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Race Design Thread

A place to discuss all things related to current professional road races. Here, you can also touch on the latest news relating to professional road racing. A doping discussion free forum.

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18 Aug 2018 12:16

Library Post: Vuelta a España #10

Image Stage 1: Madrid - Madrid, 6,1km
Image Stage 2: Getafe - San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 184km (León-2, Hoya de la Guija-3, Robledondo-3, San Lorenzo de El Escorial-3)
Image Stage 3: Aránjuez-Palácio Nacional - Albacete, 183km
Image Stage 4: Hellín-Denominación de Origén - Las Canteras de Cocentaína, 169km (Biar-3, Ibi-3, Carrasqueta-2, Las Canteras-2)
Image Stage 5: Xàtiva - La Vall d'Uixò, 202km (Montmayor-2, Almedijar-2, Eslida-3)
Image Stage 6: Teruel - Zaragoza, 175km
Image Stage 7: Calahorra - Estación de Esquí Valle del Sol, 186km (Pontón-1, Manquillo-3, Valle del Sol-3)
Image Stage 8: Villarcayo - Sotres-Cabrales-Jito d'Escarandí, 190km (Palombera-3, Carmona-3, Ozalba-3, Hoz-2, Jito d'Escarandí-ESP)
Image Stage 9: Cangas de Onis - Oviedo, 218km (Peñas del Viento-1, Mallecina-3, Cabruñana-3, La Degollada-2, El Violeo-3)
Image Stage 10: Gijón - León, 168km (San Martín de Huerces-3, La Cruz-3, El Carbayu-2, Pajáres-1)
Image Stage 11: Salamanca - Salamanca, 47,2km
Image Stage 12: Guijuelo - Jarandilla de la Vera, 161km (La Hontilla-2, Cabezabellosa-2, Rabanillo-2, Barrado-2, Guija de Santa Bárbara-3)
Image Stage 13: Talavera de la Reina - Ciudad Real, 177km (Risco de las Paradas-3)
Image Stage 14: Puertollano - La Guardia de Jaén-Allanadas del Santo, 225km (Los Rehoyos-3, La Madroña-2, Pinos-3, Puerto Viejo-2, Allanadas-1)
Image Stage 15: Granada - Sierra Nevada-Pradollano, 31,2km (Sierra Nevada-ESP)
Image Stage 16: Granada - Málaga, 151km (Patas Cortas-3)
Image Stage 17: Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Guía de Isora, 156km (San Cristobal de La Laguna-2, Tacoronte-3, Baracán-1, Mirador del Cherfe-2, Mirador del Chirche-2, Mirador del Chirche-2)
Image Stage 18: Playa de las Américas-Los Cristianos - Pico del Inglés-Mirador de la Cruz del Carmén, 227km (Vilaflor-1, Retamar-ESP, Los Loros-ESP, Cruz del Carmén-2)
Image Stage 19: Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 113km (El Carmén-3)
Image Stage 20: Gáldar-Cueva Pintada - Observatório Astronómico Pico de las Nieves, 121km (Pinos del Gáldar-1, Cruz de los Llanos-ESP, Pico de las Nieves-ESP)
Image Stage 21: Telde - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 34,9km
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

18 Aug 2018 12:18

Gigs_98 wrote:For a moment I thought this was a downhill time trial starting on the Teide, until I noticed the start is in Telde :D
Needless to say I would have found that super epic ;)

The stretch on a pedalo as they travelled from Tenerife to Gran Canaria would be especially interesting to see.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

18 Aug 2018 14:22

Libertine Seguros wrote:
Gigs_98 wrote:For a moment I thought this was a downhill time trial starting on the Teide, until I noticed the start is in Telde :D
Needless to say I would have found that super epic ;)

The stretch on a pedalo as they travelled from Tenerife to Gran Canaria would be especially interesting to see.

Stage 21a and stage 21b? I love it :lol:
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Re: Race Design Thread

18 Aug 2018 17:40

Gigs_98 wrote:
Libertine Seguros wrote:
Gigs_98 wrote:For a moment I thought this was a downhill time trial starting on the Teide, until I noticed the start is in Telde :D
Needless to say I would have found that super epic ;)

The stretch on a pedalo as they travelled from Tenerife to Gran Canaria would be especially interesting to see.

Stage 21a and stage 21b? I love it :lol:

Those downhill time trials seems to be very hyped here. I'm not really sure why, but with Teide it should be okay. Long, technical (at least on the lower slopes), constant 6-7% which is on the verge of going aero or pushing it. I can buy it. More, than calling "one of the greatest moments in cycling's recent past" a win of Amets Txurruka on 2013 Vuelta a Asturias (!!). Nothing against the Spanish Jacky Durand, but i would use the "in my opinion" clause here, as in my eyes it felt like an objective statement.

Libertine did his 10th (!!) Vuelta quite fast, i guess to finish it before Vuelta. I don't really have any free space to maneuver as after Vuelta are the (what i call) rainbow races and this year it's Innsbruck, so it's finally something serious and not just Sagan-fest. My tour, which you have seen a demo a while ago is practically finished. I still have one stage to finish, but the rest is ready to go. I consider it my 2nd official Tour and possibly last, however i still have a couple of ideas left, which should be fine for a potential Paris-Nice in the future if it will happen, unless i'll drop the "Nice" part... i actually can drop it!

At first i really wanted to be more meticulous with my stages, chasing interesting structures, architecture or views. However, with time you'll see me dropping large chunks of some stages because of fatigue (21 stages is way too long and there's not much of "transitional breakaway" stages). I tried to include some cycling related info, but my knowledge is nowhere near Libertine's (and most of you). If there was something obvious, then i decided to only mention it if needed. However, i tried to give more space to climbs and logistics if needed.

If you don't mind i'll start tomorrow. Every stage should be posted every day or every two days (i need to finish it before Innsbruck starts), possibly late night (CET) to not clash with Vuelta and have a higher chance of exposure.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

19 Aug 2018 19:56

Ok, i hope the race will entertain you enough.

Tour de France by railxmig – version 2. Opening.

At first i was borderline outraged by the 2018 route (horrible stage placement) and lost my mind with first 2 stages of 2019 so i decided to do my own tour based on i guess the "ideas" of 2018 and i guess 2019 editions. However, my plan was also to have either less explored ideas or alternatives to the existing ones. Because of that i wasn't really going for optimising the route.

The changes from the "demo" version are quite big. Finally managing the 3-peak race with a bunch of new stages and some changes to the existing ones. However, some stages are unchanged (i was either perfectly fine with them or just didn't found any interesting replacement). The main theme of the race are the three mountain blocks but there are also some minor themes to spice things a little bit – 2nd World War, Vauban citadels and maybe also spa towns (with Danone waters of course).

I won't say it's a realistic tour. It's actually far from that. I tried to not be too ridiculous, but some places i found interesting and logistic choices are a bit on the ridiculous side. There will be 4/5 MTFs and 2/3 HTFs. There'll be only a handful of sprint stages (around 5), only one time trial (~60km) and a prologue. There are a number of stages featuring some amount of cobbles (technically 5), one stage with dirt roads and one (two?) with risk of echelons. The "flahute" stages should be interesting and i hope the mountain stage will also be.

There's a more than usual amount of HC climbs (9), but all of them, but 2 are definite HC (the other two are borderline, gimmicky HC). There won't be any case of replacing cat. 2 with HC (*cough* Aubisque east *cough*). There's also a number of over 2000m climbs (that includes almost two finishes), but only two above 2100m. There are also 3 MTFs finishing with HC climbs (other two are after a borderline cat. 1 and a cat. 2).

The race starts in Savoie (featuring Suisse Vaud) and then heads north for a potentially major showdown in Belgium before returning back to France. After the rest day on stage 10 it's time for Pyrenees – the main mountan block of the race, Then Massif Central and the last mountain block in the Alps. I tried to include as many interesting for me places and as many regions of France as i could, but my main objective was to do a 3-peak race.





I didn't set any predetermined "grand départ" location. I thought to be clever and creative to choose the major spa city that Évian-les-Bains is. The start is in Haute-Savoie in Chablais region. Being at the foot of Chablais Alps. It should mean an interesting mountain/medium mountain start it will be a pretty tense one. But for now the things are kicked off by a Tour de Suisse style (up & down) prologue.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/hd/171493
Tour de France 2 – Prologue. Évian-les-Bains (Casino d'Évian) – Évian-les-Bains (Palais Lumière), 5,4km, ITT.
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Climbs:
Boulevard du Royal – 1,1km, 9,5%, cat. 4, 478m

Évian-les-Bains is a XIX c. spa complex, comparable to those from Germany or Czech Rep in architecture. It's located in Chablais, part of Haute-Savoie, over Lac Léman (Lac Genève) near the Suisse border, in close proximity to Chablais Alps. It's very nice location helped (with neighboring Thonon-les-Bains) establishing a popular tourist hub throughout the whole year.

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Évian-les-Bains, Lac Léman and Chablais.

The town is mainly known for it's quality mineral waters. The local mineral water "Evian" is part of the Danone concern... what is it with me, mineral waters and Danone? I never drinked any of French waters as i'm not French but i seem to subconsciously hate Vittel. Many nobilities visited the town throughout last two centuries like Georges V of England, the Lumiere Brothers or Marcel Proust. It's also the birthplace of a Napoleonic general Pierre-Louis Dupas. Évian-les-Bains could be the ancient Epona, which was one of the main towns in Chablais and also one of the early seats of Dukes of Savoy. In 2003 Évian hosted a G8 summit.

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Casino d'Évian.

Sadly, Évian-les-Bains doesn't have that much of free space available. I'll be mainly using a parking space in front of the town hall and casino on Quai Charles Albert Besson. The start is on Quai Baron de Blonay, west of the parking while the finish is on Quai Charles Albert Besson, in front of Palais Lumière, just east of the start.

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Palais Lumière.

The first 1km is mostly a challenging murito on Avenue de Larringes (after Rue du Lac and Place Charles Cottet) up to Boulevard du Royal. This section is at 9,5% with max 16% near the top. I decided to categorise it as cat. 4 so some guys, who normally treat time trials like rest days may give a bit more than usual to try and be the first guy of the race in polka dot. Next 2km on Boulevard du Royal and Avenue du Léman are flat. This section icludes a visit to Hôtel Royal – probably the most luxurious hotel in the town.

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Avenue de Larringes.

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Hôtel Royal.

The descent back to the lake is on Avenue d'Abondance. It's an easy and shallow (3-5%) descent with some good views of Lac Léman. If i'm not mistaken this exact descent was an ascent in Dauphine 2010. Last 400m to the finish line are flat.

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Lac Léman and Jura seen from Avenue d'Abondance.

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Hôtel de Ville.

Évian-les-Bains featured in Tour de France thrice. Once in 2000 to Lausanne won by Erik Dekker and twice in 1979 as a finish of a hilly stage (won by Marc Demeyer in front of young Sean Kelly and the likes of Jacques Esclassan, Didi Thurau and Johan Van der Velde) and start of MTT to Avoriaz (destroyed by Hinault). It was the same edition with alien-esque Hinault and Zoetemelk (who even earned a 10min dope penalty) leaving everyone else to dust, even in Paris (!).

Évian-les-Bains was the start of Dauphine in 2010 with a 6km prologue won by Alberto Contador of all people and next day a start of a hilly stage to Saint-Laurent-du-Pont won from a reduced bunch sprint by a specialist of such sprints Grega Bole in front of... Peter Velits (2010 Vuelta) and... early Geraint Thomas before he became the next Sky transformer.

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Enjoy Peter Velits (obscured by Grega's elbow Haimaru-sama style) and early GT.

I'm just looking at how that prologue went and it's kinda similar to my own design, but it went the other direction, so it obviosuly didn't used the murito of Avenue de Larringes.

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Profile of the 2010 Dauphine prologue.

I guess this stage should be for Doumulin to take. At least it's something slightly different to the normal stage 1 flat sprint/prologue fare. It's also the first Tour prologue in France for quite a long time. I hope that maybe the inclusion of a cat. 4 will get some guys working harder for the chance of wearing polka dot. Next in line is the first mountain stage of the race. I've started in Savoie, then why not use what Savoian roads have on offer.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

20 Aug 2018 16:26

Sadly, i won't have any time later so i'm posting it a bit early.

The first road stage of the race and it's already a serious venture into the Alps even if the stage is generally at a low altitude (it doesn't cross 1530m at any point). While there's not much of Haute-Savoie and it's weird to have a random venture into Switzerland on the 1st road stage i guess i can try to disguise it as a stage dedicated to the historic region of Chablais, just to have this improved Forclaz i've cooked. Also... please, don't ask why on the map it's in a Giro skin.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/229361
Tour de France 2 – stage 2. Évian-les-Bains – Argentière-Le Tour, 180km, mountain, HTF.
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Image

Climbs:
Côte de Laprau – 8,2km, 5,8%, cat. 2, 887m
Col du Corbier – 6km, 8,5%, cat. 1, 1230m
Pas de Morgins – 4,5km, 6,5%, cat. 3, 1369m
Col des Planches – 10,2km, 8,8% (max 14%), cat. 1, 1411m
Col de la Forclaz – 10,6km, 9,6% (max 17-18%), cat. HC, 1527m
Col des Montêts – 6,4km, 5,2%, cat. 2, 1461m
Côte du Tour – 2,3km, 7,5% (max 13%), cat. 3, 1473m

I decided to change the dirt side of Verbier for a somehow overlooked side of Forclaz (the Suisse one). It doesn't feature any dirt, but i think it's overally much harder. I decided to include it because that's one of the oldest ideas i have and i doubt i would ever use it elsewhere while i've already shown of Verbier. Of course that stage to Verbier is a viable option if you don't like this stage.

While this random venture to Switzerland does look weird for the Tour it's nothing special for Dauphine. The 2013 edition kicked off with a multicountry stage and the majority of it took place in Haute-Savoie but the start and finish were in Champéry in the Suisse canton of Valais (province of Monthey).

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Profile of Dauphine 2013 stage 1.

