STAGE 19 Bolzano - Plan De Corones 246 kms
It's time we finally get to see a MTF to Plan De Corones, isn't it?
Though probly the riders will show up scattered like it were a MTT, as the 229 previous kms are full of Dolomites
first 156 kms
last 90 kms
Passo Costalunga 26.6 kms @ 5.5%
Passo San Pellegrino 11.4 @ 6.8%
Passo Valparola 20.5 kms @ 5.7%
Passo Gardena 9.6 kms @ 6.2%
Passo Delle Erbe 29 kms @ 5%
Plan De Corones 16.8 kms @ 7.5%
As we move into the final weekend, it's time for the Vuelta a la Argentina to move to its conclusion.
Stage 14: Villa General Belgrano - Córdoba (Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes), 177km
This is an intermediate stage that moves us into Argentina's second city. It isn't especially long but includes some surprises.
We begin in the unusual town of Villa General Belgrano. First settled by German immigrants in 1930, the town attracted immigrants from all over central Europe owing to its Alpine nature; and after several crew from a German ship in WWII settled in the area after scuttling and sinking their ship off the coast of Argentina, the German nature of the town was completed. The architecture is Alpine, they celebrate Oktoberfest, they make beer, sausages, lebkuchen and spätzle, and many of the inhabitants speak German; they have a German language daily newspaper. From here we snake northwards, with the main obstacle of the day being the climb to the Observatorio Bosque Alegre. After this there's a long ride through a steady plateau before hitting the last mountain pass of the race, the Alto de Cosquín. This is not a steep climb, and it crests 34km from the finish. However, it is unpaved and exposed, which may well allow selections to be made. After completing the climb, it's a gradual descent towards the outskirts of Córdoba, before finishing at the 46,000 capacity Olympic and football stadium that hosts Córdoba's biggest football team (also named Belgrano).
With the descent being gradual and there being practically no flat between Cosquín and Córdoba, it may tempt riders in a compromised GC position to fight for time, but this is probably a breakaway stage and a thinning out of the bunch, with several small to medium sized groups on the road.
Right, now, after two weeks of trapsing around Argentina, it's time for the riders to finally reach the end of the trip, and it's time for the chrono men to take back some of the time they lost on San Javier, Portezuelo, Villavicencio and Filo Serrano, with a long ITT around Córdoba.
Stage 15: Córdoba (Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes) - Córdoba (Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes), 41,9km (ITT)
Starting at the stadium, where we finished yesterday, this long ITT is more or less an out-and-back which bisects Argentina's second city. The route primarily covers the banks of the Rio Suquía, upon which the city's foundations were built, but there are a couple of detours to take in some of Córdoba's sights, such as La Cañada, Córdoba's most emblematic monument, a 3km channel guiding streams into the Suquía, originally to prevent future flooding, the Jesuit Cathedral, Plaza España and Parque Sarmiento. After that the riders enter a long out-and-back stretch along Avenida Amadeo Sabattini, until they reach Plaza de la Republica, and the Arco de Córdoba, the triumphal arch that signified the historic entrance to the city. After that, it's a long, fast and flat trek back to the stadium, mostly along the other bank of the river parallel to the riders on their way out.
This one should be fast and flat, and the climbers will subsequently need to pull out some time to make sure they can hold on to any advantage they gained over the specialists, as 42km is plenty of time to lose your way. But with wind, cobbles, uphill finishes at castles, flat stages, time trials of varying lengths, criteriums and of course mountains, this seems a good way to balance it out and ensure that the winner of the Vuelta a la Argentina is a rider whose skills really cover all the bases.
I had a go at designing a fantasy Tour de Suisse. It's a fairly mountainous edition perhaps, but then again, what do you expect in Switzerland?
Stage 1: Basel -> Basel | Prologue (7.97 km)
A relatively flat start for this edition of the Tour de Suisse, with a 7.97 km city circuit prologue around Basel, the Golden Gate of Switzerland.
