Ovo Energy Tour of Britain UCI 2.HC (07.09-14.09)

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Jan 7, 2017
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Agree with others about the less than stellar route; however, I think it's down to £££££. Those towns/ regions that pay the hosting fees get the race. Those areas in Scotland don't feel it's worth it.......
 
Jan 12, 2012
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Nope, they just continuously don’t use decent climbs. I’ve done a couple of ToB’s in the race design thread, including a 2 week mini-GT that use a lot of the better climbs we have in the UK. Ok it’s never going to be Alpine, but it doesn’t need to be.
The ToB finishes a fortnight before the Worlds so that's where its focus should be, and GB has the right terrain for the sort of attritional stages that would make good preparation. The transport and tourist infrastructure is pretty dire compared to a lot of western Europe which is obviously a problem for transfer lengths and hotels, and what big climbs there are (Marchlyn Mawr or Bealach na Ba or Cairngorm Ranger station) are too isolated to be any use to mountainous race design. But what you can/should do is throw a ball of string at a map of the Forest of Dean or the Peak District or Exmoor/Quantocks and have the race bounce up and down small hills for four hours at a time.


  • Torriden, Applecross, and the Bealach Na Ba
This is the stage I'd most like to see. A descent finish to Applecross after the Bealach Na Ba would be epic. I guess it's not practical but come on ....
Like. And it's the right way to use a single big climb in a stage. Load the riders onto dinghys at the Milltown jetty, take them to meet the buses by the Skye Bridge and three hours later they're at their hotels in Fort William. It's at least no worse than the guys getting from Encamp to Pau the other day...
 
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Ah, the mythical Tour of Scotland, the greatest concept race ever to exist outside of the mind of @Libertine Seguros. Saor Alba my friend, Saor Alba.
Back in the 60s and 70s you had the Scottish Milk Race, which was amateur like its larger brother the Milk Race. Largely a fairly provincial affair but sometimes some strong amateurs from overseas - particularly the Eastern Bloc - would compete, although often not with their A-teams. An exception was 1975, when the Poles sent a monster squad with all the stars, with the race eventually being won by Ryszard Szurkowski, with Mieczysław Nowicki and Stanisław Szozda also winning stages, and the team taking all but one stage. Szurkowski had also win in 1972, while six-day specialist René Pijnen is also a former winner. Stage winners include Danguillaume, Don Allan, Michal Klasa, Rudy Pevenage and Bert Oosterbosch.

The problem with the Tour of Britain is that it had been heading towards some really improving routes through 2010-2015, introducing some tough climbs, and placing obstacles better, and now seems to be regressing horribly towards what it was in 2006-2009 kind of time, where it was largely a bonus seconds festival. I suspect part of that might be to do with differentiation from the Tour of Yorkshire and also that Yorkshire is now no longer on the agenda because of the Tour of Yorkshire's existence, but some of the stages in Scotland and the Lake District seem like they're designed backwards, or like the organisers understand what makes a race difficult, but not how to make the difficulties relevant.

A properly designed Tour of Britain could be the Classics man's stage race par excellence, and the perfect Worlds tuneup for almost all World Championship routes. That would also guarantee a very strong field and I really feel that's what the race ought to aspire to.
 
Stage 2:

That's right, I just can't wait until tomorrow and had to get this up before stage 1 sends me into a boredom-induced coma.

This stage both starts and ends in Kelso, so you're getting two lots of facts about Kelso... but first we should discuss the borders and its indigenous population. It is a well known fact that the closer you get to the English border, the more Scottish the people become. You might catch Glaswegians watching Arsenal Vs. Chelsea, but not in Kelso, oh no. Locals are much more likely to be found half naked, wrapped in only their Grandma's picnic rug, covered in blue and white face paint and screaming at anyone whose clothing is mainly white and red. Lotto Soudal take note. If you've never heard the Corries before then just pop into a pub in Roxburghshire and you'll soon be singing along to The Black Douglas, Dark Lochnagar or The Massacre of Glencoe. Along with the most Scottish of the Scots, the Borders are steeped in history. Lets take a journey along our route and see what treasures it holds...

Kelso is famous for many things, but I've already promised Tarzan so that better be where we start. Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes was filmed at Floors Castle in Kelso, the Seat of the Duke of Roxburghe. It's pretty big, I'm sure there's more than one seat in it, maybe we'll find out in the pre-race build up. I'm also pretty sure Tarzan isn't still there, it's just a local who hasn't put their face paint on yet.

