Race Design Thread

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w52

Aug 2, 2015
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Tour of Macaronesia

Stage 3: Machico - São Vicente (176.2km)

After two days/stages in Azores, the race moves to the next archipelago. Now its time for Madeira. Madeira archipelago is another of the portuguese maritime discoveries of the XV century. The archipelago is a group of 4 different islands: Madeira (the biggest one and the one who gives the name to the archipelago), Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens (the last two are unhabited). Madeira is named the Atlantic Pearl and has tourism as one of its main economical activities, being carnival and the fireworks in the new year’s eve two of the main events. Other recognized products of Madeira are bananas, wine and...Cristiano Ronaldo.



The first stage in Madeira is pure insanity. The journey is a 176.2 km hell with 5 mountain passes, that are extremely hard ( three 1st categories and two hors category) as well as some short walls that will help to explode the race. Madeira most known climbs are Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro, but i present you the Paúl da Serra area in this stage.





Stage starts in the eastern part of the island in the city of Machico and the first climb appears in the 13th kilometer in Santo António da Serra in a short but extremely steep climb. More less 40km after riders will have another ranked climb that is almost a clone of the first one, this time in the Gonçalves Zarco Road.


Santo António da Serra

After the descent, the race will pass in Ponta do Sol and we start the brutal climb to the Paúl da Serra, in 14km of pure pain that will smash the peloton. Unfortunately i can’t find the profile of this side of the climb but i show you a image from google street view.


Paúl da Serra climb

After reach the top of Paúl da Serra there will be a 10km descent and...more hellish climbs with the combo of Alto da Fonte do Bispo and Miradouro da Bica da Cana. Fonte do Bispo is similar to Paúl climb only more short and a bit less steep but also very hard, in the other hand Bica da Cana is the longest climb but is the less steep of the day climbs.

After the top of Bico da Cana we have a 20km descent that will bring the riders to the finish line in São Vicente, near the caves that exist in that village.

 
There are some seriously tough stages going on here, especially some of those Swiss ascents. Mayomaniac, Weinebene->Deutschlandsberg as a finish is one I keep coming back to when I do attempt the Österreichrundfahrt.

In Spain, we're back from the rest day with a potentially significant second Saturday stage through the medium mountains.

Stage 7: Utrera - Ronda, 181km





GPM:
Puerto de las Palomas (cat.1) 13,7km @ 6,6%
Puerto de Montejaque (cat.2) 7,5km @ 5,3%
Puerto de las Encinas Borrachas (cat.2) 14,2km @ 4,3%
Alto de la Sierra Blanca (cat.2) 6,5km @ 7,6%



After the rest day, the riders start on the second weekend, still deep in the south of the country, in fact this stage reaches the southernmost point that the race will include. We are still in the pulsing Andalucian heat, and 40º heat is still a possibility; the rest day will therefore have been appreciated. It's a tricky, difficult stage and, though long distance moves are perhaps unlikely given there is a tough stage tomorrow, the attrition in this difficult medium mountain stage could well provide a potential banana skin for the GC men. The first third of the stage is generally rolling; the rest of the stage is relentlessly up and down. The first climb of the day is the most difficult.



The Puerto de las Palomas is a really tough climb with a number of tougher ramps including a maximum of 15%. The steepest kilometre is at 8,4%, but this is consistently difficult (and scenic). It also has a serious Vuelta connection: the pass has two highly significant recent ascents in living memory; firstly in 1990 when Marco Giovanetti got away from the bunch in the break to build up the advantage that eventually won him the race, and secondly in the 2002 stage which saw multiple attacks and racing to the line, with eventual GC winner Aitor González taking the stage win. The Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de los Nieves are two mountainous areas I have not really touched (there are a couple of drops into the foothills of the latter in my second Vuelta but neither have been utilized otherwise) as well, so the riders who have been participating in my Vueltas will not be familiar with these yet.

A technical descent from Las Palomas leads to a shorter, easier ascent of the Alto de Montejaque, however there is no break after the descent so riders will get little respite. The next stretch is leg-breaking up-and-down with no categorized climbs but no real flat either, including passing through the scenic white-walled village of Montejaque.



At about 60km to go, the road turns uphill seriously once more with a long, grinding climb (with a descent and then additional ramp on the end) called the Puerto de las Encinas Borrachas. With the steepest kilometres at 7,5% coming around 50km from the line. Will the GC men attack? Hell no. Will the break be splintering up and potentially duking out the stage victory? Quite likely.



