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Race Design Thread

Page 118 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Tour complet de France, stage 5: Châlons-en-Champagne - Pont-à-Mousson, 200km - hilly (Champagne/Ardennes - Lorraine)

Since I vowed not to have two consecutive sprint stages this tour, I had to find a stage with some difficulties, preferably in a direction that easily gives access to other regions of France. So, going to the French Ardennes wasn't an option, since I would be cornerd for a few days in the French north-east. A TT wasn't an option either, we just had one. I don't really like TTT's, so I rather not include them in fantasy races. Luckily I found some nice steep hills on both banks of the Moselle river between Nancy and Metz. In fact, there where enough of them to make a LBL-like stage, but I decided to hold back a bit, since there will be more than enough difficulties to come.

First the peloton makes a short transfer from Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne, todays start. Since it's 50km on a big road, it won't take much time.
By the D3 and D944 it goes to Bar-le-Duc, the biggest town on the road today, and host of the intermediate sprint.
On it goes, to Saint-Mihiel and a bit later the first climb of the day, the Côte de Woinville. Although it's the highest point on the road today, it's not steep or long enough to be anything more than a 4th category hill. A few kilometres later, the peloton passes the Lac de Madine, centerpoint of a long TT in 1993, another one where Big Mig blew away the competition. Today I don't expect the time differences that big, but the race development will hopefully be more enjoyable.

The course crosses the Moselle in Custinnes, about 15km north of Nancy. 5km later the second climb of the day starts, and by now things start to get serious. The côte de Faulx isn't too difficult, but it will probably the last difficulty where many of the domestics can help their team leader. A fast descent on narrow local roads brings the peloton to Belleau, nestled in a valley. With 30km to go, the first steep climb of the day begins as the course leaves the town center. For the next 15km the course twists and turns on the right bank of the Moselle, climbing some other steep climbs. The final blow for many will come with 7.5km to go, when the Butte de Mousson has to be climbed. Only 1km long, but almost 12% steep, it will create time gaps that probably will be big enough to make the maillot jaune change shoulders. Where the previous days the real powerhouses could prevail, todays stage is more suited to punchy climbers. They, however, will probably have lost too much time in stages 2 and 3, so the yellow jersey probably will be around the shoulders of versatile riders like Kwiatkowski.

Map & Profile:

Côte de Woinville: km110; 2km @ 4.6%; 4th cat
Côte de Faulx: km164; 2km @ 4.3% ; 4th cat
Côte de Belleau : km171.5 ; 1.5km @ 9.1% ; 3rd cat
Côte de Landremont : km176.5 ; 0.9km @ 9.2% ; 4th cat
Côte de Bezaumont : km183.5 ; 1.4km @ 9.1% ; 3rd cat
Butte de Mousson : km193.5 ; 1km @ 11.8% ; 3rd cat
Tour complet de France, stage 6: Saint-Nicolas-de-Port - Le Hohneck: 151km, medium mountains + hilltop finish (Lorraine - Lorraine/Alsace)

This is where I cheated a bit: le Hohneck is a summit on the border between Lorraine and Alsace, so Alsace is the only region that has to share the honor of a tour visit with another region.

After a short transfer (50km), from Pont-à-Mousson to Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, to bypass Nancy, the peloton can start the first mountain stage of this Tour. Only a medium mountain stage, and even lacking the most difficult climbs in the Vosges, it won't create big gaps. There are, however, more than enough opportunities to get rid of one or two pretenders in this stage.

It starts in the small town of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, famous for its basilica. The course generally heads southeast, past towns like Gerbéviller and Rambervillers, while staying along the banks of the rivers Meurthe and Mortagne. It's easy to understand that the first half is flat.
After the village of Tendon, the road begins to rise, for the first difficulty of the day: the 3rd category col de Bonne Fontaine. Far from difficult, this is just a warm-up for things to come. A short descent on a wide road brings the peloton to the foot of the second climb of the day. The côte de l'Amelon isn't much longer than the col de Bonne Fontaine, but considerably steeper, allthough not exactly a wall. 4.6km @ 6.9% will be enough to shed the weakest climbers from the peloton. By now pure sprinters and some of their teammates will start to form an autobus to cover the remaining 60km. The descent is narrow, longer and steeper than the climb and brings us to the foot of the Col de la Croix des Moinats, used for the first time in the Tour in 2014. It isn't a killer climb either, and we'll probably see teammates of the favorites control the race, probably many minutes behind a breakaway.

