Race Design Thread

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Stage 11: Szczecin - Oranienburg, 138km





Intermediate sprints:
Angermünde, km63,6
Eberswalde, km90,3
Gedenkstatte Sachsenhausen, km133,0

Not one single, solitary categorised climb marks stage 11, as we move from Poland into the DDR, where we will bring the race to a conclusion. It's the first stage of the race not to even merit a token doling out of mountain points, but then, we are at the end of the race now so there isn't the need to offer some points for the sake of somebody having the jersey - plenty of real climbing has taken place by now. And, realistically, in the former East Germany north of Berlin there is precious little that even merits consideration for a categorizable climb. In fact, Quäl dich, the German-based climb-mapping specialists, have the following as the full and unabridged list of climbs in northern Brandenburg, northern Sachsen-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:
- Dolchauer Berg (height of 90m, toughest side 1,6km @ 3,6%)
- Ruhner Berg (height of 172m, toughest side 4,0km @ 2,7%)
- Semmelberg (height of 150m, 5,5km @ 2,7%)
- Sonnenburg (height of 99m, includes 1,7km @ 4,0% and some cobbles, so the only realistically challenging one of these)
- Tempelberg (height of 107m, 3,3km @ 3,3%, on the island of Rügen to the very north)

...and that's all. There's a couple of climbs on the outskirts of Berlin, but they're in the former West Berlin territory on the southwestern side, and Rauener Berg is not too far from the south edges of the Berlin conurbation on the eastern side. But for climbs to the north of Berlin? There really isn't much at all. So, as a result, this is a pure transitional stage where the biggest hope fort action is going to be if the wind blows seeing as we will be heading across some fairly empty and exposed kolkhoz land in the last 45km or so.



After finishing yesterday's stage heading through a forested ecological park, the early parts of today's stage, the only part in Poland before we cross the border less than 15km into the stage, take place heading into the Lower Odra Valley Landscape Park, a scenic area of marshland and river delta with some pretty lakes and features. I dealt with Szczecin's history both within and without the Peace Race yesterday so no need to repeat that, and then, almost as soon as the breakaway will have established themselves, we cross the border into the former DDR, the most loyal and favourite sons of the Soviets, presumably because they were the most dependent on them, sitting on the border with the West and having had to do the most radical rebuilding post-war. This of course only really applies to the regime; the populace had the best access to western TV thanks to the need for western channels to be able to broadcast into West Berlin, and so there was a great deal of quiet acceptance especially later on in the Ostbloc days that the population would be kept placated by their ability to enjoy a bit of Western TV and increase the level of free speech somewhat, so long as they kept their feet firmly planted on the ground with regards to who was in charge. Sample joke from East German times:

Erich Honecker: "I like to collect the jokes that people make about me"
Erich Mielke: "We are very similar, Erich. I like to collect the people that make jokes about me"

The SED and its propaganda arm, Neues Deutschland, were very keen to involve themselves in the Peace Race from early on; obviously the Communists were not friendly to the Nazi regime and vice versa, and indeed many of them had suffered at the hands of the Nazis (though most of the eventual leadership had spent most of their time learning the ways of a left-wing Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the USSR during the Third Reich), and so they wanted to be part of this race of peace, to show that East Germany at least was not to be feared. During the first editions there was no East Germany per se, just the Sowjetische Besatzungszone, but as soon as the DDR came into effect they were campaigning for inclusion, which the Poles, Czechs and Slovaks - especially the Poles - objected to at first, for the reasons of the suffering imposed upon their people by the Germans. Eventually, however, they relented, and in 1952 the DDR was introduced to the Peace Race for the first time. It was a fairly short route; much of the infrastructure of the country was still in pieces, and the first stage came from Wrocław to Görlitz, a border town, so a brief dipping of the toes into the country, a bit like that Castilla y León stage a few years back that arrived back in Spain only 1km from the line. Milko Dimov of Bulgaria was the winner, before the next stage, from Bautzen to Berlin, saw the riders take on a lot of thundering cobbles and Plattenwege. There's a really interesting article about Ian Steel, British cycling pioneer and winner of the 1952 Peace Race, here which goes into the race's chaotic nature of the time due to the terrible racing conditions and the bizarre circumstances - being given a plain yellow leader's jersey rather than the traditional "dove design" shoulders, being refused a lap of honour, and so on, because of the explicitly western nature (the Danes were not part of NATO nor the Occupying Forces that led to the creation of West Germany); the Berlin stage was important with echelons and key to Steel's overall triumph, but the most important element was two stages later, from Leipzig to Karl-Marx-Stadt, when the famous Steiler Wand von Meerane was introduced to the race for the first time, and its difficulty and the epic fan scenes there were a large part of the winning of the approval of the other nations of the DDR's position within the race. Posterity has been kinder to Steel's win than the authorities were in the time, as his victory was venerated in a book in Germany, and he was invited to the 1968 anniversary edition along with Vesely and Täve Schur among others from the pioneering days of the race, however it's worth noting the hostility that Western wins were attracting at the time.


