2020 Grand Tour #3gtn1

Great point! I added this to the opening post. Btw since the idea came from Iván Garcia Cortina and Matteo Trentin, the 2020GT opening stage is tailored to their strengths - both much harder to drop uphill than Groenewegen or Ackermann!
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For us, the fans, this would be a great move. As for the rest, people organizing, likely too much selfishness and personal interests involved for such race to realistically happen.
Well, let's hope they feel hard-pressed to produce an awesome event in order to keep the sponsors around. This entire concept is of course based on the likely condition that TdF gets cancelled. (If it doesn't, Vegni will just queeze in GdI somewhere, and problem solved.) Here, it'd be the Vuelta organizers doing everybody a favour by organizing this 3gtn1 in September instead of just running the Vuelta exactly as planned. (ASO owning both the Tour and the Vuelta helps our chances.)
It's a really nice route. I love the amount of hilly puncheur stages. That said, in terms of racing I think Spain is least suited to host the final week. It's the classic vuelta problem that most of their really nice climbs are one way roads and can only be used as mtf's leading to a lack of opportunities for big moves from far out. Anyway, I think I'll try to do something similar myself.

For a lack of 3 GTs I fear the only appropriate compensation is one of those fantasy Roman Empire races.
Also this. And we really need a return of those race design challenges
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It's a really nice route. I love the amount of hilly puncheur stages. That said, in terms of racing I think Spain is least suited to host the final week. It's the classic vuelta problem that most of their really nice climbs are one way roads and can only be used as mtf's leading to a lack of opportunities for big moves from far out. Anyway, I think I'll try to do something similar myself.

Also this. And we really need a return of those race design challenges
Spain has obviously fewer great passes but there's definitely still a few that could really make it work. It would just require climbs like Hazallanas and Ancares be used properly. Also, Pico Veleta south side, puhleaaase
The issue there though is that most of those best suited for using as passes are not in a position to be viable for a route such as this, because they're out of the way - things like Haza del Lino, Hazallanas/Collado de las Sabinas, El Purche, Puerto de la Ragua and Cálar Alto are all in the south, and Ancáres/Cruz de Cespedosa, La Manzaneda (the ski station one from 2011, not the small one outside Oviedo), Fonte da Cova and Llano de las Ovejas/El Morredero/Portillinos are in Galicia and northwestern León, so difficult to get into a route of this kind. Even the best Asturian climbs to use as passes - Cuchu Puercu, Cobertoria east, San Lorenzo, La Marta, Bustellán, El Acebo, Marabio, Cruz de Linares, La Bobia (the western one), Connio and Valvaler - are largely centre and west of the province, which makes them of limited value due to a lack of large population centres nearby and that to follow a route which goes through the country properly it would be difficult to include more than one or two.

You could have some good Basque stages, and you could do some crossing the Pyrenees using things like Larrau, but unfortunately there aren't even that many great border passes to use between France and Spain; only really Larrau and Pierre Saint Martin are usable as GT passes that I would consider 'great'. Somport and Pourtalet are OK, Túnel de Bielsa has the issue that going from France to Spain you have 5km descending in a tunnel, even if it is straight. I don't mind climbing in a tunnel but I think descending in a long tunnel like that might be pushing it. Portillón is fine, but then where do you put the finish? An interesting stage could be via Mirador d'Arres to Vielha, or to Pla de Beret, but apart from that there's nothing much to do from there bar return to France, and you'd be doubling back on yourself over Bonaigua otherwise. The next ones after that are Andorra (Port de Pailhères) and Puigcerdà, and crossing over here (or at Coll d'Ares or Coustouges) would really be wasting the iconic climbs of the French Pyrenees. One interesting alternative could have been to cross the border going over Pourtalet and having an MTF at Formigal to have a double-step finish a bit like Peyresourde-Peyragudes; that would give something like, say, St Lary Soulan - Formigal in 170km via Hourquette d'Ancizan (1), Tourmalet (HC), Soulor (1), Aubisque (2) (or just categorize Aubisque (HC)), Pourtalet north (1), Formigal (3). Pourtalet would crest about 8km from the line, Aubisque just over 50, and the final climb would be 3,5km at 6% from the cruce to Formigal. Somport to Candanchú or Astún would be better, but would not be able to be linked to as much beforehand I don't think, not from the east anyway (always options like Issarbe and Soudet to the west).