The end of the descent is marked by the 30km to go banner, and the start of the first steeper climb of the day. The Col de Brabantisn't very long, but has some steeper pitches in the beginning. At this moment in the race some outsiders can have a go, and try to take some time before the big guns start firing. The descent leads to La Bresse. A few kilometres false flat through the town center are separating the Col de Brabant from the next climb, the Col de la Vièrge. 4.9km @ 8%, it shows very similar characteristics as the Col de Brabant.

Next on the road isn't a real col, but a climb to the so-called Route des Crêtes, a road that connects many of the famous Vosgian summits. It crests near the summit of the Rainkopf, hence the name of the climb. The next 5km there won't be a real descent, just slowly going uphill false flat until 1.5km to go, when the course leaves the Route des Crêtes.
The last 1.5km 5hairpin turns await the remainder of the peloton, leading to a small parking lot near the summit of Le Hohneck, third highest mountain of the Vosges.

Map & Profile:

Col de Bonne Fontaine : km88 ; 4.5km @ 4.8% ; 3rd cat
Côte de l’Amelon : km95.5 ; 4.6km @ 6.9% ; 3rd cat
Col de la Croix des Moinats : km115 ; 8.8km @ 5.5% ; 2nd cat
Col du Brabant : km126.5 ; 4.4km @ 8.2% ; 2nd cat
Col de la Vierge : km137.5 ; 4.9km @ 8% ; 2nd cat
Montée du Rainkopf : km145 ; 4.4km @ 6.3% ; 3rd cat
Côte du Hohneck : km151 ; 1.4km @ 7.9% ; 3rd cat
Tour complet de France, stage 7: Belfort - Dijon: 174km, flat (Franche-Comté - Bourgogne)

After the previous stage the teams can overnight in the area of Mulhouse, after a transfer of about 60km. That won't be the start of this stage, as I have the chance to go to another region nearby. Since Mulhouse (in Alsace) is close to Franche-Comté, I seize the opportunity to visit this region by organizing a stage start in Belfort. Before the start the race caraven has another short transfer of 40km on a highway (so it should take less than 30 minutes).

Belfort is situated in a plain between the Vosges and Jura medium mountains. After two though days I'll design a stage that gives the possibility to recover a bit.
This stage follows more or less the course of the river Ognon, a tributuary to the Rhône.

There's little or nothing to say about this stage. It's about as flat as it can get in this region, not very long, with a very low possibility of strong sidewinds. It is thus safe to assume there's a very high chance on a bunch sprint in Dijon, capital of Burgundy.

The only thing that matters for this stage in this particular Tour is the fact that it covers two regions.

Map & Profile:

No categorized climbs
Tour Complet de France, stage 8: Semur-en-Auxois - Sancerre: 169km, hilly + hilltop finish (Bourgogne - Centre)

It would seem logical to go straight to the Alps or Massif Central from Burgundy, and I first planned to do that. But that would leave me with some problems later in the race. There would be a huge void in the centre of France, namely the region very suitably called Centre. If I wanted to incorporate it after a rest day, there's almost no way to avoid two flat stages in a row. It can be used as a start for the final stage, but that would make it unusually long, or organise a TT as penultimate stage in this region.
I choose a different approach. Le Centre is an almost pancake flat region, with only some minor hills around Tours and along the border with Lower Normandy (but these are not difficult enough to design a stage that can be viewed as hilly). There are, however, also some decent hills in the "far east" of this region.
Northeast of Bourges is a rolling landscape, cut by numerous streams and hills reaching more than 400m above sea level.

One of the best-known towns in this area, the famous wine-producing Sancerre will be todays finish location.

But first things first. After the previous stage (or before the start of todays) there will be a transfer of about 80km, mainly on highways, which takes less than an hour. Todays ville départ will be Semur-en-Auxois, a historical town about 75km northwest of Dijon.

The peloton will head east, to the well-known pilgrimage town Vézelay, then turn south to Corbigny and then west agoin to Pouilly where it will cross the Loire. By now the peloton has climbed three 4th category hills, spread out over the stage. At this point there's only about 30km to go. The first 14 of them will be flat, parallel to the river, but with 16km to go all this comes to an end.

