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Race Design Thread

Page 115 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Tour de France

Stage 19: Romans-sur-Isère - Grenoble, 248 km


The penultimate day sees the final mountain stage of the race. So far we have seen steep climbs (stage 10), long climbs (stages 12 and 14) and high altitude (stage 13). What we haven't had yet is a really long mountain stage, which tests the endurance of the riders. Well, here it is, with 248 km and more than 6.000 meters of climbing. The stage is designed to make long range attacks possible, with hard climbs positioned at about 100 km to go and not much flat from there to the finish.

Col de l’Echarasson (1.146m) 12 km 7,4%
Col de Carri (1.215m) 6,2 km 2,6%
Herbouilly (1.370m) 11,3 km 5,5%
Saint Nizier du Moucherotte (1.168m) 9 km 1,8%
Côte de Laffrey (910m) 6,7 km 9,1%
Chamrousse via Col Luitel (1.721m) 17,6 km 7,5%
Col du Coq (1.434m) 12,6 km 8,6%
Col de Porte (1.327m) 4,7 km 7,4%


GDLCaT Stage 4 Como - Como


Veranna = 8.1km 0.8%
Salzago = 12.1km 3.6%


After leaving the Piazza Cavour in Como, we head out towards Cernobbio. After following the Lake around we have the first Prime at Menaggio. The route then heads to the top of the lake for the Prime at Sorico. Then we ride to the first climb of the day(Veranna) this is a Catorgory 4.1. After that, we reach Lecco Before climbing the Salzago. The race descends down to where we started the stage in the Piazza Cavour in Como.

That is the end of the race.

fauniera what mapping tool do you use
Next Wednesday's presentation is coming up quickly, meaning it's time to take a look at the next stage suggested: Pau to Cauterets.

I feel a disclaimer is in order here: this will *definitely* be the most boring of the three posts. #1 was pretty fun to make. Pierre St. Martin is a climb with so many different sides that I created 4 routes and used 4 completely different climbs (from Arette, Saint Engrace, via Issarbe and via Labays). We still had the Spain side for a possible descent finish from the actual Col de La Pierre St. Martin into the ski station, but Tarbes isn't quite close enough to use Larrau (and believe me when I say I'd have liked that!)
Cauterets on the other hand is possibly the least interesting place for a stage finish here. There is only one access road, starting from Pierrefitte-Nestalas and there are only three ways we can get to there:

- Flat from Lourdes
-Descending Aubisque or Spandelles into Argéles-Gazost
-Via Luz-Saint Saveur from the Col du Tourmalet

Geography says that the only way this could ever change is if they build a road down from Luz-Ardiden, over the top of the mountain and down into Cauterets itself, thereby making one of our favorite ski station finishes (heh) in the Pyrenees into a brand new pass! I won't waste your time with a detailed overview of the climb usage in these valleys. We just did Hautacam via Tourmalet this year (and in 2008). 2013 had Peyresourde, Azet and Ancizan before a Bagnéres-de-Bigorre descent finish. 2012 had the classic Pau - Luchon stage (reverse that for an idiotic version of that stage with like...40km of flat at the end on the 2010 stage). It just goes on and on.
Cauterets hasn't been visited since the day the TDF saw the death of Fabio Casartelli on the Col du Portet d'Aspet in 1995, a pass that will be saved for day #3. So it's actually somewhat of a rarity, even if it isn't a particularly captivating climb. According to more informed posters, the 95 stage was actually supposed to end further past Cauterets at Pont d'Espagne. Now, I'm not going to discount the possibility of that being the case here (they could name the finish Cauterets - Pont d'Espagne like they did for the Aubisque, naming it after Gourette, or Serre Chevalier for the Galibier), we don't exactly have full details here.

In short, we're somewhat limited. As before, I'll start off with the standard ASO route. This is just about the most predictable thing considering the average stage lengths, ASO preferences and what we already know (Aspin is in):


Col d'Aspin - 12 km@6.5%
Col du Tourmalet - 17.2km@7.4%
Cauterets - around 10km@4% looking at the Pont d'Espagne profile

So that's out of the way. Aspin, Tourmalet and a Cauterets finish. Hard (we can't call Aspin+Tourmalet easy at any rate), but not epic. My second option won't be too different from the ASO route. It's very much a touch-up job to tell the truth. I predicted ASO would go for flat routes before the Aspin, this version, which I call ASO Plus takes advantage of the hilly terrain at the northern foothills of the Pyrenees for some early stage leg-wearing. For this version only, I also considered climbing all the way into Pont D'Espagne at the end:


Col d'Aspin - 12km@6.5%
Col du Tourmalet - 17.2km@7.4%
Pont d'Espagne - 18.2km@5.5%

I like this route because it stays true to what we expect from the Tour these days, but with spice. Some of those hills after we go past Bagnéres-de-Bigorre are downright nasty including Cap de Germs, Labassére, the Col des Palomiéres (5.6km@5.5%) and many others I couldn't find names for. They definitely should hurt if raced. This route also adds a new MTF with an interesting degree of challenge.

