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Race Design Thread

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Dec 16, 2011
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Nice Tour Rghijsens! You indeed found a lot of extra climbs outside the Alps and the Pyrenees. I'm not sure what you meant that you were more strict in selecting your climbs. You seem to get as close towards the Alps as I did. Nevertheless, great attempt and I'm looking forward to the last two stages ;)
Another_Dutch_Guy said:
Nice Tour Rghijsens! You indeed found a lot of extra climbs outside the Alps and the Pyrenees. I'm not sure what you meant that you were more strict in selecting your climbs. You seem to get as close towards the Alps as I did. Nevertheless, great attempt and I'm looking forward to the last two stages ;)

Well, I didn't include any climbs on the left bank of the Rhône (which, in my opinion is the border of the Alps), while you had a couple, iirc.

What do you mean with looking forward to the last 2 stages? I already presented stages 19 and 20 :D.
Right, time to finish the Vuelta off, I kind of lost track since there's only the one stage left. So in case you were all forgetting, we are looking at so far:

Stage 1: short TT in Casablanca
Stage 2: sprint in Rabat
Stage 3: bumpy finishing circuit in Tangier
Stage 4: puncheur finish after the Puerto del León
Stage 5: MTF at Cumbres Verdes after Sierra Nevada by its toughest side
Stage 6: sprint in Ciudad Real
Stage 7: 50km flat TT in Toledo
Stage 8: the classic Ávila finish
Stage 9: very long multi-mountain stage with a short final climb and descent finish in La Granja
Stage 10: sprint in Astorga
Stage 11: up and down all day to Vigo
Stage 12: sprint or echelons along the Galician coast
Stage 13: descent finish after Pozo de la Nieve and Monte Pousadoiro
Stage 14: very steep MTF at Acebo
Stage 15: MTT to Covadonga
Stage 16: transitional stage with a puncheur finish at Miranda de Ebro
Stage 17: flat stage with one small hill in Tarazona
Stage 18: sprint in Lleida
Stage 19: MTF in Andorra after a number of climbs
Stage 20: MTF at Coll de Pal after Pradell.

And now, it's time to finish it all off.

Stage 21: Barcelona - Barcelona, 29,9km (CRI)



No hay puertos de montaña.

When I started drawing this route up, the current blathering about Catalunya hadn't really started. Either way, my Vuelta finishes here. It takes slight inspiration from this year's Vuelta, although frankly an epilogue TT like that is a bit pointless; instead I have gone the Giro-style mid-length TT approach, long enough that if there is a tight battle for the GC there could be tension (like in 2012, say), and if there isn't, it's a nice parade for the winner without being a total washout (like in 2011, say). And Barcelona makes a good setting for it.

The TT starts on the finishing line of the old Montjuïc Park F1 circuit, close by what became the Olympic complex a little later on. That means that the first part of the course, which follows the old racing circuit as far as Carrer de Lleida. When that turns to the left, we continue straight on before a right onto Avinguda del Paral-lel. We head to the bay and pass L'Aquarium de Barcelona and head for Parc de la Ciutadella and Vila Olimpica. Next up on our list of sights, and for a final stage of a GT sure to please the ASO, is the Arc de Triomf, followed shortly by Plaça de Tetuan.

Rather than stay on Gran Via, however, we head back towards the coast, going via El Barri Gótic, and thereby passing the city's iconic cathedral. This enables us to continue our Tour de Gaudi by passing Palau Güell as we turn back away from the waterfront. The spectacular Plaça de Catalunya is next, then the university, as we head back towards the incredibly iconic Plaça d'Espanya, gateway to Montjuïc.

We briefly rejoin the old racing circuit, but at a fork in the road, where the racing circuit (and the 2009 Tour stage) go left, we go right, to Palau Sant Jordi, because the spirit of the Olympics is in us. We then head back down toward the coast and ride parallel to the southern face of the mountain, to give the riders a sense of foreboding, before handling the now familiar slopes up to the Castell de Montjuïc, before a slight downhill roll ahead of the finish.

The finish will be as per the marathon in the 1992 Olympics, a brutal slaughter of a course which you can see here. The important part for us is just from 2:13 to 2:16. Yes, we're heading through the front into the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys for a final lap before finishing there. After all, there will be lots of room, hopefully they can get enough fans in to make it feel important, like when Basso won the Giro in 2010. If they can finish in the Plaza de Toros in Pamplona, they can finish here. It also has a bit of an old school Peace Race feel, finishing in an athletic stadium.

It does mean that there have been over 110km of ITT in four separate TTs in my Vuelta, but in my defence, 22 of those are Lagos de Covadonga. This route is quite balanced in my humble opinion.

Dec 16, 2011
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rghysens said:
Well, I didn't include any climbs on the left bank of the Rhône (which, in my opinion is the border of the Alps), while you had a couple, iirc.

What do you mean with looking forward to the last 2 stages? I already presented stages 19 and 20 :D.