In the last part of the race three steep 3rd category hills have to be climbed, the last one also being the finish. The gradient and proximity to the finish will surely cause decent timegaps, although the climbs as such are not that long.

Map & Profile:

Côte de Fontette : km 45 : 3km @ 4.1% ; 4th cat
Côte de Saint-Révérien : km95 ; 1.6km @ 4.4% ; 4th cat
Côte de Prémery : km 110.5 ; 1.8km @ 4.7% ; 4th cat
Côte de Ménétréol : km 154.5 ; 1.2km @ 9.6% ; 3rd cat
Côte d’Amigny : km160.5 ; 2km @ 7.3% ; 3rd cat
Côte de Sancerre - finish : km169 ; 1.2km @ 8.5% ; 3rd cat
DR Stage 12 Bregenz - Bergstation Fellhorn




Bergstation Fellhorn

Today is quite a short stage in the mountains from Bregenz to Bergstation Fellhorn. This starts in Bregenz in Austria, before winding its way to the border with Germany. From here we get to the first KOM of the day at Hopfen. Then there is a short hop to Immenstadt, for the first Prime of the day. Then we loop round to Sonthofen for the second Prime. Then the race heads down to Obersdtorf. This is of course famous for the 4 hills ski jump tournament in the christmas/new year period. Then we head for the MTF of the day at the Bergstation Fellhorn. This was covered on the Great "unknown" climbs thread. The riders will have a tough climb to face as it is 8.8kms at 9.7%.


Schlappold-Alpe, the first 7km or so of the Fellhorn climb, is on quäldich as one of the most brutal of all the climbs in Germany (think only Nebelhorn and Kehlstein are above it).

After a few days' break, I'm back for the final day of my Tour de France prior to the first rest day, and it's one of those hilly days to break things up.

Stage 8: Longwy - Nancy, 171km



Côte de Neufchef (cat.4) 2,6km @ 5,3%
Montée du Saint-Quentin (cat.3) 3,2km @ 5,0%
La Croix-Saint-Clément (cat.4) 2,1km @ 7,3%
Côte d'Arry (cat.3) 2,9km @ 5,6%
Butte de Mousson (cat.3) 1,0km @ 11,8%
Côte de Saint-Genevieve (cat.3) 1,6km @ 8,9%
Côte de Morey (cat.3) 3,1km @ 5,2%
Côte d'Amance (cat.4) 1,2km @ 6,8%
Plateau de Malzéville (cat.4) 1,3km @ 5,9%

Intermediate sprint:
Pont-à-Mousson, 109km

As we head towards the end of "rouleur week", it's a big puncheur stage, with no fewer than nine categorized climbs on a leg-breaking stage through the Moselle valley. You will perhaps note a couple of similarities in my route to rghysens' route to cover all of France - in fact, an early draft of the route had a stage finishing in Pont-à-Mousson with a run-in similar to their stage, although that was after a long transfer and with a stage missing in the first week, which I redrew to reduce transfers, allowing me to incorporate both the cobbled stage and the Charleville-Mézières stage; the transfer distance from there to Longwy is not short, but has enabled me to reduce the previous transfers along with giving us a decent-sized city to host the rest day, in Nancy.

So yes, this route may seem pretty backloaded, given we're at the end of the second weekend and there hasn't been a first-category climb yet, however there is most definitely the chance that the GC will have been blown wide open by now, what with the hilly run-in in Plérin, the TTT, Mont Cassel, the cobbled madness and yesterday's punchy stage... today's is also punchy, but in a slightly different way.

The start of the stage is in the iron town of Longwy, a smallish town close to the tri-state border with Belgium and Luxembourg. The first 30km of the stage is more or less a gradual saunter downwards to the banks of the Moselle, where we will stay for the rest of the stage, only occasionally venturing inward to ascend up to the edges of the valley before returning. These climbs vary from the relatively long but benign, to short but extremely steep, as with the savage Butte de Mousson. This also marks the first climb after the intermediate sprint in Pont-à-Mousson, where the day's hostilities will begin for real. This is with 62km remaining, in which there are five short climbs of varying characteristics.

