Race Design Thread

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lemon cheese cake said:
I didnt really think about that. I just wanted a stage between two of the 4 hills ski jumping competion. I also saw Rupholding on the map after i had published the stage today and would have visited it as i am a fan of Biathlon an XC Skiing.
Some of my routes have been veritable biathlon-XC feasts. My Giro del Trentino included Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Martello and Antholz-Anterselva, my Deutschlandrundfahrt included passing through Altenberg, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Notschrei, Oberhof and Ruhpolding (a non-published Bayern-Rundfahrt included Arbersee, and a non-published Österreichrundfahrt had a stage from Hochfilzen to Obertilliach!), my Tour de Slovénie had an MTF at Pokljuka... since Alpine skiing stations host a lot of races, I've always thought about seeing what the options are at every major Nordic station.
 
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Stage 19 Mals/Malles Venosta – Brixen/Bressanone; 146km


After 65km that are mostly a false flat downhill we get the fist Climb from Meran/Merano to Tiesens/Tesimo, 6,5km at 5,7%
After the descent and 25km of flat the riders will arrive to Bozen/Bolzano and after 25km of false flat 2 nice back-to-back climbs, the first one goes through Barbian, 8,6km at 5,9%, the second Climb starts right after the descent to Klausen/Chiusa and goes up to Feldthurns/Velturno, 4,9km at 6,5%, and is followed by a technical descent on twisty, narrow roads. The final 4km after the descent are flat and will bring the riders to the beautyful town Brixen/Bressanone.
This one should go to the Breakaway, the last 2 climbs are to hard for the sprinters and the next stage is so hard that the favourites will try to save some energy. Someone could try to attack on the final descent to gain some time on the other favourites, but probably they'll just think about saving energy for the final tappone dolomitico.
 
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Mayomaniac said:
Stage 18 Agrone – Sulden/Solda; 195km


A very hard stage with an easier climb right after Gavia and Stelvio, that should create great racing and big gaps between the favourites.
The stage starts with a small hill right after Agrone, 2,5km at 4,9, after that the riders will have to ride Passo Daone (8,4km at 9,2%), Pian di Campiglio (15,1km at 6,1%) and Tonale(15,2km at 6%) before the terrific Gavia-Stelvio combination (17,3km at 7,9% and 21,5km at 7,1%) , with the Stelvio being the Cima Coppi.
Right after the 19km long Stelvio descent starts the final climb to Sulden/Solda with 6,6km at 7% and a flat final km.
I know that bad weather could be a problem, an option could be to move the stage finish to Bormio 2000 and cut the Stelvio, it would still be a very hard stage with an easier final climb after a hard climb.
I personally think that you shouldn't cancel the Cima Coppi and that you should let them ride the stage and not talk about BS like neutralizing the Stelvio descent., if someone wants to attack he should be allowed to attack.
If someone decides to ride the Giro he should already know that climbing at high altitude with bad weather is something that can happen, this is a race that takes place in May and has a history of epic stages with bad weather, just remember queenstage of the 2003 Giro.
That kind of stage is even better than Finestre - Sestrieres. Action on Stelvio guarenteed, maybe even on Gavia if someone wants to shred the field. Sestrieres has a false flat part where a little group chasing has an advantage..only in the last 8.5 km there are a couple of km at 6 -6.5 % ...rest around 5%.
Here the strongest wins and those last 6.6 km will make big differences.
And all those hard climbs before will make it a massacre of a stage.
 
Tour complet de France, stage 14: Auch - Superbagnères: 157km, high mountains + MTF (Midi-Pyrenées)

There's another transfer from Agen to Auch, but I guess the peloton won't mind this one. It could be included in the stage, but those 70 pan flat kilometres contribute nothing to the race. It would make the stage a bit too long, too. A 228km long stage with a final like the one I've designed might be a bit too much, given what's still to come. Therefore I chose to make a short stage, with the possibility for the climbers to attack from a decent distance from the finish.