Aha ok, sounds like a reasonable border. Still, according to wikipedia the Mont du Chat belongs to the Jura range. The other climbs (Mont Clergeon and Sapenay) are indeed a bit tricky.

Btw, I totally missed the 20th stage, and for some reason was expecing a 21th one! :eek:
Libertine Seguros said:
Right, time to finish the Vuelta off, I kind of lost track since there's only the one stage left. So in case you were all forgetting, we are looking at so far:

And now, it's time to finish it all off.

Stage 21: Barcelona - Barcelona, 29,9km (CRI)



No hay puertos de montaña.

When I started drawing this route up, the current blathering about Catalunya hadn't really started. Either way, my Vuelta finishes here. It takes slight inspiration from this year's Vuelta, although frankly an epilogue TT like that is a bit pointless; instead I have gone the Giro-style mid-length TT approach, long enough that if there is a tight battle for the GC there could be tension (like in 2012, say), and if there isn't, it's a nice parade for the winner without being a total washout (like in 2011, say). And Barcelona makes a good setting for it


I like the final stage as it is, in my opinion, in Spain's most beutiful City. And unlike the Tour of Catalunya, you get to see most of the City's sites. Like you say it could just be a parade for the winner, or it could a very interesting stage with some of the time gaps decideed on the final climb if it is tight.
With the season starting to wind down it's the time when I would tend to head back to this thread.

Looking back through the thread, I have come to the realization that I'm really not all that satisfied with my attempt at the Friedensfahrt. While the stated objective was to have a race which moved with the times of modern cycling, I felt like, looking back at it, what I did with that attempt at the Peace Race was to produce a modern cycling stage race between Warsaw, Prague and Berlin as per the Peace Race, rather than legitimately producing something that was really true to the history and prestige of the event. The beauty of the Course de la Paix was that because of the three capitals route, it could be completely different every year based on the different directions required to get from place to place. So my second attempt at the race does start in Warsaw again, however this time we're going Warsaw-Berlin-Prague. Again, it's a two week race, but I've trimmed the number of summit finishes to just one, and looked to step up the difficulty in different areas; I feel I went too far in the movement towards the nature of modern cycling in my first attempt, so this is an attempt to be a bit more, well, Peace Race-like.

Remember, in the heydays of the Peace Race, it would last for two weeks or so (sometimes slightly longer) with six man teams, which would certainly be interesting in modern cycling. Imagine the kind of teams we could have in an Iron Curtain era event like this - a DDR team with Geschke, Martin, Martens, Greipel, Kittel, Degenkolb; a Czechoslovakia team with Sagan, Barta, König, Kreuziger, Štybar, Velits; Poland with Majka, Kwiatkowski, Paterski, Bodnar; Soviets with Hutarovich, Trofimov, Kiryienka, Siutsou, Kangert, Taaramäe, Chernetskiy, Firsanov, Navardauskas, Buts, Kolobnev, Zakarin, Lutsenko, Lagutin, Tsatevich and Polivoda to pick from; Yugoslavs with Kišerlovski, Mezgec, Spilak, Bole, Polanc and Roglič, and so on. But regardless, those days are long gone. But while many may not wish to mourn the loss of the Soviet Union and Communism in Eastern Europe, the loss of the Friedensfahrt is something we should be sad for, and glad for the periodic attempts at revival.

As with last time, four jerseys are available. GC leader (yellow jersey), Activity Classification (violet jersey), which gives equal points to top 3 placements in four sprint primes (3 intermediate & the stage finish, fewer in semitappes) plus 3 bonus points to each rider who is part of a group which numbers fewer than 10 and finishes a minute ahead of the next group on the road. A bonus point will be given for each 30 seconds after this. The Mountains Classification (green jersey), which as before splits mountains into just two categories (cat.1 climbs must be longer than 5km and include >250 climbing metres, everything else is cat.2), and the combination classification (pink jersey) - this gives points from 10 down to 1 for the positions in the GC at the end of the day, then adds the sum total of all activity and mountain points.

Stage 1a: Warszawa - Warszawa, 112km



Góra Kalwaria (Świętego Antoniego) 360m @ 8,0%

We start with a couple of the hallmarks of Ostbloc cycling - both a split stage and a "Rund um ..." type of stage. The Peace Race also shook things up with the occasional criterium, and some innovative stages such as pair time trials, relay races and one-per-team series races, but here we're not going to be quite so creative - this is modern cycling after all. Heading out of Warsaw on a long, more or less triangular course, this is a fairly straightforward introduction to the race, with just two intermediate sprints due to the shorter length of the stage. The first of these is in Minsk Mazowiecki, but before the second, we have our first categorized climb, and the first real taste of the old Friedensfahrt's horrible surfaces and bone-jarring nature.