German poster promoting the arrival of the race for the first time

Upon arriving in East Germany, we continue to head along the Oder valley, continuing along its Western bank - as mentioned in the previous stage, the Oder forms the border along this part of the river, save for the small section around Szczecin, and the area north of the Szczecin lagoon around Świnoujście that was included within Poland due to an agreement between the Soviets and the Polish Communists - with the USSR occupying the part of Germany that bordered it, it was somewhat smoother to transition the territory than had it been one of the other Allies, I'd wager. The first major city we arrive in is Schwedt; this border city grew significantly during the DDR times, as it went from being an agricultural outpost town in relatively quiet lands to a border stronghold, and an oil refinery was built in the city starting from 1958. Today it is connected to the Russian Druzhba network, a legacy of the USSR times when it was set up to provide Russian oil and gas to the resource-hungry Warsaw Pact countries, which were undergoing rebuilding. It has also become the largest centre for paper milling in Europe, perhaps a legacy of being the town where those power resources arrived in Germany. This helped restore the city which was mostly destroyed in WWII, albeit in a more industrial and less aesthetically pleasing form. It did, however, benefit from a huge recruitment drive as the need for workers for these industries led to Pankow trying to stimulate migration to the city. Though much of the old centre has been restored, it is still dominated manifold by its outlying industrial strongpost.



Like many East German cities given their focus on sporting success as a means of national propaganda, Schwedt's list of Prominente includes a number of sportspeople although, unusually, and perhaps because of results of that drive to repopulate the city as its industry sprang up, most of these are of an age where their successes post-date reunification - swimmer Jörg Hoffmann won the bronze medal in the 1500m freestyle at Barcelona, Britta Steffen won two golds in Beijing in 50m and 100m freestyle as well as holding a number of world records, rower Julia Richter won Olympic silver in London as part of the quadruple sculls, as well as holding 2 World and 1 European Championship in the same event, but the most successful habitent is Sebastian Brendel, a remarkable canoeist who has won three Olympic golds across London and Rio, 10 World Championships (8 other medals), 13 European Championships (10 other medals) and 1 European Games gold across a 12-year career. His compatriot and local friend Jan Vandrey paired him to an Olympic and a World Championship gold.



The next city of interest is Angermünde. A well-preserved small town, its population is now rapidly dwindling as it effectively becomes reliant on tourism thanks to its connectivity to the Uckermark lakelands, it does however have long-standing cycling tradition which is a large part of why I've directed the race through here. Hometown of Johannes Pundt, one of the very first German bike racers - contesting track races back as far as the 1880s - the city developed a history with cycling in the immediate post-war days with the instigation of Berlin-Angermünde-Berlin, a one-day race which varied in length between 150 and 200km. Records do not exist prior to 1949 but Neues Deutschland was already describing it as a traditional race by the early 1950s so there is the assumption that it probably ran during the SBZ days as well. It took place in April and was often a warmup for the Friedensfahrt, and assumed the role of the fourth most important one-day race in the DDR - after Berlin-Cottbus-Berlin (at 250km known as the Eastern San Remo), the national championships and the Rund um Berlin. It adopted the name in the late 1950s of Erich Schulz Gedenkrennen after the unfortunate leader of the early DDR teams and winner of the DDR-Rundfahrt who was killed in a fall in the 1956 edition, and retained this honorific until 1990 when the race was held for the final time. Usually contested solely by DDR cyclists, it nevertheless moved towards more international participation in the late 60s, with Cuba sending their Peace Race team to get used to the conditions in Europe, and Poland getting involved as well, often sending those who had missed out on Peace Race selection or were in contention for a final spot in the race to compete with one another for the honour. It also holds the distinction of being one of the few major races in the country not to have been won by Täve Schur, which it shares with Berlin-Cottbus-Berlin. Big name winners include Uwe Raab, Thomas Barth, Axel Peschel, Martin Götze and Bernhard Trefflich, while one of the more interesting victors is a sprinter from the 1980s called Matthias Kittel - who won in 1981 and whose biggest achievement was two stage wins in the Tour de Pologne a year later - who is of course the father of Marcel, whose exploits are much more familiar to us today. A few of the old cobbled streets of the race remain to this day, but I haven't used them on this particular occasion as they would serve as an irrelevant detour with very few remaining close to my stage towns.


Berlin-Angermünde-Berlin 1952. Note the open landscape - echelons were usually the main decisive factor here if the weather played ball

After Angermünde we pass through Eberswalde, another forested town, at which point we start heading due west, to avoid heading into Berlin itself just yet (that will come, of course). Lots of kolkhoz land open to potential echelons punctuate the final third of this short stage - there were often shorter stages in the Friedensfahrt due to the amateur nature of it - which should see a very high pace as a result. The stage is likely to be a sprint but the main question will be who will be there to contest it. There is a fairly technical run-in with a few sweeping corners and - if the GC is tight, potentially importantly - there is an intermediate sprint just 5km from the line, as we take a deliberate detour that takes us around the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, as in order to truly provide a Race of Peace we must fully understand the importance of it. Sachsenhausen is one of the earliest and most notorious concentration camps. While not renowned for its horror to the same extent as, say, Auschwitz, its close proximity to Berlin made it an important centre for the NSDAP, and it was inaugurated in 1936 on the outskirts of Oranienburg, named for the city district it was placed in, and became the centre from which all concentration camp management was administered as well as a training centre for the SS. Because of its early construction, Sachsenhausen was not primarily planned as an extermination camp and indeed most executions were committed by gunshot or hanging, and once the murder reached the industrial scale large numbers of its prisoners had to be transported east to camps better equipped for this, until Anton Kaindl re-arranged the plans for the camp to accommodate gas chambers and ovens in mid 1943. For the majority of the war, however, the inmates of Sachsenhausen were doing forced labour for Albert Speer's architectural projects. If its shared history with the "wild camp" on the outskirts of Oranienburg is included, it is the site of the first use of the infamous slogan Arbeit macht frei by the NSDAP, and the base from which Dr Wolfgang Wirth conducted his experiments. While nothing like as notorious as Mengele, Wirth's experiments with sulphur mustard were lethal and also drugs intended for improved awareness of soldiers and pilots were tested en masse on inmates in gruelling endurance tests. 30.000 people died in Sachsenhausen, the largest share of which were Russian POWs, while 33.000 were decamped in May 1945 to preclude the camp's capture by the Red Army, many of whom either died of exhaustion, malnutrition or were shot upon collapse by the SS guards on a forced march. The Soviets then reappropriated Sachsenhausen as NKVD Special Camp #7, holding Nazi functionaries and political prisoners on site, with a further 12.000 dying of malnutrition and disease on the premises before the site was handed over to the East German authorities in the 50s. It was initially used for training the "Kaserniertes Volkspolizei", notionally the police but realistically a precursor to the East German army - fulfilling a dual role not unlike the Carabinieri in Italy - and in 1956 was converted for memorial purposes, with the state choosing to emphasise the camp's speciality in punishing political prisoners as opposed to the more ethnically-minded camps further east - though this decision will also of course have been for political purposes given the majority of the camp's victims were Russians. Since 1990 it has become a detailed museum complex.