Issue is that Pourtalet isn't the scariest of climbs - long but not that steep - and that it would work better if you could turn Aubisque around and climb the steeper side.
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Great feedback, thanks guys!

I understand where you're coming from about the Vuelta routing trouble. But since I added no travel and no transfers to make my challenge harder, while also aligning with some version of social distancing behaviour we'll all have to obey for months if not years, France has to be in the middle. And the reverse order doesn't work for me because of:
  1. chronological GT order we're used to,
  2. GdI finishing at a different city each year (2019 Verona, 2018 Rome, 2017 Milan etc.) while the Madrid circuit is the poor man's Champs Elysees,*
  3. MSR direction,
  4. my newly found French Mur de Huy,
  5. timing Alps on Saturday and Ventoux on Sunday,
  6. weather on Stelvio in September,
  7. I really want the Spanish week celebrated.**
* - The Madrid circuit already is the poor man's Champs Elysees, while being only two days riding away from the Asturian giants. The TdF organizes have been jumping through all kinds of hoops over the years to make the Paris finale less artificial, but usually just ended up putting everybody on the plane the night before. Cute, but no longer necessary.

** - VaE is often considered the third, forgotten one. That's partly because very few riders begin their seasons with a clear peak in September - that's just too risky. This project's mission is to celebrate unity and equality. And I feared the opening week in Spain wouldn't quite capture our imagination as much as Stelvio and Sanremo can.

Regarding the roads, it's true that Asturias is empty, and roads tend to be narrower. That's because almost nobody goes skiing there, while our sport is almost exclusively funded by skiing resorts in the Alps. Ronda Sella or a freakin' city atop Alpe d'Huez weren't exactly created for cycling. Spanish climbs indeed tend be more remote - I did Ancares once, and there's literally nothing and nobody within almost a 100km radius in all directions! But e.g. Covadonga isn't narrow at all, because those buses need to pass one another.

In the Pyrenees, I must admit the first draft passed through Pyrénées-Orientales, with the original Beziers stage finishing atop Col de Jau. But then it gets tough because you if you enter Andorra, you get stuck on the boring N-260 forever. And because I really wanted to bow to the pioniers, I couldn't say 'no' to the concept of repeating that stage monsieur Lapize enjoyed so much back in 1910, even though today I'd take us almost 3 days, including that wacky ITT.

I would argue that you do need to be wary of where is a viable finish, though. The car park at the Col d'Aspin could probably host a smaller race, maybe at a push even a decent size one (we've seen the Vuelta cram a lot into some small areas), but the full circus that would follow this race with it being the only GT all season would probably make that difficult. There's even less space at the Col de Jau. While the Mûr-de-Brétagne finishes have rather changed perceptions of what's a viable finishing host for Le Tour, that is made more practical by it being a hill in an otherwise not too difficult area. Finding places for the full race caravan etc. around the swirling mountain roads at Aspin would be difficult, and you might be better served moving the finish down the hill to Lac de Payolle like in 2016.
Then again the Tour has also managed finishes at Galibier, Izoard, Portet and the like. Aspin fits in that list, although there are harder, logistically easier finishes nearby.
Strictly applying my "no transfers" rule, I should have made them cross Aspin towards the finish line in Sainte-Marie de Campan, where they'll spend the night anyway and where the ITT begins. But I didn't want any downhill finishes in a shortened season to avoid riders literally risking their lives to secure a new contract. Finishing atop Col d'Aspin, I'm assuming that's where all riders will get their jackets and gently roll down the other side for their well-deserved massage. Don't really care about pleasing the rest of the circus.



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