The stage is dedicated to the historic region of Chablais, which consists of the eastern part of Haute-Savoie stretching from Évian-les-Bains to Chamonix and Bas-Valais on the Suisse side (upper Rhône valley) from Lac Léman to Martigny. The region is dominated by the Chablais Alps stretching from Lac Léman to the Mont Blanc massif. They're split in half by Pas de Morgins – Val d'Illiez on the Suisse side and Val d'Abondance on the French side. Highest peak is La Haute Cime of Dents du Midi group at 3257m. Historically the region was the northernmost province of Savoy, hence it's part of France only since 1860 after the Treaty of Turin.

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Dents du Midi seen from Château de Chillon.

Savoie (or Sabaudia in Latin) was once one of the most important states in Europe (thanks to its location between France and Italy). It was created by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1416 for local count Amadeus VIII, who later also was the last Antipope (1439-1449). Within the Duchy of Savoie the Duchy of Piemonte was created. The first capital was Chambéry and later (from 1563) Turin. The change was a result of repeated attacks from France as Turin was placed behind the significant natural barrier the Alps are. In XVIII c. the duchy was part of a powerful Kingdom of Sardinia as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession. This kingdom consisted of Sardinia (obviously), Piemonte and Savoie reaching as far north as Lac Lémanin Chablais. The kingdom was dissolved in 1860 as a result of the Treaty of Turin (unification of Italy) and the last king – Victor Emmanuel II would become the king of Italy.

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Duchy of Savoy in XVIII c.

After this little historical preamble it's time for the stage. It starts in Évian-les-Bains. The first 8,2km are on a gentle hillside north of Évian-les-Bains which culminates in Vinzier (918m) before dropping down to the Abondance valley. The region is known as Pays de Gavot. The stage slowly drops down to Thonon-les-Bains after reaching Laprau – a hamlet just east of Saint-Paul-en-Chablais, slightly below Vinzier. The climb to Laprau is cat. 2, 8,2km at 5,8%. It should be a fine ground to instigate the breakaway.

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Profile of Côte de Laprau (starting from roughly 1km sign).

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Pays de Gavot.

From Saint-Paul-en-Chablais the race gradually descends down to Thonon-les-Bains via Publier. Both the ascent and the descent provides fine views over Lac Léman and the Jura mountains beyond. The peloton will pass quite close to X c. Château de Larringes – historically the main stronghold of Pays de Gavot.

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Château de Larringes.

The first mentions of Thonon-les-Bains are from XIII c. In 1288 the capital of Castellany of Allinges moved from Allinges (two X c. castles in Allinges-Neuf and Allinges-Vieux near Faucigny, east of Annemasse) to Thonon-les-Bains. Later said castellany was transformed into Chablais and was included within the newly formed Duchy of Savoy. The town was often used as a summer residence of the counts of Savoy. Like the neighboring Évian-les-Bains, in XIX c. the city also developed as a spa.

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Château de Ripaille, Thonon-les-Bains.

Mains sights are XIV c. Château de Ripaille – originally a manor house turned into a summer residence of the Counts of Savoy after the original Château de Thonon was destroyed during a skirmish with Geneva in XVII c. Château de Ripaille is also the deathplace of the first count of Savoy and Antipope Amadeus VIII. XVII c. Château de Sonnaz – replacement of former Château de Thonon and now a museum of Chablais, XIII c. Tour des Langues, XVI c. Château de Marclaz XIV c. Chapelle Saint-Bon and XIV c. Église Saint-Hippolyte.

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Château de Sonnaz, Thonon-les-Bains.

Historically Thonon-les-Bains was often featured in Tour de France thanks to its location on the edge of the Alps and good connection with bigger cities (sort of the northern Gap). It was either at the start of an Alpine mountain block or at its end. The winners in Thonon-les-Bains include Jacques Anquetil (1957), Jan Janssen (1964), Marino Basso (1970) and Sean Kelly (1981). However, last time the town hosted a Tour stage was in 1981. Last time the town was featured in a bike race was in Dauphine 2013 stage 3 to Oyonnax won by Elia Viviani.

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Dranse valley.

In Thonon-les-Bains the race enters the Dranse valley, quite often seen during the Dauphine. Near La Vernaz the valley splits into two – Dranse de Morzine and Dranse d'Abondance. I'm taking the first one, which includes the Gorges du Pont du Diable to then transit to the other one near Saint-Jean-d'Aulps via Col du Corbier.

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Gorges du Pont du Diable.

West of the valley are the Voirons pre-Alps – a medium mountain massif with a number of interesting but semi-obscure cat. 1 cols – Feu, Moises, Cou, Jambaz, Plaine-Joux (or Avernaz) and Saxel. Below is a medium-mountain/mountain stage focused around them.

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Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – Thonon-les-Bains.

Col du Corbier is rather undistinguishable. Just a random pass at a low altitude somewhere in the Alps. The road is wide and there's not much to look at. At the top there's a small ski station of Drouzin-le-Mont (dissolved in 2012 because of lack of snow). While nowadays it's nothing special historically it's one of the more important passes, especially in the Tour. It was an old monk route between the Saint-Jean-d'Aulps abbey and the Abondance and Saint-Maurice abbeys via the Abondance valley.

Back in the day on this side of the Alps only Chamonix, Morzine and Thonon-les-Bains were capable of hosting a Tour stage. So happens Corbier is right in the middle of the latter two and potentially right at the start of the Chamonix one. Historically (mainly 70's and 80's) there were plenty of stages to Morzine using Morgins and Corbier or to Chamonix using Corbier, Morgins and later Forclaz. The winners of the Crobier KOM include the likes of Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra. I've decided to use the hardest side of Corbier, from the very narrow Aulps gorge. It's a decent cat. 1 climb with 6km at a stable 8,5%. The last 4,6km are at 9%. A kinda technical descent leads to Bonnevaux, part of the village of Abondance.

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Profile of Col du Corbier.

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Col du Corbier.

Abondance is the biggest village of the eponymous valley. It was founded in early XII c. as an abbey of Canons Regular of Saint Augustin, closely linked with the Saint-Jean-d'Aulps abbey. It was closed in 1761. Abondance is also home to XIII c. Église Notre-Dame-d'Abondance.

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Abbaye d'Abondance.

From Abondance the race continues slightly uphill, closing on Pas de Morgins and going through La Chapelle d'Abondance and Châtel – both medium sized ski stations of Portes du Soleil (which you may know for Morzine). Technically you may try to have either Abondance or La Chapelle d'Abondance as a finish after Corbier or Morgins as in 2012 Dauphine finished in nearby Châtel, where the proper Pas de Morgins starts. It's cat. 3, 4,5km at 6,5%. Obviously it's one of the most popular French-Suisse passes in cycling and it's history is closely tied with that of Corbier. It's worth noting the last time theTour passed Pas de Morgins was in 1997 (from the same side). The KOM was won by pre-1999 VDB1. In Pas de Morgins the stage enters Switzerland.

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Profile of Pas de Morgins.

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Pas de Morgins.

The descent to Monthey is wide, quite long and at times technical. It leads through Val d'Illiez – home to a number of Portes du Soleil stations which you may heard of – Planachaux, Les Crosets, Champoussin and the biggest of them – Champéry. It's a realtively popular area with a number of cat. 1 or HC MTF options.

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Val d'Illiez.

In Monthey the race enters Bas-Valais, or the upper Rhône valley. It's a capital of a local district, part of the canton of Valais. It's worth noting that just on the other side of Rhône is the canton of Vaud but this stage will stay entirely in Valais.

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Bas-Valais in Monthey.

Monthey was first mentioned in XII c. For a long time it was a small town but it developed rapidly in XIX c. mainly thanks to the establishment of glass industry. Because it's a relatively young city there's not much in terms of sights besides a XV c. manor house Château de Monthey. The town is home to one of the biggest carnivals in Switzerland that takes place every thursday before a local holiday – Mardi Gras, which is 47 days before Easter (late February or early March). Monthey is also the birthplace of Steve Morabito.

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Monthey.

From Monthey the stage continues in the valley to Martigny via Saint-Maurice, Evionnaz and Vernayaz for the next 23km before climbing Col des Planches (which was ommited in 2016). Both Saint-Maurice and Martigny are old Roman settlements – Agaunum and Octodurum respectively. Of course Saint-Maurice is famous for its Canons Regular abbey – one of the oldest (515) and once most powerful in the Alps. It was built on a Roman Mercury shrine and was dedicated to the legendary Theban Legion – an entirely Christian legion of III c. who refused to sacrifice to the Emperor Maximian and were put on death row. It was once even a coronation site as the king of Burgundy Rudolph I of Burgundy was crowned here in 888.

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Saint-Maurice abbey.

Martigny is as old as Saint-Maurice. It was at first a Gallic settlement lost to Rome as a result of Battle of Octodurus of 57-56 BC. In the antiquity it was the last stop before the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass. From these times are the remains of thermal baths and a number of villas plus a resotred Roman amphitheatre.

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Martigny.

In IV c. a bishopry was established in the city, which makes it the oldest bishopry in Switzerland. However, in VI c. it was moved to Sion. The modern Martigny is an important transport hub linking Switzerland with Italy via Grand-Saint-Bernard and Simplon. There's also a long tradition of cow fights in the region. Martigny is a very decent cycling playground with Planches and Champex nearby, but also the nearby Verbier system. Martigny is also the birthplace of Sébastien Reichenbach, favourite of Master Kirby and possibly the winner of the worst descender in the peloton award.

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Roman amphitheatre of Martigny.

I decided to bundle Planches with Forclaz to give it a bit more punch. Col des Planches is a very good, borderline cat. 1/HC climb that is sadly overshadowed by Lein. Unlike Lein, Planches is entirely surfaced but i guess Lein should be at least theoretically crossable. Planches is located on the slopes of La Crevasse (1807m), part of the Pennine Alps. It can be liked with Tronc and Lein via a dirt road. It's sometimes featured in Romandie, but lately in irrelevant spots. Sadly, 2009 TdF decided to not feature it en route to Verbier.

As i've mentioned, Col des Planches is borderline cat. 1/ HC. I've decided for cat. 1 as there are more than enough of HC climbs in the race and almost all of them are definite HC besides two borderline examples i'll get to later on (btw none of them is Aubisque east). The climb itself is 10,2km at 8,8% with the first 5km at 10% (max 14%). That's a serious incline and if you'll combine it with something like Verbier then it may provide a sizeable initial selection. Even in this stage it should generate a fairly large initial selection. If you want to see how the road looks here's a showcase of both sides of Planches to Martigny and to Sembrancher.

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Profile of Col des Planches.

Both sides of Planches are very technical, but the Sembrancher side should take the cake. Within 4,7km there are 9 harpins on a not so wide road. Thankfully it's not as steep as the Martigny side. The region also likes to feature a lot of rainfall so considering it's the first road stage and the GC isn't shaped yet there's a higher risk of crashes. Planches is mostly covered in a quite dense forest but there are some open spots especially en route to Sembrancher at the mouth of the Entremont valley.

From Sembrancher the race doesn't go deep into the Entremont valley to finally end at the foot of Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard (Tour 2009) but goes back to Martigny (route E27) passing by a sideroad to Col de Champex. Champex is yet another good 1/HC climb. It can be linked with Planches to create a combo before either Verbier, Martigny or even Grand-Saint-Bernard if you're tired of Lein or Croix de Coeur. It can also be a MTF like in 2015 Romandie's stage 5.

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Val d'Entremont.

The descent back to Martigny stops just north of the city in a place called Martigny-Croix where peloton leaves E27 for a smaller road through Martigny-Combe – a set of villages on the lower slopes of Forclaz (Pointe Ronde, 2700m). That's where the first difference to the classic side of Forclaz comes into play as the normal route goes through the slopes of Mont de l'Arpille northwest of Martigny.

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Martigny-Combe.

So, what's the difference in taking the route through Martigny-Combe to the normal side? Both routes start at roughly the same point (and altitude). The normal route is 5,4km long before both routes merge. Compare it with 3,8km of the side i'm taking. That means it must be very steep and it is. The first 3km in the village are at roughly 11,2% with max 17-18% near a place called Les Rappes and 14-15% whent it merges with the normal side. The road is not the narrowest in the world but also at times not in the best of shapes as it sweeps in and out of local farms and vineyards.

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Col de la Forclaz through Martigny-Combe.

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Snippets of the road through Martigny-Combe.

I think this should be the road used in the mentioned before stage 5 of Romandie 2015. Then it was signed as Petit Forclaz. Understandable, as it only covered the 1st half of the climb. Unlike that stage, i'm doing the whole climb with another ramp/shortcut later up the climb.

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Profile of stage 5 of Tour de Romandie 2015.

After joining the classic route the climb follows with its 8% glory for the next 4,2km after which i'm doing another detour taking a quicker route through a hamlet La Caffe. This detour is 2,3km long before merging once again with the normal side (which is 3,4km long) near the top. The first 2km of the La Caffe shortcut are at 11,5% (max 17%) before slightly slowing down at the merge with the normal route. Judging from the satelite images the road is quite narrow but on good tarmac. This detour merges with the normal side 450m before the top of Forclaz.

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Col de la Forclaz through La Caffe.

Overall, those very elaborate changes elevate Forclaz from a very good cat. 1 climb to a proper HC comparable with the likes of Errozate. It's 10,6km at 9,6% of which at least 5km are beyond 11% with at least two instances of 17-18%. The hardest are the first 3km ar 11,2% and last 2km at 11,5%. The middle is at 8%. I assume it will do a lot of damage, especially if combined with Planches. There are still 20km of the stage left but i hope the first major GC action of the race will start here.

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Profile of Col de la Forclaz.

Of course Col de la Forclaz is a major Alpine pass, (with Grand-Saint-Bernard) part of the Mont Blanc tunnel bypass. It's a especially busy road in the winter as it connects major ski resorts of the Chamonix area with many big resorts in Vallis while not being particulary threatened by snow thanks to it's quite low altitude. In the Tour it was often used with Chamonix in the 60's with the likes of Bahamontes and Roger Pingeon winning the KOM. Last time the Tour passed in 2016 en route to Emosson with the KOM won by Rafał Majka.

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Bahamontes and Gaul, possibly the best climbers of the 50's/60's era during 1959 Tour.