As the race leaves Kelso, almost instantly, we get a sprint. The first of 4 today, including the inevitable bunch sprint. This first sprint happens in Coldstream, famous for the Coldstream Guards. The oldest regiment with continuous service in the British Army, they can be traced back to Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. Don't buy their albums though, it's just terrible versions of the Marriage of Figaro. Like any other regiment it has a long history of killing people around the world, so we'll leave that well alone.

From Coldstream the riders will follow the border which runs through the river Tweed. This is the river we intend to widen to make Scotland an Island nation, please don't tell anyone about that though or they may ask me to leave. The borders boast some hilly roads to the West of Melrose so our intrepid explorers will remain exclusively East of this town (Honestly, they have literally picked the flatest part of the borders to host the stage. Go have a look if you don't believe me). The first ramp is Hardens Hill, a mighty climb at 2.3km long with an average gradient of 4.3%. The riders will certainly need to harden their spirit to get over it, I predict massive gaps with riders zig-zagging across the Tarmacadam, battling such fearsome gradients.

Once over here there will be a sprint in Duns. No doubt the climbers will still be out in front of the shredded peloton as they enter this historic County Town, most famous for being the home of Margaret Lumsden, a victim of Demonic Possession. Many riders may be wishing they were possessed by this point as the rolling roads take us on to the next majestic climb. At 4km long and an average 2.1% gradient, you can see why the organisers just had to include it.

We hit Melrose next and its famous Abbey. This fell into ruin after the Reformation (sorry to anyone who just had flashbacks to History classes) and has, buried within it, a casket purported to contain the heart of Robert The Bruce. The home of Sir Walter Scott is also nearby (I wasn't lying when I said the borders are steeped in history).

Immediately out of Melrose the riders will hit a, frankly, ludicrously steep climb. at 2.6km long and with an average gradient of 6% I predict that the whole peloton will be seen taking multiple sticky bottles in an attempt to conquer this behemoth. Frankly I don't know how they can expect the riders to continue after that, but they will force them to rider another agonising 23.4km to return to Kelso. This is especially cruel, considering the only just left there and were hoping never to return. Why? Well Kelso charges more for beer than elsewhere in Scotland. Yes! Really! (ok, they used to. Artistic licence, get off my case). A tax of 2 pence was applied to every pint of ale, beer or porter sold in the town to replace a bridge destroyed in a flood. The tax was continued after the construction of the bridge and the Riot Act had to be read to the complaining townsfolk.



It's going to be a hard competition this year, but I think both stage 1 and 2 will be in with a chance of winning Most Boring Stage of the Race. Here's the route and profile, because everyone needs comedy in their life:


 
Lol the borders are the least Scottish of the Scots, not the most. They look longingly to Northumberland and wish they could be reunited with their Reiver cousins, these are neither English or Scots but an unruly bunch who are a law unto themselves.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Jul 20, 2019
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They seem to have decided that the Tour of Britain should be a training ride for the Worlds. This year looks really poor. It was the same two years ago when it also looked like a training ride. Last year was better as was three years ago. So they are alternating ok and poor.

They used Burton Dassett and the loop in the Women's tour. Each time it split the group which then reformed on the loop before the final climb split. I think the results would have been similar if they had only climbed it once.
 
May 25, 2018
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They seem to have decided that the Tour of Britain should be a training ride for the Worlds. This year looks really poor. It was the same two years ago when it also looked like a training ride. Last year was better as was three years ago. So they are alternating ok and poor.

They used Burton Dassett and the loop in the Women's tour. Each time it split the group which then reformed on the loop before the final climb split. I think the results would have been similar if they had only climbed it once.

I think the theory is that all the top sprinters will skip the Vuelta to come over and the big names will generate some publicity. It might have worked before but with more high ranked races in Uk now I feel TOB is getting a little predictable and boring also doesnt help that the UK no longer has a top sprinter. I say use some of the hilly stages they used to have and add the odd mountain even if it puts some top guys off it will be more entertaining and generate interest that way
 
May 25, 2018
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Agree, but this years sprint field has probably been an exception rather than the rule. Gaviria, Viviani, Ewan, Kristoff have all been regulars over recent years. On top of that the old guard Cav, Kittel and Griepel when in peak years.
I just dont think 8 stages where the riders whiz past in 5 seconds every year is good advertisement for the race or the sport
 

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