After crossing back to the Western bank of the Vistula, the riders leave the main road onto a poorly surfaced narrow one just before arriving in Góra Kalwaria, an unusual town originally dotted with monasteries and churches, and later becoming a major centre for Hasidic Judaism, with its own dynasty of venerated Rebbes. The old road into town is called Świętego Antoniego (St. Anthony) and it is dotted with gnarly cobbles that reach uninviting gradients of up to 17%. Luckily for the riders, it is only a short stretch - under 400m - and in a short stage with 37km remaining it is unlikely to prove decisive, though it does provide a chance for a leadership jersey.

The second intermediate sprint in Konstancin-Jeziorna comes with 20km remaining, mostly on straight, wide roads through the Warsaw suburbs. There is a slight uphill drag in the closing stretches but the roads are wide and this shouldn't prevent a sprint finish at Plac Konstytucji.

Warszawa (Plac Konstytuciji):
Stage 1b: Warszawa - Warszawa, 14,4km (TTT)



That's right, your eyes do not deceive you: a Team Time Trial. From me - a rare collector's item! Although my opinions of the Team Time Trial and what it brings to races (mostly unfairness) are well known, there can be no denying whatsoever that this format of race was a real hallmark of Eastern bloc cycling. The Individual Time Trial was introduced to the Peace Race in 1958, in a split stage, and three years later the Team version followed, when the Soviet Union team won a 42km route from Święcie to Poznań and laid the foundations for the overall triumph of Yuri Melikhov. This was the first era of Soviet domination, with Melikhov, Lebedev, Gainan Saydkhuzhin and Aleksei Petrov. A year later, instead of split stages, they went with a full-on TTT, the Soviets winning over a gruelling 100 (!) kilometres from Opole to Wrocław. The East Germans won an even longer TTT the following year, from Hustopece to Bratislava, although this was at least early in the race rather than two stages from the finish as that Opole-Wrocław TTT had been!

After this period, however, though there were sometimes still some significant length TTTs, these marathon distances tended to be kept for the World Championships and Olympics, where 4 riders would contest it. The Peace Race started to phase them out in favour of individual time trials, although on the days preceding transfers in 1985 and 1986 when the race visited Moscow and Kiev respectively there were Team Time Trials of around 50km. I have gone with a much shorter route here, as an evening time trial for the sake of spectacle following on from the earlier stage. It's longer and tougher than the 2008 Warsaw TTT from the Tour de Pologne, but nevertheless the gaps from this shouldn't be too big - just enough to create enough of a time gap to make things interesting in the days to come.

The stage starts and finishes at Plac Konstytucji, as the first semitappe did, and so we will be travelling along Marszałkowska to Rondo Dmowskiego, up Aleje Jerozolimskie, north on the picturesque Ulice Nowy Świat past the monument to Adam Mickiewicz, widely regarded as the best Polish writer ever, to the Royal Castle. We then head around the picturesque Stare Miasto (Old Town), before heading through the attractive cobbled streets of Nowe Miasto (New Town, as you may have guessed).

We then double back on ourselves to get back to Aleja Solidarności before the second half of the route is much more of a straightforward power test, out-and-back along some wide open boulevards, ending with the very long straight on Marszałkowska to the finish at Plac Konstytucji.

I give you the Giro di Lombardia Corsa a Tappe (Tour of Lombardy Stage Race). It features some of the best climbs from the region of Lombardy that have been in Il Lombardia but over four days.

GDL CaT Stage 1: Milan - Como


Muro di Sormano= 9.5km Avg: 6.1%
Madonna di Ghisallo @ 8.6km Avg: 7.1%

Carate Brianza @ 25.6km
Erba @ 45.7km

The race starts in the Piazza Duomo in Milan before heading up to Carate Brianza on the Via Giuseppe Garibaldi for the Prime. This is followed by the second at Erba. After heading through Asso, the race then heads up the Muro di Sormano. It is the first catorgerised climb of the race and the stage. At a catorgory 1, this is a shock to the system after 53kms of flat. After peaking out at 70kms completed, the race descends down to the shores of Lake Como. Once at Bellagio, there is the third and final prime of the day, to decide who wears the Bonus Sprint Jersey on the second day. As soon as we leave Bellagio, we hit the climb of the Ghisallo. This is a catorgory 2 climb. after that the route then heads back up the Muro di Sormano. It is again a Catorgory 1. We then decesnd back to the shores of Lake Como. Then after wiggling along the edge of the lake, we end up in Como itself in the Piazza Cavour.


Stage 2: Ostrołęka - Kętrzyn, 175km



Although there is not a single climb to mark it, the second stage of my Friedensfahrt is an important stage that could see some serious GC differences created as we head into northern Poland.

In reality, the Peace Race seldom ventured into this area, being typically a race that was literally 'between' its three host cities, and so travelling out to northeastern Poland, in the opposite direction to both Prague AND Berlin, wasn't really on the agenda. And in addition to this, following the improvements to infrastructure and the repaving and tarmacking of many old Ostbloc roads throughout Poland, the attractive lakelands of Masuria have been one of the areas where some of these old routes still exist, therefore it is for this reason that we are headed into this corner of the country.