After a very awkward multi-stepped descent, a seriously nasty final ascent comes up, which crests at 17km to go (so therefore there is a good possibility of GC moves here even with a tough stage tomorrow)... but because I am a nasty so-and-so, I have elected to only categorize the second part so the climb only gets a cat.2 rating, and riders will need to check their road books in order to not be taken unawares by the opening ramps. There are some horrific ramps here - two times we get up to 20%. The "categorized" part of the ramp opens with two kilometres at over 9% including numerous steep gradients that should be able to break things up. But the first "uncategorized" part has 2km at 7,3%, then most of a kilometre flat, then 700m at over 13% that should cause trouble for some domestiques; there's then a brief descent before 6,5 nasty kilometres.



That profile perhaps overstates the difficulty of the climb, mainly because at the time Migue BT (who is part of the APM group) put it together, the second half of the climb was on sterrato, however it has now been paved over meaning that we have a legitimately decent surface to climb on.



From here, it's just a straight up 17km downhill false flat, the second half of which is slightly technical, before they finish by heading into the insanely spectacular clifftop city of Ronda, across Puente Nuevo for a straight-as-an-arrow finish. This one should break the field up and hopefully the tricky and inconsistent nature of the final climb should cause some GC action but even if not, attrition will remove some pretenders from the mix and give us a good battle for the stage win.



 
Stage 8: Setenil de las Bodegas - Sierra de la Pandera, 231km





GPM:
Peñón de Murcía (cat.2) 10,9km @ 5,3%
Alto de Cequía (cat.3) 3,6km @ 6,4%
Collados Frailes (cat.2) 11,1km @ 4,1%
Sierra de la Pandera (cat.ESP) 12,9km @ 7,3%

The second Sunday of the race features an incredibly scenic start, in one of Spain's most scenic towns, the incredible cave-house backdrop of Setenil de las Bodegas.



This absurd backdrop is the start to the longest stage of the race, a 230km mountain stage; this is a big and tough stage, and given that the stage isn't a full mountain-upon-mountain odyssey (given that La Pandera rather stands alone in its area) the likelihood of serious heat and the long distance are aimed to ensure that riders are exhausted when they get to the final stages. The first half of the stage is pretty much flat and undulating, although the ascent into Archidona is 4km at just over 5% and would probably have got cat.3 in a flatter stage.

In the final 100km, we have some serious climbs. The first up is the borderline cat.1/cat.2 Peñón de Murcía, which isn't especially steep but includes 1,5km at 12% in the middle, as the key part of three steeper ramps broken up by brief flat periods. I can't find a full detailed altimetry for this, but the legend that is Visko mapped it in tracks4bikers for your viewing pleasure/my inspiration. This backs straight into a shorter climb before we descend down into Alcalá la Real for the intermediate sprint.



From here, I could have reprised the Hoya de Charilla climb from my last Vuelta. It would have worked, but given the steepness of the final climb would likely not have been too effective and a waste of those brutal slopes. Instead we go with the 2013 Vuelta approach to Valdepeñas de Jaén, the cat.2 Collados Frailes which gets steeper as it goes on until the last couple of kilometres are nearly 7%. The descent obviously goes through Valdepeñas but without the steep finish, because instead we have something far more serious to deal with. Because, after 220km in the saddle... here we go... se armó un zapatiesto!





This is the toughest side of one of the Vuelta's toughest beasts of an ascent, the nasty Sierra de la Pandera. First introduced in a virtual one-climb stage in 2002, when Roberto Heras triumphed ahead of a trio of Simoni, Mayo and race leader Óscar Sevilla, the climb has been brought back three times since; in another one-climb stage in 2003, Alejandro Valverde outsprinted (at the top of a mountain, a shock, I know!) Félix Cardeñas and self-same Heras, which you can see here. The other two ascents are more famous. The 2006 stage, which featured an identical parcours to that of 2002, saw the Kazakh Bonnie and Clyde, Vino and Kash, dismantle the hometown heroes, with Kash marking those chasing his compatriot, before leaving them for dead, riding over to Vino and pulling him away to the finish, like a more ludicrous Leonardo Piepoli. And in the conservatively-raced 2009 Vuelta, a similar stage (but slightly harder) was the last of a trifecta of mountain stages; the easier of the three as a stage, it unfortunately included the steepest MTF which led to the earlier stages being killed off. On the plus side, the racing on this climb was pretty serious as it was the one time Valverde was really put into difficulty, with the Don being left behind by the other five of the big six in the race (Piti, Samu, Cuddles, Gesink, Mosquera and Basso) and working his way back with the help of Juanjo Cobo before blasting his way back once the climb eased up. Cunego won from the break after a hilarious moment earlier in the stage; Cunego had won on the Alto de Aitana earlier in the race and was climbing well; he had been in the top 5 or so until the previous day, when he let go; after letting go he elected to sit in the bus and came in over half an hour down as, with his GC tilt over, he preferred to target stages and Worlds prep. When he jumped into the break at the start of the stage widespread panic led to a hard chase, before they realised actually Cunego was no longer a GC threat and they suddenly stopped.