This would be a grim place to finish, of course, but it is important that we understand the role that the horrors of war played in the creation of the Eastern Europe of the post-war era - the massively displaced populations, the former strongholds of Ashkenaz II now left with huge empty sections, the destruction and the enormous reminders to mankind's worst atrocities. The Tour de Pologne has made a point of visiting Auschwitz in recent years, and the DDR-Rundfahrt and Peace Race both visited Buchenwald, on a hill above Weimar, Germany's cultural capital and hometown of Goethe and Schiller (nowhere ever has the German adage Deutschland, Land der Dichter und Denker, aber auch der Richter und Henker - "Germany, land of poets and thinkers, but also of judges and executioners" - been more apropos or more poignant). As a result, it is in such a place as to be prominent in the stage, but we move on into Oranienburg proper for the finish of the stage, which gives us more of a hopeful outlook. That said, Oranienburg remains the most dangerous town in Germany in terms of unexploded ordnance - its position as a centre of the SS and the Sachsenhausen camp, as well as the home of Nazi Germany's nuclear projects and host to an armaments hub and an aircraft manufacturing plant, made it a prime target for shelling and numerous UXOs remain in the city and surrounding area. That rather takes away from its more classical history, as one of the seats of the early Kings of Prussia, being renamed Oranienburg from its original name of Bötzow in honour of Luise Henriette of the House of Orange-Nassau, and with her son Friedrich I of Prussia building the city's famous castle in her honour. The city held some honour in the DDR, being the hometown of Harry Jeske, bassist and founder member of East Germany's favourite band, Puhdys, who have been active since the late 60s and have produced nearly 40 albums, nearly 30 of which are studio recordings, and of gold medal-winning rower from the Seoul Olympics, Bernd Eichwurzel. More recently it has been home to Marcel Franz, a 22-year-old cyclist who specialises in track endurance events, especially the scratch and madison, but has had some minor success in flat road races for espoirs.

The finish of the stage comes on a gentle right-hander (approaching from the right hand side of the below image) in front of the beautiful Schloß Oranienburg mentioned above, built in the 17th Century to celebrate the peaceful unity of the Houses of Orange-Nassau and Hohenzollern. This is deliberately contrapuntal, to show a thing of classical beauty celebrating a peaceful coming together immediately in the vicinity of a monument to horror, war and division - since the roads here have been developed up to the point where the surface cannot in and of itself be depended on to break the race up anymore, then we should at least ensure that our flat stages have a purpose within the theme of the race.

 
Jun 30, 2014
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I'm writing on my Thesis, therefore don't have the time or the drive to write long stage descriptions for a whole gt in my posts, so I'll just post the whole Tour route with links to all the stages

Tour de France

Stage 1: Le Havre – Le Havre ITT; 14.4k (a classic opening ITT)
Stage 2: Le Havre – Rouen; 139km (a stage for the classic sprinters like Sagan, Matthews or Colbrelli)
Stage 3: Rouen – Arras; 172km (A flat sprint stage without any real climbs)
Stage 4: Arras – Nouzonville; 227km (a long stage with a hilly final that isn't too easy and should create some gaps)
Stage 5: Sedan – Metz; 139km (a sprint stage with a climb near the finish for the attackers and a narrow, cobbled finishing straight that goes around 2% uphill)
Stage 6: Metz - Épinal; 164km (Sprint stage)
Stage 7: Vittel - Colmar; 142km (a short medium mountain stage before the first MTF)
Stage 8: Mulhouse – LPDBF; 172km MTF (I know, a bit overused, but I choose this one already before this years Tour, it's the 2014 stage, a great first uphill finish, without the Sterrato)
Stage 9: Montbéliard - Oyonnax; 244km (a really long Jura stage, the longest stage of the race, after a hard MTF and before the rest day, we could get some action)

Stage 10: Lyon – Chambéry, 166km (a sprint stage that still gives a late attacker a bit of a chance)
Stage 11: Chambéry - Motz ITT; 43.5km (a 43.5km ITT to create some gaps before the high mountains, the final 3km are uphill, but it's still an ITT for the specialists)
Stage 12: Aix-les-Bains – Albertville; 155km (a breakaway stage before the big gc showdown in the Alpes
Stage 13: Albertville – Granon; 196km MTF (a super hard stage in the high mountains, high altitude, over 6,000m of altitude gain and a hard MTF)
Stage 14: Briancon – Auron; 150kmMTF (The Bonette-Auron combination after 2 hard climbs and right after a really hard MTF, that should create some action)
Stage 15: Isola – Nice; 138km (A medium mountain stage that isn't that hard, we should still get action on the Auron stage, but after the last 2 stages and before the rest day we could see some fireworks)

