and the gc was to be decided on the Port de Bales, while the stage finished in Bagneres de Luchon. Nobody was willing to make a big attack on the climb so the race was decided downhill as Contador dropped Quintana on the descent and soloed to victory.
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“But wait” I hear you say. “That’s not the only famous attack of Contador on the Port de Bales. There is actually a way more famous one in the tour de france” and of course you are right, and how could I forget it. And what an attack it was.
Obviously I’m talking about his impressive display of strength in the 2016 tour de france where he put the leader’s team under such pressure that Kwiatkowski who reeled him in almost break a sweat.
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Wait what, that’s still not it? Something called the chaingate happened on the Bales? Pfff, it can’t have been that important, after all Schleck won that tour. Just look how happy he is in his yellow jersey:
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Anyway let’s move away from the Port de Bales and instead focus on the Col de Peyresurde. Contador has climbed this pass countless times but there is one ascent which is particularly remembered. Ofc I’m talking about 2007, in the first tour de france he won. Many people probably would have included the Plateau de Beille in this race as a 2007 tour de france tribute, but although he won that stage, I think stage 15 to Loudenvielle is the much more mythical one.
When the stage was ridden Contador was still quite far behind the yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen. It was clear Contador would attack and so he did, but as the attack didn’t work he attacked again. And after that one didn’t work he attacked again, and again and again. Hardly ever will you see a rider trying so hard to distance his rival as Contador tried to crack Rasmussen. The Danish climber was clearly weaker than his Spanish rival but was just able to hang on. For Contador this stage was a defeat, but one which will be remembered for a long time. The winner mentality and pure determination which was visible in this stage is what made him the most popular cyclist of a generation and an absolute legend.
Here is a video of the mentioned ascent:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WRqxW9Jyt8&t=174s
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User avatar Gigs_98
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22 Mar 2018 20:35

Very similar to my stage in tribute Vuelta, difference that you are climbing Mente instead of Portillon. Nice stage, ofc.
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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22 Mar 2018 20:48

"The Danish climber was clearly weaker than his Spanish rival" :lol:

Balès was also in the 2007 stage, so it makes good sense.
Goodbye, Tommeke; thank you for all you have given us!
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Re:

22 Mar 2018 20:50

Netserk wrote:"The Danish climber was clearly weaker than his Spanish rival" :lol:

Balès was also in the 2007 stage, so it makes good sense.

Clearly weaker on Aubisque!

Contador was stronger on Peyresourde, but not by much - otherwise he simply would have dropped Rasmussen. Contador's accelerations were unconsciously fierce on that particular stage, but Rasmussen had an incredible sustained power that year and was able to wheel in back every time.
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Mar 2018 20:58

Netserk wrote:"The Danish climber was clearly weaker than his Spanish rival" :lol:

Balès was also in the 2007 stage, so it makes good sense.

So you don't think Contador was stronger on the Peyresurde? Then watch the stage again.
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Re: Race Design Thread

26 Mar 2018 18:47

Vuelta a España stage 15: Lourdes - Armón Formigal (109 km)
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After a very hard and long mountain stage comes a very short and rather easy mountain stage. A chance for an ambush, just like Contador would like it.
The day starts in Lourdes ofc known as one of the worlds most famous places of pilgrimage and besides that a regular stage host of tour de france stages.
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The stage starts with some rolling terrain. The first 35 kilometers are mostly flat with the exception of short ramp after 15 km. After this easy beginning the riders have to face the biggest difficulty of the day, the Col du Soulor. This ascent comes quite close to being category especial but since the Vuelta is usually quite parsimonious with this category, especially when it's not for mountain top finishes I made it a 1st category climb. The main reason why the Col du Soulor isn't a very well known climb despite being quite hard and placed very central in the Pyrenees is the climb that comes next, the Col d' Aubisque. Since this is basically a double ascent with hardly any descending between only the slightly higher pass is well known, also because when the Aubisque is tackled from any other side, the Col du Soulor wouldn't even be categorized as it's own climb.
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What follows is quite a tricky descent down to Laruns (please ignore the typo in the profile btw) where the only intermediate sprint of the day takes place. From there onwards the next almost 30 kilometers are basically always uphill as the riders have to climb the Puerto del Portalet. Still this climb isn't quite as scary as it sounds first as it is 4.5% steep. It also has to be said though that the first 7.5 kilometers are only around 3% "steep" and that there is a two kilometer long flat section along a lake in the middle of the climb. In other words, the climb isn't quite as flat as 4.5% sounds, although a leg breaker is still something very different.
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After spending a pretty long time in France this pass finally brings the athletes back to Spain but they won't ride in the Vuelta's home country very long as the finish is already close. The riders only descend for about 5 kilometers and then already have to start climbing again, however again, not very long. The final climb to Aramón Formigal is only 3 kilometers long and also not particularly steep but if there is still a big group at this point it will make sure that the stage will end with time gaps between gc contenders anyway.