On this isolated, exposed summit, gradients get up to 18%. The first few kilometres of this side are more serious than Los Villares, with less respite before the super steep final 8km. There are TEN ramps of 15%+. So, yes, this may kill a bit of the racing on Sierra Blanca yesterday, but the gradients there are so steep that things could break up anyway. Here... there's no chance of it coming back together. This is a survival climb, and the hardest climb of the race so far. There are 2km at over 12% in the middle of it, and it's inconsistent as well so finding a rhythm will be hard. This is not the hardest stage you will ever see by a long way, but it's harder than any other stage the Vuelta has presented to La Pandera as, like Mont Ventoux, it rather sits alone in terms of climbs of comparable size in the area, and also like Mont Ventoux (although nothing like as long or legendary) it is tough enough that it will create gaps even without a strong stage before it.
 
Jul 26, 2015
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Hysterical stage in Madeira, i love it.
And Ronda (nice stage) as well as Setenil de las Bodegas are really beautiful places, those are nice choices.


STAGE 9 : Merv-Türkmenabat, 245km.

A stage done fully in Turkmenistan.
Turkmens were nomadic before the soviet rule. The very rough environment, with the Karakum (black sand) desert partially explains that.
And we will go right through that desert today.



Merv was an oasis city on the Silk Road back then, and a major one.
How major ? It is believed to be the largest city of the world in the 12th century, and the ancient city site is on UNESCO list.




Before and after.

Türkmenabat is slightly less known, even though it is the second largest city of the country.
Its another oasis in the Karakum, its also a very old city (previously known as Charjou, Türkmenabat meaning city of the turkmens) and of big importance for the local emirate of Boukhara.
Its also on the banks of the Amu-Darya river, one of the two rivers that were supposed to end up in the Aral Sea. But humans decided to intervene, and things went poorly.


One of the many statues of former türkmen president Niyazov, in Türkmenabat. Needless to say that the man pushed for a serious cult of personality throughout the country.

Anyway, that stage is quite easy to talk about.
Its 245km long, in the desert, on a looooong straight.




If you dont deal well with heat, its going to be very problematic today.
Andalucia is awful in that matter...and we're about the experience that kind of heat, as we're going through the Repetek Reserve, a place where temperatures were among the highest of the Soviet Union. Expect something above 40°C.

Those were important stops on the Silk Road back then, and its important to respect some traditions, and more importantly, we're bound anyway to deal with that kind of natural circumstances in the area.

From a cycling point of view, it all comes down to the direction of the wind. Because there will be wind. We're in an empty desert, and if we are not unlucky (as the odds are actually in our favour here), we will have echelons, chaos and improvisation.


 
Jun 30, 2014
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Serious cult of personality, that's quite an understatement.
Potential crosswind stages in the desert are awesome and the heat and the length of the stage could make this stage brutal.
I always thought that in an American GT you could use the Great Plains to create potential crosswind stages durning the first week.
 
Deutschland Tour Stage 11: Freiburg - Belchenberg (185km) (Tue)





Climbs:
Kandel
St. Märgen
Notschrei
Wiedener Eck
Feldberg
Äulemer Kreuz
Rotes Kreuz
Weißenbachsattel
Belchenberg

Sprints:
Todtnau
Utzenfeld (Second passage through)

Feed Zone:
Utzenfeld (First passage through)

As you can see from the profile and list, there is alot of climbing. Nearly 5000m (4913m) of ascent before they cross the finish line at the top of the first major MTF. So a hard stage is ahead of them. I was harder before I edited it, as it was 200km originally.