Stage 16: Narbonne - Ax-les-Thermes; 216km (a long medium mountain stage before the proper mountain stages, probably a breakaway stage, but the stage length could wear the riders down before the next 2 days and it's after a rest day, so someone might have a bad day
Stage 17: Ax-les-Thermes - Luz Ardiden ;214km MTF (the final MTF of the race, a proper mountain stage and to make ASO happy I included a few big names)
Stage 18: Oloron-Sainte-Marie - Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port; 163km (A mountain stage that finishes in the French Basque country. We'll cross the spanish Border, but the stage still starts and finishes in France. This is the last chance for the climbers and the 3rd consecutive hard stage, so we could see some fireworks, maybe not the most realistic stage)
Stage 19: Bayonne - Arcachon; 167km (A sprint stage near the atlantic coast, we could see some crosswind action, but it's mainlythere to give the riders some rest before the final ITT
Stage 20: Villenave-d'Ornon – Bordeaux ITT; 30.1km (The final ITT and the last chance for the specialists to crawl back some time, the 3rd ITT should also force the climbers to attack on the mountain stages in the 3rd Week, at least that's what I'm hoping for.
Stage 21: Versailles – Paris; 133.5km (the usual final parade with the big sprint, no need to post the profile)

Overall it's a hard Tour that gives the climbers a pretty good chance, there are 89km of ITT, but also hard mountain stages to balance things out and the lack of cobbles and only one potential crosswinds stages also favours the climbers, if the are brave enough to attack, the race only features 3 hard MTF + an easier uphill finish after a hard climb.
Not too many stages for the pure sprinters, only 5 easy ones + 2 morefor the more well rounded sprinters who can handle a bit of climbing, so we still have more than enough stages for them.

Maybe it's not the most innovative Tour design, but i tried my best to make a hard route that is still balanced and I hope you enjoy it.

PS: feedback is always appreciated
 
Stage 12a: Magdeburg - Thale (Roßtrappe), 105km





Intermediate sprints:
Thale, km84,3
Thale, km100,7

GPM:
Hüttenroder Berg, km72,0
Roßtrappe (Paß), km87,4
Roßtrappe (Seilbahn-Station), km104,6

The second Thursday of the race sees our second - and final - pair of semitappes as we move into the final, frenetic blast towards Berlin - although because of where we entered the DDR, we are in fact geographically-speaking moving away from the capital at this point. No more transitional stages, there will be the chance to make things count in every stage from here on in.



We start in the beautiful old city of Magdeburg, the capital of Sachsen-Anhalt... no wait, sorry. In this reality, it is still the capital of Bezirk Magdeburg (Sachsen-Anhalt was divided into the two Bezirke of Magdeburg and Halle (Saale) under the DDR's reforms of local authorities). Straddling the banks of the Elbe, and has a prosperous history stretching back all the way to its foundation at the hands of Charlemagne. It was a major trading concern of the Hanseatic League, one of its southernmost outposts in this part of Europe, and in the 11th Century, privileges granted to the city became the basis of German Town Laws, which, under the names Magdeburger Rechte, Magdeburské Pravó and Prawo Magdeburskie, became a universal standard all over Central and Eastern Europe. Magdeburg was also a prominent city in the Reformation, as Martin Luther had been schooled in the city and arrived in 1524 to find many adherents there, and the city quickly defected from Catholicism to Protestantism, which sparked an era of controversy as Magdeburg became one of the biggest strongholds of Protestantism and the first place to publish Luther's writings; during the Thirty Years' War it was sacked by the Catholic League, causing over 20.000 casualties, the biggest loss of life in the entire war. It then changed hands between Westphalia and Saxony a couple of times upon its reconstruction. The city was destroyed a second time in 1945 as the war came to an end and the Allies advanced on Berlin; the British Royal Air Force conducted a heavy bombing of the city and destroyed over 3/4 of it. This left much of the historicist and scenic Gründerzeit parts of town decrepit, and they fell into disrepair before eventual restoration post-Wende as the city has recovered greatly and benefited from its position on Autobahn #2, which places it on the main connective route between Berlin and Hannover, which then makes it the fastest trade route into Berlin from both Bremen and the Ruhrgebiet conurbation including Düsseldorf, Gelsenkirchen, Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund, a connection it was unable to benefit from in the DDR times.


Magdeburg in 1945

Magdeburg also held a place of serious propagandistic pride for the DDR's ruling regime, since in 1974, 1.FC Magdeburg became the first - and only - football club from East Germany to lift a European trophy, when they won the now-defunct European Cup Winners' Cup. Highlights are here. However, the club were victims of the transitional system when German reunification took place; the classic DDR-Oberliga was replaced by a one-season-only NOFV-Oberliga in which the top 2 teams would be added to the Bundesliga, and the next 6 (four plus two from a playoff) would enter the 2. Bundesliga, the remainder would remain in the NOFV-Oberliga which would then, from 1991 to 1994, be the third level of football, arranged into 10 separate leagues whose champions would then enter a playoff for promotion to the 2. Bundesliga. This was then superseded by the Regionalliga, so the NOFV-Oberliga became the fourth tier, until 2008 when a full national 3. Bundesliga was instigated. Having finished 3rd in the final DDR-Oberliga, 1. FC Magdeburg were full of hope that they could get into the Bundesliga but a disastrous season that saw them miss out on either of the professional leagues led to hard times, and it has taken them until this very season, 2018-19, to get to the 2. Bundesliga level, where at time of writing they are battling relegation.