The stage begins in the city of Ostrołęka, about 120km north of Warsaw, and immediately heads north. The first part of the stage is pretty straightforward, pure flat terrain until our first intermediate sprint after 60km in Spychowo. This leads us into our first sights of the plethora of beautiful lakes that dot the Masurian countryside and make it one of the most scenic parts of Poland. Scenic lakes and forests will fill the next 40km - and much of the last 75km also although the helicopters will have less time to appreciate them once the action on the road starts.

The main signal for the action to begin is the second intermediate sprint just before the 100km mark, in Mrągowo, another beautiful lakeside setting. At the 100km point itself, begins our first real challenge of the day - the riders leave tarmac behind and won't see it again for another 6,6km as we head from Hotel Mazovia to Muntowo via the hamlet of Czerwonki. The first 2,8km, heading to the village of Tymnikowo, is on unsealed sterrato of the true kind that will have riders forcing the pace before a 600m stretch on rounded cobbles. They will then have a further 3km on a classic Ostbloc Plattenweg, bumpy roads made up of concrete slabs with ridges between them, before a final 200m of cobbles into Muntowo.

After this first salvo, there are 5km of tarmac, but then on the road from Zalec to Wyszembork things get severe again, as the riders now face 5,2km of uncomfortable concrete slabs, which while easier to negotiate than cobbles, will still not be any fun. Another 4,6km of narrow tarmac follows taking us into the village of Szczerzbowo, from which we take on a further 3,5km with no tarmac, most of which is on sterrato, but with the first 500m and last 300m on rounded, difficult cobbles. Having now had 15,3km of non-tarmac, the riders will no doubt be grateful for a respite, and they get one now with a tarmac phase of around 20km in length which also includes our final intermediate sprint, at Ryn.

But with 30km remaining, the difficulty ramps up to its most destructive level yet. The next sector is on roughly-hewn Ostbloc diagonal cobbles, at times abrasive and rough, at other times potted and dusty. But at all times cobbled, and this sector, the longest sector of the day in terms of one constant surface, lasts for no less than 5,5km. It also has some quite important historical significance, as it leads to the most famous place in the area - as since this is former East Prussia (Kętrzyn was formerly called Rastenburg by the Prussians), we are on old German territory, and this road is an access route to the various remains of the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair), Adolf Hitler's first command headquarters of the Eastern Front, deliberately built deeply hidden into the forest - though it was the scene of a famous assassination attempt in 1944. There is little time for sightseeing of any kind, however, as after 5,5km of cobbles there should be gaps to chase back and advantages to press home. There are then a mere 2 kilometres of tarmac from the Wolfsschanze to Parcz before a further stretch of Kopfsteinpflaster, although this is in somewhat better condition. Nevertheless, it is 3,8km in length and so the riders will have just had a 12km stretch where 75% of it is cobbled. After this it's a fast and furious drive into Kętrzyn for the finish, with a tight 90º right-hander just 350m from the line.

Overall in this stage, there are 24,6km of non-standard road surfaces broken down as follows:
- 10,9km cobblestones
- 8,2km Plattenweg
- 5,5km sterrato

So yes, this one is not going to be easy and should see some rouleur strength playing a part in the results already. Just like in the real thing.


Stage 3: Olsztyn - Bydgoszcz, 217km



Strzelce Górne (cat.2) 0,9km @ 6,0%

After yesterday's rough surfaces, the riders will be taken to the capital of the Warmian-Masurian region, the Teutonic Knights' Ordensburg-style fortress town of Olsztyn (formerly the East Prussian city of Allenstein). It is a scenic city with a population of nearly 200000, so plenty of room for the riders to relax before the second longest stage of the race.

However, while the length of the stage may be taxing for the riders in their six man teams, we must be clear that from an obstacle perspective this is more about moving the race westwards from Masuria to Warmia and eventually to eastern Pomerania, and there is little to guarantee splits in the action to be found here; it's a long stage which is liable to end in a sprint.

The three intermediate sprints will provide some action; the first is in Iława, another pretty town of red-and-white buildings set amid attractive lakelands, after 70km (I decided the similarly scenic Ostróda was too early in the stage). The next after this comes after 130km of riding, in Grudziądz (Graudenz), another imposing Teutonic fortress town, as the riders arrive on the banks of the Vistula. After crossing the mighty river, we have our final sprint at the 160km mark in the slightly hilly city of Świecie nad Wisłą following a slight and uncategorized uphill bump.

Though there are some undulations in the final third of the stage, only one climb is deemed worthy of categorization; this being the last of them, topping 20km from home. The 1km ascent at 6% from Strzelce Dolne to Strzelce Górne is fairly inconsequential, although with a maximum of 11% it isn't completely without challenge. It is close enough to home to tempt somebody to think about a move, given the small team sizes make control difficult, however it is worth mentioning that the last 4km or so only have slight bends, no true corners that will be difficult to negotiate, and therefore making such a move stick could well prove difficult. The stage should therefore finish with a big sprint in Bydgoszcz, a large Pomeranian city at the confluence of the Brda and Vistula, and home to cycling's current (male) road World Champion, Michał Kwiatkowski, Poland's first professional road Champion (Ryszard Szurkowski, Janusz Kowałski, Lech Piasecki and Joachim Halupczok won amateur World Championships on the road during the Cold War era); hopefully this success of one of their local heroes can help encourage a large crowd to turn out on the scenic waterfront to see the sprint finish.