So, this stage starts in Auch, a town on the banks of the river Gers. The peloton will follow the course of this river upstream for more than 60km, until Lannemezan. That name must ring a bell with cycling fans, as it hosted 4 stage starts in the past 15 editions of the Tour, and will do so again in 2015. This time it will only host an intermediate sprint.
In Lannemezan the peloton will change direction and head east for 15 odd kilometres, before turning north again. Another 10km later the first climb of the day rears its ugly head. The col de Mortis is an unknown climb, but averaging 10% for its first 3.8km, and a steepest kilometre of more than 13% is something one might expect in the Vuelta, Giro or Tirreno-Adriatico. On this climb the peloton will very likely completely shatter, with only the main GC favourites and their most trusted lieutenants in the first group, behind a likely breakaway.
The descent to Gembrie is on small roads and is soon followed by a long false flat to the foot of the Port the Balès, a modern classic in the Tour de France. The fast but not very technical descent of this climb leads the peloton (or the shattered remains of it) to bagnères-de-Luchon, the town that heralds the start of the final climb: that to the ski resort of Superbagnères. The town hosted stage finishes 6 times between 1961 and 1989 but fell out of favour ever since. I think it should be rehabilitated, given the nice opportunities there are to link it with other climbs.

Map& profile


Climbs:
Col de Mortis: km88.5; 4.8km @ 8.8%; 2nd cat
Port de Balès: km119; 11.7km @ 7.7%; HC; 1755m
Superbagnères: km157; 16.5km @ 7%; HC; 1800m
 
Tour complet de France, stage 15: Bagnères-de-Luchon - Foix: 180km, high mountains (Midi - Pyrenées)

The second consecutive stage in the same region is a stage to Foix as it should be, not that failure of an attempt ASO dished up in 2012 (or october 2011, actually).
If the previous mountain stages (La Loge des Gardes and Superbagnères) weren't enough for the climbers to make up time lost in the first week and the long TT, they have another opportunity here, if they attack.
The first 110km of the stage are there to sap the legs of the lesser climbers. The col de Latrape and Col d'Agnes are well placed for some secondary moves, or for a daring attack of a strong climber. The col de Péguère is so steep at the end, and followed by a descent to Foix, that it is just too good to waste an opportunity, even more so because this stage will be followed by the second rest day. So no need to be worried for sore legs the day after.

Map & profile


Climbs:
Col de Menté: km 28; 9.3km @ 9.1%; 1st cat; 1350m
Portet d'Aspet: km43.5; 4.5km @ 9.7%; 2nd cat; 1069m (from pont de l'oulne in the profile)
Col de la Core: km78.5; 13.5km @ 6%; 1st cat; 1395m
Col de Latrape: km110; 5.9km @ 7.2%; 2nd cat; 1111m
Col d'Agnes: km125.5; 10.2km @ 8.1%; 1st cat; 1570m
Col de Péguère: km153; 9.4km @ 7.9%; 1st cat; 1375m
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 20 Klausen/Chiusa – Tre Cime di Lavaredo; 198km

Ok, maybe i went a little bit too far with this stage i wanted this Giro with 107km of ITT to end with a very hard mountain stage.
I love a real tappone dolomitico, who doesn't?
The Stage starts in Kausen/Chiusa, and after a few km we already have the first climb of the day, the Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch 29,2km at 4,9%. After that we have Passo Valparola, 13,9km at 5,8%, , Pordoi from Arabba, 9,4km at 6,8%, and the easy side of Fedaia, 8,4km at 6,7% if you ignore the false flat at the start and on top of the climb.
After the technical Fedaia descent the riders will have to ride one of my favourite combinations, Passo Giau, 10,1km at 9,1% and Tre Croci/Tre Cime.

Atm tracks4bikers.com isn't working on my laptop, so please don't mind Tre Croci being a cat 1 climb.
This is the final mountain stage and the reason why i wanted to have a 40km long flat ITT at the start of the third week, the climbers should have a reason to attack on the last 2 brutal mountan stages. Giau/Tre Cime should be a brutal combination with 4 real climbs before it, the whole stage features a little bit over 6800m altitude gain.
They wanted to use this combination in the 2013 Giro, but the stage was changed because of snowfall.
We saw this wonderful combination in 2007, Riccò won the stage right before his teammate Piepoli, Mazzoleni destroyed every other GC rider and became the virtual Maglia Rosa on Passo Tre Croci but Di Luca was able to defend the Maglia Rosa on the way up to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
It was a great stage, I climbed Tre Cime a few hours before the riders to watch the stage together with my father and on the whole climb other tifosi cheered for us and offered to share their food, wine and Grappa with us. :D
 
By the way the stage I am about to present to you, was just done at random placing a route that wiggles from the start to finish. I turned out well though.