First, at 58km from the line, is the aforementioned Butte de Mousson, the steepest of the ascents with an average gradient of nearly 12%. This is the point at which the stage starts to get serious; there will almost certainly not be any moves from key contenders even with the rest day tomorrow, but this is where the contenders' teams will start to ramp up the pace (attacks may come earlier if some punchy riders with GC aspirations have lost time in the flatter stages, of course). About 10-15km of rolling downhill follows, before a second steep ascent, the Côte de Saint-Genevieve, a small village that overlooks Loisy; this is the other side of the Côte de Bezaumont seen in rghysens' race - both ascents are from the west, but this is the northernmost of the two. This comes with 42km remaining and has gradients of 9% average and getting up close to 20% at times, before leading to further rolling terrain.

After this, a more gradual climb that will suit the tempo riders a bit more, the riders passing the Château de Morey en route to the eponymous Côte, a climb averaging just over 5% but lasting twice as long, cresting with 32km remaining. The chances are, however, that while some secondary moves by strongish riders without real GC hopes - the likes of Thomas Voeckler, for instance - are likely here, the main contenders are likely to leave this to the last couple of climbs of the day, which are both in the last 15km. First, the short hard dig to Amance, which maxes at 13% and averages a little under 7% for 1200m will give a platform for attacks at 13km from the finish; after this a second short climb on the outskirts of Nancy itself, next to the airport, crests just 4,3km from the line; the descent through Dommartemont to the river is quite technical, however there is only one corner in the last 1,5km; a wide, sweeping left hander after crossing the Viaduc Louis Marin, before finishing outside the Parc de la Pepinière - this one could go to a durable sprinter, or it could be an Ardennes-fest. We just don't know. Or, judging by Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2014, both could happen simultaneously and disappointingly.

Nevertheless, the riders can have a rest day in Nancy now, and then the north of France will be a thing of the past for them.


Jun 30, 2014
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I've been pretty busy over the last few weeks, but i now i should be able to complete my Giro
Stage 5 Campobasso - Pennapiedimonte 190km

A nice hilly stage that starts in Campobasso. After a few early hills the first real climb will be up to Capracotta, 9,7km at 6,8%. The next climb will start only 4km after the descent ends and will start in Aleta, go through Carceri Alte and end in Pretransieri, 9,1km at 6,3%. The next climb, Passo Forchetta from north is more of a false flat with a few 2km long parts at 5%, the first 2 of those are right at the beginning of the climb while the third is right at the end of the climb and has a short ramp with gradient that go up to 12%.
Then a long descent starts, most of it is just false flat only the last 3km are in fact a real descent. Right after the descent ends the riders will climb a small hill that lies between Civitella Messer Raimondo and Palombaro, 2,9km at 7,6% with 300m around 16%.
Then the rides will descent past Pralombaro and after 6km of descent that are pretty technical the last climb of the day starts, 3km at 5,7% with around 200m at 12% right in the middle of the climb. The last 3.3km of the stage are just false flat and will bring the Peloton to the beautiful town Pennapiedimonte.

The next stage will be the first real mountain stage, so the stage win should go to a rider from the breakaway or to a late attacker.
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 6 Sant'Eusanio del Sangro - Guardiagrele, 199km
This stage was inspired by the queenstage of this years Tirreno-Adriatico, when Contador showed the whole world that 2013 was just a fluke.

The Race starts in Sant'Eusanio del Sangro and today the first climb will be Passo Forchetta from the other side, 25,5km at 4% but 6km in the middle of the climb are just false flat.
After a short climb, 3km at 5,2%, a long but gentle descent starts that will only end in Lettomanopello. 12km later the riders will meet the first real climb of the Giro, Passo Lanciano from Serramonacesca 16,8km at 6% but the climb is irregular and has a maximum gradient of 16%. Then the riders will descent back down to Lettomanopello and climb Blockhaus until bivio Lanciano 12,6 km the fist 3km are at 5,8% but the rest of the climb is 12,8km at 8,6%. Afterwards the descent back to Pretoro starts, the final part of the stage is the same as the final of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage, only 5km of false flat, the a short climb 2,6km at 6% and then the Muro di Guardiagrele.