The riders will start in Freiburg, which as you can see is in a rather nice location. They head north to the first climb of the day which starts with a jolt. As the riders head past the Schwarzwald Zoo in Waldkirsch, they will be welcomed to the world of pain, with a part of road that exceeds 17%. Once delt with the first climb starts properly when they turn of the 294 road onto the L186 which is also the climb toKandel. The climb is 11.8km long so not the longest, but its one of the toughest today. That is soon delt with though as they descend into Glottertal which is where the fourth cat climb St Märgen starts. A more gradual and longer descent begins, as they head south to the foot of the Notschrei. The top is reached, but climbing continues as they head to the top of the Schauinsland. This is not catorgorised as it is only a couple of easy kilometres to the top. They descend this to the climb that is the only second cat of the day. TheWiedener Eck is then descended as they head past the turning taken to the finish later on. At the bottom is the feed zone in Utzenfeld.



Following on is the prime at Todtnau. From this they then climb the Feldburg. This is another ski resort in the winter, something Libertine goes into in the deutschland tour when a finish was there. Now is a series of little climbs. Two are fourth cat and one third. The first is the Äulemer Kreuz, then the Rotes Kreuz and finally the Weißenbachsattel. The final descent of the day, is taken down into Utzenfeldfor the second prime. This is where the final climb of the day starts. The MTF at Belchen, is on a separate road, that comes off from a road to the Wiedener Eck. When at a hotel and cable car. This is where all the cars and Buses will be parked, as there is no room at the top. Teams will be provided with motobikes for the mechanics to ride on, for a bike and two wheels for the riders. Neutral service cars and bikes will be allowd up, plus the races officials cars. To get everyone down, the cable car will be used. This is of course another ski place.

Freiburg:


Belchenberg:
 

w52

Aug 2, 2015
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Tour of Macaronesia

Stage 4: Ponta - Vila Baleira ITT (20.3km)


After the insane stage, in the main island of Madeira, we go now to the second most important island of the archipelago, Porto Santo. Although this island is less important and known it was discovered one year before Madeira, in 1418. Nowadays, Porto Santo is a small paradise to quiet vacations, the island is flat, small, with more less 5 000 inhabitants, with a warm climate during all year and has an amazing 9km long beach, known by its gold sands.



Stage 4 will be a ITT that will link the villages of Ponta and Vila Baleira, in a solitary 20.3km effort. The ITT will mainly flat with only two small climbs where will be installed the intermediate points. The climbs are short but steep (2km; 8% each one). After the insanity of the previous stage some GC contenders can consolidate positions or gain/lose more time to the other competitors.





Ponta


Vila Baleira
 
What a great idea, W52. I really like this Volta a lot. Have you thought about logistics, too? Is something like this realizable? I also always wondered, if Volta a Portugal could start or finish on the Acores or Madeira. There are daily flights and TAP could be a partner of the race. Futhermore there are amateur races, so you have a small cycling scene.
 

w52

Aug 2, 2015
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Re:

Max Rockatansky said:
What a great idea, W52. I really like this Volta a lot. Have you thought about logistics, too? Is something like this realizable? I also always wondered, if Volta a Portugal could start or finish on the Acores or Madeira. There are daily flights and TAP could be a partner of the race. Futhermore there are amateur races, so you have a small cycling scene.
It would be difficult but it is possible, with 1 or 2 rest days. Between archipelagos there are daily flights and ferry boats are always an option, the army could also help with some airplanes and boats. The biggest problem would be the transportation of bikes and support cars of the teams. Conserning the Volta it would be possible if you move the rest day to the first or last days, and do the transfer in the rest day, a bit like the Giro when it started in Ireland
 
I've thought about designing a Volta starting in Madeira before. The biggest problem is more likely to be simply that the Volta is in the middle of August and it's blistering heat even in the most northerly high altitude stages. Presumably with the rest day they'd probably have to spend quite a bit of the race there, or maybe put a late rest day after, say, stage 8 then do the final 3 stages over there.
 
bp92 said:
I'm posting another one-day race, this time in Switzerland.

The Jura mountains are littered with short climbs, perfect for designing medium mountain stages. The swiss part of the massif, however, has some brutal walls, particularly in the southeastern edge, near Solothurn.
With that in mind, I present to you the Tour du Jura (not sure if this has been done before, but w/e).

TOUR DU JURA (Délémont - Délémont, 229km)


Climbs: Grenchenberg (8,7km @ 8%), Plagne (9,7km @ 3,7%), Chasseral (17,9km @ 5,9%), Pierre-Pertuis (3,5km @ 5,5%), Grenchenberg (8,7km @ 8%), Weissenstein (6km @ 11,5%), Balmberg (2,6km @ 14,5%), Weissenstein (7,4km @ 10,4%).