DR Rest Day 2 Nuremburg
Today is the second rest day of two in my Deutschland Rundfahrt, so here is a recap on where we have been in the second week:
Stage 10: Schonau im Schwarzwald - Basel
Stage 11: (TT) Lindau - Friedrichschafen(Eurobike)
Stage 12: Bregenz - Bergstation Fellhorn
Stage 13: Oberstorf - Garmisch Partenkirchen
Stage 14: Garmisch Partenkirchen - Salzburg
Stage 15: Hallein - Berchtesgaden

DR Stage 16 Nuremburg - Coburg





Primes/KOCs:
Lauf de pegnitz
Bad Colberg - Heldburg

KOMs:
Gossweinsteinburg Cat 3

Today the riders start more than 400 kms away from Berchtesgaden, the host of the Stage 15's Finish town. The riders needed the rest day for A travelling, and B resting from that horrible previous stage. We start in Nuremburgfor stage 15. This city was famous for the Nuremburg Rally and the Nuremburg Trials. Both of these events were to do with the Nazi party. Swifty moving on the riders have two Primes. One at Lauf de Pregnitz and a very late one at the Thermal spas of Bad Colberg - Heldburg. Although as you can see from the Profile, the stage is a rolling one through the top of Bavaria but there is one cat 3 climb and that is the Gossweinsteinburg. After a stage that might have a lone rider come to the finish, as there is a lump quite close to the finish in Coburg.

Start:


Finish:
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Stage 21 Cortina d'Ampezzo – Udine 151,8km

A final parade stage with a sprint finish in Udine. I know, I've talked about the finish being in Venice, but Udine seems to be a more realistic option.
This is the end of our journey, after 21 race days this Giro has come to an end and now it is time to say goodby.
I've enjoyed creating this Giro and i want to thank Libertine, i had 2 different optitions for stage 13-15 and asked his advice.
I already have many ideas for my next Giro, a 69km long ITT that Menchov would love, a departure in Montenegro or Sicily, a Stage with Zoncolan and/or Crostis before an easier final climb, a Stage with Sampeyre and Fauniera and a few more.
Maybe I'll create a TdF, even if I'm not an experet when it comes to the Pyrenees, maybe a Tour for the Roulers with many long classic-like stages, cobbles, long medium mountain stages, a flat ITT and a very hard MTT, maybe Ventoux or Bonette as the only high mountain stage.
 
Tour complet de France, stage 16: Nîmes - Nîmes: 36.7km, ITT (Languedoc - Roussillon)

The second rest day is followed by the third (and last) ITT. The previous TT's were short (15.5km) and long (53.3km), this one is of medium length. The first half is on local roads, quite narrow and not of the best quality, the last part is held on the wide D979 before it enters the town center again, where it will criss-cross through the historical town center to show the sights.


Map & profile


Nîmes:
 
Tour complet de France, stage 17: Nîmes - Digne-les-Bains: 180.5km, flat (Languedoc-Roussillon - Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)

The last flat stage before the final parade (oops,... I just spoiled the end of my tour) goes from Nîmes to Digne-les-Bains. Although there's a total elevation gain of more than 1000m, there isn't a single categorised climb. I'll keep them for the next three days :D

Map & profile:
 
DR Stage 17 Saalfeld - Chemitz





Primes/KOCs:
Meerane
Steiler Wand von Meerane
Glauchau
Hohenstein

KOMs:
Arnsgereutherberg Cat 3
Drognitzerberg Cat 4
Steiler Wand von Meerane Cat 4

Today we start in the market town of Saalfeld in Thuringer. The riders will then get to the first climb of Arnsgereutherberg. This is a catorgory 3, the highest catorgory of the day. On the riders ride, until they get to the catorgory 4 Drognitzerberg. From this, they will ride to Meerane, for the Prime. They will also have a KOC and KOM at the catorgory 4 climb of the Steiler Wand von Meerane. From looking at the profile, The climb has a constant gradient all the way up. It was made famous in the Peace Race. It is still used in the Thuringer Rundfarht. The riders will then head of to Glauchau for a KOC and Hohenstein for another. As we have already visited the Nurburgring, I thought the riders should also visit the Sachsenring. The riders will then have another few kilometres before they reach the finish at Chemitz.