The rest of the stage is mostly channeling the stages from the 60's. The race comes back to France in Le Châtelard, at the bottom of Montêts and passes through a small ski station of Vallorcine. Montêts is a rather unchallenging climb with only last 1km at any notable gradient (7%). Overall it's 6,4km at 5,2% which just barely makes it cat. 2. The descent to Argentière is also not too difficult, but there are 4 relatively easy sperpentines in the last 1km. Thanks to the location in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif Montêts can provide good overview of the highest peaks of the Alps (Graian Alps).

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Profile of Col des Montêts.

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View from the top of Col des Montêts into Aiguille Verte (4121m).

The descent leads to Argentière – a ski station above Chamonix. I thought it was part of Chamonix but it seems to be its own thing. It's located at the end of the Arve valley surrounded by picturesque glaciers Glacier d'Argentière and Mer de Glace – the longest glacier (12km long) in France, which splits into Tacul, Leschaux, Mont Mallet and Talèfre glaciers.

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Mer de Glace.

When the main road reaches the Arve the race starts to go uphill for the last time to the main ski station of Argentière – Le Tour, located at the very end of the Arve valley. Most of the climb is not particulary challenging. However, the last 1km is at 10% (max 13%), which makes it a very Valverde-sque finish. Overall it's cat. 3, 2,3km at 7,5%. There's plenty of space in Le Tour. It should be enough for Dauphine, Suisse and maybe even the Tour itself. Any remaining cars and buses can be stored in either Argentière or even Chamonix.

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Finish in Le Tour.

Because of how this Tour is built this stage is created to force big time splits. If you're just riding into form then you may bleed a lot of time on Forclaz. I guess it should be small groups finishing together with quite large time gaps. Next stage is kinda similar to this one but with much bigger mountains and distances between them.
railxmig
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Posts: 423
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Re: Race Design Thread

21 Aug 2018 21:52

My last venture into the Madeleine/Croix-de-Fer combo and it's probably the least popular of them – combining the hardest sides of both climbs in one stage without any interruptions (Chaussy). That makes it one of the hardest stages and also the 2nd longest stage (by a relatively small margin though).

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/226008
Tour de France 2 – stage 3. Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – Moûtiers, 219km, mountain.
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Climbs:
Côte de Vauvray (Megève) – 9,7km, 6% (max 17%), cat. 2, 1158m
Côte de Saint-Georges-d'Hurtières – 4,8km, 5,9%, cat. 3, 608m
Col de la Croix-de-Fer – 22,6km, 7% (max 15%), cat. HC, 2067m
Col de la Madeleine (Montgellafrey) – 18,8km, 8,1% (max 14%), cat. HC, 2000m
Côte des Emptes – 2,2km, 9,8% (max 14%), cat. 2, 692m

Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is a historic town deep in the Arve valley at the foot of Mont d'Arbois. I decided to select Saint-Gervais-les-Bains as the departure to skip the Mont Blanc route (N205). Because of that i'm also skipping the Mont Blanc itself even if Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is somehow associated with the mountain while being far away from the summit. Becaue of the location near big winter resorts like Chamonix or Megève it's a popular tourist hub and thanks to the Mont Blanc tunnel it's also a transport hub. Because of its location at the foot of Megève, Bettex, Plaine Joux etc. it's also a popular cycling spot.

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Mont Blanc.

Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is a combination of a small historic town turned into a spa and winter resort. Because of that tracing its origins is kinda problematic. I guess it was a small trading center at the foot of various ancient passes (Joly, Seigne, Bonhomme and Forclaz). The modern Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is mainly a baroque creation with a number of monuments from XVII-XVIII c. like Église Saint-Gervais, Église Saint-Nicolas-de-Véroce or the Hautetour fort. However, most of the town is covered with XIX-XX c. hotels back, when it developed as a spa town. It was heavily damaged (200 casualties) in 1892 during an outburst flood caused by a hidden lake inside a glacier.

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XVII c. Hautetour fort, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.

The first climb of the day – Côte de Vauvray, starts from the get go. While the name may be unknown to you it's basically one of a plenty of roads above Megève. This climb starts with Côte de Domancy – a well known murito next to Sallanches.

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Profile of Côte de Domancy.

When reaching the top of Domancy in Combloux i'm taking a detour to Colomb – a fairly popular MTF. In Colomb i'm taking a decently sized road through Ormaret and Vauvray to Megève. The section from Combloux to Ormaret is 2,7km at 6,5%. The last 1,6km to Vauvray are only 2,5%. Overall, it's 9,7km at highly irregular 6%. The descent to Megève is 1km at roughly 5% before the race joins the Sallanches – Alberville road.

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Côte de Vauvray near Ormaret.

Megève is basically a Rothschild (your favourite illuminati lizard people) creation as an answer for Sankt Moritz. Let's say it didn't really work. It's a quite big ski resort but nowhere near the fame Sankt Moritz or Chamonix have. Like Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, it mainly uses Mont d'Arbois as its income generator. The town also developed as a transport hub as it's right in between Albertville and Chamonix. It's often passes by Dauphine and Tour de France (last time it hosted a MTT in 2016) and is home to a possible HTF finish at Côte 2000 (popular choice with Bisanne).

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Megève.

From Megève the stage goes straight to Albertville alongside the Arly valley (D1212, former N212) via Praz-sur-Arly (where the race enters the Savoie department), Flumet and Ugine. Becase of the length of the stage i decided to take the most direct route, which does include the pseudo-motorway Ugine – Albertville. Because the section of N212 between Flumet and Ugine goes through Gorges de l'Arly, which likes to suffer from landslides the stage may be shortened to start in Ugine or Albertville.

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Praz-sur-Arly.

Both Flumet and Ugine are another local, small historic towns. They were an important strongholds on the border between the county of Faucigny and Dauphine (Vienne) before the region was incorporated into Savoy in XIV c. when they lost their strategic position. From the times Flumet was a stronghold are the ruins of a XII-XIII c. Château de Flumet (or Château des sires de Faucigny, in ruins since at least XVI c.) and the Tour de Bieux tower. Flumet is also home to small ski resorts of Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe on the lower slopes of Saisies and La Giettaz-Le Plan on the lower slopes of Aravis. However, Avenir this year decided for nearby village of Cohennoz (part of Crest-Voland).

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Flumet.

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Mont Charvin west of Flumet.

As of Ugine there are still the remains of XIII c. Château d'Ugine (in ruins as of XV c.) and the XIII c. Crescherel fort. Ugine was heavilly damaged during the WW2 because it was one of the centers of French resistance (AS & FTP). The biggest loss occured in 05.06.44 as 28 civilians were shot by an SS police squadron. As for cycling, Ugine is home to a random narrow track linking local farm houses known as Col de l'Arpettaz – a very popular destination on this site.

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Ugine.

Next stop is Albertville which doesn't need any further introduction. A very popular winter and cycling spot formed in 1836 by King Charles Albert of Sardinia as a district of Conflans. Of course it hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics. I'm personally more interested in the little historic town that is just above Albertville on the other side of Arly – Conflans.

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Conflans.

Conflans was an important stronghold (bastide – a fortified village, mainly popularised by English in Aquitaine during the 100 Years War) at the entrance to Tarentaise. The town was first mentioned in XI c. as the main defender of then the main hub of Tarentaise – Moûtiers (another little historic alpine town but on that later on). Conflans consisted of a number of forts – the main ones were Château de Conflans, Château de Châtel-sur-Conflans and Forte de La Cour. The town was heavilly damaged during the siege of Conflans of the Franco-Savoyard War (1600–1601). The only survivors of that siege are XIV-XV c. Maison Rouge (now a museum), a tower called Tour Sarrasine (Saracen Tower) and a number of gates (Savoie and Tarine).

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Tour Sarrasine of Château de Conflans, Albertville.

From Albertville the race continues in the Isère valley. The section between Grenoble and Albertville is known as Grésivaudan. I've covered the area once in my GP Val du Grésivaudan which featured Champ-Laurent, Grand-Cucheron and Bonvillard with a finish in Albertville. In Aiton the race enters the Maurienne valley between Belledonne and Lauzière.

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Fort d'Aiton from XIX century.

In Maurienne i'm hugging the west side to limit the usage of D1006 and to not interfere with the later part of this stage. Because of that peloton will climb cat. 3 Côte de Saint-Georges-d'Hurtières (lower slopes of Grand-Cucheron). The climb is 4,8km at 5,9% on a wide and okay quality road. Interestingly, on the other side of river is a village of Argentine, which translates to Argentina.

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Maurienne valley in Epierre.

After passing through Saint-Rémy-de-Maurienne and Saint-Étienne-de-Cuines i'm starting what i consider to be by not so far the hardest side of Croix-de-Fer. I don't think Croix-de-Fer needs any further introduction as it's one of the main climbs of Dauphine & Tour de France.

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Col de la Croix-de-Fer with Aiguilles d'Arves in the background.

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Lac Noir.

Col de la Croix-de-Fer (i'm using the French name as the English one is Croix de Fer) is 22,6km at 7% (max 15%). It's quite irregular but compared with the other sides it's as smooth as a butter. There are at least two distinguishable plateaus. The first one is roughly 2,5km long in Saint-Colomban-des-Villards – a tiny ski resort (and a l'Avenir finish) and the second one is a tiny downhill Glandon. In between them are three climbs. The first to Saint-Colomban-des-Villards is 8,4km at 7,1% (max 13%), the second is the hardest with 8,9km at 8,5% (it includes the last 3km at roughly 10%) while the last is 2,6km at 6,1%.

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Profile of Col de la Croix-de-Fer.

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Some views from the ascent of Col de la Croix-de-Fer.

The descent to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is very complicated. It features all that descents can offer – technical and narrower bits (mainly above Saint-Sorlin-d'Arves), steeper and shallower bits and (lit) tunnels... bits. The descent passes thorugh the Arvan valley which includes two obscure ski stations that are part of the Les Sybelles ski area – Saint-Sorlin-d'Arves and La Chal (Chalets des Marmottes) of Saint-Jean-d'Arves. They were the focus of my last Tour.

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Profile of the descent from Croix de Fer to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

ASO has a crush on Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne mainly thanks to it's location in the middle of the Maurienne valley and a deep well of money the town spends for cycling. It's one of the oldest towns in the northern part of French Alps as it was confirmed to be the capital of the valley as far back as VI c.

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Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and the Maurienne valley.

The house of Savoie seems to originate from this town as the first confirmed memeber of the dynasty – Humbert, was a lord of Maurienne in early XI c. Humbert was assigned as the lord of Maurienne thanks to the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II after the war of the succession of Burgundy (1032 – 1034) against Odo II of Blois. With him is also associated the creation of modern cathedral – Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, which was rebuilded in XV-XVI c. after a major flood of 1439/1440. Other sights are XIII c. courthouse Maison du Juge Corrier, XI c. Église Notre-Dame and a baroque XVII c. Palais des Évêques (bishop's palace) de Maurienne. Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is the birthplace of a couple of alpine skiiers. I've only heard of Jean-Pierre Vidal, but then i don't follow alpine skiing.

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Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

From Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne the race continues on D1006 to La Chambre passing through very picturesque Lacets de Montvernier which seems to pick up a lot of love from ASO lately. This flat section in the Maurienne valley lasts for 12km before La Chambre, where the next famous monster climb starts. In the middle ages La Chambre was a domain belonging to the eponymous family which died out in XVI c. Historically La Chambre was the main competitor to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. However, they lost the power around XIII-XIV c.

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XII c. Collégiale Saint-Marcel, La Chambre.

This other famous monster climb is obviously Col de la Madeleine, which i'm definitely using for the last time. If i've ever come back to this region it will be either via Iseran or in the valleys. Madeleine is one of the hardest climbs in the country. It's actually comparable with some of Italian or Austrian monsters. It's also one of only two roads directly linking the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys. It separates the massive Vanoise Alps from Lauzière Alps.

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Vanoise Alps.

From La Chambre there are two sides available and i'm taking the secondary route via Montgellafrey, because i've already used the main route. Both sides are comparable with each other but the Montgellafrey one is slightly less regular.

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Profile of Col de la Madeleine via Montgellafrey.

This side is 18,8km at 8,1% – a very serious task to overcome. The first roughly 7km to the village of Montgellafrey are the toughest with avg 9,7% and an entire 3km at 10,1%. Above the village the road slows down for a short period of time before kicking once again towards 9-10% for the next roughly 4km. Then again letting down a bit (3-5%) when approaching the ski station of Saint-François-Longchamp 1650, where it joins the other road to Madeleine and then kicks back to this time "only" 7-8% for the last 5km.

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One of the harpins below Montgellafrey.

The road via Montgellafrey is not the best in the world. Its width and quality is also far from perfect but i guess it should be more than fine for even the big races (i guess landslides may be a thing here). The ride gets picturesque in some places (harpins below Montgellafrey), when the road goes alonside a mountain side with good views of La Chambre or local a Le Bugeon valley down below. However, that was on the normal climb, but last time Madeleine south was rode hard in 1998 to Albertville, when Jan the TV sharpshooter tried to shell off Pantani after the disaster Le-Deux-Alpes stage was for him.

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View of Pointe de la Grande Combe (2678m) on the other side of the valley with the main route to Madeleine below.

The descent to Notre-Dame-de-Briançon in Tarentaise is long, wide and three-stepped. It does hide a number of 10% or more gradients. It's not a technical descent besides last 2,5km with 7 harpins. From Notre-Dame-de-Briançon there are flat-ish 5,2km to La Léchère-les-Bains, where the last climb of the day will start. Of course this side should be well known from the 2010's first proper Contador/Schleck affair.

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Profile of the descent from Madeleine.

Notre-Dame-de-Briançon is the oldest part of La Léchère-les-Bains. It was an ancient cross on Isère, which was managed by a local castle of IX c. built by a local Briançon family (i don't think they had anything to do with Briançon). This castle is in ruins since at least XVII c. Nowadays it's a local pilgrimage site dating back from X c. when Franks won a local battle against Saracens. Other nearby ancient village is... Pussy (next amazing name after Die, Corps, Bitche and Condom), which exists since at least XII c. The modern La Léchère-les-Bains is mainly a spa complex.

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Église de Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Pussy, La Léchère-les-Bains.