More successful is the city's handball team, SC Magdeburg, which has won the European Champions' League on three occasions, twice (1978 and 1981) in the DDR and once (2002) as part of unified Germany - becoming the first non-Spanish side in 9 years to take the title. Its cycling history is arguably the oldest in Germany, since Carl Hindenburg, the first president of the German Cycling Federation, was a native of the city in the 19th Century. But really, the city's cycling heritage was built around Täve Schur. The golden child of East German sport, Täve was repeatedly voted the country's greatest sporting figure even a quarter of a century after his retirement. He took up cycling at 19, and won the Rund um Berlin just a year later; his meteoric rise meant that he swiftly became one of the most recognizable figures in it in the East. He won the DDR Sportsperson of the Year award nine straight times from its inception in 1953 through to 1961 inclusive. He was a key part of the DDR's first triumph in the team classification in the Peace Race - of course a more important prize in the socialist nations than it ordinarily is nowadays - and won the race outright in 1955 to become the first East German to do so, and wearing the national champion's colours no less, having taken the first of six national championship road races the previous June. He also won the DDR-Rundfahrt on four occasions from 1953 to 1961, but it was in the late 1950s that he ascended to the stratosphere in terms of his public profile. In 1958, in Reims, he became the first rider from a socialist country to win the amateur World Championships, and he took those rainbow stripes to the house, winning the 1959 Peace Race to become the first rider to win the great race twice - before travelling to Zandvoort and successfully retaining his rainbow stripes, becoming the first amateur to ever do this and only the second (and last) rider to ever win the amateur road race twice, after Giuseppe Martano who had won in 1930 and 1932. He won the DDR-Rundfahrt for good measure, but Täve still knew there was another level to go to.

In 1960, for the first time, the Amateur Road Race created more excitement at the World Championships than the Elites, because the event was being held in the DDR, the first Ostbloc hosts of the Worlds, and their athletes could not turn professional. Much pre-race hype was about whether Schur could achieve an unprecedented and heroic treble on the hilly circuit around the Sachsenring (the old long-form circuit around Hohenstein-Ersnthal) - but Schur could do better, as far as the regime was concerned. Finding himself in a final trio with teammate Bernhard Eckstein and the strong Belgian Willy Vanden Berghen, who'd finished on the podium of the Peace Race and won the amateur Ronde van Vlaanderen (he would go on to several strong finishes in the Ardennes and win stages of Paris-Nice and Le Tour as a pro), a tiring Eckstein asked Schur what he could do to help him. Schur instructed him to attack, and marked Vanden Berghen. Having been chasing Schur's attacks all afternoon, Vanden Berghen couldn't answer, and Schur sat up, leaving an exhausted and shocked Eckstein to take the title with his more illustrious teammate easing up to take 2nd and leave the victory to his teammate. It was the ultimate example, said Neues Deutschland, of the DDR's strength and the embodiment of the Communist ethos. In fairness, Schur was always a good Communist, even serving in the Volkskammer for the rest of the nation's history - much like Fiorenzo Magni his political links often harm the esteem his achievements are held in, and his position within politics during the DDR's state-run doping regimes have proven an obstacle since reunification, when his nomination as a candidate for the German Sports Hall of Fame caused a minor storm. He also served as a member of the SED's successor in the Bundestag, during the era it was known as the PDS. Täve's bike shop, Täves Radladen, still runs in Magdeburg to this day, and the then-81 year old joined a memorial ride for the former British team manager and mechanic Alf Buttler, retracing the route of his 1955 Peace Race triumph. He's in damn good shape for a man of nearly 90.


Täve Schur, still riding - and still representing the DDR in more ways than one - at 87

The 1959 edition that Täve won was the first time Magdeburg appeared on the Peace Race route, with the Belgian René Vanderveken winning the stage into the city. Schur did get his local triumph when he won a semitappe in Magdeburg a year later. Other winners in Magdeburg are August Verhaegen in 1963, Michael Milde in 1972, Hans-Joachim Hartnick in 1975, Frits Schuer in 1976, Olaf Ludwig in 1981, Uwe Raab in 1984 and again in 1987, and Jan Svorada in 1990. Unlike a lot of the bigger host cities, it did see the race return in the wake of the Wende and the onset of professional teams, however - Jacek Mickiewicz won a stage into Magdeburg in 1997 and Steffen Wesemann won the last stage of the race here in 1999.

The same cannot be said of the end of this semitappe; Thale, the town which would inevitably be responsible for the organisation here, only appeared once in the Friedensfahrt as a stage host - in the penultimate stage of the very last full Peace Race, in 2006. The Harz mountains were very much underused, perhaps owing to their location being proximate to the West German border but also mainly as they would usually only be used mid-stage when transitioning between Magdeburg and a city in Thüringen such as Erfurt; usually going via Halle or Leipzig would be preferred and the Erzgebirge always seemed more popular with the race's organisers than the Thüringer Wald - certainly they are easier to accommodate as they involve less going out of one's way, opening up more options.

Before we get there, however, we have a stretch across the barren kolkhoz lands of Sachsen Anhalt, but I don't foresee too much action being created here - an hour or so of echelons may be chaotic but I think with it being a semitappe nobody other than the desperate will make a big deal of this stage's flat parts. Therefore, the stage only really starts when we get to Quedlinburg and its UNESCO-inscribed castle.





When people described scenery as "chocolate box", they're usually thinking of Swiss and German confectioners with their Alpine villages and towns. We're in a completely different, smaller and much lower-lying mountain range here, but the effect is similar; when people think of the kind of architecture and town planning that is called "chocolate box", Quedlinburg is the kind of place they're thinking of. Sat on the Bode river, it was first referenced by Heinrich der Vogler in the 10th Century, and its castle complex dates from the same era, though it had its greatest period as a Hanseatic city. Similar to Magdeburg the abbey here converted to Lutheranism in the 16th Century, before being entirely secularised early in the 19th Century. It became the centre of a bizarre cult during the Nazi era, when Heinrich Himmler became obsessed with Heinrich der Vogler, seeing him as the most German of all German rulers, and intended to make Quedlinburg a site of pilgrimage. Post-war, restorations were carried out and the city has become a popular getaway for big city dwellers in East Germany thanks to its, well, chocolate box scenery, and its proximity to the Harz mountains and their remote beauty.