Start:


Finish:
 
I started the description of the first stage of my tour complet by saying it would be the one but longest. The longest stage will be held today.

Tour complet de France, stage 18: Digne-les-Bains - Sospel: 234km, high mountains (Provence - Alpes - Côte d'Azur)

One of the things that made cycling so popular in Western Europe (atleast until the 1970's) were heroic feats of individuals: true champions that went off for a long solo attack and completely obliterated the field. Due to better training methods for all cyclists, and a different point of view from race directors (the real ones, not us) when designing race courses it becomes increasingly difficult to perform such deads of epicness. Since I think that each GT should have at least one mountain stage that could be compared with those of yore, I tried to design a stage that would fit that description.
A stage like that should be a stage where in the last 40-50km the favorites would compete each other, without help of their domestics. A stage where only the best would survive, due to a quick succession of climbs and a more than average stage length.
Since many of the traditional Alpine climbs are separated by large chunks of valley, I had to visit some underused regions. This far flung corner of the French Alps has barely been used the last decades, due to the lack of large ski resorts and the proximity of some big, wealthy towns, that rather organise a stage finish or even Tour start than just a stage start to more exciting areas.

So, I wanted to create a "classic" stage, without it having a classic length of 250km or more, with at least four climbs, not finishing with a mtf (I think a difficult mtf impedes an exciting race development), minimal transfers from Digne-les-Bains and not finishing in some forlorn tiny hamlet.
I also didn't want to use too many traditional climbs, so I decided too make best use of the climbs in the Alpes Maritimes. Next difficulty was to find a sequence of climbs that were hard enough and close enough to each other to make a difficult stage. That was the case with the triptych Valberg/Saint-Martin/Turini. When I found out that Sospel, at the foot of the southside of the Turini was large enough to accomodate a tour stage finish, I decided that it should be my finish town of today. Although it has only 3500 inhabitants, it is still larger than towns like Chorges or Jausiers that hosted the Tour in the recent past.
A stage from Digne to Sospel, with the climbs to Valberg, Col Saint-Martin and Col de Turini would be 217km long. That's already quite long, but there was still some room for another climb. That spot was quickly taken by the col des Champs, as it doesn't lead to a big prolongation of the stage, but with 234km it still is very solid. That would make it the longest multiple mountain stage since the stage to Briançon in the Tour of 2000. The stages to Mont Ventoux in 2013 and Bagnères-de-Luchon in 2014 were also longer, but counted just one big climb.

Map & Profile:


Climbs:
Col des Champs: km79; 11.4km @ 7.5%; 1st cat; 2100m
Col de Valberg: km120; 12km @ 7.3%; 1st cat; 1668m
Col Saint-Martin: km173; 16.5km @ 6.2%; 1st cat; 1500m
Col de Turini: km209.5; 15.3km @ 7.2%; HC; 1607m
 
Time to resurrect my Tour, which is now at the halfway point with all the big mountains to come.

Stage 11: Sochaux - Lausanne (CH), 167km





Climbs:
Cirque de la Consolation (cat.3) 3,1km @ 5,8%
Col du Tonet (cat.3) 5,6km @ 4,2%
Côte de Cossonay (cat.4) 2,5km @ 3,9%

Intermediate sprint:
Pontarlier, 99km

After the two stages in the Vosges (the road stage to Le Grand Ballon and the time trial from Belfort to Planche des Belles Filles), there's a brief respite for the riders as I take them on a rolling stage out of Franche-Comté and in fact out of France entirely, heading into Switzerland for a stage finish in Romandie. This will be a comparatively easy stage, and action is likely to be fairly limited; however it is a somewhat tougher stage in terms of altitude gain than the meagre categorized climb statistics would suggest, as it passes over the highlands of the Doubs area over a large amount of gradual uphill before a similarly gradual downhill roll into Lausanne; I would therefore expect the last 50km to be raced extremely fast due to this, with the effect that the peloton could easily be reduced somewhat.