La Léchère-les-Bains could be a potential start or a finish in Tour de France. It already hosted a start to stage 6 of Dauphine 2013 to Grenoble. That would mean the finish could be very close to the bottom of Madeleine. However, i still have one climb that i want to showcase so i moved the finish to Moûtiers. This climb is a small murito on the lower slopes of Valmorel (which should get as much love as some of the climbs like Val Thorens or Méribel-Mottaret) or Chantemerle (an obscure cat. 2 climb to a small ski station) to a small hamlet of Les Emptes.

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Cascade du Morel.

The last climb to Les Emptes is on a narrow track, which is not in the best of shapes (needs resurfacing in some places). This track is very steep. Overall it's cat. 2 with 2,2km at very regular 9,8%. There are no easier nor harder parts, it's constantly at 10%. The hardest part seems to approach roughly 14-16%. The top is 6,6km from the finish line. This murito can be potentialy used to toughen up the Valmorel climb to almost borderline 1/HC. The descent to Aigueblanche is not too difficult. It's 3,2km long and wide, at constant 7% and with only 3 harpins.

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Côte des Emptes.

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Road to Côte des Emptes.

The finish is in Moûtiers – the historic capital of Tarentaise, after hugging N90 in the Gorges de Ponserand. The town was already an important settlement in antiquity as it was the capital of Celtic tribe Ceutrones, who inhabited Tarentaise. Moûtiers was also the seat of one of the oldest bishoprics in the French Alps – the Diocese of Tarentaise which was founded before VI c. The bishopry was abolished in 1801 and now it's part of the diocese of Chambéry. During the middle ages Moûtiers was also a moderately big salt mine, which stoped operating in 1866.

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Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Moûtiers.

Moûtiers is home to former Cathédrale Saint-Pierre founded in XI c. It stands on a previous cathedral of VI c. which was too small to do its functions. It was remodeled a number of times throughout the history, mainly after it was heavily damaged during the French Revolution. Tied to the former cathedral is a XVI c. former bishop's palace.

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Bishop's palace, Moûtiers.

Of course Moûtiers is the entrance to Les Trois Vallées – a major ski area containing Val Thorens, Courchevel and Méribel-Mottaret. The town hosted three (always as a start) Tour de France stages in 1973 to Les Orres 1650 won by Luis Ocana, 1979 to AdH won by Joaquim Agostinho and 1994 stage to Cluses won by then flying Pyotr Ugrumov. I don't think it even hosted any stage in Dauphine in at least the last 20 years. For now i've placed the finish on Avenue des Salines Royales (named after the salt mines) in the more industrialized part of the town.

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Views from Mont Jovet east of Moûtiers.

Like the previous stage, this one is designed to check your form. I doubt you'll win the Tour here, but Madeleine is a beast and if you're off form then you can probably wave goodbye to any chances of taking the yellow jersey. Maybe Côte des Emptes will generate some splits in the front group but i don't expect them to be too big. However, if someone loses ground on Madeleine then he'll most probably bleed a lot of time.

This was the last stage of the first Alpine mountain block. The next stage is the first chance for sprinters before two hilly stages in Burgundy and Champagne.
railxmig
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Posts: 423
Joined: 19 Oct 2015 08:38

21 Aug 2018 21:58

That's a great design. I can't help but feel that a real Tour would have finished stage 2 in Chamonix, but then a real Tour probably wouldn't go this all-out early on. But stage 3 really shows that there's still plenty of life to be wrung out of the same old same old, and still some room for innovation even with Madeleine and Croix-de-Fer being very well-known climbs. It's like an amped-up version of the Giro stage that Landa won a couple of years ago in Corvara, with the two lead-in climbs being significantly longer and harder.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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22 Aug 2018 15:45

Lovely Canarian stages.
Also, Forclaz-Montets combo with a multi-mountain stage <3
I like the Moutiers stage a lot as well. Great to see hard climbs so early in the Tour.

Also, the Corvara stage in 2016 was won by Chaves, not Landa
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
Forever The Best
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Aug 2018 16:03

Libertine Seguros wrote:That's a great design. I can't help but feel that a real Tour would have finished stage 2 in Chamonix, but then a real Tour probably wouldn't go this all-out early on. But stage 3 really shows that there's still plenty of life to be wrung out of the same old same old, and still some room for innovation even with Madeleine and Croix-de-Fer being very well-known climbs. It's like an amped-up version of the Giro stage that Landa won a couple of years ago in Corvara, with the two lead-in climbs being significantly longer and harder.

Thanks! Worry not, this time i'm very lenient with realism. This tour is mainly a showcase of either underappreciated or new ideas (sort of like my dig at the Vuelta). As for the comparisons with Corvara stage i don't really know, what stage you have in mind. It's not the 2016 one (Chavez won). I also don't remember Trentino finishing there. Maybe it's the 2017 Bormio stage with Stelvio and poo? But even then Landa was outsprinted by Nibali.

Forever The Best wrote:Lovely Canarian stages.
Also, Forclaz-Montets combo with a multi-mountain stage <3
I like the Moutiers stage a lot as well. Great to see hard climbs so early in the Tour.

Also, the Corvara stage in 2016 was won by Chaves, not Landa

Thanks! Note that the Forclaz i've used is a much harder variant (via Martigny-Combe and La Caffe). That stage exists only for that sole reason. The hard climb that early are because i'm going for a 3-peak Tour. There will also be mountain in the middle and at the very end. BTW, i'm not going for optimising the route as otherwise i wouldn't include all of my ideas i've reserved for this run. However, i also tried to not be too ridiculous and the very basics of race design are still in use.




Originally it was a hilly stage to Cluny followed by a sprint stage, but i decided this should be a better place for a bunch sprint so i decided to come back to Mâcon after 2 years. My stage did coincidentaly rip-off the Dauphine 2011 stage 4 so i decided to change some things like including an additional Jura climb and some minor changes in the Dombes. However, i like what they did with the finish so i replicated it as my approach was way worse.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/226180
Tour de France 2 – stage 4. Aix-les-Bains – Mâcon, 170km, flat/hilly.
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Climbs:
Col du Chat – 7km, 5,7% (max 10%), cat. 2, 638m
Col de la Lèbe – 12,4km, 5,3%, cat. 2, 914m

For the start i've chosen Aix-les-Bains as lately Chambéry gets a bit more love thanks to the resurgence of Mont du Chat (there's also Granier, but it's not as popular). It hosted the Tour and Dauphine stages plenty of times. I guess the attractiveness diminished when what i think was a finishing straight – Boulevard Robert Barrier was interrupted by a random roundabout of no purpose whatsoever (typical for France). However, even with this unnecessary interruption Boulevard Robert Barrier should be long enough for a finishing straight so i guess it's just lack of interest/money. Last time Aix-les-Bains hosted a Tour stage in 2001 (stages 9 & 10) while Dauphine last time was i think in 2005 when it was its grand départ.

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Aix-les-Bains.

Aix-les-Bains is a major spa at the very edge of the Alps, on the coast of Lac du Bourget between Mont Revard and Mont du Chat. If i'm understanding correctly Lac du Bourget is the closest point between the Jura and the Alps. However, i still have trouble seeing Mont du Chat as part of Jura (for me it's prealps).

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Lac du Bourget.

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Mont Revard seen from Aix-les-Bains.

The hot springs of Aix-les-Bains are exploited since antiquity, when the town was known as Aquae (water). It was one of the biggest Roman thermae in France. Sadly, there's not much remaining from said time – Arch of Campanus erected for Lucius Pompeius Campanus, a patrician of modern Provence, remains of a temple dedicated to Diana and Roman baths inside the national baths.

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Arc de Campanus, Aix-les-Bains.

The interest in local baths returned in XVI-XVII c. The King of France Henry IV was the most known nobility to appreciate them. Also around that time the Seyssel family (lords of Aix-les-Bains) built a small castle in the city, which is now the town hall. Modern development of Aix-les-Bains started in XVIII c. by the King of Savoy and Sardinia Victor Amadeus III. In XIX c. it was a popular holiday resort of various noble and royal families. In 1955 negotiations for the independence of Morocco were held in Aix-les-Bains but the independence proclamation had to wait to later that year in La Celle-Saint-Cloud.

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Château de la Roche du Roi, Aix-les-Bains.

Because of its rapid development in XIX c. and especially during what Franch call Belle Époque (a period between the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the start of WW1 in 1914) there aren't any notable remains from roman or medieval periods. Most of manor houses, hotels, baths and other luxury buildings are from the Belle Époque period like Casino Grand-Cercle opened by King Victor-Emmanuel II, Château de la Roche du Roi and a number of hotels like Splendide (1884), Excelsior (1906) or Hôtel de l'Europe (1868) which housed Queen Victoria in 1883. Aix-les-Bains is also home to Musilac music festival (since 2002). A local bottled water is produced in the city (afaik it's not Danone... yay!).

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Grand Hôtel, Aix-les-Bains.

On the other side of Lac du Bourget is Abbaye d'Hautecombe – the historic royal abbey of the Duchy of Savoie. It's a former Cistercian and later Benedictine monastery right on the coast of the lake. It was founded in early XII c. by the monks from Saint-Jean-d'Aulps abbey (stage 2) by the commision of the count of Savoy Amadeus III. The abbey was used as a burial place of the Counts of Savoie (that also includes other memebers of the Savoie family like XIII c. Archbishop of Canterbury Boniface). The abbey was heavily damaged during the French Revolution and rebuilt in 1824 by the King of Savoie and Sardinia Charles Felix.

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Abbaye d'Hautecombe.

The first climb of this day is Col du Chat just north of Mont du Chat. With 7km at 5,7% which includes the last 1km at 8% it should provide a fair ground to create the breakaway. It starts after a roughly 10km ride on the coast of Lac du Bourget. Col du Chat is an ancient pass located between Mont du Chat south and Mont de la Charvaz north. There are some speculations that Col du Chat was part of Roman Voie Prétorienne linking Aosta with Vienne. Col du Chat is mostly covered in foliege but there's a number of viewing points (mainly on harpins) over the Lac du Bourget and Aix-les-Bains.

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Profile of Col du Chat.

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Mont Revard and Lac du Bourget from Col du Chat.

The descent to Lucey is quite long and complicated. It goes through Billième and Jongieux, waving through the vineyards on the slopes of Mont de la Charvaz (1161m) before joining the 2017 stage 9. The road is not the widest in the world. The toughest part is in Jongieux with 9 harpins in span of roughly 3km. The entire region is known as Bugey and it's one of the wine centers of Savoie. In Lucey the race crosses the Rhône leaving Savoie for the Ain department.

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XIX c. Église de Jongieux surrounded by local vineyards.

Jongieux is a quite picturesuqe village resembling more those of Burgundy than Savoie. It's surrounded by vineyards, from which Roussette de Marestel white wine is produced. The entire area was home to a number of local knight families hence many local castles like Château de la Forest, Château de Gimilieu and Château de Cinne in Saint-Jean-de-Chevelu. XIII c. Château de La Mar in Jongieux or XIII c. Château de Lucey.

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Château de La Mar, Jongieux.

After entering the department of Ain the stage runs alongside Rhône (Lac du Lit au Roi) for a while, leaving it in Culoz. The town itself is not really special besides being at the foot of very popular Grand Colombier. However, there are some interesting personalities, which at one time lived in the city and that includes Léon and Henri Serpollet – precursors of car industry, Henry Dunant – founder of the red cross and Christophe Lemaitre – a white sprinter that i do recognize (other one is Polish Arthur Noga in 110m hurdles). Of course Culoz was the finish to TdF 2016 stage 15 featuring Grand-Colombier. The town is home to a pretty XV c. hilltop Château de Montvéran (seat of local lords) which looks like a typical French castle.

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Château de Montvéran.

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Grand Colombier.

Originally from Culoz the race went through Jura in the valleys (Le Furans, La Fontaine and l'Albarine) via D1504 as the stage went via D1504. Because of the similarities to 2011 Dauphine's stage 4 i decided to do some changes and included Col de la Lèbe, which is not only the last climb of this stage but also the only proper Jura climb of the entire race. It starts in Artemare just 10km from Culoz.

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Cascade de Cerveyrieu near Artemare.

Col de la Lèbe is a long and gentle climb in the Planachat massif with 12,4km at 5,3%. It's a very regular climb between 4-6% and max below 8%. The road is wide and nice with sparse views of Grand-Colombiere. It's sometimes used in Tour de l'Ain (last time i think in 2011 stage 5 finishing on a Grand-Colombier MTF). It was twice in Tour de France, in 2007 stage 7 and 2012 stage 10 (twice uncategorised, the latter one introduced Grand-Colombier to the Tour). From the top for the next 20km the road very slightly descends to Hauteville-Lompnes and later to Côte de Corlier (via Col de la Berche, l'Albarine and Borrey valleys), which is basically in every edition of Tour de l'Ain. The roads are wide besides a small section in Hauteville-Lompnes.

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Profile of Col de la Lèbe.

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Tour de l'Ain 2011 stage 5.

Hauteville-Lompnes is a major marble mine, which had been used in the construction of the likes of Empire State Building. It's a relatively fresh commune created by joining adjacent villages. Roger Pingeon (Tour '67, '69, Vuelta '69, one of the best French cyclists of late 60's) comes from one of those villages. Nearby is also a minor ski resort.

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Roger Pingeon during 1967 Tour de France.

From Hauteville-Lompnes the race goes to Corlier (a decent looking village) via Col de la Berche (864m). The plateau is known as Val d'Aranc. Corlier is a village on top of Côte de Corlier, which (like Col de la Lèbe) was on the same Tour stages (2007 & 2012). Interestingly, each time the KOM was won by a Dane (The Chicken and Valgr... Mørkøv respectively).

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Descent from Corlier to Jujurieux.

The descent to Jujurieux is quite long and quite technical in places. Halfway thorugh the descent is a nice little village and a wine center of Châtillon-de-Cornelle – once home to a small feudal castle of which today not much remains. Last half of the descent leads inside the Morlieux gorge.