It has also been the home of two sporting champions, first the DDR sprinter Petra Schersing (née Müller) who won World Championship gold as part of the East German women's relay and an individual silver over 400m in Rome in 1987, and replicated the individual achievement a year later at the Olympics in Seoul; and second, the swimmer Dagmar Hase, who won gold in the 400m freestyle at the Barcelona Olympics, giving the American Janet Evans her only defeat in an eight year period in the discipline, but is also known for dealing Krisztina Egerszegi her only backstroke defeat for five years when she beat her in 1989 (and her only defeat in a decade over 200m).

Moving on from Quedlinburg we arrive at Blankenburg, a spa town halfway between Wernigerode and Thale, and the foothills of the Harz mountains. It is home to the former cyclist Christian Lademann, who specialised on the track and counted a stage win in the Peace Race in 2001 among his biggest triumphs. Here, the road turns uphill. Initially, it is cobbled but eventually we get out of the urban setting and onto normal tarmacked roads which are also not as intimidatingly steep as those cobbles suggest, so this won't be where any drama in the stage happens, but might soften up some legs. At the summit in the village of Hüttenrode there is a small Soviet cemetery to honour 95 POWs who were forced into labour in the chalkpits here and in the IG Farben factories, as well as a memorial to soldiers killed in the fighting in these mountains in April 1945. It is famous for the Blue Lake, an especially mineral rich lake in the vicinity.



We descend from here into Wienrode and move on to Thale, which will host both of the intermediate sprints in this semitappe. Built up to support an ironworks, Thale sits at the entrance to the scenic Bode Gorge, one of the most famous natural landmarks of the Harz region. With its access to the radon-rich Hubertus Spring and the romantic scenery of the gorge, and the construction of a Seilbahn, the town became a popular getaway in the 19th Century, and became popular with authors - most notably Heinrich Heine and German realist extraordinaire Theodor Fontane, whose book Cécile was based in Thale. Perhaps less likely to be honoured by the DDR regime, Leni Riefenstahl, the film director whose best-known work includes the inventive and innovative, but morally problematic, Nazi propaganda film Triumph des Willens, was schooled in the town.



The Bodetal is a beautiful, unspoilt gorge carved 10km long through the Harz highlands. From Thale there are two routes up to it. The more famous one is to the east of the gorge, and is called Hexentanzplatz, literally "Witches' Dancefloor", and there is a zoo, a summer bobsleigh and a cable car system there. To climb there is roughly 4,4km at 7,7%. I have gone for the western side of the gorge, however, thanks to the possibility of a tight and short, compact circuit that can allow for the possibility of a particularly adventurous rider trying to take off on the penultimate time up the climb to the Roßtrappe, a legendary granite crag with a backstory referencing a mythical stallion, since it crests at 17,2km from the line. The Quäl dich profile places the finish at the point where the Roßtrappe road meets the Wienrode-Allrode one, but that would be better described as Steinköpfe based on the summits nearby; the Roßtrappe summit requires the first part of that climb - 2,4km at 9,5%, so plenty tough enough for the puncheurs to make things count, then a left turn and a further 800m at just over 5% - for a total summit finish of 3,2km @ 8,5%. Not bad. It has its own scary lookout post, and a Ferienpark as well as another cable car station that means there's plenty of parking space and it can readily host a summit finish without too much trouble. There is time to be won and lost here, and the first 75% of the climb averaging nearly 10% should ensure that there are gaps even if people want to save their energy for the afternoon semitappe...

 
Mar 14, 2009
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OMG! This "Peace Race" reading is just fascinating and I have no words how to describe the quality of detail and information in these posts.

Truly amazing!

Big kudos to you LS and thanks for writing these pieces. You got no idea how I wish that this race was for real.

Over the years, there have been some amazing designs and posts in this thread but this is just on completely another level, so THANKS!
 
Oct 19, 2015
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Re:

Płock - Włocławek... Both cities are part of my own Peace race draft, so i've got some information about them. Let me try and maybe clarify some of your info.

Libertine Seguros said:
The first historical capital of Poland, Płock...
I dunno where you got that information. Płock was never a capital of Poland. It's the historic capital of Masovia (which after the partition period of XII c. was it's own thing untill mid-XVI c.). The first confirmed capital of Poland was Gniezno.

Libertine Seguros said:
...but it's believed the current city [Włocławek] sprang into existence in the 12th Century, only for a lack of record-keeping to hamstring historians. Now that we're further north in Poland, we're into the areas that didn't sit happily and peacefully Polish for several hundred years until the Swedes showed up, but instead were in conflict with the Teutonic Knights, who renamed the city Leslau when it was under their control, and it was this name that was resurrected by the Nazis when they annexed the city in 1939.
The city was in Teutonic Knights' hands just for a couple of years after a mid-XIV c. war (not the same associated with the battle of Grunwald/Tannenberg).

Libertine Seguros said:
The city also likes to claim Lech Wałęsa as one of its own - his home is a small village called Popowo to the north side of the river - had I run the chrono on the north of the Wisła I could have incorporated it, however let's face it, as I mentioned in an earlier stage, the chances of the Peace Race honouring the leader of Solidarność is, well, unlikely...
I think Wałęsa was born in Popowo - a former hamlet just outside of either Tłuchowo or (nearby) Kamień Kotowy midway between Płock and Lipno. I guess you may think of Popowo on the route 67 between Włocławek and Lipno.