The stage will begin at the Peugeot museum, dedicated to the home of the largest French car manufacturer and a name which is also, of course, indelibly linked to the history of cycling, both with bikes and the team. The neutralized section will take us into and across Montbéliard before we set off on the rolling course. The three categorized climbs are not hard; the hardest is the first, the climb to the lookout point at Cirque de la Consolation, which looks out over the dramatic waterfall that is Grand-Chute de la Consolation. After the end of the climb, there is no descent, however, just more gradually uphill-turning flat; this eventually turns back uphill into the inconsistent Col du Todet; the last 600m of which are the toughest, averaging 9% and getting up to nearly 15%. When the uphill finally ceases, there has been over 600m of vertical gain - it's just taken a long, long time to get there. This is about 20km before the intermediate sprint, which takes place in Pontarlier, one of the biggest urban areas in Doubs (which isn't saying much admittedly) and in vogue in the Tour. While no GC contenders are likely to have any problems on this stage, it is possible that if the teams of some relatively climbing-savvy sprinters like Nacer Bouhanni or Peter Sagan push the pace, less climbing-adept sprinters like Kittel or Guardini could be dropped, in which case they may need to work hard to get back to the bunch after the Col du Todet; they shouldn't fall back enough on these slopes to not make it back, but it might mean they are unable to capitalize at the intermediate sprint.

After this there is a second high point of the day, but this time without any categorization-worthy climbs (I thought about Larmont, but it's unnecessary) before we cross into Switzerland at the scenic Vallorbe. The winding, gradual downhill is broken up briefly by a short climb, the only option for those trying to defy the sprinters, 18km from the line. The ascent into the small town of Cossonay doesn't average much, but the first 1,5km is all over 5% with a max of 8% and offers the slimmest opportunity for a puncheur or a break specialist. Realistically though, the sprinters don't have many chances in this route, so they'll be hungry to make the most of the flat run-in here; the route into Lausanne is slightly rolling, but certainly not more tough than that on stage 6 of the 2011 Giro, which was won by Fran Ventoso and was, to my mind, an almost perfect example of a rolling stage; there were no real obstacles to speak of, but the sprinters had to work for their victory and therefore it was not a problem when they were able to duke it out for the win at the end; they had earned the right to compete for the win. That's what I'm aiming for here.

The final few kilometres are not straight; however there are no real technical tests as the péloton stays on the same road, which heads into the centre of Lausanne with a few mild curves rather than any tough technical tests. Therefore the sprinters will compete for the win on the imposing boulevard of the Rue des Terreaux. Yes, I know from the old Romandie chronos that you could have a much more difficult run-in in Lausanne; however I've had a tough run-in in Plérin, a small cobbled ascent in Cassel, and ruined another flat stage for sprinters by filling it with cobbles; this will be the last chance the sprinters get until the final week, so it's best to give them a chance here and there. And Lausanne is a beautiful, beautiful city that we can take the time to enjoy from the air in the run-in to the finish, whilst the views across Lac Léman to the Alps give us premonitions of the days to come.

Sochaux:


Lausanne:
 
Stage 12: Martigny (CH) - Aosta (IT), 248km





Climbs:
Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard (HC) 30,6km @ 5,7%
Col Tze Core (HC) 16,0km @ 7,6%
Col du Saint-Panthaléon (HC) 17,1km @ 6,5%
Col de Champremier (cat.1) 9,7km @ 8,6%
Pila-les Fleurs (cat.1) 12,0km @ 6,9%

Intermediate Sprint:
Châtillon, 146km

This is the introduction of the Alps, a very strange stage which will naturally require some explanation. At a UCI-baiting length of almost 250km, with five climbs of either 1st or hors categorie, reaching altitudes of 2400m, this could easily be argued to be the queen stage of the race... yet, it comes before the penultimate weekend (this will be the second Friday of the race), there is no MTF, the route doubles back on, and criss-crosses, itself, the favourites are quite likely to come to the line together, the stage could well be taken by the breakaway and, perhaps most controversially, not one kilometre is in France.

It is perhaps because of the last point that I have elected to go with the descent finish here; there are tougher finishes coming in the stages to follow. I also feared that with some of the stages to come this stage would be soft-pedalled until the end if I put an MTF in; with this design even if the bunch tries to go easy, the sheer brutality - we could be talking almost eight hours in the saddle - will ensure that a) attrition will shatter the bunch so that any pretenders will be certainly selected; b) it is highly unlikely any of the favourites will have any helpers left by the time we get to the final climb, so fireworks can happen; c) in the weekend stages, the fatigue factor will be a major player, increasing the likelihood of significant gaps emerging in the stages that follow.