Jujurieux is a weirdly named town on the other side of the Jura, at the edge of the Dombes, surrounded by a number of castles – XIII c. Château de la Tour-des-Échelles, XIV c. Château de Chenavel, XII c. Château de Varey, Château des Guérets etc. All of these were feudal castles of various knights. The most important of them was Château de Varey which belonged to the counts of Geneva. In the middle ages the region was right on the border of Savoie and Dauphiné (Vienne) and there were plenty of skirmishes near the town with the biggest one in 1325.

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Château de Varey, Jujurieux.

Nearby Jujurieux is Ambronay – home to once a quite powerful Benedictine abbey founded by Saint Bernard in early IX c. Now the abbey hosts an anuual baroque music festival. Other sights include the remains of city walls with Gargouille gate, Archives and Dauphiné towers.

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Abbaye d'Ambronnay.

From Jujurieux the stage goes thorugh Saint-Jean-le-Vieux to Pont-d'Ain via D1075 (Aix-les-Bains – Bourg-en-Bresse) across the Ain river in Pont-d'Ain. It's a historic cross over Ain roughly halfway through Ambérieu-en-Bugey and Bourg-en-Bresse on the slopes of Mont Olivet (314m). It's home to a XVI c. castle which once was in possesion of the Counts of Savoie. Near Pont-d'Ain is a really big junction of A40 and A42 motorways. Right after going above said junction the stage turns joins D17 properly entering the Dombes and leaving Jura for good.

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Dombes.

The last 70km are in the Dombes waving around a countless amount of lakes. I've changed some stuff to not use the same way as the previously mentioned Dauphine stage from 2011. The whole region of Dombes was a borderland between Burgundy, Dauphiné and Savoie (the border was on Saône). The parts belonging to Savoie were lost to France by the Treaty of Lyon of 1601 at the end of the Franco-Savoyard War.

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Neuville-les-Dames.

From Pont-d'Ain the stage goes to Marlieux via Dompierre-sur-Veyle and Saint-Nizier-le-Désert, quite close to XIX c. Abbaye Notre-Dame-des-Dombes. From Marlieux the stage goes via D80 through Romans, Neuville-les-Dames and end up in Vonnas only to go above the Mâcon – Bourg-en-Bresse train line (that's the main reason for the similarities with that Dauphine stage). While the towns are relatively new (the oldest one is probably Vonnas dating back to the Merovingian era) there are a number of castles scattered around the region like Château de Chevigney, Château de Chassagne, Château de Béost or Château de Longes, all of them from XII – XIV c.

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XII c. Église Saint-Martin, Vonnas.

The region north of Vonnas (mainly around Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon) is home to a number of historical farmhouses, which somehow managed to survive to this day (a not so common sight in continental Europe). The oldest of them is Ferme des Planons which dates back to late XV c. That's really long for something that's not a church, castle of even a manor house. Other notable medieval farmhouses are Ferme de Travernay, Ferme de la Grange du Clou and Grange des Carrons.

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Ferme des Planons, Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon.

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Ferme de Travernay, Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon.

The final destination – Mâcon is just roughly 10km away. It'll be reached via Pont-de-Veyle and Replonges. Pont-de-Veyle is home to a XVII c. castle. I'm mentioning this because between 1979 and 2015 it was rented for Tour de France du Compagnonnage, which has... nothing to do with the Tour as it's an arts and crafts oriented institution. Somewhere near the village starts the region of Bresse, which is so similar to Dombes that i consider it a one entity.

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Bresse.

The run-in to Mâcon includes going over Saône on D1079 (Mâcon – Bourg-en-Bresse road). It's the 2nd time i'm using Mâcon as a finish, but that's because i've dropped Cluny (or did i...). For this one i decided to "borrow" the finish Dauphine did in 2011 going on one lane of Esplanade Lamartine (D906) up to Parc Nord and then do a U-turn on a roundabout and finish around the city hall on the other lane of the road. That 2011 stage was won by Degenkolb in front of EBH and Haedo.

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Sprint in Mâcon in 2011.

Mâcon was founded by Aedui Celts around the I BC. It was a relatively large town during the Roman Empire, home to the Mâcon Treasure, which contains a large amount of silver Roman figurines, statuettes, coins, jewellery etc. Now they're stored in British Museum in London. In the middle ages it was a capital of a county on the very end of the Duchy of Burgundy. It was also an important crossing over Saône hence it was a trading center between France, Savoie and the Holy Roman Empire. During the WW2 it was the first city to be assigned to Pétain's Vichy France.

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Mâcon and Saône.

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XI c. Cathédrale Vieux-Saint-Vincent, Mâcon.

The main sights are the former Cathédrale Vieux-Saint-Vincent from XI c. built on a Roman temple (bishopry founded in VI c. and abolished in 1801), Église Saint-Clément which originates from VI c. (it was renovated several times) and was a burial place for the first bishops of Mâcon, XVII c. Couvent des Ursulines (later also used as a prison), XVIII c. Hôtel Senecé (former museum of Alphonse de Lamartine), XVIII c. Hôtel-Dieu and partly restored wooden house from XV–XVI c. Mâcon is the birthplace of XIX c. poet Alphonse de Lamartine.

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VI c. Église Saint-Clément, Mâcon.

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XV–XVI c. wooden house, Mâcon.

That was the first sprint stage of the race. I hope placing it right after the first mountain block and not in between two hilly stages was a good decision. There's a high chance the next 2 stages will end in reduced bunch sprints. The first one is more a Sagan type of a stage while the second one is more towards Alaphilippe or Valverde.
railxmig
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Re:

22 Aug 2018 17:01

Forever The Best wrote:Lovely Canarian stages.
Also, Forclaz-Montets combo with a multi-mountain stage <3
I like the Moutiers stage a lot as well. Great to see hard climbs so early in the Tour.

Also, the Corvara stage in 2016 was won by Chaves, not Landa

My bad, I made not one but two errors. I was meaning Mikel Nieve, not Landa, but owing to the latter's prominence in recent years thought of him first almost by force of habit - also possibly influenced by the way Landa's 2017 Giro reflected Nieve's 2016 one, winning a mountain stage and the GPM to save a race that had gone awry, but of course in 2016 Landa was the leader whose challenge had gone awry and Nieve needed to save.

The design I had in mind was the Corvara one owing to the little steep ramp they had after Valparola (thus making the finish like a miniature version, scaled down, of railxmig's stage since obviously Croix-de-Fer and Madeleine are much larger and more significant climbs) but the stage I had in mind was the Cividale del Friuli one, which Nieve won.

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User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: Race Design Thread

22 Aug 2018 21:19

It's been more than a year ago since I last published a race up here. Back then it was a 9-day Deutschland Rundfahrt. Now, on the eve of the umpteenth reinstallation of the real Deutschland Rundfahrt I will publish another one. This time it won't be a 9-day race, let alone a 4 day try-out, I will go for a 3-week effort (well, my race will be 21 stages, I think it will take me way more than 3 weeks to publish it).
It's not the first time someone designed a 3-week tour of Germany. If I recall correctly one of the first 3-week races on this thread was a tour of Germany by bavarianrider. His race was characterized by several very long flat stages in the north and probably more itt km's than in the last 5 real GT's combined.
As his design pointed out, German geography isn't the most enticing for those who want to create an attractive course. The country lacks the high mountain roads of Spain, France and Italy or even Switzerland or Austria. It's even hard to find extended medium mountain ranges that could be used to design several mountain stages that vary enough from year to year. A 3-week race in the traditional format (mountain ranges decide the whole thing) would become rather repetitive after a few editions, unless you venture abroad. Still I decided to design my Rundfahrt according to the usual principles, while having all stage starts and finishes in Germany. So, some of my stages will probably have been used by others in their designs (*cough*) Berchtesgaden (*cough*), but i think there are still some novelties (or rekindling of forgotten ideas).


Anyway, let's start....


I' m in a lazy mood and will make it myself rather easy, by starting in the same way as my previous attempt: by an itt in Berlin. This time it's not the only tt in the race, and there's no need to make it of medium length (although that would fit well with the german focus on tt'ing during the 90's and 00's). So instead of a double lap of the course in the city center, I will confine myself to just one lap. Since the official maximum length of a prologue is 9km, it will still be a first stage.

1. Etappe: Berlin - Berlin, 10.2km einzelzeitfahren

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The first stage is a lap around Brandenburger Tor, and as has been the case so many times, as opening stage it is as much a touristic visit as a test of strength. It sets of at the aforementioned icon, goes west for 2km on the Strasse des 17. juni to the Siegessäule, then circumnavigates the roundabout on which the Siegessäule is placed and doubles up to the Brandenburger gate again.

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That's not the endpoint of the stage, as it now heads south, to the Potsdamer Platz and after 5km east, passing some remains of the Berlin Wall and 500m later Checkpoint Charlie. By this point the course also comes within 100m or so from the pinnacle of contemporary German culture: das Deutsches Currywurst Museum. ;) The course continues northeast, crossing the river Spree and passes the imposing Rotes Rathaus.

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A small detour on the Museuminsel shows the Lustpark with the Berliner Dom, the Altes Museum and Neues Museum, before a final straight line of a bit more than one kilometer leads to the finish in front of the Brandenburger Tor.

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rghysens
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Re: Race Design Thread

23 Aug 2018 20:02

@rghysens, i thought Lübeck (Hanseatic League) might be a really good choice for a grand départ. I guess you're not planning any mountainous stages early judging by the choice of Berlin (unless you're going straight to Erzgebirge), so Lübeck could be (in my eyes of course) a more attractive option.




An idea that all of you probably know of, but it's never really pointed out.

A highly technical, borderline hilly/medium mountain stage in Morvan, surrounded by Gallo-Roman dolmens and remains. While there's not much of pan-flat there are only two cat. 3 climbs with one close to the finish so it should be possible to overcome for the sprinters with some climbing pedigree. See it as a prime opportunity for Sagan. While thematically the finish should be in Vézelay i decided for nearby Avallon because it's less popular and a more interesting option.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/229378
Tour de France 2 – stage 5. Cluny – Avallon, 189km, hilly/medium mountain.
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Climbs:
Côte de la Mont-Saint-Vincent – 6,4km, 4% cat. 4, 514m
Montée du Haut-Folin – 13,3km, 3,2%, cat. 3, 874m
Côte de Château-Chinon – 2,7km, 4,8%, cat. 4, 536m
Côte de la Croix Milan – 4,5km, 3,6%, cat. 4, 420m
Côte de la Croix de Montjoie – 3,2km, 5,3%, cat. 3, 320m

Cobbles:
Avallon, Place Vauban – 550m, *

Kinda shocked this whould be the first time Cluny hosts a Tour de France stage. The town was created around one of the biggest medieval treasures of Burgundy or even entire France – the Cluny Abbey. For good two or three centuries it was the biggest and most powerful abbey in Europe. It was also the largest church in Europe before it was replaced by the new St. Peter's Basilica. The Cluny Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Auvergne in 910, who soon after gave it to Pope, hence it was basically independent from France (and also Pope as he was far, far away in Rome).

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Panorama of Cluny from i guess early 90's.

The influence Cluny had on western Europe was huge at the time. It was the abbey to introduce the Cluniac Reforms in X-XI c. created by Pope Sylvester II. At the time monks were treated more like knights (it was at the height of Holy Roman Empire's power) and said reform expanded their sovereignty from secular powers. Also increaced religiousness and celibacy of monks were promoted. Interestingly, the power of the Cluny Abbey increased to the point, when the relationship of Cluny with other Benedictine abbeys was like that of a feudal ladder with Cluny on top. I'm not sure how big of an impact said reforms had on the Schism of 1054. From Cluny came at least four Popes – Gregory VII, Urban II, Paschal II and Urban V.

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Panorama of the Cluny Abbey.

The abbey lost power in XII-XV c. as a result of the Papal Schism (Avignon Popes) and Cistercians bringing fresher ideas and getting more popularity. The abbey was looted by Huguenots in 1562. It was finally abolished and almost entirely destroyed during the French Revolution. What remains today is just a fraction of the original building. Cluny also had sort of an administrative center located in Paris known as Hôtel de Cluny (XIV c.) where most of the abbey's library is held. It's one of the better looking structures in the dumpster that Paris is. Just north of Cluny is a village of Cormatin. This village is home to a quite large XVII c. castle commisioned by Antoine du Blé d'Uxelles, a military leader of Wars of Religion during the reign of Henry IV.

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Hôtel de Cluny.

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XVII c. Château de Cormatin.

I want to once again stress out the stage is highly technical. I've ensured most of the roads are wide, but considering the amount of sweepers combined with constant up and downs can result is higher chance of crashes. The run-in to the finish is also very complicated, which can also result in crashes.

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Château de Chassignolles, Bonnay.

The entire stage goes northwest. It starts with a small climb (uncategorised) just outside of Cluny and then leads towards Montceau-les-Mines and Le Creusot through outer Mâconnais (Monts du Charolais), which will be felt by a cat. 4 climb to Mont-Saint-Vincent. The region doesn't have any bigger settlements. It's populated by largely historic villages and thanks to nearby Cluny they're often home to rural romanesque churches and manor houses like XI c. Église Saint-Denis in the village of Massy, XI c. Église Saint-Pierre and XIII c. Château de Chassignolles in Bonnay, ruins of a XI c. feudal castle in Sigy-le-Châtel and XI c. Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption in Gourdon.

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XI c. Église Saint-Denis, Massy.

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XI c. Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Gourdon.

The first larger municipality of the day is Montceau-les-Mines. It has the distinction to be one of the newest cities in France and a quite rare example of a coal mining city outside of northern France. It was founded in XIX c. after Compagnie des Mines was installed in the city. It was a very important mining and production center during both World Wars. The coal deposits were soon entirely exploited and mining stopped in 1992. Since then the city is in a decline, which is a bit weird as it's the biggest road junction in Saône-et-Loire. While not as murky and black as Linares, various Asturian towns, the Ruhr area in Germany or Upper Silesia in Poland it's still not a beauty prize winner. The town and it's nearby twin Le Creusot hosted the last time trial of the 2006 Tour. It was won by the TT specialist and at times GC wannabe Serhiy (Sergey) Gonchar.

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Montceau-les-Mines and the Bourbince river.