Alrighty then...As a long-time map geek, cycling fan and forum lurker, it's time I gave this a go.

Recently a rumour came out regarding the Pyreneean stages for the 2015 TdF which suggested they'd look something like this:

Tarbes - Arette - La Pierre St. Martin
Pau - Cauterets
Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille

This seemed like an unlikely arrangement given that three MTFs in the Pyrenees are a rarity even if Cauterets isn't exactly a monster finish. This got me thinking about creating a short study set of possibilities for each stage using these start and end points. Nothing revolutionary: the area between Pierre St. Martin and PdB has long been a mainstay of TdF routes (as one poster so eloquently put it a while back: "not the f***ing Tourmalet again!!") with climbs like Aubisque, Aspin, Peyresourde and Tourmalet having been seen almost every year. Even Balés or Pailhéres have been used a lot lately. Every year this is discussed around here and we all would love to see Spandelles raced, stages further west ("Errozate! Arnostegi! Refuge L'Aberouat!"), or different MTFs like Superbagnéres which are possible without leaving this central area.

Nevertheless, let's start off with the stage to Pierre St. Martin which is located in a region of the Pyrenees that has been, at best, intermittently used in the past decade.

Looking back in time, 2010 took the peloton over the Marie Blanque on the way to a Tourmalet MTF which was won by a man named Schleck that time has since forgot (he actually retired since I began writing this thing), followed by Alberto Contador...Before that, and more importantly, the 2007 TdF saw a serious western Pyrenees stage including Larrau, the short side of Pierre Saint Martin and the hard side of Marie Blanque before the Aubisque MTF, won by a not-yet-fried Chicken followed by an empty Bottle and a yet to prove himself, younger Contador. 2006 saw the stage where Dessel took yellow and Mercado won, which went over Soudet and Marie Blanque on the way to Pau but...You know...Pau finish. My personal memories only go back so far, but a little research showed Marie Blanque being consistently used, but not much more since 2000.

Except for MB in 2010, we haven't seen anything west of Aubisque being used in a while. I've followed the Race Design thread for long enough to know that this is to be considered heresy of the highest degree. Now, that being said, these two stage towns are relatively close to each other if you connect them via the fastest route (unlike Lannemezan and PdB as we will see), so we have some margin to play around and build some tough stages. My first attempt, however, is what I call my ASO standard route:


Col d'Aubisque (via Soulor) - 30.1 km@4.1%
Col de Marie Blanque (from Bielle): 11.4 km@5.1%
Arette - La Pierre Saint Martin (from Arette): 25.8 km @ 5.7%

Besides being as clichéd as possible, I have two major issues with this design: it's short at 150 km. Arguably not adequate GT length (suited to a first MTF maybe?) but we've had that mountain sprint via Galibier to Huez recently which was shorter even. Also, even though the final climb is sure to create gaps, both Aubisque and Marie Blanque are climbed from their easier sides and there's a lot of flat before Pierre St. Martin. If the rumour is true though, and it seems to be, I'd put my money on this being the real route. My second option is more of a fantasy than real possibility



Col de Spandelles - 15.5km@6%
Col d'Aubisque via Soulor North
Col de Marie Blanque (from Bielle) - 11.4 km@5.1%
Col de Labays - 20.9km@4.5%
Station d'Issarbe - 18.2km@5.8%
Arette-La Pierre St. Martin (global view)

That's the much desired Spandelles from Argèles-Gazost followed by a crazy descent before Soulor north towards Aubisque. Again back down to the Laruns valley and Marie Blanque. After Escot however, we have a bit of fun with local roads: Instead of going flat towards Arette, I took the route South towards Bedous to begin an ascent of the Col de Labays. From there we head back down towards Arette...And begin the final climb to La Pierre St. Martin, only this time we're going via Station d'Issarbe before the col de Soudet (drawing some inspiration from Linkinito's venerable threads). Here I let my inner Zomegnan free. If you wanted to make it more realistic, take Spandelles out and just do the standard Aubisque from Argéles-Gazost and keep the remaining stage. Still harder than anything ASO will go for here!