A 229km race, designed for climbers, and featuring some leg-shattering walls at the end.
The race starts and ends in Délémont, capital of the Canton du Jura, and starts off the climbing quickly, with an ascent up the Grenchenberg. Its overall average gradient is brought down by the very easy final section, and doesn't show the brutal 3km section averaging 11,5% early in the ascent.

Just before reaching the town of Grenchen the riders turn west, and take on the climb to Plagne. Much easier than Grenchenberg, this climb is divided in two parts, separated by a couple downhill kms.

The descent leads the peloton into the city of Bienne, after which we ride for a while along the north shore of the Bielersee. Then we reach Twann, where the calm ends as we take on the climb to Col du Chasseral, the longest (and highest) climb of the race (the profile is accurate between km 11 and km 2,8, although the first half of the climb isn't too different from the Cyclingcols profile)

Then comes the longest period of calm of the entire race, with a 30km flat section interrupted by the short and shallow climb to Col de Pierre Pertuis.

The calm is interrupted abruptly by a second ascent up the Grenchenberg, which then leads us into the extremely difficult home stretch, featuring two of Switzerland's steepest cycling ascents.
The first of these climbs, Weissenstein, is simply brutal. The approach taken for this ascent the first time avoids the first shallow 6,5km section (it's replaced by a more irregular road), then leaves us right at the business part of the climb: 6km averaging 11,5%, with a steepest km at 15,6%.
MURDERDEATHKILL indeed.

The other climb, Balmberg, is even steeper. 2,6km at 14,5%, with a steepest km averaging 17,5%. More brutal slopes, but for a shorter stretch.

Then the riders take on Weissenstein again, this time using the whole climb (and with almost 200km on the legs, this should be more than enough to blow apart the peloton... if it isn't gone already for some reason), finishing with an irregular final 25km before arriving back to Délémont.
The race should be defined in Weissenstein's inclement slopes; poor flat sprinters should use this climb to try and make a gap they can keep for the last 30kms so strategy will be crucial for them too. The descent may come into play too, particularly if there's still a small group after Weissenstein.
Super nice job bp92. The Jura chain was compressed in a way that makes the eastern and southern ripples so rich wrt short, but also some not so short and often murderous climbs. I think you captured that extremely well and definitely did more than scratch the surface. Unlike ASO and the (lame-ish) Porrentruy stage in the '12 TdF (although I liked the outcome ;) ).
 
Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
I've thought about designing a Volta starting in Madeira before. The biggest problem is more likely to be simply that the Volta is in the middle of August and it's blistering heat even in the most northerly high altitude stages. Presumably with the rest day they'd probably have to spend quite a bit of the race there, or maybe put a late rest day after, say, stage 8 then do the final 3 stages over there.
Or after stage 11/12. ;)
 
Jul 26, 2015
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@lemon cheese cake : Thats a great Schwarzwald stage. Surely much better than ASO could offer should they race here in 2016.
@mayomaniac : True, that could absolutely work there too. That kind of stage is usually a problem as it is relying on wind to be efficient, but we're lucky there as it should not the case.

STAGE 10 : Boukhara - Samarcande, 265km.

We're now in Uzbekistan.
Boukhara is a major cultural center since centuries now, you can find there many mosques and monuments that showed the importance of the city throughout history.



The Emirate of Boukhara will be one of the last states to survive from the push of Imperial Russia in the area.


City's former walls


Entrance to the fortress (damaged in 1920) ; This is a picture of 1909, taken by Prokudin-Gorsky


The madrasa of Kalyan.


Mir-i-Arab

Like yesterday, its located on a oasis, thanks to the Zaravshan river (litterally meaning spreader of gold, in Persian.) and it will once again be a very hot and flat day.

We'll follow the river, and reach Samarcande, another city with a huge historical weight.
It was the capital of the Timurid Empire of Tamerlan (its mausoleum is there), and it is filled as well with monuments.
You have a lot to visit there as this glorious past obviously left an awful lot of traces throughout the city.


The Registan.


Bibi-Khanym Mosque

We dont exactly have time to do so, as riders will have a long day in front of them, 265km is still within the limits of our era, but the conditions should be very demanding on the riders as the region is known for its semi-arid climate, kinda like in Spain and yesterday. It should be slightly cooler, its not desertic, but it is nevertheless a seriously painful flat stage with a risk for unattentive riders.