It can't have escaped even the least eagle-eyed follower of this thread that I am a big fan of the Valle d'Aosta for racing; you have a lot of tough climbs all very close to one another, scenery is incredible, and it is tackled rarely enough by the professional péloton that it feels special when you get a stage through there. The last time the Tour went there was 2009, when we gota stage that started like today's, before re-entering France via the Petit-St-Bernard pass, a real tempo-grinder of a climb much unlike the other climbs the riders face on this stage. This was also the last time we saw a mountain stage entirely outside France, thanks to the one-climb Verbier stage.

After the start in Martigny, the stage is likely to follow the pattern of the 2009 stage, after all the first 75km are exactly the same; the difficulty of the Grand-St-Bernard pass will ensure a strong breakaway, and a lot of stagehunters will want to be in it - GC men who've lost time in the Vosges or the cobbles, secondary contenders, domestiques for GC men to ride across to, maillot vert contenders with climbing chops trying to get a head start on the grupetto, we could easily see 25-30 riders up the road. Altitude will also play a big part; this monstrous ascent gets up to almost 2500m over a strength-sapping length of over 30km, with the last 5km averaging nearly 9%. This is not going to be fun at all, and even when it's over and the riders pass the beautiful lake and hospice at the summit and cross from Switzerland to Italy there are more than 200km remaining!

The descent is just as long and drawn out as the climb, and especially early on features some stern technical tests. After the descent the riders head past Aosta, the finish town, and head east on the SS26, one of the most scenic nodal roads in all of Italy (which is saying something). We pass Chambave, Châtillon and Montjovet before we start climbing again after a respite of about 35km flat. The first up is one of my favourite climbs, the Col Tze Core. Despite how much the Col du Grand-St-Bernard dwarfs it on the profile above, this is very much a bona fide HC climb, averaging over 7,5% for 16km; the first half is the same as the Estoul and Col de Joux climbs, but after that it gets super brutal; the scenery however is some of the best in the world, although at this point the riders are doing 2km at 12% so they probably won't notice. The road narrows down and there are some steep lacets here. The summit comes with 120km remaining (!) and then there's a difficult descent into Châtillon (which you can see in the distance on that photo). The town is beautifully located, both in general and specifically in relation to this stage, where it hosts the intermediate sprint, before we head for the Valtournenche. This road leads eventually to Breuil-Cervinia, familiar from the Giro, and to the legendary Monte Cervino, aka the Matterhorn, however at Antey-St-André we turn left to ascend another legendary climb of the Valle d'Aosta, the Col du Saint-Panthaléon. Slightly longer but noticeably less steep than Tze Core, I wrestled with whether this should be HC or cat.1 but decided HC was appropriate given its length and the 6km @ 8% which come after a full cat.2 climb preceding it. Winding through the hillside, this tough ascent is the opposite side to that normally tackled by the Giro, however it was seen in the Giro delle Valle d'Aosta a couple of years ago in a tough stage to Torgnon (so effectively climbing it twice as Torgnon is a station 3/4 the way up the climb). We then descent the Chambave side familiar to the Giro, still scenic, after topping out the climb with 84km remaining.

We then cross over the road we took earlier in the stage before starting the next climb, the steepest of the day, but significantly shorter than the preceding ones. The climb to Champremier, the pass just before the 10km mark on that profile, is relentless; after the easy first kilometre it is between 9 and 11% almost all the way. The steepest kilometre is at almost 11% halfway up, and there are also dozens of hairpins on the narrowest climb of the day as well. The views, when the riders escape the forest, are stunning, and with just 53km remaining at the summit of this one I anticipate this being where we lose many of the day's domestiques from the top teams - after all nearly 200km are gone by the time we get here. The descent is very technical; it is wide enough but some parts might need a new coat of asphalt before the Tour arrives. Nevertheless, that will add to the challenge before the glorious respite of ten flat kilometres.

Then, it's time for the final climb of the day. Pila is perhaps the most celebrated ski resort in the Valle d'Aosta (outside Courmayeur, I guess), and the combination of its convenient location above the region's capital and its difficult and irregular climb make it fodder for course designers, both traceurs and real life race organizers. The St-Panthaléon-Champremier-Pila combo featured in the 1992 Giro, for example. However, a big MTF here would only render the rest of the stage pointless and neutralized; we're going to descend. Therefore I can only climb as far as the intermediate station at Les Fleurs. This is still a more than considerable climb - 12km @ 7% - with the last 2km being false flat! There is a kilometre averaging 11%, and seeing as the domestique assistance to the heads of state should be minimal by this point, groups should be splintered all over the road now. And with the summit being 17km from the end of the stage this really needs to see pressure being put on. The stage will be attritional to this point, and there are further brutal stages to come, but this is where it should all go haywire. After this there is a simple descent by the easier Gressan road, before a picturesque finish as the riders head through the cobbled streets of Aosta's pedestrianized old town and finish in front of the town hall at Piazza Émile Chanoux.