Now for the main course, my masterpiece, my Zomegnan option. We know all the climbs have been done to death. We love some, hate others. What I love most is seeing them all put together in one nice little package of pain:


Port de Balés - 18.9km@6.3%
Col de Peyresourde - 15.8@6.1%
Col de Val Louron-Azet - 7.4km@8.3%
La Hourquette d'Ancizan - 10.3km@7.8%
Col du Tourmalet - 17.2km@7.4%
Cauterets - 10km@4%

First things first: This is a long stage. 252 km. I was researching for Cauterets finishes in the past couple of decades and I actually found something longer. The 1996 stage between Argéles-Gazost and Pamplona was 262 km long and went over Aubisque, Marie Blanque, Soudet and Larrau. Of course it had a ridiculous amount of flat at the end. I don't actually think this would be done today. We could cheat and have the real start of the stage a few k's out of Pau to save on actual racing distance. but if it were done in this area, this is how I'd love to see it done. We start in Pau and head east towards Lannemezan via the straightest route available. This stage isn't about flat though - After we go past Lannemezan we begin the real fun. It's the Port de Balés we're doing, and we're just getting started.

It's interesting, I don't think we've actually done Balés and Tourmalet in the same stage before. We're taking the core of some classic stages and incorporating it in a mountain madness. After Balés it's classic ASO Pyrenees, but that isn't necessarily bad from a toughness point of view. ASO can do hard Pyreneean stages. It's just that we see finishes after 40 km of flat way too often. We hit the Peyresourde a bit above Luchon. Then Val Louron-Azet, then the Hourquette d'Ancizan, and finally the Tourmalet. It's one thing doing it as the first of the day's climb, coming from Bagnéres de Bigorre. After 3 category 1 climbs and a HC it's a whole different beast. As stage worthy of the Tourmalet I think. Were it my choice, I'd probably finish the stage at the top but we're descending again and heading to Cauterets. After this, I don't expect a very large group being left. A final sprint up to Cauterets after this would be suited to someone like Valverde...If he can make it there with the heads of state.
Might I add, this option could be made more realistic simply if the stage were to start in Tarbes or Lannemezan. This would allow us to keep this succession of climbs while having a much shorter stage. In this case, I'd probably go for a finish at Luz-Ardiden just to top off the insanity. Or do something unlikely and completely new like taking the peloton south from Luz-Saint Saveur to the beautiful Cirque de Troumouse. 3 HC and 3 Cat 1. might be "a little too much though, so I'd probably skip an early climb...

Bonus route:

So I was pretty miffed about the first stage using all the climbs from the easier sides. Here's the chance to correct this!


Col de Marie Blanque (from Escot) - 9.5 km@7.5%
Col d'Aubisque (from Laruns): 16.6 km@7.2
Col de Spandelles - 10.18 km@8.4%
Cauterets - 10km@4%

So yes, that IS half of the first stage, in reverse. We have Marie Blanque from Escot (after a ride in the woods north of the massif). Aubisque from Laruns (no pesky Soulor rest stop here). And, after some thought I did add Spandelles into Argéles-Gazost. Make no mistake. This would be a grueling route as all three of these climbs are taken from their harder sides and even Marie Blanque is well deserving of a Cat 1 rating here on sheer steepness. As usual, I consider that Spandelles optional as it detracts from the feasibilty of the stage. Another option would be descending Soulor east and taking the col de Bordéres (starting at Arrens-Marsous on that profile) into Estaing before finishing the descent down to the valley.

So yeah, this wasn't the most inspiring stage of all. The last one I had high hopes for, however I did notice it's been done to death during the last two decades. Good enough for this little "what can we expect" exercise though. Hope I can get it in tomorrow before it becomes a "might have been" exercise!
Surely the Zomegnan option would have an MTF at Le Lys?