From Montceau-les-Mines the race goes via D120 between Le Creusot and Mont Julien (or Signal d'Uchon, 681m) before joining D61 heading towards Étang-sur-Arroux and later Mont Beuvray, entering the Morvan. Of course Mont Julien is known for the murito in Uchon, which is often used in conjunction with nearby Le Creusot – another XIX c. coal and iron mining town.

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Le Creusot.

Overlooking Le Creusot is a random baroque mansion on top of Montjeu (668m) north of Étang-sur-Arroux – Château de Montjeu. It's a forgotten XVII c. mansion built by Pierre Jeannin who was a royal advisor for Henry III, Henry IV and Louis XIII in XVI-XVII c. He was a native and lord of Autun, which is not far east. From Étang-sur-Arroux the race soon will climb Haut-Folin from south.

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XVII c. Château de Montjeu.

Montée du Haut-Folin (as i decided to call it) is theoretically the hardest climb of the day. I decided to include it for sentimental reasons and because it's the highest paved road in Morvan, at 874m. I think it might be the highest paved road that is the closest to Paris (not sure about the Ardennes). The top is near Le Haut Folin summit which is the highest peak in Morvan (901m). It's also home to a small ski station, which makes it the closest ski station to Paris.

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Le Haut Folin.

The climb is composed of three steps. The first hurdle is to Col de la Croix du Rebout, which is the first half of Mont Beuvary known from Paris-Nice. It's 3,6km at 4,5% with the last 2km at rather irregular 5,8% (max 8-10%). Next 1,8km are downhill (3,7%) before the next uphill 2,7km at 5,7% to Glux-en-Glenne. In Glux-en-Glenne the road narrows down quite significantly. After next downhill 1km at roughly 4,5% the last part of the climb starts. It's the longest but easiest part with 4,4km at quite regular 4,9%. Overall it's a cat. 3 climb with 13,3km at 3,2%.

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Profile of Haut Folin.

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Mont Beuvary.

This climb was used at least once in the Tour in 2007 during stage 5 to Autun. I think it was the same stage when Vino crashed (don't remember too well as the first stage i've tuned in was the one to Tignes). In 2007 the northern side was climbed and today it will be the descent. It's 12,9km at 3,7% (max 7-8%) and that includes a small false-flat in Arleuf. The road is quite narrow and not in the best of shapes. In Arleuf it joins a much wider and nicer road to Château-Chinon, where the next climb awaits.

In Haut-Folin we're entering a region quite heavy in Gallo-Roman remains. The first example of such is Mont Beuvary, which houses the remains of the capital of Celtic Éduens – Bibracte. It was founded in III BC. In 58 BC a major battle took place between Helvetii commanded by Divicus and Roman legions commanded by Julius Caesar. It was the second battle of the Gallic Wars after the battle of the Arar. In 52 BC a certain Vercingetorix was proclaimed in Bibracte to be the head of a coalition of various Gallic tribes against the Romans. After the loss in Alesia in 52 BC Bibracte was abandoned in favour of Autun. Now the site hosts the Museum of Celtic Civilization.

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A fragment of reconstructed city walls of Bibracte.

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Remains of an Éduenic villa in Bibracte.

Next Gallo-Roman remains are that of a II c. theater in Arleuf, on the descent of Le Haut Folin. It's not known if it belonged to any town or what was its name. Just a shy away from Arleuf the race enters the department of Nievre and starts the climb to Château-Chinon.

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Archaelogical site of Théâtre des Bardiaux, Arleuf.

Château-Chinon is the historic capital of Morvan located on top of a hill known as Calvaire – a former Gallic village (oppidum) of Édueni closely tied with then bigger Bibracte. It's on top of a cat. 4 climb with 2,7km at 4,8%. It was part of the same 2007 stage to Autun as Le Haut-Folin. In the middle ages it was a seat of a border county belonging to Burgundy (founded probably in XIV c.). Throughout its history it was quite powerful, being in possesion of pre-royal Bourbons (XV c.), King of France Charles VI (1389-1394), Habsbourgs (XV-XVI c.) etc. From 1959 to 1981 the future President of France François Mitterrand was the mayor of Château-Chinon. Main sights include the remains of a XI c. feudal castle (possibly seat of the county) destroyed probably in XV c. and remains of XV c. city walls with the Notre-Dame gate and two towers.

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Château-Chinon.

From Château-Chinon the race goes through the heart of Morvan via D944 to finally end up in Vézelay. The road is wide but quite twisty. The area is quite hilly but nothing too special in terms of views. At least part of this stretch was used in the previously mentioned 2007 stage.

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The hills of Morvan between Château-Chinon and Vézelay (near Bazoches).

There are two distinguishable climbs – cat. 4 Côte de la Croix Milan near Vauclaix with 4,5km at 3,5% and a 5,5km at 2,8% (includes 1,3km at 5,5% in the middle) climb to Lormes finishing with an intermediate sprint. Just under Lormes are Gorges de Narvau – the roots of l'Auxois river.

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XIX c. Église Saint-Alban, Lormes.

Because i'm not finishing in Vézelay (even if i should) thanks to my hidden hipster bone i'm heading via D42 and later D958 to Bazoches. I will try to defend my decision of Avallon as the finish. It's obviously easier than Vézelay and i'm hoping it may be an interesting fight for some of sprinters to try and resist the last categorised climb and have a crack at the stage win if there's no breakaway in front (obviously). The finish at Vézelay would be just an Alaphilippe/Valverde porn show but the next stage will be just it so repeating it would be a bit too lazy.

The region south of Avallon and Vézelay would be nothing special if not one person from XVII c. the Marquis de Vauban – the Marchal of France and a military engineer known as the father of French citadelles. Plenty of star or flower-shaped defensive structures near then French borders are his work. I thought of doing a TdF theme dedicated to these citadelles but that would limit it to only borderlands so i scraped it. There will be a couple of stages with the citadelle theme at least partly in mind. Bazoches is home to two castles – XII c. Château de Vauban and XII c. Château de Bazoches. The last castle was bought by Vauban in 1675 which since then was his family's home.

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Château de Vauban, Bazoches.

Just outside of Bazoches the stage descends down to Pierre-Perthuis – a historic village hidden inside Val de la Cure. It's home to the remains of X c. Château de Pierre-Perthuis, former seat of local lords. The village is also home to XVII c. Pont de Ternos bridge over the Cure. Before Pierre-Perthuis the race enters the Yonne department.

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Château de Pierre-Perthuis.

Just north of Pierre-Perthuis is another Gallo-Roman archaelogical site of Fontaines Salées which dates back to the Bronze Age. It seems to have been a major spa town destroyed by Germans in III c. Up to XVI c. the site was also a salt mine. Nearby the race will reach Saint-Pere near Vézelay and then turn into Avallon.

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Thermes of Fontaines Salées.

Saint-Pere or Saint-Pere-sous-Vézelay is a small historic village right at the bottom of Vézelay from which it obviously benefited. It was already a sizeable village in antiquity (it's in close proximity to Fontaines Salées baths). In the middle ages it was home to an only-female monastery under the patronage of Vézelay. The main sight is XIII-XV c. Église Notre-Dame de Saint-Pere – a gothic monstrosity, kinda similar to it's bigger brother in Vézelay.

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Église Notre-Dame de Saint-Pere, Saint-Pere.

Vézelay itself is a popular hilltop finish in this thread but never hosted a Tour de France finish. I'm not sure if there's enough space for a road stage finish but for a time trial it should be fine. I even thought if it even could be a joint grand départ with Avallon. This stage is not going through the town as in Saint-Pere it turns east into Avallon.

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Vézelay.

Vézelay is mainly all about the XI c. Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, part of the UNESCO WHS. Some relics belived to be that of Mary Magdalene were brought here from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in XI c. These relics popularised the basilique to the point of being one of the most popular medieval pilgrimage sites in France. It was obviously also part of the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. It was the biggest Benedictine basilique under the power of Cluny, hence the thematic tie with the départ town. The 2nd and 3rd crusades were formed in Vézelay. Other sights in the town include the remains of city walls with XV c. Porte Neuve, XVII c. Église Saint-Étienne and XII c. Chapelle de la Cordelle where it's believed the 2nd crusade was proclaimed.

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Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay.

In Saint-Pere starts the last climb of the day. The Côte de la Croix de Montjoie is cat. 3 with 3,2km at very regular 5,3%. It doesn't look like there are any bigger spikes in difficulty, but it may reach 7% in some places. The top is roughly 12km from the finish line. The climb is right in between Vézelay and Avallon on D957, near a village called... Island. The descent to Pontaubert is quite short and non-complicated. It's followed by a false-flat to Avallon. The hardest part of this false-flat is the first 900m at 6%.

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Avallon's historical center seen from Chemin Cambon.

The history of Avallon is at least partly tied with nearby Vézelay. Interestingly, it's way bigger than the hilltop basilique town with almost 7000 inhabitants. It may theoretically have enough money and space for a Tour de France start or finish. As far as i know, Avallon never hosted a Tour stage and i also don't remember any Paris-Nice visiting the town in the last 10 years. The town is quite picturesquely located on top of a hill overlooking quite deep Val du Cousin. Because of said valley there are a number of sometimes steep climbs in the area. It might be just me but i find it more attractive as a finish than kinda stale Vézelay.

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Grande Rue Aristide Briand, Avallon.

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Remains of the city walls, Avallon.

Avallon started as a small Gallo-Roman settlement know nas Aballo. Unlike nearby Vézelay, which was mainly dependant from Vatican and later the French king (royal site) Avallon was a seat of a county dependant on the duchy of Burgundy. The town was also a minor pilgrimage site thanks to the relics of Saint Lazare stored in XII c. Église Saint-Lazare. In the middle ages the town had an extensive set of city walls and a feudal castle but the castle was razed in XII c. and the city walls with 7 defensive towers are only partially conserved. Other sights include a number of convents from XVII c. Tour de l'Horloge clock tower from XV c. and a number of manor houses from XVI c.

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Église Saint-Lazare, Avallon.

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Tour de l'Horloge (clock tower), Avallon.

Now to i guess the more interesting parts – mainly the last kms in Avallon. After leaving D957 the first 700m are on Chemin Cambon, that's enclosing the historical center. They're on a slight downhill (3-4%). Next 750m are on Route Cousin le Pont alongside the city walls and they're uphill (4-5%). When the stage finally enters the historical center under the Tour de l'Horloge 1,4km from the finish line the surface changes into cobbles. The first 200m to Église Saint-Lazare are still uphill (7-8%) before the road flattens for the next 370m (Grande Rue Aristide Briand). The cobbles end on Place Vauban at the end of this flat part and the next 750m to the finish are slightly downhill (2-3%). The finish line is on Rue du Général Leclerc at the end of 400m straight. I you really want, then for safety reasons you can neutralise the last 1km in terms of GC, as i doubt there would be any differences anyway. It's just to give you an interesting finish and not just yet another bunch sprint.

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Cobbles in Avallon.

If you really want to break some spines, please check out Rue Pavé Cousin la Roche in Avallon. I decided to exclude it as it's not only not designed for a road bike but also kinda in a way of disrepair. Adjacent to it Rue du Pavé de Cousin le Pont is not cobbled like the name suggests but it's on a rather rough tarmac (in some places it's just broken). Because Avallon lies over the Cousin gorge there are a number of not so well known climbs (Chemin de la Goulotte, max ~15%) that can spice up a potential finish in the city.

Hope this finish may be a bit more interesting than the usual Vézelay stuff. I'm not even sure who would be a favourite for this stage. I still think it's a sprinters affair (at least for those who can resist small climbs near the finish) with a chance for an outsider pushing on the cobbles. Possibly it's still Sagan for choice, but some fo the big cobbles specialists without strong sprint may try to upset the bunch. I also hope there won't be any crashes thanks to the GC being sorted out after the first Alpine block. Next stage will be an Alaphilippe/Valverde porn show in the very heart of Champagne.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

24 Aug 2018 17:46

Possibly the oldest stage i have for this race. Created, when i was going for a Vauban-themed Tour de France and it dates back to roughly the time, when i've posted my first Tour (the one with grand départ in Brest). I consider this stage to be one of the better ones i've did and i'm really happy to finally find a purpose for it. Sadly, my Vosges and Orleans stage featuring dirt will either need to wait or they're be lost to time.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/164282
Tour de France 2 – stage 6. Auxerre – Épernay, 189km, hilly.
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Climbs:
Côte de Arces-Dilo – 3,2km, 3,6%, cat. 4, 275m
Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger – 1,9km, 6,2%, cat. 4, 240m
Côte (Mur) de Avize – 0,9km, 10,5% (max ~16%), cat. 3, 244m
Côte (Mur) de Monthelon – 1,1km, 11,2% (max ~20%), cat. 3, 230m

This stage is entirely based on this and this Champagne maps to try and feature as many types of champagne as i can.

Champagne is a very open, rolling region below 300m (highest point ~275m in Montagne de Reims). It's obviously most known for champagne. The wind normally blows either from south or west and it can be quite strong (northern France). Because the stage has mainly a north-south direction it means there is a chance for echelons. It's not a dedicated echelon stage (that will come later) but it can be a potential factor.

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Vineyards of Champagne.

The stage goes through many little towns and villages in the heart of Champagne and while they're historic – producing champagne since the middle ages, they're not particulary interesting. What i find the most compelling are the vast open spaces with rolling hills covered in lushfully green vineyards. Historically Champagne is the easternmost part of Brie (Brye), which generally covers most of the vast rolling plains east of Paris, reaching Burgundy in the east.

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Another look at vineyards of Champagne.

This time the departure is in Auxerre over the Yonne roughly halfway between Dijon and Paris. Because of that it's an important industrial and transport hub on the Paris – Lyon – Nice A6 motorway. It's also known for a decent football club AJ Auxerre and production of a Burgundy wine Chablis (mainly in nearby town of Chablis). Auxerre featured plenty of times in Tour de France, but that was a long time ago. Last time in 1980 stage 21 and 1981 stage 23, both times to Fontenay-sous-Bois, first one won by young Sean Kelly and second time by Johan Van der Velde. You can find more of Auxerre's ties with cycling in this Libertine's post.