 

w52

Aug 2, 2015
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Tour of Macaronesia

Stage 5: Jandia - Puerto del Rosário (149.9km)

In the fifth day of the race we leave portuguese lands and arrive to spanish ones. Being Canary Islands the scenario for the next two stages. Like previously said Canary Islands are part of Spain, since its discovery in the beggining of the 15th century, although there are some evidences that the portugueses arrived there first in the 14th century. Canaries are a group of 7 main islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. We can sum to that main islands some islets like Alegranza.



This region is mainly known by it’s warm climate and beautifull beaches, being tourism the main economical activity, bananas exportation is also one of the most important economical activities of the archipelago.



The first Canarian stage will be held in the island of Fuerteventura. Fuerteventura, with a surface of 1,660 km2 (640.93 sq mi), is the second-most extensive island of the archipelago. It has been declared a Biosphere reserve by Unesco. It has a population of 100,929. Being also the most ancient of the islands, it is the one that is more eroded: its highest point is the Peak of the Bramble, at a height of 807 metres (2,648 ft). Its capital is Puerto del Rosario.



Stage 5 will be short 150km between Jandia and Puerto del Rosário, mainly flat, with only some small and easy climbs in the middle of the route, but in the last 20km wind can be a key factor, that can make some gc contenders lose time. Fuerteventura is a windy island, being one of the best places in the world to practice kytesurf and windsurf. Being the last 20km nearby the coast some surprises can happen.





Jandia


Puerto del Rosário
 
Österreichrundfahrt stage 5: Lienz - Mayrhofen (194 km)



Stage 5 starts in Lienz, where stage 4 finished. Only about 25 kilometers after the start the first climb, the Felbertauernpass starts. This isnt a very steep climb, but its length makes it a pretty difficult climb, which in this case, will probably be the main factor for the break. After the descent and an intermediate sprint in Mittersill, there is the longest flat section of the stage, which ends in the town Krimml, where the Gerlospass starts. From the Gerlospass you have some really beautiful views on the Krimmler Wasserfälle, Austria's largest waterfalls.


The descent of this pass leads into the Zillertal, a valley which is famous for its skiing areas and which could be famous for its cycling climbs. The only ones which were used in the last decade were the Gerlospass (Deutschland Tour 2008, Giro 2009) and Hochfügen (Deutschland Tour 2008). Yeah thats right, the Österreich Rundfahrt hasn't used one single climb in this area in the last ten years (maybe there was one in 2005 and 2006, but I don't think so) and that although Hochfügen and the Gerlospass aren't even the most interesting climbs in this area. The way more interesting street is the Zillertaler Höhenstraße. The Zillertaler Höhenstraße is a street which goes up and down on the west side of the valley. There are two tops of the street, the Melchboden and the Zirmstadl, and for both there are three possibilities to go up there and just to show you how brutal these climbs are, the easiest of these 6 ascents is 12.2 kilometers long and 10.1% steep. Maybe worth mentioning that I don't even use this climb, so the easier of the two climbs is 10.8 km's long and 11.3% steep, while the second and even harder climb is 15.9 km's long and 9.6% steep. The reason why this one is clearly harder than the first one is that the first 11 kilometers are 11.3% steep while there are two short downhill sections in the remaining 5 kilometers.



Oh, and before I forget to mention it, the scenery is absolutely beautiful, and the views on the mountains in the area are great.


To make this even better, the descents are all extremely technical, because of the steepness, a narrow road, and many switchbacks.
The finish is located in Mayrhofen, where the giro stage from 2009, which used the Gerlospass, finished too. There are some flat kilometers between the end of the descent and the finish, but the last two climbs are so hard that this shouldnt really matter and time gaps should be there anyways. This might be the decisive day for the whole race, although stage 7 will also be very hard, but the time gaps here will be extremely big.
 
Stage 9: Úbeda - Yeste, 180km





GPM:
Alto de La Cumbre (cat.2) 17,0km @ 4,3%
Alto de La Borriqueta (cat.1) 11,5km @ 6,5%
Yeste (cat.3) 8,0km @ 3,2%

Week two starts with another intermediate stage which will keep the legs tired from the suffering on La Pandera through an area oft forgotten by the Vuelta. My last Vuelta (the one that ended not long before this) included a stage that began in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Úbeda, so I shan't go into it too much again. Anyway, it's scenic.