Stage 6b: Berlin - Berlin, 18,0km (ITT)



Not a great deal to be said here, really. After the morning semitappe comes the first individual test against the clock. It's quite short by Friedensfahrt standards, but then it is a semitappe. Although even then, they had some nasty ones back in the day (for example, in 1959 and again in 1960 there was a 40km ITT from Leipzig to Halle, followed immediately that afternoon by a 140km stage from Halle to Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz; 1961 went even further with a 47km ITT from Erfurt to Jena in the morning, then 157km from Jena to Karl-Marx-Stadt in the afternoon!). The question of balance has to then come into it, and as this isn't the 2015 Tour de France, there is scope for further individual time trial mileage, and so this is a shortish TT.

The race starts and finishes on Karl-Marx-Allee, same as where we just had our sprint finale in the morning semitappe, which will mean no need to do too much moving things around; the race caravan can stay put. In a further move to minimize disruption, part of the ITT course follows the same out-and-back course that made up the closing circuit of the road stage; while this is a major nodal rode into the centre of Berlin, this course only entails clogging up a couple of those rather than the whole centre of the city.

As a necessary result of this, and of the terrain in and around Berlin, this is a pure power ITT. It is absolutely pan-flat, and mostly very, very straight on Frankfurter Allee as it heads via the trendy Friedrichshain district to Lichtenberg and back, although there are a couple of detours, meaning there are a handful of tight hairpins to interrupt the power, so acceleration will also be important - however, we avoid the cobbled smaller roads for once in this race. After all the cobbled grinding this is a stage for a different type of pure power rider. There's a rest day in Berlin tomorrow, even if Andy Schleck is no longer competing to be able to appreciate the opportunities that gives you - Friday as a rest day in Berlin! Friday!

Berlin (Karl-Marx-Allee):

Berlin (Lichtenberg):
Stage 7: Halle (Saale) - Erfurt, 187km



Gunseröder Berg (cat.2) 1,4km @ 5,5%
Arnstädter Hohle (cat.2) 0,9km @ 9,0%

After all the cobbled stretches in the flat expanses of northern Poland thus far, the riders have likely enjoyed their rest day, taking the opportunity to replenish the blo-, er, I mean energy levels, and not at all spending any time on Simon-Dach-Straße, in Prenzlauer Berg or any other part of Berlin renowned for its partying. And so, as they line up on Saturday morning in Halle, they will no doubt be excited to hear that I in fact have the toughest cobbled stage of the whole race here for them, with around 20km of cobbles stretched over the second half of the stage. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

There are a lot of nasty cobbled stretches to the north of Halle, as Lupetto showed in their Elbe-Saale Klassik, however that may have to wait for another Friedensfahrt, as today the time spent in Sachsen-Anhalt, the former DDR's most desolate Land, is limited as we move into Thüringen. Before we do so, however, there is a very early intermediate sprint in the old castle town of Querfurt, so bonus seconds are there to be had if riders are after them. I see little reason at this point why a strong Classics rider who has a good sprint on them would not be in the GC mix, so we may have to wait until after this to see a legitimate breakaway formed.

Following this there is a bit of uphill false flat before a slight downhill as we cross into Thüringen, and then we head straight into the first cobbled sector of the day, well isolated from the others and more serving as an hors d'œuvres. The road from Bottendorf to Donndorf is a well-maintained stretch of cobbles which lasts for 2,6km, so long enough to remind people it's there. There are around 30km between this and the next real obstacle, although that is broken up by our second intermediate in the scenic spa town of Bad Frankenhausen. Then we have the first of two categorized climbs on the day, the shortish cobbled ascent of Günseröder Berg; the average doesn't seem too threatening, however there are 650m at 9% buried in the middle there, so it could be underestimated. Nevertheless, it will not cause anything decisive, being so far out from the finish. And not with the sectors to follow either.

Believe it or not, it is with 90km to go that we hit our hardest sector of the day - around the halfway point. Remember: 6-man teams. The cobbles between Frömmstedt and Niedertorfstedt are uneven and uncompromising; in fact attempts to mend the spiky, uneven cobbles have only made the condition worse. The riders take on a full 5,2km of this madness, and certainly there are chances to really force a selection here and make the chasers work. The poor chasers will have 10km to make their way back, however, so they will have a chance, but it will take a lot of effort and they may then pay for it on the next sector, which starts off with a few hundred metres of normal urban cobbles before turning from Thomas-Müntzer-Siedlung towards Waltersdorf for 1400m of bone-rattling Kopfsteinpflaster.