I wasn't sure if using Muro di Guardiagrele would be a good thing or if a simple descent with the finish being in Fara Filiorum Petri would be the better option because i feared that maybe the riders could would be intimidated by the muro and softpedal the climb.
But i think there will be enough reasons for the climbers to attack early on Blockhaus, another decent climb before it, the next stage will be easy, it will be the only real mountain stage until the second ITT and the over 18km long totally flat opening ITT that is a pure power test should have created some gaps and Contador dared to attack with 30km to go on an easier stage.
I think it should be a great stage that gives the riders enough opportunities to attack and to create significant gaps.
Stage 9: Lunéville - Le Grand Ballon d'Alsace, 144km



Col du Martimpré (cat.3) 12,5km @ 2,8%
Col de la Schlucht (cat.2) 8,7km @ 4,3%
Le Petit Ballon (cat.1) 11,6km @ 6,7%
Col du Platzerwaesel (cat.1) 7,2km @ 8,5%
Le Grand Ballon (cat.3) 1,4km @ 8,6%

Intermediate sprint:
Munster, 104km

The first day after the rest day is also the first mountain stage, and save for the final day parade on the Champs Elysées, the shortest road stage of the race too. This is a fast and furious stage through the Vosges mountains which also includes our first category 1 climbs; depending on your interpretation it may also be considered the first mountaintop finish (I, however, don't consider this to be one).

The transfer from Nancy, where the riders will have spent the rest day, is short, so that will at least give them reason to be cheerful when they set out from the grounds of the scenic castle in Lunéville on this stage, which is somewhere between an intermediate and a high mountain stage; the climbs aren't especially brutal, but they are also placed to be more decisive than in a traditional ASO intermediate stage. And the first half of the stage is pretty easy going, as we head across flat countryside through Lorraine, so this probably isn't the stage to set up a large and strong break. However, in the second half of the stage, some serious obstacles are met. They start out benignly enough; the Col du Martimpré is mostly false flat, with only a couple of steeper ramps to improve the gradient. The roads are wide and accessible so this shouldn't cause any trouble. After a brief descent into Xonrupt-Longemer, an attractive lakeside town that serves as an adjunct to the Gérardmer ski area, where the 2014 Tour saw a finish, seeing as the Vosges mountains are coming back into vogue for the Tour. Here, however, it's just a stop-off on the way to the well-known Col de la Schlucht with its own winter station. This side of the climb once more does not average an imposing gradient, however as the profile shows, this is split between 5km real climbing and some false flat to follow. There is then a long and twisting descent ahead of the intermediate sprint in Munster.

The last 40km include some familiar climbs, backed onto one another for maximum impact. The pairing of Le Petit Ballon with the Col du Platzerwaesel is one of the trickiest sets of back-to-back climbing that the Vosges has to offer with absolutely no respite, and indeed in the Tour this year it featured, albeit early in the day, in the stage to Planche des Belles Filles. The combination of the Col de la Schlucht and Platzerwaesel,without Le Petit Ballon in between, was used in the 2009 intermediate stage won by Heinrich Haussler in an epic solo.

Adding the Petit Ballon to the stage, however, adds an extra dynamic, because there are multiple platforms to attack, although in a short and fast stage there is the possibility that teams will be relatively fresh and unwilling to let attacks go. However, there are some steep ramps at the bottom of the climb, as can be seen on the profile, which may give riders a platform to attack from, especially given this is the 3rd climb from home but still only tops out 30km from the line. It will also be quite scenic to see the riders attacking each other on roads like this. The descent that follows this climb is quite narrow and also occasionally pretty steep. There are quite a few technical corners, so don't be surprised if some enterprising riders try to distance a weak descender like Pinot here.

With 21km remaining the riders take a sharp left (coming from the left of that photo), which begins the climb that I anticipate to see the real action on this stage - the comparatively short, but rather steep Col du Platzerwaesel. With four separate kilometres - including three back to back - averaging over 9% and cresting just 14km from the line, there is every opportunity to attack, especially on the lower slopes where there are a number of corners, and the thick forestry that lines the climb will result in riders being able to get out of sight of their pursuers much earlier here than in the later parts of the climb where the road is much straighter.