Before I write about what this stage has to do with Contador I want to write about the stage in general. Very short, only around 100 km long mountain stages, have been one of the most common discussion points for cycling fans in the last few years. They often lead to incredible racing but at the same time seem to be overused and most problematically replace really long and hard mountain stages. I, just as many other forum users, think that it's the combination of very hard and rather easy mountain stages that leads to good racing and the past has shown that super short stages mostly lead to action if they are placed directly after 200+ km mountain stages. So I followed this trend and put my shortest stage after one of my longest. I also had options to add additional climbs without increasing the length drastically. The Tourmalet was the most obvious option, but I decided not to use it for two reasons.
1.) While at first I thought the Tourmalet could be seen as a tribute to the stage ending there in 2010 I decided that two riders holding hands instead of battling shouldn't really be honored.
2.) I don't think increasing the difficulty makes short stages better even if they stay short. The point of these short stages is to create an ambush and not to make it a battle of who is the strongest.
After making the profile I also realized that this finish has a strong resemblance with the Peyresourde-Peyragudes combo which has never led to good racing so the chance that everything comes down to the last 3 km is quite big. But then again I mostly wanted to include Formigal and if I had used it from it's other side the chance for an ambush is way smaller and if there is a big peloton at the beginning of the spanish Formigal side it would most likely come down to the last 3 km anyway. So I sticked with this version.

Contador tribute:
Before I come to the last climb which this tribute is mostly about I thought that the Aubisque stage from the 2007 tour de france also deserves a mention. Discovery Channel with Leipheimer and ofc Contador really tried everything to distance Rasmussen and the last climb was great to watch. Still as this stage wasn't really mostly about Contador I don't want to go into more detail.
Right from the beginning when I started to make the route I always wanted to make a stage to Formigal, which is funny, since Contador never even did anything special on this climb. The reason why this finish had to be part of my route is obviously the infamous ambush stage from the 2016 Vuelta, but when Contador attacked in this stage the climb to Formigal was still far away.
El Pistolero started the 2016 Vuelta as one of, if not the main favorite after abandoning the tour de france due to numerous crashes. The whole situation had big similarities with 2014 where despite worse injuries Contador returned to racing at La Vuelta, showed great strength and won the general classification. In 2016 however things didn't turn out that well. After looking decent at the beginning it became more and more clear that he just didn't have the legs to beat Quintana and Froome and stage 14, finishing on the Col d'Aubisque, was the final prove for that as he was once again dropped like a stone once Quintana and Froome really went for it. If Contador wanted to win the Vuelta he had to try something extraordinary instead of waiting for final climbs. And so he did. On stage 15 from Sabiñánigo to Formigal the start was very hectic with a few splits in the peloton. It seemed like everything would come back together though, until Contador decided to use the situation by accelerating on a little bump and attacking on the descent. The peloton split again and Chris Froome as well as many other gc contenders were caught behind. As Nairo Quintana was also in the Contador group, team Movistar wasn't chasing while most of Froome's helpers were further down the road and couldn't help him either. The leaders realized they had a chance, pushed on and never got caught. At the end of the day Froome, who finished the Vuelta only 1:23 behind Quintana, lost over two and a half minutes on this stage which meant that his Colombian rival went on to wear the red jersey in Madrid. Contador finished the stage to Formigal in 6th place and the gc in 4th over 3 minutes in front of 5th placed Andrew Talansky, so basically Contador ended up achieving nothing with his attack. But that's only what will stand in official statistics, not what will remain in the heads of cycling fans. With his attack Contador initiated one of the most memorable and entertaining stages of the modern cycling era and while he didn't win the Vuelta he will always be the one who most likely decided it.
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Some of you might criticize that I didn't follow the 2016 route since the crucial climb of that stage isn't even in my race but let's face it, if that climb was part of the stage the peloton would probably roll over it without even noticing. I want to honor Contador with this Vuelta but I still want to make a good route too and although the 2016 route led to great racing once, one has to realize that as long as you don't have a rider as aggressive as Contador nothing is ever gonna happen before the last few kilometers of Formigal. Besides, I think you could say the simple fact that I'm using a short mountain stage is a tribute to Contador since he is the main reason why this sort of stage became so mainstream. Without his is all or nothing attack on the Col du Galibier in the 2011 tour de france the trend probably wouldn't have started or had at least started later.
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