Again, though, the riders get a good 15km of respite from this, albeit broken up by a final intermediate sprint, this time on the cobbled town centre roads of Straußfurt. I count these among the respite as the cobbles are not so challenging, but you can count it as an additional sector along the lines of sector 1 in Roubaix if you like. The next "real" sector, with just over 50km remaining, is called Siedlungsweg, starts in Gebesee, lasts for 2,7km, and is about as iconically Ostbloc and as iconically Paris-Roubaix at the same time as you can get. I mean, look at it. The scenery is flat, desolate and misty, the cobbles are uneven, there's a crown in the road, no gutter to try to hide from the spine-jarring bumpiness, and it's going to be fun to see. This time the tarmac section is a lot shorter before another 1100m of cobbles, now on wider and better-maintained Katzenköpfe between Gebesee village and Ringleben.

There are then 3km of clean, lovely tarmac, before the riders take on a 4,8km stretch of sterrato; this is kept well, at least, and nice and wide so if the bunch is still together it won't be utter chaos unless we get 2010 Giro-esque rain. Barely have the riders got off the sterrato, when their tarmac dreams are shattered by a further 2600m of cobbles including a short uphill section. This section ends with 26km remaining, however at this point I am just relentlessly punishing the riders, and so there is less than 2km of normal road before we are back on the Pflaster for our last stretch of cobbles of the afternoon, which is also one of the toughest, with uneven and potentially slippery cobbles for 1800m.

This does mean that there are some 20km remaining at this point, the first 15 of which are a fairly straightforward run into Erfurt. My hope is that damage is already done by this point and so this last throw of the dice is just for splitting up groups on the road and that we won't see bunches staying as one until this point, but even so, at 5km from the line we dip into our cycling race guidebooks and pull out the climb to Arnstädter Hohle, formerly the decisive climb in the Rund um die Hainleite. Though a small section is cobbled, the main body of the climb is on narrow, worn tarmac averaging 9% for 900m - enough for any small group to splinter, and with six man teams on the cobbles they've endured today, this topping out inside 5km remaining should ensure time gaps in the capital of Thüringen when the riders eventually get there. It's been a tough day, and worse: the mountains are coming.

Halle (Saale):

Tour de France 2015

As a response to the failure of a Tour route presented a few days ago, I've created a classic Leblanc route, deluxe version. It's also inspired by jens_attacks with two of the stages ending on a classic Tour climb being designed for high speeds and in general most of the iconic climbs are used. It's taking place in 2015, so Bastille Day will be the second Tuesday (stage 10). The only thing missing from being a true Leblanc route and pleasing jens to the max is a long TTT, but I don't like those. In return there'll be 147km of ITT, so compensating for the lack of a TTT. There's going to be 5 mountain stages with 3 summit finishes and a total of 26 category 2, 1 or HC climbs (a little more than the norm, but less than in 2013). Both rest days are on a Monday. The overall distance is ~3490km, and with very short transfers between stages, this is surely a very human edition :p

Stage 1: Noirmoutier-en-l'Île -> Noirmoutier-en-l'Île (ITT)
Stage 2: Passage du Gois -> Les Portes-en-Ré (Flat)
Stage 3: La Rochelle -> Angers (Flat)
Stage 4: Le Mans -> Bourges (Flat)
Stage 5: Bourges -> Limoges (Flat)
Stage 6: Brive-la-Gaillarde -> Bordeaux (Flat)
Stage 7: Mont-de-Marsan -> Mont-de-Marsan (ITT)
Stage 8: Dax -> Hautacam (Mountain)
Stage 9: Pau -> Bagnères-de-Luchon (Mountain)
---Rest day---
Stage 10: Saint-Gaudens -> Foix (Hilly)
Stage 11: Foix -> Albi (Flat)
Stage 12: Albi -> Mende (Hilly)
Stage 13: Mende -> Avignon (Flat)
Stage 14: Carpentras -> Mont Ventoux (ITT)
Stage 15: Orange -> Gap (Hilly)
---Rest day---
Stage 16: Gap -> Alpe d'Huez (Mountain)
Stage 17: Le Bourg-d'Oisans -> Courchevel (Mountain)
Stage 18: Courchevel -> Morzine (Mountain)
Stage 19: Morzine -> Bourg-en-Bresse (Flat)
Stage 20: Mâcon -> Chalon-sur-Saône (ITT)
Stage 21: Paris -> Paris (Champs-Elysées) (Flat)
Stage 1: Noirmoutier-en-l'Île -> Noirmoutier-en-l'Île (ITT)



1st time check: L'Épine (km 2.7)
2nd time check: La Guérinière (km 5.7)

A classic out and back 9.4km short ITT, just too long to be a prologue. As can('t) be seen on the profile, it's dead flat. Just like last time the Tour had it's Grand Depart here, the wind should visible, so maybe we'll have a surprise winner again.
Stage 2: Passage du Gois -> Les Portes-en-Ré (Flat)



Intermediate sprint: La Rochelle, km 133.