Stage 2: Zürich -> Zürich | Flat (62.23 km)
Knowing what's to come, the riders will be happy that the first "real" stage is rather easy. Dead-flat and only 62 km long, this will be one for the (few?) sprinters that turned up. A scenic setting, as the riders will ride around the entire Zürichzee (Lake Zürich)
Stage 3: Zürich -> Mittelsäss (MTF) | Mountain (154.52 km)
We're up for the first mountain stage today, and also the first KOM points are on offer. 3 climbs await the riders, however it's still a pretty "flat" and short run in. Still, Mittelsäss, the final climb is quite steep (5.23km @ 11.1% avg, 24.5% max) and some riders might complain the road up is not in perfect condition. Maybe some of the pretenders for the overall will fail already?
Profile of the Mittelsäss MTF
Stage 4: Sand -> Oberdorf (MTF) | Mountain (145.96 km)
Once again a pretty short stage, but it's not to be underestimated. With 5 categorized climbs in their legs, the riders will have to tackle the steep Üerlichergale climb; 6.63 km at an average of 12.2% and max of 31.2%.
Stage 5: Sion -> Sion (I.T.T) | Mountain (32.13 km)
Well, yeah, it's an individual time trial, a mountainous one at that. The riders will have to tackle 7.5 km @ 7.4% avg of climbing, followed by a technical descent. While the latter might favor countryman Cancellara, the former certainly does not. Still, it should allow the better rouleurs amongst the GC-men to get some time back on the pure climbers.
Stage 6: Geneva -> Geneva | Flat (199.87 km)
Many riders will be glad there are no KOM-points on offer today, as once again it's a flat excursion around a lake, Lake Geneva this time. (Heh, rides around lakes seem to be the only way to get flat stages in Switzerland). A stage for the fast men for sure, or will they save their legs and let a breakaway win it?
With almost 215 km and loads of vertical meters, this is clearly the queen stage of this year's Tour de Suisse. It doesn't start out too bad, with a gradual ascent but then around the 40th kilometer, things get rollin':
17.1 km @ 8.0% avg (max 18.1%) Climb 2:
12.9 km @ 8.7% avg (max 19.7%) Climb 3:
12.7 km @ 8.9% avg (max 22.7%) Climb 4:
05.3 km @ 8.9% avg (max 23.0%) Final Climb - Lafet (MTF):
13.2 km @ 9.4% avg (max 20.9%)
Stage 8: St. Moritz -> Andermätt | Mountain (169.76 km)
If the GC is not settled yet after all the climbing so far, surely it must happen today, the penultimate day of this heavy TdS. If not, it will be a day for a break to win. No mountain finish, luckily for the riders, but still it won't be an easy day, with 4 big climbs ahead. The final climb of this TdS is 8.33 km long, at an average of 7.4% and max 13.7%, relatively easy compared to some of the other giants the riders have had to tackle so far, perhaps - but I don't think the riders will complain about that...
Stage 9: Berne -> Berbe (I.T.T.) | Flat (32.17 km)
(I've thought about this stage a long time, wondering wether put a closing ITT or a flat stage, but eventually went for the ITT to balance the load of MTFs and steep climbs.)
The riders will be happy that they finish this year's Tour de Suisse. After having climbed mountains for the pretty much the whole week, they will be able to get some well-deserved rest and can continue their build-up to the Tour de France. Nevertheless, for those still in contention for the overall classification, this day might just be vital. In this flat timetrial the rouleur-climbers can make up lots of time, as the few speedbumps won't really make things though. It seems the origanizers did want Cance to win a stage after all...
That's all, I hope you enjoyed my take on the Tour de Suisse. In hindsight, perhaps one MTF less would've made the course more balanced?
Yea, I think you have an awesome parcours with probably enough mountains to cover 2 whole editions of the race, but it will take away some of the likely crowd who participate (those warming up for the Tour).
It would be a hell of a race, since the climbs are difficult enough for the riders not to be able to physically ride conservatively on a couple of those finishes.