My final route aims to give the western Pyrenees a bit more love (although the experts in the region might say it's not enough!). Since we're starting from Tarbes it makes no sense to skip Aubisque and MB on our way west (ASO loves their classics too much). This time though, we're not climbing just yet. We're going flat west to the little hamlet of Tardets where we begin a different stage (nevermind Openrunner messing up the Aubisque profile here):


We start this little detour with the Col de Ahusquy climb, a long drag (which we climb from its easier side unfortunately) followed by Col Bagargui via Burdincurucheta (8.9km@9% on its own) from Mendive (another option would be going further west to Esterençuby to climb Arthaburu but I found no real advantage in doing so. The stage then heads towards Pierre St. Martin, starting the climb from Saint Engrace to finish a leg-breaker of the stage. My only real qualm with this route is just how narrow the Ahusquy road is. A tad unrealistic for the Tour maybe, but I'll let it slide this time.


Col d'Aubisque (via Soulor) - 30.1 km@4.1%
Col de Marie Blanque (from Bielle) - 11.4 km@5.1%
Col de Ahusquy - 19.2km@4.5%
Col de Bagargui (via Burdincurucheta) - 29km@3.85% from St. Jean le Vieux but that false flat...
Arette - La Pierre St. Martin (from Saint Engrace)

Bonus suggestion: For something completely out of left field, consider the following route:


So we start with the Aubisque as usual, but instead of turning towards Marie Blanque at Laruns we head south, towards the border at the Col de Portalet. I'm a sucker for these drawn-out climbs with epic scenery. We head into Spain and through highlands towards the Puerto de Somport (would actually be a real challenge if climbed from France) and back down the valley into France towards Bedous for the final climb towards La Pierre St. Martin (via Labays). That actually removes the flat before the final climb which was bugging me with some of the other routes. Not exactly the hardest climbs (you can get to Aubisque via Spandelles if you want though to make it harder), but I like these drawn-out beasts and going through Spain in this region is certainly a departure from the norm!

Col d'Aubisque (via Soulor) - 30.1 km@4.1%
Col de Portalet - 29km@4.5%
Puerto de Somport - 26km@4.2%
Arette-La Pierre St. Martin (via Labays)

One thing of note is...This would be, to the best of my knowledge, the longest mountain stage since the TDF went over Allos, Vars and Izoard on the way to Briançon back in 2000 (244 km)

Hope that was entertaining and that I didn't mess up my percentages too much (some of it was laziness, admittedly!). Now to conjure up new ways to climb the f***ing Tourmalet (hint: yeah, fat chance...).
Off for the second stage which is a TT

GDLCaT Stage 2 TT: Como - Lecco


Climbs: Salzago = 6.3km Avg 3.4%

Primes: N/A (TT)

So the tt starts where yesterday finished, in the Piazza Cavour. I then heads west before wiggling through Como and onto the only climb of the day. Peaking out at 7.3kms it then decends down to Erba. After heading through Erba the TT then heads beside the Lago di Pusiano to Suello. It crosses the motorway, goes through Oggiono. It then heads alon the shores of Lago di Annone then crosses the motorway again on the way in to Valmadrera and Malgrate. These are the last places it passes through. The route then crosses over a Bridge into Lecco to finish on the Lungolario Isonzo.


I like the PRC-style "assessment of a route with the probable routes and suggested alternatives" styled post.

Stage 4: Poznań - Drezdenko, 182km



Podgórna-Radowo (1st passage)(cat.2) 1,1km @ 3,6%

The Friedensfahrt now finds itself winding through western Poland, as in our fourth stage we head northwest out of Poznań, the largest city in the West of the country and the administrative capital of Wielkopolska. One of the most important cities in Polish history, Pope John Paul II declared of it that "Poland began here", which is endorsement enough to consider it a worthwhile stop-off, although its remarkable sights are the scene only of a stage start.

The stage is pretty flat; passing through towns like Pniewy and Międzychód, which will host the first intermediate sprint, will provide the only respite from relentless straight, flat roads in the first half of the stage. Arriving in Drezdenko after just after 100km, this could have been a very short stage; however I have more trouble in store for the riders than that, as they now face three laps of a 26km circuit around the small town. There are two obstacles to negotiate on this circuit to toughen things up a little. The first is the gradual climb to the hamlet of Radowo above Nowy Drezdenko. Averaging just 3,6% over 1100m, the maximum gradient is 8%; barely worthy of categorization and indeed, I only give out points for the first passage. However, it does have the benefit of some angular cobbles which will rattle riders' bones. The ensuing descent is also very narrow which will help consolidate an advantage if a rider or group is able to get away on the climb. There is then about 7km of flat, straight tarmac into Łęgowo, and the real trouble starts.

Turning left in Łęgowo, we turn south towards Trzebicz. And the sight that greets the riders is this: the introduction of the longest single section of cobblestones in the entire race. Soon afterwards, the sight is this one - that sign you can see warns drivers that they will be dealing with rough road surfaces for the next - wait for it - seven kilometres. That's actually a slight exaggeration - it's 6,7km - but that won't come as that much of a relief. There are some areas where the road has deteriorated more than elsewhere and patchwork tarmac repairs dot the cobbles, and there's always the sterrato on the edge to escape the relentless bumpiness, but still: 6,7km of cobbles. No fun unless you're a proper powerhouse of a rider.