The neutralized start will take the riders from the Île de Noirmoutier over the famous Passage du Gois to the mainland of France. From there the stage will go parallel with the coast down to La Rochelle and take the bridge over to Île de Ré where the last 36km of the stage will take place. There's a good chance for some wind, but it's more likely to be predominantly a head wind.
Stage 3: La Rochelle -> Angers (Flat)



Côte de Bourg Neuf (4), km 76
Intermediate sprint: Bressuire, km 100

A flat stage and the first categorized hill as we come back to Pays de la Loire. Hinault won his last race in the finishing town of today, let's hope today's winner won't have his last one here.
Interesting. I have a Tour de France which will be postable soon (I've done 4 Vueltas but only 1 Tour, & this one is intended to be a bit less OTT - the last one used practically zero classic climbs, bypassed the Midi-Pyrenées entirely and had some climbs which are maybe ok for the Giro or Vuelta but would not be practicable for the Tour at all) which also includes some nods to the past.

Stage 8: Gotha - Weimar, 231km



Kleiner Inselsberg (cat.1) 5,5km @ 6,4%
Rotteroder Höhe (cat.2) 3,6km @ 5,0%
Ruppberg (cat.2) 4,7km @ 5,1%
Rondell (cat.1) 5,0km @ 5,3%
Schmücke (cat.1) 5,8km @ 5,8%
Allzunah (cat.2) 6,0km @ 3,5%
Falkenhügel (cat.2) 4,4km @ 7,0%
Sommerberg (cat.2) 2,9km @ 5,9%
Großer Hund (cat.2) 3,0km @ 6,0%
Riechheimer Berg (cat.2) 1,5km @ 7,9%
Balsamine (cat.2) 1,6km @ 5,9%
Balsamine (cat.2) 1,6km @ 5,9%

Here we have the longest stage of the Peace Race, and a very important stage for the mountains classification with no fewer than 12 categorized climbs on the route. The stage also minimizes the requirement for transfers, given that both the start and finish points are very close to yesterday's stage finish town, although rather than a very short point-to-point, instead here we have a very long looping stage through the Thüringer Wald. The stage also links a few bits of German history. Gotha is the birthplace of the German social democratic movement, as well as the town from which the Sachs-Coburg und Gotha royal house that ruled many lands and is still in "power" in some European countries stemmed; Weimar should require no introduction as a beloved literary and cultural city (Goethe and Schiller both lived here, as later did Liszt, and later still the Bauhaus movement), and even less of one as the birthplace of the doomed inter-war democracy in post-Wilhelmine Germany.

But back to the cycling: today the climbing starts early. After a week of flat cobbles and similar agony, the hilly guys will be in action today, and in order to start to recoup losses, they're going to need to go hard & distance as many of the rouleurs as they can. There are no real monsters - however even if the gradients don't hurt too much the recovery time will be very limited & cumulative effect may take hold. There are 15km of false flat to introduce the stage, then it begins. The Großer Inselsberg is the 4th highest mountain in the Thüringer Wald, however we're only climbing to its shoulder, forgoing the dead-end road to the summit (this forms 1,5km on cobbles!). Our climb is basically the first 5,5km of this, so the toughest part is in the middle.

The descent is two-stepped, there is a small but uncategorized climb in the midst of the descent. We then have a series of climbs backing onto one another, with Rotteroder Höhe and the Ruppberg following in quick succession before the first intermediate in Zella-Mehlis. This leads straight into the sometimes sweeping and steep ascent of the Rondell, which has overall fairly unthreatening statistics but 1,5km @ 9,5% buried in the middle. This takes us to the popular wintersports centre of Oberhof, once the DDR's jewel in the crown for wintersports, known for its ski jump and its biathlon arena, known for horrendous weather conditions. Come on, I had to get biathlon in there somewhere.