There are other things that are hidden on the other side of Vistula in or near Włocławek and that's Obrońców Wisły 1920 street, which is an uphill climb on first Italian-like cobbles, then a roughly 100m of dirt and then this German-style concrete road. This hill is roughly 550m at roughly 10-12%.
 
Very short post for the next stage of my Deutschland Rundfahrt.

After a restday and a transfer across bavaria, it's time for:

Deutschland Rundfahrt 17. Etappe: Regensburg - Coburg: 214km, flat
(Bayern)



From Regensburg this stages heads northwest, crossing the plains of Bavaria. The main city on the course is Bamberg, after 155km. 25km later, there's a change in direction, now going northeast and climbing the second (and last) categorized hill of the day. There are, however, some more small bumps in the final, but nothing to worry most sprinters. The finish will be in the heart of Coburg, which was the seat of a principality from the late 16th to early 20th century, resulting in a rich cultural heritage.




 
Re: Re:

railxmig said:
I dunno where you got that information. Płock was never a capital of Poland. It's the historic capital of Masovia (which after the partition period of XII c. was it's own thing untill mid-XVI c.). The first confirmed capital of Poland was Gniezno.
http://polishpoland.com/tag/plock/
"Four things you may not know about Plock:
- Between 1079 and 1138 Plock served as the capital of the Polish state."

http://mazovia.travel/places-to-go/the-cities/item/174-plock
"Płock is one of the most important cities in Mazovia. Warsaw may be regarded as its younger sibling; Płock was a center of pagan worship already in 7th century C.E. and during the reign of Władysław Herman and Bolesława the Wry-mouthed (1079–1138) the city acted as the capital of Poland."
 
I need some help from the experts in here. How do you categorize the climbs? Can a climb under 1 km even be categorized? The most crucial factor seem to be the height and length.

But in recent years.. we have seen the number of short, ultra-steep climbs being more popular than ever in road racing. And those are more selective than long 3-4-5% climbs.
 
Re:

Velolover2 said:
I need some help from the experts in here. How do you categorize the climbs? Can a climb under 1 km even be categorized? The most crucial factor seem to be the height and length.

But in recent years.. we have seen the number of short, ultra-steep climbs being more popular than ever in road racing. And those are more selective than long 3-4-5% climbs.
Basically, there's no universal climb categorizing system. Almost every race has its own categorsation of climbs. The tour seems to be the most consistent in it, though in recent years it favors shorter but steeper climbs over longer, more gradual ones.
A few years ago Linkinito made an analysis about it.
 
My tour of Germany has some similarities with the 1997 or 2005 Tour de France, in that regard that the high mountains ended quite early, but there were some medium mountain stages after that, enabling to create sme chaos in the Vosges or Massif Central. This design, too, will have its GC defining stages behind the back by the start of the third week, but there are some possibilities to gain some extra time or claw back some, if needed. The first opportunity arises in:


Deutschland Rundfahrt, 18. Etappe: Bamberg - Klingenthal: 171.5km, hilly
(Bayern - Sachsen)




Stage 18 starts in Bamberg, with an old town that has the largest intact preserved historic city center in Germany.


The most iconic building in the center is the Altes Rathaus, but many other churches and palaces flaunt the cityscape.
For about 140km the course goes east, with some not too difficult hills. That changes with 35km to go, after leaving Markneukirchen. The Hirschberg is no more than a shallow medium length climb, that won't cause any trouble for any of the favourites, but will shed some sprinters out of the back. Its descent, with a small, intermediate bump, leads to the penultimate climb of the day: Schöneck. It's about as long as the previous climb, but with an average gradiënt of 5.9%, will cause some more trouble, both in the bunch as in a likely breakaway as it crests with 17km to go.
The final climb of the day comes with 6km to go. From the center of the wintersport town Klingenthal (of which LS could without any doubt write pages and pages), the road climbs to the border with the Czech republic and crests on the Lämpelberg. This nice wall is steep enough to create some gaps and maybe even to some minor shifts in the GC (after all, Fabio Aru lost his yellow jersey in the 2017 TdF on an easier climb).


 
Re:

Velolover2 said:
I need some help from the experts in here. How do you categorize the climbs? Can a climb under 1 km even be categorized? The most crucial factor seem to be the height and length.

But in recent years.. we have seen the number of short, ultra-steep climbs being more popular than ever in road racing. And those are more selective than long 3-4-5% climbs.
A lot of races simply break the difficulty of the climbs within their race into three categories and award them cat.1, cat.2 and cat.3 based on that, hence in the Tour de Pologne some climbs that are cat.2 at most and sometimes just tough cat.3s at a race like the Tour or the Dauphiné get given cat.1 due to the lack of suitably sized mountain passes in Poland that would be cat.1 in those races. An exception is País Vasco, which regularly only gives cat.1 to a very small number of climbs - usually those of decent size with long Vuelta history, like Orduña, Arrate, Urkiola and Elosua, and usually the race is filled with cat.2 and cat.3s. With the categorizations in the Peace Race, there was a very specific climb categorization with only two categories - to be cat.1, a climb must be at least 5km long and ascend over 250m. If the climb averaged over 10% and ascended over 250m it could be considered cat.1, and the Teufelstein is the most famous example of this, but otherwise, all other climbs would be cat.2.
 