Auxerre started as a sizeable Gallo-Roman town Autissiodorum on Via Agrippa, which crossed the Yonne here. Sadly, there's not much remaining from that era. The town was one of the earliest bishoprics in France (III c.) with Saint Amatre and Saint Germain as the earliest bishops. I don't think there's too much to talk about as its history is that of many other French towns – a seat of a local county, damaged during the 100 Years War and by Huguenots in 1567, sudden rise in XVII c. demolition of city walls in XVIII c. and heavy industrialization of XIX c. The viticulture starts around XII c. and for the longest times it was the main money maker for the town.

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Some medieval architecture with a XV c. clock tower, Auxerre.

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IX c. Abbaye Saint-Germain, Auxerre.

Thanks to a relatively calm history (even during the French Revolution) the city has a well preserved historic center with many houses, hotels and other public buildings dating from XIII-XVI c. The general architecture is similar to that of Strasbourg or Troyes with half-timbered houses. The only really interesting non-Roman monument that didn't remained is a feudal castle. Because Auxerre was a quite prominent bishopry it once had at least 27 churches (quite a lot if you ask me). The main sights are IX c. Abbaye Saint-Germain, XII c. Cathédrale Saint-Étienne renown for its large stained glass windows, tons of chapels from XII-XVII c. and bishop's palace of XVII c. with some parts from XII c. now used as the seat of the Yonne department.

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XII c. Cathédrale Saint-Étienne, Auxerre.

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The bishop's palace of Auxerre with the cathedral in the background.

From Auxerre the stage almost exclusively goes straight north. Because of a rail crossing i decied to take a small detour via Héry and only then join the main route D84 in Seignelay. The region is known as Pays d'Othe and it's the historic border between Burgundy and Champagne. It's a hilly region reaching the heights of 300m and spanning from Sens to Troyes and Yonne to Vanne. It will be felt by the first categorised climb of the day – Côte de Arces-Dilo with 3,2km at 3,6%.

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Pays d'Othe.

I don't find Pays d'Othe to be historically or visually that interesting so i won't do any more detailed look but mention some things that i found interesting like a weird wooden market (called "halles") in Seignelay dating back from XVII c. and somehow still standing. There are also some Gallo-Roman menhirs just west of Coulours and east of Courgenay. XII c. Abbaye de Vauluisant just north of Villeneuve-l'Archevêque, itself home to XII c. Église Notre-Dame. Both the abbey and the town were founded by Henri Sanglier, the Archbishop of nearby Sens.

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Wooden "halles" in Seignelay.

After leaving the hills of Pays d'Othe the area opens up leaving the peloton open to wind. The direction of the wind will be important and there's a relatively high chance of echelons. Below are some snippets of the next roughly 100km.

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Near Bercenay-le-Hayer.

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Near Broussy-le-Grand.

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Near Vertus.

In Courgenay the race leaves Yonne for Aube. The region is littered with Neolithic menhirs, mainly around Bercenay-le-Hayer (where they're known as Dolmens de la Pierre Couverte).

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Dolmen de Bercenay, Bercenay-le-Hayer.

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Dolmen des Blancs Fossés, Bercenay-le-Hayer.

Next is Nogent-sur-Seine, where the stage crosses the Seine. Outside of Auxerre and Épernay the biggest town of this stage. It's near the border with Seine-et-Marne, part of the Île-de-France region. Outside of the Paris stage this might be the closest point to Paris of the race. Interestingly, the town has a history with sculptors – Alfred Boucher, Paul Dubois and Camille Claudel (she has a dedicated museum in the town). Nearby Nogent-sur-Seine is a village of La Motte-Tilly, home to XVII c. Château de la Motte-Tilly built for a minister of finance during the reign of Louis XV Joseph Marie Terray.

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Château de la Motte-Tilly.

In nearby Villenauxe-la-Grande the stage enters the first AOC of Champagne – Côte de Sézanne and also Voie de la Liberté. It's a set of roads drafted after the route Allied forces (mainly Americans) took from Normandy to Luxembourg. In nearby Nesle-la-Reposte are the ruins of an ancient abbey founded by Clovis I in V c.

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XIII c. Église Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul and a half-timbered house, Villenauxe-la-Grande.

Just outside of Villenauxe-la-Grande is an uncategorised climb to Montgenost, which theoretically could be a cat. 4. Montgenost is home to a... prison. It seems i have luck with those things. At least patients will have an additional enjoyment during their stay. Too much enjoyment is never bad(?).

The region of Sézanne had a relatively important part in WW1 as the headquarters, a war hospital and back lines of the 5th French Army which was battling very hard during the numerous operation on nearby Marne front. The main sight of the region is probably picturesuqe Train Touristique de la Traconne which weaves around Champagne from Esternay to Épernay.

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1st battle of Marne.

A wetland Marais du Saint-Gond just north of Sézanne was part of the first battle of Marne (1914). The fight spanned for four days (05.09 to 09.09.1914) between German 2nd Army with parts of 3rd Army and French 9th and 5th Armies. It was won by the French. The German troops were pushed back to Reims where the battle of Aisne took place. This battle is commemorated by a very distinct monument in Mondement-Montgivroux, just north of Sézanne.

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Monument de la 1ère victoire de la Marne, Mondement-Montgivroux.

Even further north is a large Neolithic necropolis with a number of menhirs. It centers around the villages of Villevenard and Baye, home to Abbaye Notre-Dame du Reclus founded by Saint Bernard in XII c. In Sézanne the race leaves Voie de la Liberté for Route Touristique du Champagne while going on top of quite picturesque hills of Allemant. From there the race leaves the Côte de Sézanne for Côte des Blancs AOC, which starts in Bergères-lès-Vertus. Said Côte des Blancs will have a very important function in this stage.

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Views from the top of Allemant hills just outside of Broye.

Bergères-lès-Vertus is a small village at the bottom of a quite interesting Mont Aimé (240m), the southernmost tip of Côte des Blancs. Inhabited since Neolithic this hill was once home to a relatively large castle. In XIII c. Cathars were executed at the castle. It was destroyed during the Hundred Years War and later dismantled. The remains were later a strategic point during the Battle of Fère-Champenoise of 1814, which ultimately resulted in the capture of Paris by the Allies (mainly Russia) and an abdication by Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Mont Aimé, Bergères-lès-Vertus.

When looking at Vertus i'm sad the city walls didn't lasted to our times as you can very clearly see where they were (encircling double-lane boulevards). It has possibly the most ridiculous coat of arms i've seen – an arrow pierced heart. The village in in the very center of Côte des Blancs wine region. A champagne producer Duval-Leroy was established in the village (1859).

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Vertus' coat of arms.

The village dates back to very early middle ages. The city walls (which i'm still sad of) were created in XII c. The only trace of them left is Porte Baudet. Other sights include XI c. Église Saint-Martin, quite interestingly placed in front of a small pond and a historical vine field Clos des Bouveries from which a champagne of the same name is produced (won some sort of an international wine championship in 2007). Vertus is the birthplace of a French XIV c. poet Eustache Deschamps.

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Église Saint-Martin, Vertus.

Just north of Vertus is Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, home to another historic vine field Clos du Mesnil, where a champagne of the same name is produced. The main conclusion to the stage starts just outside of the village, 27,5km from the finish. Peloton will ascend the first proper climb of the day – Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger. It's almost 2km at a regular 6,2%. This climb is part of a small hilly range of Côte des Blancs (highest point 246m) just south of Épernay. The first part of Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger is quite narrow but it widens when leaving the village. The entire Côte des Blancs provides a nice overview of Champagne and Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger is no different to it.

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Views from Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger.

From the top the stage goes on a plateau on top of Côte des Blancs. The descent starts when peloton leaves Côte des Blancs and descends down to Oger. It's very similar to Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger – views of Champagne and wide road until entering Oger. Oger and nearby Avize are known for production of many wines with Blanc de Blancs being the most prestigious.

After 1,4km of flat between Oger and Avize the first proper murito starts – Côte or Mur de Avize. It's also part of Côte des Blancs. It's 0,9km at 10,5% with max somewhere around 16%. It's cat. 3, mainly because of its steepness. The top is 17,5km from the finish. Midway through the climb is some sort of a champagne bottle installation which during the stage could be used to promote local goods.

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A champagne bottle installation halfway through Mur de Avize.

The descent to Grauves on the other side of Côte des Blancs is quite easy and not as steep as the ascent. From Grauves the race leaves Côte des Blancs and goes through Mancy valley just south of Épernay to enter Côtes Saint-Michel in Monthelon on the other side of the valley.

What awaits in Monthelon is possibly the steepest climb of the entire race. It's not too long as it barely cracks 1km but with 11,2% and max definitely over 20% Côte (or Mur) de Monthelon (mainly Rue du Maltrait) shoudn't be underestimated. The hardest part is in the village with 250m at roughly 14,5% and small patches of roughly 20%. The climb easies up when approaching the top, which is just 10,2km from the finish. I should be a fine spot to try and win the stage. I don't think the GC battle will be too intense as i'm expecting the splits in GC to be quite big already and today is more a matter of just a couple of seconds.

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Côte de Monthelon.

At the top there are roughly 1,4km of flat (Chemin de la Grange aux Bois) before a quite steep and tricky descent to Chavot-Courcourt via Courcourt. The road is not that wide and there are a couple of tricky turns to negotiate. The descent ends roughly 7,5km from the finish.

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Descent from Monthelon when leaving Courcourt.

Next 4,5km to Épernay are relatively straightfoward. I tried to include something from the Forêt d'Épernay range just west of the town and there are a couple of options for another nice murito but coming back to Épernay is a problem as everything is steep and narrow. Hence i decided to not bother with it and included a small climb of Rue de l'Abbé Favret (part of Mont Jogasse, 174m) in the town itself.

Épernay is the self proclaimed capital of Champagne. It's probably the capital of champagne wine but i think Troyes is just to big to be dethroned. It's a relatively big town (23000 pop.) on the very end of Montagne de Reims. The town was founded in VI c. but in the middle ages it wasn't of any major importance. Épernay's history is closely tied to the Champagne wine, which was slowly gaining traction. The first champagne house was founded in 1730 by Chanoine family, one year after the Ruinart house in Reims. Because of the dependance on wine the town was badly hit by various diseases. After a Phylloxera epidemy of 1911 the town was even ravaged by a "Cossiers" revolt.

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Vineyards near Épernay.

The main sight is Avenue de Champagne, where Tour de France stages started a number of times (last time in 2014). It's home to many XIX c. palaces, which are home to some prestigious champagne producers like Moët et Chandon, Pol Roger, Lafond, Perrier (bottled water?), Mercier or Castellane. All of them also house their own wine museums. Épernay is the birthplace of John Gadret – a rather low-key but very good climber with some punching pedigree. He's also a subject of outdated, minor memes with his policy of not looking back and doing whatever he wants. His career highlight is definitely 2011 Giro's 4th place.

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Château Perrier, Épernay.

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Gadret winning the uphill sprint to Castelfidardo in front of Purito, Giro 2011 stage 11.

The run-in to the finish line is quite complicated. It includes a small (uncategorised) murito on Rue de l'Abbé Favret – 850m at roughly 6% which includes a 200m in the middle at roughly 10%. The top if 1,8km from the finish line. The descent leads striaght to the finish line. It goes via Rue Godart Roger, Rue Henri Lelarge, Rue de Lorraine and Avenue de Champagne, where for now the finish line is located. It's quite steep but rather straight and wide with only 3 turns to negotiate.

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Rue de l'Abbé Favret, Épernay.

For now the finish line is roughly where the Tour likes to start when visiting Épernay. It's worth noting that Avenue de Champagne is cobbled. Those are very easy city cobbles but considering it's slightly downhill and if it's wet then it may be dangerous enough to even force to move the finish somewhere else. I think Rue Henri Martin could be a potential candidate and even if it would nullify Rue de l'Abbé Favret that would also mean Côte de Monthelon would be a bit closer to the finish.

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Avenue de Champagne, Épernay.

What to expect? Plenty of pace on the last 3 climbs with peloton breaking into smaller groups on Côte de Monthelon and then merging back while a small group, that decided to continue will gain 10-15s. The chance of a selected bunch sprint is very high but i wouldn't be shocked if it's a small group finising a couple of seconds ahead of said selected peloton. There might be a minor GC skirmish within the battle to win the stage and this ending would be furious if it was one of the first stages of the race. Because of what i expect quite large time splits in the GC think the guys will mostly conserve energy for the next, potentialy more threatening stage.

This stage was created solely to showcase that the general area around Paris is more than capable of producing a nice Ardennes inspired stage outside of Montagne de Reims (they're just north of Épernay) or Libertine's favourite Laon. Other interesting options east of Paris may include Château-Thierry, Provins, Meaux, Jouarre and also Fontainebleau if you're hardcore (some ridiculously hard cobbled hellingen). There's also this champagne thing but i'm personally not interested in wines. It just happened Champagne had a finish i wanted to make, so just decided to follow the wine map to include the wine as much as i can.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

24 Aug 2018 22:07

railxmig wrote:@rghysens, i thought Lübeck (Hanseatic League) might be a really good choice for a grand départ. I guess you're not planning any mountainous stages early judging by the choice of Berlin (unless you're going straight to Erzgebirge), so Lübeck could be (in my eyes of course) a more attractive option.

I forgot to add in my introductional post that I wanted to create a "complete" tour of Germany (starting and finishing in Berlin), while visiting all of the 16 Länder. So, each Land will have at least one stage start or finish. And yes, that means that the first real mountainous stage will be stage 6.

railxmig wrote:An idea that all of you probably know of, but it's never really pointed out.

A highly technical, borderline hilly/medium mountain stage in Morvan,

Well, not quite, as various contributors have shown ;)


Over to:

Deutschland Rundfahrt, 2. Etape: Oranienburg - Stralsund: 221km
(Brandenburg - Mecklenburg-Vorpommern)

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After the first time differences were set in the opening itt, the race caravan takes a trip of 35km north.
Originally named Bötzow, the town of Oranienburg dates from the 12th century and was first mentioned in 1216.In 1646 Friedrich Wilhelm I of Brandenburg married Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau (German: Oranien-Nassau). She was so attracted by the town of Bötzow that her husband presented the entire region to her. The princess ordered the construction of a new castle in the Dutch style and called it Oranienburg or Schloss Oranienburg. In 1653 the town of Bötzow was renamed Oranienburg. Almost three centuries later, the name of the town got a grim connotation, as the first nazi concentration camp was built here.