Backing immediately on from that is the climb to the small village of Schmücke, which sits just beneath the summit of the Großer Beerberg, the tallest mountain in the region. It is also the last category 1 climb of the day, with its steepest parts being stretches of around 10% near the bottom. A quirk of the Peace Race's mountains classification is that there's actually a cat.2 climb later that I would argue is harder, but is under 5km in length & doesn't merit the special consideration that the race would give for climbs averaging over 10% (Teufelstein got to be cat.1 for this reason). We're only 1/3 of the way through the stage, but I'm expecting a large & strong break, so the chase could be frenetic which will have an impact later.

Things ease up a bit from here; a 15km descent which is gradual yields into the climb of Allzunah, just 3,5% in average gradient, then there's a period spent on a plateau, broken up by our second sprint prime, in Neustadt am Rennsteig. A longish descent (for the area) takes us to the base of the steepest climb of the day (the aforementioned tougher climb), a scenic wooded climb which can be pretty steep at times called Falkenhügel. It falls short of 5km, but the final 2km average 9,7%, which is hardly inconsiderable!

After this, however, the big climbs are over, so it's time for the groups to take stock of where they are and race accordingly. The break will undoubtedly have duked out the mountains jersey by this point, but where are the contenders, how much help will they have at this point? The small rise to Sommerberg comes next, before a long uncategorized drag, finishing at Paulinzella. We then have the stage's final intermediate, in the small town of Stadtilm with almost 70km to go. At this point the Classics men will take over as favourites. The Großer Hund is next, an inconsistent 3km ascent which reaches up to 15%, but after this there are some 20km of narrow, winding roads which will enable attack groups to push on, chasers to chase, etc.

Endgame starts with 40km remaining, when the riders hit the slopes of the short but steep Riechheimer Berg. Warning: we only take on the first half of that profile, the second half is slightly different as that climb goes to the Gaststätte which entails turning off the Katzenberg road to the south. The riders are then rewarded with a narrow, tricky descent, followed by 15 more kms of awkward, twisty downhill false flat via Bad Berka to Buchfart, where the big ending takes place.

At 1600m in length, averaging 5,9%, the climb to the Waldgasthaus Balsamine is hardly super-imposing. That kind of statistic only makes it sound like the Cauberg (which, truth be told, isn't an inappropriate comparison); the toughest stretch is 300m at 9,5%. However, what the Balsamine climb does have that makes this a key moment, is Kopfsteinpflaster. Yes, the caption reads "fast wie in Flandern", that's not a bad call either. Steep, cobbled roads are of course the preserve of the northern Classics, and here we will be climbing this ascent twice, on a short tight circuit which also features narrow, slabbed roads and so the first ascent tops out with 18km remaining; the second with just 7,2km to go, the first half of which is narrow and tricky, then we pass Schloß Belvedere and after this it is wide, fast and straight into Kulturstadt Weimar, however the final kilometre is quite technical, with first a sharp right onto the cobbled Ackerwand, then a left at Platz der Demokratie with about 250m to go to finish at the scenic Marktplatz. A picturesque and fitting end to what should have been a very difficult day in the saddle.


Stage 4: Le Mans -> Bourges (Flat)



Côte de Blanchardière (4), km 50
Intermediate sprint: Orléans, km 130
Côte des Brosses (4), km 219

After a short transfer to Le Mans the stage goes to Bourges through Orléans and with 239km it's the longest stage in the race.
Jul 24, 2014
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Another scandalously delayed post... I'll get through my Giro one day (although I'm reducing the waffle so that I can get through it more quickly)

Giro d'Italia Stage 10: Tivoli - Gaeta | 166km



Climb details:
Bellegra (cat.3; 7.6km @ 4.7%)
Carpineto Romano (cat.3; 14.1km @ 4.2%)

After a tricky last stage on the second Sunday, and then a welcome rest day, the riders have a somewhat easier time of things today on stage 10.

Following a small rest-day transfer from Perugia to Tivoli, a former Roman town home to the famous Hadrian's villa (+ assorted grottoes), we roll gently through the undulating countryside of Lazio, with a couple of rather long but shallow 3rd category climbs the only obstacles in our path. With about 40km to go the road turns eastward as we hit the coast and follow it all the way to the beautiful historic town of Gaeta and its spectacular fort, where a bunch sprint is to be expected, especially considering the fairly limited opportunities the sprinters have had so far (only one truly flat stage and two gently rolling stages).