I have mentioned many times that in designing intermediate stages, a type of design I often have in mind is the excellent 2008 Giro stage to Pescocostanzo. This featured a climb of 9km @ 6,5%, followed by flat+descent, finishing on 2,6km @ 6%. It enticed earlier attacks from the climbers, then the less adept climbing GC men tried to chase them back on the flat 10km before the final punchy finish. It also exploded the breakaway leading to a dramatic finish too. I have tried on a couple of occasions to ape this kind of finish; here is another attempt, adapted for the Tour de France. The racing tends to be more conservative at the Tour than it is at the Giro (plus that particular Giro was rather CERA-fuelled of course), so I have a shorter, but steeper penultimate climb (Platzerwaesel is a harder climb than Pietransieri for sure); I have also placed the other major obstacle closer to the finish as well to mean fewer domestique trains are in place on it (Petit Ballon is tougher than Rionero Sannitico too, anyway). However, in my stage, the downhill/flat section after the climb is a little longer, as the final ascent to Le Grand Ballon is somewhat shorter, with the riders passing through the wintersports station at Le Markstein before climbing the northwest face of Le Grand Ballon, which is essentially a short puncheur's ascent, a side which was seen in the 2014 Tour in the stage won by Tony Martin, albeit with far less flat before as it came off the back of the shallow climb of Le Markstein. The finish is the last few kilometres of this profile, which appends the punchy final part of Grand Ballon to the Markstein climb. 1,4km @ 8,6% is nothing to be sniffed at, and could well see some gaps open up if the elites come together to the climb, which is a possibility if the escapees on Platzerwaesel are chased down. And because it's a short stage, there could be fireworks.


Le Grand Ballon:
Tour complet de France, Stage 9: Nevers - La Loge des Gardes: 210km, medium mountains + mountain top finish (Bourgogne - Auvergne)

I know, it's an almost exact carbon copy of stage 6 in my Tour sans Alpes et Pyrenées. I guess I was in a lazy mood, but it kind of fits at this moment in the race. I marks the real turning point between the part of the Tour dedicated to classic specialists and the stages reserved for the GC specialists. And, I think this is one of the best possible stage designs in the northern half of the Massif Central.

Anyway, more about the stage.
A transfer of a bit less than 60km, most of it on a highway, leads the peloton to todays starting town: Nevers.
The first 80km of this stage the course follows the river Loire upstream on its left bank, until the village Dompierre-sur-Besbre is reached. The peloton crosses the plain of the Loire and heads for the foothills of the Massif Central. For more than 60km the peloton closely follows the edge between plain and hills, seeing the hills ont the right hand becoming higher and steeper as the race progresses.

In Villemontais, a small village 11km southwest of Roanne, the course takes a right angle right hand turn and finally ventures in to the hills. Almost immediately the roads starts to climb to the Col du Bouchet, a 753m high, not too steep climb on a wide road. That road is followed for another 15km, meanwhile climbing the Col des Essarts. Although being a bit shorter and higher, its average gradient is lower than the previous climb. The descent of the latter leads the peloton to Saint-Just-en-Chevalet, another small but picturesque village in the hillsbetween Roanne and Clermont-Ferrand.
Going out of Saint-Just the peloton takes a right hand turn and leaves the D53 for the D1, starting the climb of the Col de Saint-Thomas. This two-stepped climb becomes steeper towards the end, after an initial wall reaching a gradient of 14% followed by a gentle descent. The descent of the climb proper isn't really gentle, reaching gradients of 16% and disrupted by a small rise halfway.

At the end of the descent, a sharp right hand turn is immediately followed by the highest climb of the day. The Col de la Charme starts out quite shallow, but reaches some decent gradient halfway through. It never gets really steep and a summit at an elevation of 1120m isn't really breathtaking. The descent is on a narrow forest road, but luckily for the riders not very sinuous or steep. It soon joins the wider D495 towards Laprugne. The road keeps descending until a bridge over the Ruisseau de Lamiouze with 7km to go.
This point marks the start of the final climb of the day, to the tiny winter sport station of La Loge des Gardes. There are several different ways to get to the top, and the most difficult is dished up today. A bit less than 7km @ 7.4% isn't the most difficult one can imagine, but is the first real dificulty of the Tour. The accumulated fatigue of the previous climbs and the lenght of the stage should be enough to create some gaps between the favorites. It may be possible to create bigger gaps, but the best climbers should attack early on the climb, as the steepest pitches are between km 1 and km 4 of the climb.

map & profile:

Col du Bouchet : km153.5 ; 5.9km @ 5.8% ; 3rd cat; 753m
Col des Essarts : km161.5 ; 5.7km @ 4.8% ; 3rd cat; 918m
Côte de Saint-Just-en Chevalet : km 170 ; 1.6km @ 7.9% ; 4th cat
Col de Saint-Thomas : km176 ; 4km @ 7.4%; 3rd cat; 930m
Col de la Charme: km188.5; 8.5km @ 5.9% ; 2nd cat ; 1120m
Col de la Loge des Gardes : km210 ; 6.8km @ 7.4% ; 2nd cat ;1077m
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 7 Sulmona - Alba Adriatica; 193.5km