The 6,7km of cobbles finish around 7km from the finish of each lap; there is an intermediate sprint in Drezdenko at the first passage of the finishing line and on the second (but not on the third, and the fourth is the finish of the stage). This does mean that there are some pretty notable breaks between the cobbled sectors, however they are tough enough that groups should be able to form on them nonetheless. And while Drezdenko is a pretty small place for a real-life Wyścig Pokoju to finish were this still to be its heyday, such neverending stretches of unbearable cobblestone roads were a hallmark of the race, and there are not too many as long as this still remaining. The three circuits around Drezdenko mean that we total 23,4km of cobbles in today's stage, which is a not at all inconsiderable amount for breaking a race up - especially when you remember we're stuck with six man teams here. By the time we get to the climbs, the pure climbers are going to have a lot to do.


GDLCaT Stage 3 Lecco - Bergamo



Villa Vergano = 4.4km Avg 4.8%
Colle Gallo = 13.8km Avg 3.5%
Colle Selvino = 12.9km Avg 4.8%
Bergamo Alta = 2.6km Avg 4.4%

Calasco D'adda

The race finishes exctly where it finished yesterday. We head out through Pescate to the first climb of the day. This is the third catorgory Villa Vergano. This has been where the winner of Il Lombardia has made their attack in 2011 - 2013. The race then heads through Oggiano down to Merate. we are then off to the first Prime of the day, at Calasco D'adda. After that, we head through Presezzo. Onto the last Prime of the day at Bergamo. We ride through the town for the first time but don't cross the finish. Then we race onto the Colle Gallo, as used in Il Lombardia in 2014. This is a second catorgory. Then we are off to the Colle Selvino. That is a first catorgory. Through Zogno to Botta, then Alme. The route diverts off the main road to Sorisole. and down to Bergamo. We go along the Via Giuseppe Verdi then the Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and onto roughly cobbled Via Sant'Alessandro to the finish at the University.
Stage 5: Stargard Szczeciński - Frankfurt an der Oder, 155km



Once again no climbs. We're still in the northern parts of Poland, and as you will know, climbs are at a premium until you move further south there.

After yesterday's circuits, today we have a shorter, faster stage which heads back down southwest and sees us enter Germany for the first time in the race. 99% of the race distance is nevertheless still under a Polish flag.

We start in the former Hanseatic stronghold of Stargard Szczeciński, a Pomeranian transport hub that serves as the link between Poznań, Gdańsk and the northwestern border city of Szczecin (Stettin), a regular former Peace Race stop. However, this time around we're not headed for the cobbles of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, so I'm taking us back down through Lubuskie towards the border that way.

For the most part, this is a friendly respite of a stage for the riders after the cobbled monstrosity of stage 2 and the bone-rattling 7km sectors of stage 4; the three intermediate sprints in Myślibórz, Debno and the formerly fortified border town of Kostrzyn nad Odrą ought to pass without incident - I've even been so kind to the riders that I've avoided the old cobbled roads through the ruins of old Kostrzyn - mainly because of them being old ruins.

The only real suffering comes late in the day. But on the plus side, it is suffering. This suffering starts with 25km remaining, when the riders pass the village of Nowe Biskupice. Heading south, they soon take a small, barely clear right hander marked for the village of Zielony Bór. And the problems then begin. Placement will be crucial heading into this corner, because you know I said that the 6,7km of cobbles in the last stage was the longest single stretch of a non-standard road surface in the race? That's only because there's a tarmac bridge that breaks up this sector when it crosses the Berlin-Warsaw motorway. The two sectors that are broken up by that bridge total a spine-destroying 7,7km of cobbles, diagonal and angular with no gutter to ride in to avoid them. It's on google streetview - check it out!

Obviously, having arrived at this sector with a full péloton, we will be leaving it without that - there are now 7km of tarmac down to Świecko, where the second and final stretch of cobbles for the day begin. This lasts for 2,9km of narrow, wooded trail on worn out, tired cobbles, once more with nowhere to hide due to the vegetation on both sides of the path. This trail yields to concrete slabs after crossing a slick and muddy tunnel beneath the highway; in bad weather this will be absolutely horrible. These slabs yield to tarmac just before rejoining the main road into Słubice, a scenic border town which is literally just across the river from our finishing town of Frankfurt an der Oder. The cobbled sector ends about 8km from the line, but literally, we pass the flamme rouge at the start of the bridge across the river Oder which forms the border between Poland and Germany; with 450m remaining there is a 90º left hander, then it's a flat drag race to the finish at Brunnenplatz. Frankfurt an der Oder is a well-known Friedensfahrt Start- oder Zielpunkt, hosting the race as recently as 2003; it was first introduced in 1960 in a stage won by Egon Adler of the DDR; until this point the route between Poland and the DDR had been exclusively through the Sorbengebiet, via Cottbus, Görlitz/Zgorzelec or Forst.