Jul 24, 2014
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Giro d'Italia Stage 11: Cassino - Vesuvio | 221km



Climb details:
Valico di Chiunzi (cat.2; 11.2km @ 5.6%)
Agerola (cat.2; 15.4km @ 3.9%)
Vesuvio (cat.1; 12.3km @ 8.4%)

After a flat stage yesterday, it's time to tackle the beast that is Vesuvius on what is actually the penultimate uphill finish in the race! Yes that's right - there's only one uphill finish in the last ten stages!
Anyway, Vesuvius is a climb that seems often favoured by folks designing Giri, and although as you will remember it was used in a Guillén-approved stage in the 2009 Giro, it has not seen any other outings in the Giro since and was not used (to my knowledge) for a long time before 2009. Today, however, the stage is a long one at over 200kms, and includes 2 second-category climbs which although will probably not influence the race a great deal, are nevertheless better than nothing.

After starting at the town of Cassino (as in Montecassino) it's a long and rather boring journey south for the first half of the stage. We loop round the back of the volcano, so the riders will be able to see what they're up against, and then via the two 2nd category climbs criss-cross the Sorrento peninsula before ascending Vesuvius from Torre del Greco. The climb averages 8.4%, and is fairly consistent, but has a nasty 2km at over 10% just before the halfway point. Given the way racing is going these days, it'll likely be a 'wait till the last 3km' stage, but there aren't really any other stages like that in this Giro, so having one is fine. We finish at the end of the tarmacked road (where the group of cars and huts is in this picture). After a difficult stage the riders will have time to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Bay of Naples and cogitate about an important stage tomorrow.


Stage 9: Gera - Dresden, 188km



Steiler Wand von Meerane (cat.2) 350m @ 12,0%
Oederaner Berg (cat.2) 2,6km @ 5,2%
Bannewitzer Kreuz (cat.2) 4,6km @ 3,3%
Pilnitzer Berg (cat.2) 1,9km @ 8,4%
Loschwitzer Berg (cat.2) 2,2km @ 7,2%
Schillerstraße (cat.2) 1,0km @ 7,0%

After the relentless up-and-down of yesterday, the second week begins with this, a more Classics-themed stage across the northern parts of Saxony; mostly sitting just north of the foothills of the Erzgebirge. There are a number of classic Ostbloc narrow roads, but after the carnage of the first week, the riders will perhaps be glad to hear that the vast majority of them are on tarmac. Nevertheless, there are a few moments of cobbles, including the first climb of the day. At just 350m in length the Steiler Wand von Meerane, coming with just 30km gone in the day, is not likely to have any impact on the race overall, however it cannot really be overlooked, being as it is the undisputed icon of the race; from its introduction to the race in 1952, this became the Eastern Bloc's Kapelmuur, with fans lining the road for hours ahead of its passing, hanging out of windows, sat on rooftops... it's a very beautiful thing. I had to include it, just for ceremonial purposes.

However, after Meerane, there is a long flat stretch and so it will likely be quickly forgotten. This is broken up by the first intermediate sprint in Chemnitz, formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt and a regular Friedensfahrt stage town; this industrial city is thought of as one of the better places to visit to see the old DDR, having not had the same level of historic preservation & reconstruction as neighbour cities like Dresden and Leipzig, and with more of the DDR-era architecture remaining intact. There is a bit of an uncategorized ascent out of the city, but this is swiftly followed by the two-stepped climb into Oederan, which includes a short stretch of cobbles near the top as you can see in that photo. It's not truly threatening and is a long way out; it would be enough for a platform for an attack, I just don't see any meaningful moves being made this early.

Soon afterward, we have the second intermediate sprint in the cobbled centre of the scenic old town of Freiberg with approximately 80km remaining. After another few kilometres of rolling terrain, we then descend down to our final intermediate sprint town, which is Freital, as we border the northern parts of the Sächsischer Schweiz. We then head for an inconsistent but unthreateningly gradual ascent into Bannewitz, before descending into Dresden itself.