After the first real mountain stage this stage will be a loteasier and feature only 2 relevant climbs.
The first climb will be 7,6km at 5,6% but so far away from the stage finish it should only be an attempt to make the breakaways life a little bit easier and force the sprinters teams to work a little bit harder.
Only 11km away from the finish line the second climb from Tortoreto Lido up to Tortoreto starts, 3,1km at 6,1% with 1km at 8,4%. Even if the descent is nothing special only the last 4km are false flat and there are a few tricky corners that could slow the Peloton down, so someone could try his luck on the last climb an launch an attack. The last few km of this stage should be fun to watch.
Well, when you have continuity like that, why not re-use?

Stage 10: Belfort - Planche des Belles Filles, 29,8km (CLM Individual)



Planche des Belles Filles (cat.2) 5,9km @ 8,5%

After an introduction to the mountains yesterday, we have an all-rounder's time trial to follow at the mid point in the race. It's a relatively short time trial (30km) considering that the final 6km are a climb, however we have had a real rouleur-biased first week, including a TTT - we're over 30km of contre le montre already before this stage, so I didn't want to make this over-long.

It's a fairly straightforward TT, to be honest; 24km of mostly flat, pure power riding but with one brief ramp, a kilometre at 5,4% early on as we head out of Belfort towards French cycling's current belle. Having not been used until 2012, the Planche des Belles Filles has quickly been reused in the Tour in order to give a stern medium mountain challenge in the Vosges. However, in the road stages it has featured in to date it has been classified 1st category; here I will only give it 2nd category, because frankly, that's about right for it at any time, let alone when the riders will not be going head to head. I know it's got some very steep ramps, but it's the same gradient as the Col du Platzerwaesel while being noticeably shorter; we are critical of the Vuelta's overcategorization of climbs like Peña Cabarga (5,6km, 9,4%), Urkiola (5,7km, 9,1%) and Cordal (5,6km, 8,9%), but they are all similar in stature to the Planche des Belles Filles, if not slightly tougher due to irregularity; they have steeper maximums than the 14% shown by the ASO's official profile (although the final few hundred metres are reputed to get up to 20% of course and certainly seem to be more than 14%), and are debatable cat.1 climbs in the Vuelta, the GT with the fewest major monoliths to call upon. Nevertheless, with steep slopes and brand new tarmac to call on, the final few kilometres of this TT will shift the balance back after 24km of pure powerhouse riding.

This TT should just about favour the specialist, but I'm expecting to find GC men all over the upper echelons of the results sheet after this one.


Planche des Belles Filles:
I repeat. For a MTT it has to be a climb with at least 2 ways. That's way they only used in recent history, IIRC, Alpe d'Huez (with Sarenne), Chamrousse and Avoriaz (Joux Verte).
I think we had a MTT on Hautacam in 2004/2005 but it was in some small race.
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 8 Monteprandone - Pesaro; 163km
A boring stage for the sprinters without any real obstacles, so i won't even bother to post the profile. Only the Wind could make this stage interesting. I'm sorry, but i wanted to avoid long transfers so i needed to have something like this and it should keep the sprinters happy, they'll suffer enough durning the next two weeks.
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 9 Pesaro - Santa Sofia; 153km


Before the first rest day, we'll have a nice medium mountain stage. Yes, it is pretty short but don't worry, this Giro will have a +250km long medium mountain stage.
The first climb of the day will be near the Monte di Colbordolo on the Strada Ponte Vecchio di Foglia, 4,1km at 6,7 with a short sector at 16%, a nice warm up. The last 100km are full of small climbs
9,1km at 4,6% but very irregular with a few parts over 10%.
4,3km at 6,2% also irregulaar with multiple parts over 10%.
5,8km at 6,2% with a short ramp at 13%.
3,2km at 6,8% with a few short ramps at 10%.
3,2km at 5,7% another irregulat climb with a short 14% ramp.
4,9km at 6,5% very irregular and a few ramps over 10%.
7,5km at 6,2% with a short 13% 13% ramp.
6,7km at 5,4% another irregular climb.
After the last climb the riders will descent down to Santa Sofia with the finish line being on the Via Guglielmo Marconi.
The last 100km of this stage are filled with short irregular climbs, it should be fun to watch. It's the last stage before the first rest day, so maybe one of the GC contenders will try something.
Santa Sofia:
McLovin said:
I know, but not the Tour. Anyway, how they did it? With moto cameras and team cars?
In the Tour, besides those three, we still have Madeleine and la Toussuire which are doable. And I'm sure some others but it's to late now for me.