While the previous race saw the stage from Úbeda being an early flat stage, we are here in stage 9 and the stage is much less easy... and with an unexpected challenge as well. The first part of the stage is rolling, along the ridge upon which Úbeda stands, before a slight descent that leads us into the Sierra de Cazorla, an entire mountain range that I have not used in any of my first five Vueltas (although I've been looking for a way to utilize this finish for some time). The first climb of the day, around the halfway point, is the Alto de La Cumbre, or rather the first 85% of it (we leave around 3km from the end of that profile). This is relatively uncomplicated but it's long and grinding (17km in length) and it will have an effect. After this, it's a long, gradual and pretty uncomplicated descent through the valley that takes us from Andalucía back into Castilla-La Mancha.



And then... we have a secret weapon in this stage. From km 131,3 to km 143,1... that's 11,8km for those watching at home... we have sterrato. Frustratingly, I can't find any photos of it, and my laptop is messing things up for me so that I can't upload the screencaps of the road, but it's between Alcantarilla and Graya, for those interested in finding out. But then we go to the other contender for toughest climb in Castilla-la Mancha, the Alto de La Borriqueta.



After 12km of gritting your teeth on sterrato, the riders are fired immediately uphill at nearly 10%. There are inconsistencies, it doesn't sustain that kind of gradient, but following two difficult stages and a long stretch of sterrato legs should have had enough in them to give a real opportunity for time to be won and lost here. There is a kilometre at 10,5% right near the end, before 500m flat, then 1,5km at 8% to finish. This is a great climb, a completely hidden gem in a nigh-on unused part of the country. It's scenic, it's inconsistent, it has steeper ramps, it crests just 27km from the line, it should produce some good racing.



Now, obviously, the main reason a climb like this is so unknown is that the number of sizable towns and locations that could serve as a stage host in the area is limited. Yeste, with its population of 3500, is one of the larger ones. Therefore after a fast descent with only a couple of stiffer technical challenges, the riders face a final ramp up into this small town after crossing the Embalse de Fuensanta.



As Yeste sits on the shoulder of Monte Ardal, the final ascent amounts to the first 8km of the Yeste side of that climb. This has a low average with only a couple of steeper ramps lower down (the kilometre at 7% is the main one). It's like a miniature version of the Mortirolo-Aprica duet, with the newer version of Aprica with the slightly steeper earlier ramps then the rest being false flat. After the first 3km of the climb which has some steeper ramps, there's a brief downhill then the final 5km slowly ramp up until they reach 5%. As a result of this, the climb could give some smaller gaps, but the climb isn't very difficult so any tired legs could try to limit losses... as long as they don't show it too early to let people know they're suffering when they are on the Alto de La Borriqueta.

 
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I decided to take my Tour du Jura concept and expand it.

Instead of a killer one-day race, this 7-day version of the Tour du Jura will go across the entire chain, with half the stages taking place in France (stages 1-3 and the start of stage 4) and half in Switzerland (end of stage 4 and stages 5-7). Mostly composed of medium mountain stages, but also featuring one high mountain stage early on, and a time trial in Switzerland.
 
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(I had some trouble with Tinypic while loading the stage profile; please tell me if there are any issues with it)

Tour du Jura Stage 1: Aix-les-Bains - Culoz, 142km (*****)


Climbs: Col de Richemont (8,4km @ 4,6%), Col de la Biche (11,3km @ 8,4%), Col du Grand-Colombier (8,5km @ 9,9%)

The race starts off with a big stage, featuring the only two HC climbs of the entire race. It's also the shortest non-TT stage, with only 142km and three climbs between Aix-les-Bains and Culoz.
The first of the climbs, Col de Richemont, is also the easiest. Preceded by a long ascending false flat section, the climb proper is gradual too, with its steepest km at only 6%. It should only serve as warm-up, before we head into the big climbs later in the stage.

The first of the key climbs is Col de la Biche. A fairly long climb, with a difficult 3km section at 10% in the middle. Weaker riders should start falling off here, but the stage should be defined in the next climb.

The final climb may be one of the most difficult climbs in all of France, even though it isn't climbed whole this time (from km 9,1 in the profile below). It's also the second-highest mountain pass in the Jura mountains, and one of the hardest cycling climbs in the massif.
The Col du Grand-Colombier's hardest side's claim to fame is its killer 3km section over 12%, which should break up the peloton, particularly if the better climbers launch their big attacks from here. After the steepest section there's a rest km at 3%, followed by a final 3km section around 9%, which can't be underestimated either.

The descent via Anglefort is long and very technical too, so descenders get a chance to get an early lead in the race.
 