The palace still exists and the square in front of it will host the race village before the neutralised start.
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For a good 50km the course will follow the main road to Templin, which is one of the biggest towns in Germany regarding area. Going further north, the peloton enters the Norduckermärkische Seenlandschaft, a nature reserve characterized by countless ponds, lakes, moors and brooks. The state border also marks the boundary of the nature reserve, but the landscape doesn't change when the peloton enters the Feldberger Seenlandschaft, which is basically more of the same, but also gives us the first climb of the race: the mighty Feldberg (900m @ 5%), a 4th category bump in the road.

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The course goes on through the plains of northern Germany, crossing cities like Burg Stargard, Neubrandenburg and Altentreptow and reaches the former Hanseatic city of Greifswald after about 190km.

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From there on the peloton will race on a road parallel to the coast, about 2-3 km inland. So, if the wind blows hard enough we're garanteed to have some echelon forming in the final 30km. On top of that, since we're not using the recent main road, but the old road, sidelined with linden trees, we're treated on an uninterrupted 25km long stretch of cobbles. The cobbles, however, are rather smooth and well maintained (the whole road is apparently a protected sight), apart from the occasional rough patch. This means we don't have to expect big time differences due to the cobbles alone, but combined with the stage length and possible sidewinds, we can hope for some meaningful splits in the peloton.

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At the end of this Lindenallee, there's about 6km left to the finishline, in another hanseatic town: Greifswald.
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rghysens
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Re: Race Design Thread

25 Aug 2018 01:12

rghysens wrote:
railxmig wrote:An idea that all of you probably know of, but it's never really pointed out.

A highly technical, borderline hilly/medium mountain stage in Morvan,

Well, not quite, as various contributors have shown ;)


Catched this up before going to sleep. Maybe i should expand that sentence further. What i had in mind was an Avallon finish after a cobbled run-up. Morvan is a very popular area here and i'm well aware of that. However, it's always Le Creusot/Autun (after Uchon) or Vézelay and whenever there's a finish in Avallon, then it's not expanded further. The first sentance was a standalone reminder/warning and had nothing to do with the next paragraph. Sadly, your own design from years bygone seems to be lost in history, so i cannot check, what was your finish choice.

As for Germany. I know it can offer a lot, but lack of streetview is pushing me away from doing any stages there. And if there will ever be a proper streetview then i think i would go more 1-week racing as for me it's just too big to cover with just one race. I mean, even tiny hamlets in the middle of nowhere have a Disney-esque castle there. I really recommend Germany, but definitely not metropolies. They're too glassy and technical for me.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

25 Aug 2018 16:57

A rather awful timing but later i won't have any free time and... that's only a prologue [Vuelta] and it will properly start in Alfaguara.

I want to clearly stress this out. This stage is not part of the Tour i'm doing. It's only an introduction to Gent.

Because Gent is one of not so common instances of an interesting Belgian city (i consider it the most interesting one, just ahead of Brugge and maybe also Leuven) and there's quite a lot to write about it. Sadly, there's also a lot to write about the stage Gent is part of. Because of that i decided to split the post into the main part which should be released tomorrow and an extra, which you read right now. To describe Gent i've used an unused prologue idea back, when this Tour started in the city.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/201076
Tour de France 2 – Extra. Gent ITT, 10,8km, ITT.
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Cobbles (Kasseien):
Kantienberg – 600m, *
Steenakker – 700m, *
Bagattenstraat – 400m, *

Gent is the capital and the biggest city of Oost-Vlaanderen or Flandre-Orientale in French. Oost-Vlaanderen doesn't need any further introduction as the majority of Belgian one-day races extensively covers the region. You have flat, mostly wet region of Waasland with some occasional cobbles (Etbos, Terneuzen in Netherlands, Brugge) and Flemmish Ardennes, where most of RVV-type races resolve.

Saint Amandus was a VII c. bishop of Maastricht and Tournai. He was given a mission to christianize Franders by French king Chlothar II. He decided his HQ to be in what is now Gent, where he found two abbeys – Sint-Pietersabdij and Sint-Baafsabdij. Soon both abbeys were the most powerful in Flanders and Saint Amandus became the patron of Flanders. Gent itself soon was the capital of Duchy of Flanders (seat in Gravensteen).

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Saint Amandus.

In the middle ages the main income was from taxes on cereals (Korenmarkt). Traders, who used Leie (Lys in French) to transport their goods were forced to sell 1/4 of their goods in Gent. The city was also known for it's textile industry and craftmen guilds. The problems came with the 100 years War, when Gent chosed England which resulted in repeated attacks from France. Soon also Antwerp gained in importance after Sasse Vart Canal was built, which sort of choked Gent. This period lasted up to XVIII/XIX c. when Gent was one of the first cities in continental Europe to have a proper textile factory. It hosted EXPO 1913. Thankfully it wasn't affected by both World Wars so it's quite well preserved.

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Vooruit.

Gent is not a stranger to cycling as it annually hosts Gent-Wevelgem and at times also Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The most notable cycling persona born in Gent is definitely Bradley Wiggins. There's also Iljo Keisse, Gijs Van Hoecke and Tiesj Benoot. Other personalia includes one of the founders of the Dutch school in painting – Jan van Eyck and... Charles V, who ruled like half of the entire world. Last time Gent was featured in the Tour in 2007 as a finish to stage 2 won in a very weird bunch sprint (batterd by a crash) by Gert Steegmans, who i think was supposed to lead out Boonen, who finished just behind him.

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Tiesj Benoot was just awesome during the 2018 Strade Bianche, which he won ahead of Bardet and Van Aert.

This prologue/ITT feaures 3 cobbled sectors – Kantienberg, Steenakker and Bagattenstraat. Both Kantienberg and Bagattenstraat are slightly uphill (max 5-6%). None of these sectors are difficult. Overall, there are 1,7km of cobbles, which is roughly 16% of the stage. Other potential difficulty could be tram lines, as some parts of this stage goes alongside them. Even if there's not that many turns i would still consider it mostly a technical time trial.

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Kantienberg.

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Steenakker.

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Bagattenstraat.

I tried to pack as many monuments as possible. I think the only major one i'm missing is the gorgeous XII c. Gravensteen castle on the other side of Leie. It was originally the seat of Counts of Flanders. It was commisioned by Philip van de Elzas mainly to secure himself from Gent's craftsmen and imprison the more vocal ones. Since XIV c. it was gradually decaying. In XIX c. it was scheduled to be destroyed and probably replaced with some of those ugly modern Dutch homes (they had a beautiful marinistic style but decided for some ugly English knock-off). Thankfully it was (partly) restored and now it houses a museum of middle ages torture devices.

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Gravensteen.

I'm also missing on the Drongen Abbey, just west of Gent. It was one of the two abbeys that founded Gent. The modern abbey is from XVII c. as the old one was destroyed by Calvinists. XVII c. for Benelux was very hard as the region suffered from the Thirty Years War but also from local skirmishes as it was a battleground between Luterans, Calvinists and Catholics.

The start is on Vrijdagmarkt – one of Gent's historic makrets. In the middle of the markt is a statue of Jacob van Artevelde, who in 1340 proclaimed the English king as the king of France (it was during the first years of 100 Years War). He was killed on the square 5 years later. Vrijdagmarkt operates every Friday since 1199. it was also used as a festive place, where monarchs were greeted. It was also place of choice for public executions.

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Vrijdagmarkt.

The oldest and most prominent building on this square is XV c. Tokeren – a former guildhouse. Near the market stands XI c. Sint-Jacobskerk – one of the oldest Romanesque churches in Belgium.

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Tokeren.

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Sint-Jacobskerk.

From Vrijdagmarkt the stage goes via Kammerstraat, Belfortstraat and Limburgstraat, which includes very lavish XVI c. city hall, belfry and Sint-Baafskathedraal. Gent's XIV c. belfry is the highest in Belgium. Thoruhgout its history it was also used as a watchtower. Adjacent to the belfry is the city's cloth hall.

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Stadhuis Gent.

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Gent's belfry.

XIV c. Sint-Baafskathedraal is primarly known as the place, where Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was baptised and for its art, which includes a painting by Rubens and an altar by Van Eyck brothers. This altar is considered to be a prime example of Dutch Reinassance. Just behind the cathedral is Geeraard de Duivelsteen – a XIII c. gothic castle/fort named after a local knight Geeraard Vilain (also known as Geerard the Devil).

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Sint-Baafskathedraal.

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Geeraard de Duivelsteen.

The race continues alongside Muinkschelde canal and King Albert's Park to then enter the first cobbled sector of the day – Kantienberg. It leads to Sint-Pietersabdij (Saint Peter's Abbey). With the Drongen Abbey in VIII c. it was the founder of Gent. The abbey was founded by Saint Amand, main Christian missionary of Flanders.

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Sint-Pietersabdij.

From the abbey the race then reaches Citadel Park. It was created in place of a former citadel, which stood there for a short time during the Napoleonic wars. It's on a hill called Blandijnberg. Only one gate and the Leopold barracks survived. An indoor velodrome Kuipke is located in the park. It's normally the place, where Gent – Wevelgem starts.

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Kuipke.

Next roughly 4km are in more industrialized part of the city, so i can reach the 2nd cobbled sector – Steenakker. After that i'm returning to the center via Zwijnaardsesteenweg, Krijgslaan and Kortrijksesteenweg not really caring about the tram lines. The last part of the stage is mainly on Kortrijksepoortstraat with a small detour to include cobbled and uphill Bagattenstraat. At the end of Bagattenstraat is Vooruit – a sizeable cultural center built for EXPO 1913 which was hosted in Gent.

As the stage crosses Muinkschelde on Walpoortstraat it enters Koutermarkt – the 3rd historic market after Korenmarkt and Vrijdagmarkt. It specialises in flowers. The flower market is held there every Sunday since 1772. The finish of the stage is on Korenmarkt – the main historic market square in Gent. Korenmarkt is definitely the most beautiful and representative of them. In the middle ages it was a cereal trade center. Sadly, it's strangled with tram lines. I hope the city won't have too much problems if i kill their public transport for one day.

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Korenmarkt.

The most prominent building on this square is XII-XIII c. Sint-Niklaaskerk in very lavish gothic. Another prominent monument is also a lavish neo-gothic XIX c. post office (Oud Postkantoor), which now seems to be a shopping center.

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Sint-Niklaaskerk.

I hope i presented Gent well enough and also hope that the usage of trams won't be a big problem for the city. In my Tour stage i made sure to not cross any trams, especially as it'll be a week day stage. I also hope there's no big mistakes left.
railxmig
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Re: Race Design Thread

25 Aug 2018 21:30

railxmig wrote:I hope i presented Gent well enough and also hope that the usage of trams won't be a big problem for the city. In my Tour stage i made sure to not cross any trams, especially as it'll be a week day stage. I also hope there's no big mistakes left.


Apart from the spelling of "Toreken" not, I guess. :p :D
Last edited by rghysens on 25 Aug 2018 23:02, edited 2 times in total.
rghysens
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Re: Race Design Thread

25 Aug 2018 22:52

railxmig wrote:As for Germany. I know it can offer a lot, but lack of streetview is pushing me away from doing any stages there. And if there will ever be a proper streetview then i think i would go more 1-week racing as for me it's just too big to cover with just one race. I mean, even tiny hamlets in the middle of nowhere have a Disney-esque castle there. I really recommend Germany, but definitely not metropolies. They're too glassy and technical for me.

I guess that's due to WW2.

railxmig wrote:Sadly, your own design from years bygone seems to be lost in history, so i cannot check, what was your finish choice.

The final of that stage began with the climb to the center of Vézelay, than came a climb on the main road from Vézelay to Avallon, then some flat and a finish just after the Rue du pavé Cousin le Pont.

The third stage of my current design, however, misses that spicy final. And also a spicy middle part or start.

Deutschland Rundfahrt, 3. Etape: Stralsund - Lübeck: 224km
(Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - Schleswig-Holstein)

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No transfer after stage 2, the race caravan stays in or around the former Hanseatic city of Stralsund.
As already mentioned, the whole of stage 3 is rather uneventful, from a cycling fan's point of view. It starts with about 60km near the Barther Bodden and Saaler Bodden, two big lagoons separated from the Baltic by the Fischland peninsula. From Ribnitz the course goes to Rostock. We're not using the main road, but make a detour to the seaside health resort Graal-Müritz and through the Rostocker Heide.
From a historical perspective, Rostock was one of the more powerful hanseatic cities on the baltic and could boast the presence of the oldest university in the Baltic. With regards to cycling, it's the birth town of André Greipel and the man formerly known as der Kaiser, Ulle or die Sau (to quote Udo Bölts): Jan Ullrich.

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We're heading back to the Baltic Sea, through bad Doberan and the small village of bastorf, where the only cliimb of the day awaits. From Ostseebad Rerik the coastline is followed as closely as possible to Wismar, another Hanseatic city.
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In my first design, this was the end of the stage. The thought behind it was that Stralsund and Wismar are one UNESCO world heritage site. But when I decided to include all Länder I noticed this would lead to some problems if I also wanted a more or less overall attractive course, so I decided to lengthen the stage and continue to another Land.
Lucky enough, there's another touristy hotspot not far from Wismar, one that is also a world heritage site: Lübeck. In the middle ages, it was one of the founding members of the Hanseatic League and in the 14th century it became so powerful the emperor Charles IV named it one of the 5 glories of the empire (in addition to Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence). The finish is just outside the historic city center, on the Willy Brandt Allee, named after the former Bundeskanzler (more or less the German prime minister).

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One more flat stage before we head to the hills.
rghysens
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26 Aug 2018 14:41

Not by favourite design (I like my 3rd one that I haven't posted here yet), but I feel like I can post this here:
Giro d'Italia v2

Stage 1 Alghero-Olbia 154,9 Km Flat
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/154922

A start to the Giro in Sardinia with a flat stage for sprinters to get the maglia rosa.

Alghero:
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Olbia:
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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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