Possibly the most brutal Tour stage in years. The mountains are well and truly here.

Martigny:


Aosta:
 
Libertine Seguros said:
It can't have escaped even the least eagle-eyed follower of this thread that I am a big fan of the Valle d'Aosta for racing; you have a lot of tough climbs all very close to one another, scenery is incredible, and it is tackled rarely enough by the professional péloton that it feels special when you get a stage through there. The last time the Tour went there was 2009, when we gota stage that started like today's, before re-entering France via the Petit-St-Bernard pass, a real tempo-grinder of a climb much unlike the other climbs the riders face on this stage. This was also the last time we saw a mountain stage entirely outside France, thanks to the one-climb Verbier stage.
Actually that is not true ;)

The first ~10km of the Verbier stage was in France, and obviously the day after finished in France. However the very first mountain stage that year was entirely outside of France:

Funny that three of the mountain stages were almost entirely outside of France. However the two 'biggest' stages were both inside France, so I'm more than a little sceptic of the plausibility of the, truth be told, awesome stage you have designed.
 
Netserk said:
Actually that is not true ;)

The first ~10km of the Verbier stage was in France, and obviously the day after finished in France. However the very first mountain stage that year was entirely outside of France:

Funny that three of the mountain stages were almost entirely outside of France. However the two 'biggest' stages were both inside France, so I'm more than a little sceptic of the plausibility of the, truth be told, awesome stage you have designed.
Ah, my memory is failing me. I thought stage 15 had started in Switzerland too. Didn't have to go back too far to find the last one to correct me though - a week!

Don't worry - the French will get all the MTFs on their soil, and to soften the blow of missing out on 240+ kilometres of brutal Valdôtain mountain climbing, I even use some classic Tour climbs to keep M. Prudhomme happy. The idea is that this stage on the Friday (which I agree is sadly rather unlikely due to the lack of French territory) will soften them up for the weekend, when France takes centre stage once more. An early draft of the course featured no Charleville stage, an additional Alpine stage (actually two as it radically differed in the third week) and different routes into Aosta.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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A great stage, but what else would you expect from Libertine?:)
I guess the next stage will be easier and the sunday stage will be another brutal stage, maybe we'll see the hard side of Agnel with 2 awesome italian climbs before it? :D
 
Actually, no, there is no let-up on the Saturday stage, as it's the second consecutive monster.

Aosta (IT) - Station de Ski Oz-en-Oisans, 214km





Climbs:
Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard (cat.1) 28,0km @ 4,6%
Col de la Madeleine (HC) 25,3km @ 6,2%
Col du Glandon (HC) 21,8km @ 6,8%
Station de Ski Oz-en-Oisans (cat.2) 7,5km @ 7,7%

Intermediate sprint:
Moûtiers, 107km

The first week of my Tour was all about the rouleurs and giving the climbers a difficult deficit. A Team Time Trial, a potentially windy stage into Basse-Normandie, the Classics-styled grind of the Mont Cassel stage and the vicious cobbles. Now, the climbers are really to the fore as we have our second consecutive 200+km, multiple-HC-mountain brute, this time with, of sorts, an MTF. After how many hours they spent in the saddle yesterday, I have elected to go easy on the riders by giving them zero transfer; we start today where we finished yesterday, in the old Roman city of Aosta. This means it's time to exit Italy and return to the country we are supposed to be touring.