Stage 10: Albacete - Cuenca, 160km





GPM:
Alto del Castillo de Cuenca (cat.3) 1,9km @ 8,2%



Like in my last Vuelta, we're back in Albacete. This was a stage finish in the last race, in the stage that began in Úbeda in fact. Mainly as this is one of the biggest and most stage race-viable cities in this part of the country, so it makes sense to be a regular stop-off when the race is heading through here. This is an easier stage, in order to avoid dissuading riders from attacking on the Yeste stage. It is generally a flat stage, mostly rolling, and will be one of those Vuelta stages for the most part... but there's a small sting in the tail.

Cuenca has featured on the Vuelta a few times in recent memory, but has not been seen in a pro race in the last eight years. In 2001, a stage from Albacete to Cuenca which followed this design almost entirely to the point, save for the final loop. Filippo Simeoni won the stage solo, escaping from his breakmates late in the stage. It is also an iconic moment in the sport, because it is the stage where Simeoni unleashed the greatest damned victory salute in the history of cycling.


Two years later and we were going from Cuenca to Albacete on the same route in reverse, only the stage before, we had a sprint from Utiel to Cuenca which was won by Erik Zabel. 2005 saw another sprint, which was won by Thor Hushovd. In 2006, the Alto del Castillo was introduced, which gave us a reduced group of 30 from which Samuel Sánchez was able to get away on the descent (as he had missed the initial move he was mis-called as Igor Antón, the thought of whom attacking on a descent is pretty hilarious) for the stage win, as you can see here. It was a great stage, with attacks from the likes of Valverde on the climb and the late dart from Samu just holding on.



That stage was a little harder than mine, with a few other small climbs, but the run-in is the same, I have used that one. However, that video only shows the descent; the Vuelta has not been back to Cuenca since then, but the Spanish national championships were in Cuenca a year later, finishing atop the climb to the Castillo. Here, Murito took the win by utilising his speciality, the short steep uphill climb, and you can therefore take a look at the stage's one difficulty by watching the closing stages of those nationals here (climb from 4 mins in). The climb profile is this, or at least the first 2km only.

This is likely to be a sprint of some sorts, as the stage is not as likely to be as selective as it was in 2006, but it will be a very useful Worlds tune-up stage. This won't be a sprint won by Marcel Kittel.

 
bp92 said:
I decided to take my Tour du Jura concept and expand it.

Instead of a killer one-day race, this 7-day version of the Tour du Jura will go across the entire chain, with half the stages taking place in France (stages 1-3 and the start of stage 4) and half in Switzerland (end of stage 4 and stages 5-7). Mostly composed of medium mountain stages, but also featuring one high mountain stage early on, and a time trial in Switzerland.
Hihihihi...so that takes care of my next project right there :eek: . So I suppose that I'll work on a Giro di Francia, after my Vuelta de Francia (I'll never be ASO-ish, and never will be :p ). Thanks for featuring the Jura in a design. I'll enjoy it, no doubt.
 
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@Tonton: Whoops :p
I guess you could do your own Tour du Jura too after I'm done with mine. There are lots of climbs in the Jura that I don't use here (even though I do use a lot of climbs too).

Tour du Jura Stage 2: Bellegarde-sur-Valserine - Station des Rousses, 166km (***)


Climbs: Grésin (4,3km @ 3,9%), Raclaz (7,4km @ 3,7%), La Semine (5km @ 4,3%), Billiat (5km @ 4,6%), Échallon (13,3km @ 4,1%), Lamoura (15,2km @ 4,9%), Station des Rousses (7km @ 5,3%)

The second stage features the first out of two summit finishes of the race, in Station des Rousses. This stage features seven categorized climbs too, most of them early in the race.
The first four climbs (Grésin-Raclaz-Semine-Billiat) are short and easy, located in an arch to the east and south of the starting town of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. After Billiat the road starts heading north, going through the lomger and more difficult climb to Échallon, with a long and shallow early section followed by a much steeper final 3km or so.
After this the riders head through a flat 25km section, the easiest of the race, before taking on the hardest climb of the stage, the climb to Lamoura. Used as a summit finish in the 2010 Tour (in a stage billed as finishing in Station des Rousses), this time it's only the second-to-last climb. A long climb, with its steepest sections coming in the first few kms.

After Lamoura comes an irregular and long descent, with includes a slightly ascending section in the middle, before reaching the foot of the climb to the summit finish in Les Rousses.

The final climb is shallow, so gaps shouldn't be big here. The stage might go to a breakaway from early on the stage, but GC contenders will want to keep an eye on them.
 

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