The problem for the team cars was the sterrato, not the space. They did it in waves, three batches of riders going up there.

It's not that the Tour can't do it this way, it's that they don't want to, because it's easier for them. They could easily organise an MTT on a one-route climb, they just prefer not to.
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 10 Borgo Saan Lorenzo - Segalari; 48km


After the first rest day we'll have a long hard hilly ITT that features 3 hills.
The first 9km are false flat after that the fist hill is 3,6km at 5,5% with 300m at 10% followed by the only tricky descent of the day with a few tricky hairpins.
After 3km of false flat here comes the second hill, 3,km at 5,4% with a short 13% steep ramp. The second descent shouldn't be a problem, not very technical.
Right after the deescent ends in Caldine the last climb of the day starts, 6,4km at 5,7% but the last 2km are more of a false flat so the actual climb is a little bit steeper 4,4km around 6,7%.
The last descent of the day should also be the easiest one and will end right at the finish line in Segalari.
The stage is long enough to create some gaps, they shouldn't be huge but should force some riders to attack on the next mountain stages. GC riders that are good descenders and ITT riders should win this, but i think that a rider that is great in the hilly classics like Michał Kwiatkowski should do well.
You should also remember that we'll have another flat 40km long ITT at the beginning of the tird week, so don't worry the climbers will still have to attack on the hard mountain stages.
The mountain stage to la Loge des gardes is followed by a rest day and a long transfer to Basse Normandie. There another test awaits the Tour favourites.

Tour complet de France, stage 10: Avranches - Fougères: 53.3km, time trial (Basse Normandie - Bretagne)

The day afte the rest day brings the first long time trial, between the Norman town Avranches to Breton Fougères.
The course makes use of wide, straight roads trough the rolling countryside. It is no wonder that this stage is interlaced with numerous small but legsapping rises. Never really long or, with one exception, steep, they make up for a total elevation gain of 750m. This stage should be a prey for the pure TT'ers, with the climbers probably loosing 4 minutes and more (In the Indurain era, I would have said: 6 minutes).

Map & Profile:
Tour complet de France, stage 11: Laval - Poitiers: 207km, flat (Pays de la Loire - Poitou-Charentes)

A 50km transfer from Fougères to Laval brings the race caravan to the starting location of the 11th stage.
From Laval it goes south-southeast during more or less the entire stage length. After exactly 100km the river Loire is crossed at the tiny village of Les Rosiers-sur-Loire. From there the peloton follows the road to Doué-la-Fontaine and further to Thouars, Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes and finally Poitiers, where the sprinters will have a chance for the stage victory.

Map & Profile
Mayomaniac said:
Stage 8 Monteprandone - Pesaro; 163km
A boring stage for the sprinters without any real obstacles, so i won't even bother to post the profile. Only the Wind could make this stage interesting. I'm sorry, but i wanted to avoid long transfers so i needed to have something like this and it should keep the sprinters happy, they'll suffer enough durning the next two weeks.

No need for excuses. A well balanced GT should have 6 to 8 sprint stages, in my opinion.
Jun 30, 2014
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rghysens said:
No need for excuses. A well balanced GT should have 6 to 8 sprint stages, in my opinion.

Yes, but it they should have to earn it, i don't like stages like this, there should be at least a little obstacle to help the breakaway or to give a late attacker an opportunity, like stage 7 of my Giro.
Mayomaniac said:
Yes, but it they should have to earn it, i don't like stages like this, there should be at least a little obstacle to help the breakaway or to give a late attacker an opportunity, like stage 7 of my Giro.
I agree. Some time back I tried to do a Giro without any mass sprint stages (nor restdays and only short transfers), starting on Sicily and following the Apennines up, then the penultimate weekend in the dolomites and the final of the race in the Alpes.

Would be impossible to do so in France while covering most of the country without using lots of small roads and unusual finishing cities.