There are two ways to enter France from the Valle d'Aosta by road; either you go to Chamonix via the Mont Blanc tunnel, or you take the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass, like the péloton did in the 2009 stage mentioned in the previous stage. Of course, we're doing the latter, though with the stage in the legs from yesterday I elected not to add the Colle San Carlo, tempting though it might have been. As a result, it's false flat through the valley roads until the thermal spa town of Pré-St-Didier, then once we pass La Thuile the road turns from false flat to a long and grinding climb up to the border, and the ceiling of the day's racing at 2188m. It's a true grinder's climb, unlikely to be the source of any sustained major attacks in any race, let alone one where it's the first climb of the day; however riders who conserved energy yesterday may want to get in the day's break today for similar reasons to that stage. I can't see the heads of state doing anything but soft-pedalling here, however, as the climb is not built for sustained attacks and is followed, after a seemingly endless descent comprised of relentless switchbacks, by a lengthy stretch spent on wide open valley roads on false downhill flat, punctuated shortly before the end by the day's intermediate sprint in Moûtiers, which marks almost the exact halfway point in the day's proceedings.

Not long after this, we start the second - and last - climb of the race to have featured in my previous Tour parcours. The Col de la Madeleine is my favourite of the Tour's perennial favourites, a huge and monolithic beast that doesn't seem as tiresome as the likes of Alpe d'Huez, Tourmalet, Izoard, Peyresourde, Aspin and the rest somehow. In my last attempt at the Tour we tackled the climb from La Chambre, however this time the riders take on the longer and more gradual northern face of the pass. That's not to say that the climb is any easier, oh no. This is a much more inconsistent climb from this side, divided into three steeper sections broken up by false flat and with dramatic twists and turns. Last seen in the 2012 route, it has three separate sections ramping up to kilometres averaging over 9%, and according to the sign on the pass it marks the third time in the race we've reached 2000m altitude - however it is relatively common knowledge that the pass is actually slightly below (ca 1993m). Those seven metres shouldn't make that much of a difference when climbing at over 6% for 25 kilometres though: this one's still going to hurt. A lot.

74km remain at the summit of the Madeleine, after which the riders endure an arduous, steep descent into La Chambre via the side climbed in the 2013 Tour. Like the year before, it was early in the stage and not particularly decisive. The 2012 stage took advantage of the natural linkage of the climb with the Col de la Croix de Fer by its northwest side. I am doing the same here, however with two important differences. Firstly, I am much closer to the finish of the stage here, so with fatigue likely a factor after yesterday's monstrous stage, the group is far less likely to stay together; secondly, I am only going as far as the Col du Glandon on my way so as not to double back on myself. I can leave that for another time. Abbreviating the climb thus does not have THAT much of an effect; the scenery is still mindblowing, the road still dramatic, and the climbing, with over 20km averaging nearly 7%, is still well and truly Hors Catégorie, with the last 7,3km averaging a destructive 8,9% and with a maximum of 15%, which after all of the climbing that precedes it will surely see some action, given that the mountaintop finish for the day is only second category and the summit of the Glandon comes with 31km remaining in the day? For a climb with the Tour history that this one has, in such a stage surely there is the chance for heroes to be made?

After this, whatever's left of the group has a tricky, multi-stepped descent to handle (basically this profile from right to left, as far as the sign for Vaujany). After 250km of Valdôtain brutality yesterday, and PSB and Madeleine today, domestiques will come at a premium at this point, and riders should be strewn all over the mountains. The scenery stays glorious as the riders descend past L'Eau d'Olle and down through the valleys to the shores of Lac Verney. There is now one final sting in the tail. Yes, if we were going all traditional Tour de France on you, we would now continue for a classic Alpe d'Huez finish, but then everybody would wait for Alpe d'Huez. Instead I have a smaller climb, which is closer to the summit of the Glandon, in order to try to coax earlier attacks from riders looking to exploit others' tiredness. At just 7,5km in length, the climb to the Oz-en-Oisans ski station is deceptively tough, with a couple of steeper ramps getting up above 13 and 15% respectively. The average is on the steeper side of middling, but the climb is inconsistent and tough to build a rhythm on, so shouldn't be good for tempo riding. Visually it's a classic Alpine climb, and it certainly has the scenery to compete with its neighbours even if the climb is somewhat shorter. Similarly, the ski station itself (Station de l'Olmet) is a bit smaller than the ones the Tour is used to, however it has plenty of car parking space in the form of its own multi-storey; I think that the race could come here. And as the ski station is administered as part of the same cluster as Alpe d'Huez, money isn't an issue either.

So that's two stages in the Alps, 462km combined with five HC mountains, three cat.1s and a cat.2... the latter of which is the only uphill finish. And is the first MTF of the race.

Station de Ski Oz-en-Oisans:
 

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