So this is a short, fast and furious stage, the cobbles have been limited to a couple of sectors late on, but that does mean that riders will be fresher to hit them with more fury, and after several days of rough-surfaced mayhem, this could be a tougher stage than it looks.

Stargard Szczeciński:

Frankfurt an der Oder:
Stage 6a: Frankfurt an der Oder - Berlin, 108km



Still no mountains to report. The last day before we head into the rest day (on the first Friday, natch) is, like the first day in Warsaw, a split stage as we reach the race's second capital. The first half of the day is a short flat blast, the shortest road stage of the race. There are a couple of challenges in terms of surfaces, however the riders are likely to be fresh enough due to the short distance and the obstacles are far enough from the finish that I do not envisage this being anything but a sprint; the first Warsaw stage may have been a sprint, and probably Bydgoszcz too, but even considering the abject lack of climbing I can't imagine we will have seen a bunch finale in Kętrzyn, Drezdenko or Frankfurt an der Oder.

Only two intermediate sprints today due to the short distance - however with points for the activity classification and time bonuses for the GC up for grabs I do hope we see some activity at least before the first sprint prime, as the actual obstacles in the stage precede it. The first challenge is a 2km stretch of rounded cobblestones from Petershagen to Falkenhagen, immediately followed by a 3km stretch to Heinersdorf over a road which has been tarmacked over, but the tarmac is potted and rough, and at times the earlier Pflasterstraße emerges through it. This won't be fun to ride, but will at least be more enjoyable than the outright cobbles. After a quick ride through Müncheberg, the toughest challenge of the day is met with the 4,5km (!) rough ride from Waldsieversberg to Garzin, over a well maintained cobbled road which has seen a bit more care than most ex-DDR rural Pflasterstraßen. You can see that the bricked bits along the side are where the riders will want to be, but negotiating your position in the péloton for nearly 5km of that could be a challenge.

After this we have a few kilometres of tarmac before the intermediate sprint, which will be in Altlandsberg, a town which loves cycling - it is home to the rather bizarre Fahrradhof and hosts the U23 Tour of Berlin on its cobbled town centre roads - yes, this is a cobbled intermediate sprint, but not the kind of cobbles that should cause any real trouble.

After this, things get nice and easy - the riders just stick their heads down and charge headlong at Berlin, which they will be approaching from the east, via Lichtenberg and Friedrichshain. We pass through Frankfurter Tor and then, in honour of the traditional old Peace Race routes, we finish on Karl-Marx-Allee, just as they did in the 1989 race, which you could argue was the last "true" Friedensfahrt in its original form.

After the finishing line (which hosts the 2nd intermediate sprint) there is a tight hairpin bend, and the riders undertake a straightforward, fast and flat out-and-back circuit before taking on the sprint to the finish once more. This will be the sprinters' last chance for a while.

My reasoning is that it's a two week race rather than three weeks, so there's less need to ease riders into it so to speak, and also that there are very few usable hills in the northern part of Poland and the former DDR, so the variable surfaces are there to ensure intrigue rather than a week of pure sprint stages (different routes to the race can be more hilly and less cobbled, for example if Prague is the 'middle' city enabling us to pass both the Erzgebirge and the Beskids on the route), and finally (and most importantly) because it's the Peace Race, and bad road surfaces were a large part of what made it what it was - a real tough race of bouncing up and down on painful cobbled roads all day long, with Olaf Ludwig outsprinting you at the end. My view on recreating the golden age of the Peace Race is a bit like with Paris-Roubaix; it started off being all cobbles, then as infrastructure improved, roads got better until the point when the race was getting too easy, at which point it was recognized that the cobblestones and mud were what made the race what it was, and they went from trying to improve the quality of the roads to actively seeking out the bad ones.

Likewise, as we moved towards the Wende, the roads in the Ostbloc were progressively better, and as the race typically liked to link larger cities, poor roads in places where they could be decisive became a rarity; now, you would look to seek out the ways to make the flat stages have the chances to be equally decisive as the hilly ones. The mountains available to us have the chance to make decisive stages, but this was a real all-rounders' race - you could have editions like 1984, where the two best climbers in the race were 1st and 2nd (Sergey Sukhoruchenkov and Nencho Staikov), but Olaf Ludwig was 3rd - ahead of Ugrumov!
Mar 12, 2014
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I like the idea of this race so far and have to admit. You made me curious if there's going to be anything interesting in/around Sächsische Schweiz, either in a stage to Dresden or a stage from there. If memory serves, it's quite hilly around there, directly next to the river, which could provide for some nice stage(s).
Tour de France

Stage 18: Tain-l’Hermitage - Tournon-sur-Rhône, 22 km ITT



I have a Tour to finish. There are three stages left, starting with this time trial. Since we had a very long ITT at stage 8 (76 km) i decided to keep this one rather short. The first half of the stage takes place in the rather famous vineyards of Hermitage and includes some climbing. The second half is flat along the Rhone.

Tain-l’Hermitage (background) and Tournon-sur-Rhône (foreground):