Perhaps, given we know what they did to the 2009 parcours in the hope of a Cancellara win, we will have to hope for the discovery of some Swiss Pantani-like wonderkid so they can mountain-up the parcours to suit him.
Then the following year they can do Sanetsch and the Col de Lein-Verbier double.
Continuing with the Suisse theme I am thinking about bringing back the Tour de Romandie to it's glory. In a way my proposed route might be a bit too difficult for anyone thinking of riding the Giro but looking at the crappy routes of recent years something just had to be done.
Prologue :flat 2.6km in Neuchatel so no profile
Stage 1: Neuchatel-Yverdon-les-Bains, 192.5km
Chaumont 9.7km @ 7.5%
le Chasseral 6.7km @ 9.1%
Mont Soleil 5km @ 9.1%
Bellevue 7.5km @ 5.8%
Vue-des-Alpes 4.4km @ 5.1%
La Tourne 6.7 km @ 5.6%
Couvent??? 9.6km 5.9%
Mauborget 11.4km 6.6%
Final climb at 29.5km to go
Stage 2: Yverdon-les-Bains-Moleson-sur-Gruyeres, 160.5 km
A few small climbs but a stage for uphill finishers
I'm now going to go and do something very un-me: you've seen my rather obscure races through Spanish provinces and Argentine mountain resorts. Now for something a bit more ordinary: a fantasy TDF stage. But don't worry - I've kept it at least partially in the French Basque country to maintain my traditions.
Mauléon-Licharre - Laberouat, 163km
The race also features a brief trip to Spain before making its way back into France and ending on a crazy steep climb that the Tour just doesn't use. There may not be enough room at the top; this is the only reason I can see not to use this climb, which is a proper brute, and much more akin to something the Giro or Vuelta would use. Only I'm putting a whole bunch of other tough climbs first, so this is clearly a bit of Giro in the Tour...
Col d'Arangaitz (cat.1) 10,1km @ 5,8%
Bostmendiette (cat.1) 9,3km @ 7,4%
Port de Larrau (HC) 15,3km @ 7,9%
Alto de Lasa (cat.3) 3,5km @ 5,1%
Col de Pierre Saint Martin (cat.1) 14,4km @ 5,4%
Laberouat (HC) 10,7km @ 8,9%
Presumably the race caravan would have to be kept in Lescun, but there's just about enough room for a stage finish and podium, if we push it.
Maybe the Route du Sud could finish there to test the waters, since that needs less space.
edit: scratch that, there's enough room with the parking area just around the corner.
The stage starts in Warragul, and heads toward Seaview and the Grand Ridge Road. If riders wish to get away, the climb through Seaview is a nice opportunity - and there's another chance coming into Mirboo North, which from memory steepens up a little in part. Perhaps the riders might like to partake in a beverage from the Grand Ridge Bewery on the way through, though I'd stick to the Nut Brown Ale rather than the 11% Supershine!
From there, we meander through rolling roads to Churchill and brown coal country, and past the single most polluting electricity generator in the western world, Hazelwood Power Station. This Beatles-era monstrosity pumps out 1.5 tonnes of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, three times as much as a modern combined-cycle gas-fired power station. Victoria's brown coal electricity generation is a prime contributor to Australia's appalling record on greenhouse emissions.
The riders continue on their merry way, south of Traralgon and past the almost as polluting Loy Yang power station. The narrow roads are not particularly well-sheltered here, so if anybody has the energy and the wind direction is suitable, the peloton can be splintered. But you'd want to look at the parcours for subsequent stages first.
After whizzing through the blink-and-you'll-miss-it towns of Rosedale and Longford, the riders have a flat, straight run-in to the finishing town of Sale.
Unless you're a member of the Royal Australian Air Force, there's not much reason to visit Sale. To be fair, the Port of Sale on the Thompson River estuary is kind of nice:
Something very much worth a visit - the Ninety Mile Beach - begins not far to the southeast. We will get there tomorrow.