At this point we have a very awkward piece of course design, the kind of folly you would normally need to correct until you remember this is the Peace Race and complete lunacy in course design is not a problem. The main problem is the right bridge to use to get back onto the northern side of the Elbe is at Loschwitz, as the crossing I wanted to use requires a ferryboat. This means riders will have to use the same road along the riverbank in both directions, albeit briefly. However it is a nice wide road and can be coned off in the style of old Friedensfahrt stages or the Catalunya Lloret de Mar ITT from a few years ago, to ensure no crashes. Basically, there is a 6km stretch of road along the riverbank from west to east, and about half of that will also be used east to west. In the middle, however, there is the not inconsiderable matter of the Pillnitzberg, a sometimes narrow and extremely steep puncheur's climb of just under 2km in length, which averages 8,4% and maxes at 20%. I did think about taking on its cobbled neighbour, Wünschendorfer Straße, however that would take the climb a bit too far away from the finish in order to get the detour back to where the racers needed to be. This tops out 26km from the finish; then there is a short flat before a descent. This is initially fairly straight and easy but the last few hundred metres are quite technical. There is then the 3km flat I previously described, then another quite difficult climb, the Loschwitzer Berg, which kicks off on the nasty cobbles of Calberlastraße, moves on to the steeper cobbles (maximum 19%) on Robert-Diez-Straße (the section from 800m to 1,2km on this profile showcases just how tough this middle 400m is) before settling down to tarmac once more on Krügerstraße. The summit of this climb is 14,5km from the finish, so this is the most likely point in the stage to see action; the frenetic descent leads straight into the final climb of the day, past the memorial on Schillerstraße, a road which is short and not as steep as the previous couple of climbs (a mostly rigidly consistent 7%) but has cobbled sections. This finishes 10km from the line.

The next little challenge is to stay upright on the narrow roads as there are tram tracks down the middle of the roads being used for the first couple of kilometres of trip back into Dresden (I have tried to avoid these where possible in the race, however avoiding them entirely is nigh on impossible, and the real life Friedensfahrt didn't care about putting the bikes on tram tracks anyway) before turning back to the south of the Elbe. The last 3km are tight and tricky. First we pass Brühlscher Terrasse as the stage becomes a historian's dream, turning left into the cobbled streets of historic and rebuilt Dresden, going through the amazing Neumarkt with the rebuilt Frauenkirche standing tall; coming out at Pirnaischer Platz, there is then a full on hairpin bend with 1km remaining, so the riders can come back down Grunaer Straße and provide us with a finish, possibly a sprint or possibly a Classics-inspired small group, at the Altmarkt. With climbs for puncheurs and for Classics strongmen in the late going, as well as a crazy Friedensfahrt style hairpin 1km out (hey, they got way crazier, check out Zdzisław Wrona winning a flat stage in Szczecin with a hairpin 250m from the line in the 1986 race!), there are a range of possibilities for this one, especially off the back of yesterday's up-and-down-all-day struggles.


Stage 5: Bourges -> Limoges (Flat)



Col du Chêne (4), km 114
Intermediate sprint: Guéret, km 133
Col de Chauvet (4), km 168
Col du Bourg (4), km 197
Col de Chauvan (4), km 212
Col des Chabassieras (4), km 218

After yesterday's 239km there's 233km waiting for them today. Not just the distance, but the terrain as well will remind a little more of the classics. Several easy hills, but also more narrow and twisting roads. Most of the climbs are preceded by a descent and a bridge and the bridge before the last categorized climb are quite narrow, so positioning will be very important. After the little uncategorized bump the road widens and the last 10km favours the chasers. The last km rises with 3.5% so we should expect a mass sprint for the more versatile sprinters: Kristoff, Degenkolb, Sagan et al, although it's not impossible for the break or a late attack to make it either.
I am starting a new race route. The Deutsche Rundfarht (Tour of Germany).

DR Prologue Hamburg - Hamburg



The stage starts just off the Rathausmarkt. It then heads out on to the Mönckeberg Strasse to the main station. The riders will cross a bridge between the Binenalster and the Aussenalster. The riders will then ride along the side of the Binenalster before heading along the Jungfernstieg and doubling back on themselves. The route then goes down the Neuer Wall to finish in the Rathausmarkt infront of the Rathaus.

A very quick attempt at overhauling the mountain stages of the 2015 Tour



A grand tour out west to connect PSM with Burdincurutcheta and a harder side of PSM



a short stage with Aubisque and Spandelles for less valley before the last climb

12 stays as at is



Champs before Allos

Champs - Cayolle is the "obvious" option, but with 4 stages in the Alps it may be slightly overdoing it



233 km with Lautaret, Croix-de-Fer and Mollard as climbs and the Mollard descent with the many hairpins as a possible battle ground


An ITT up the easier version of Toussuire




Chauss-Glandon-Alpe d'Huez to better connect the last 2 climbs

Season stages 1 and 9 according to your taste in ITT kms
Soudet W harder than Soudet N?

I guess you have ASO on your side, but I really don't get why the W side was HC in 2006 (and '87?) while the North side has been cat 1 in 2003 and the years before that.

The new descent from Mollard looks good.

I guess you will have a hard time convincing ASO to take the direct way between Chassy and Glandon instead of the route they usually take.