Stage 12b: Wernigerode - Brocken, 27,2km (ITT)





GPM:
Schierker Stern, km14,7
Brocken, km27,2

The second part of the semitappe is a mountain time trial, of the kind very rarely seen in the Friedensfahrt. A few stages over the years have been designated "Bergzeitfahrt" but these have seldom followed the format for the mountain time trial that we have grown used to, i.e. a single ascent from the start to the finish along the lines of Kronplatz, Monte Grappa, Oropa, Alpe di Siusi or Nevegal in recent Giri. Instead there have been a range of differing climbs featured in these stages.


Crowds greet the riders at the summit of the climb into Oberhof in 1964, the only time the DDR's wintersports capital would host the race

Ironically, the 1964 Erfurt to Oberhof TT won by Jan Smolík was not called an MTT, but featured a summit finish of the kind so rarely used in the race until the 80s. I can't find the exact mapping for the stage but it looks like they went through Ilmenau and over the Großer Beerberg. The first stage formally declared a mountain time trial, however, was the 3km semitappe on the Borsberg, just outside Dresden, which was won by Anatoly Starkov in stage 8b of the 1971 race, after Szurkowski had won a 33km conventional time trial in the morning. In the Peace Race, before the 80s the winners of each semitappe were not individually credited and the stage win would be given to the rider with the best cumulative time on the day, so as Starkov only beat Szurkowski by 3 seconds on the Borsberg, the Pole was credited the stage winner. 1980 saw a designated mountain time trial in Solenice, 8km in length, though Olaf Ludwig winning it - and his completion time of 13'08 - tells you it wasn't the most brutal of stages. 1987 of course saw the infamous ski jump climb time trial in Harrachov - basically appended onto the end of a rolling, undulating 20km TT similar to that used in 1966. The next stage designated a mountain time trial was in Slušovice in 1990, and that was it for mountain time trials in the Peace Race. Until now.



The chocolate box scenery of the Harz mountains continues as we set off from the picture-perfect town of Wernigerode, home to 35.000 people on the northern border of the Harz region and formerly capital of its own district. Despite its beautiful scenery and its romantic appearance, however, the proximity to the inner German border meant that the city was not developed for internal tourism in the DDR in the same way as rival towns in the region, although it has made up for lost time on that front, being on the so-called "Orange Route" connection historic strongholds of the House of Orange-Nassau. Its defining feature, other than being the gateway to the Harz mountains, is its fairytale Schloß, rebuilt numerous times until settling on the Baroque fashion upon a 17th Century rebuilding, and overlooking the town dramatically to give us views throughout the MTT - a château worthy of Le Tour.

Wernigerode never got to host the Friedensfahrt in its heyday - once more that proximity to the West German border may well have been a factor in that, especially after the 1964 defection of Dieter Wiedemann, so soon after the carefully orchestrated prevention of same by Klaus Ampler. After 1990, however, all bets were off, and so Wernigerode appeared on the race in its dying embers, as large cities were now rarely on the route. A stage from Wernigerode to Freyburg (Unstrut), a small town west of Leipzig, was won by Steffen Wesemann in 1997, reappearing in 2000 when the race started in former West German territory for the first time, with a stage which was won in the town by Arkadiusz Wojtaś of the Mroz team (Danilo Hondo won a sprint in a stage from Wernigerode to Halle the next day), but perhaps most poignantly the very final stage of the last ever Friedensfahrt, in 2006, departed from Wernigerode, and finished in Hannover in a straightforward sprint between second tier pros, so it left East Germany, its former heartland and its beating heart, soon after the start, symbolising its transition from a traditional icon of the East to an inconsequential and indistinguishable race whose heart and soul had long been ripped out of it.



The stage itself is to an iconic summit of East Germany, even if it never hosted the Course de la Paix; Brocken is the highest peak in the Harz region and it sits just across the former border (its lower sister summit, Wurmberg, is in the former BRD), towering over its neighbours. At over 1100m it is the northernmost summit in Germany to peak at that height as well as the only mountain summit in the Mittelgebirge to lie above the treeline. And in fairness - Brocken itself could never have hosted the Course de la Paix even had it wanted to. Having been a key radio and TV transmitting post - the first TV broadcast transmitted here was supposedly the Berlin Olympics in 1936 - it was initially under US control post-war before being transferred to the Soviets, with the Americans dismantling all of the electronics on their way out. Until the building of the Berlin Wall it was a freely accessible (with permit) tourist area, but the proximity to the border meant that after this it was an out-of-bounds location, heavily militarised and civilians were heavily protected or monitored when they wished to ascend the mountain. The towers were mainly used for espionage, often used for the purposes of listening in to conversations on both sides of the border, both as the westernmost outpost of the Soviet surveillance units and for the Staatssicherheitsdienst. The military presence was heavily reduced following the fall of the wall in 1989, and five years later the final Russian soldiers were withdrawn and the region restored to its natural state. In addition to the access road, the summit can be reached from Wernigerode by a scenic rack railway which often relies on steam locomotives.



Now, climbing 900m in 27km is hardly a mountain climb to rival the Zoncolan or Kronplatz, I know that, but given the paucity of mountain time trials in the Course de la Paix, managing this one ought to be interesting. And when a climb is not especially steep in its own right, it makes a lot of sense to use the cronoescalada to ensure there will be time gaps, seeing as riders can't help but see gaps created by the format. Cyclingcols gives us a profile of the second half of the stage as follows, which shows that while it may not have any killer ramps, we will see some potential gaps and the stats suggesting an average of 3,2% are only telling half the story.



Nevertheless, this is why I went for the steeper summit at Roßtrappe - to try to dissuade riders from taking it easy in the knowledge there's a mountain time trial to come - also Roßtrappe being short and exceedingly steep will suita a completely different type of climber from those who will like the tempo climbing on Brocken. There is method to the madness... sometimes...
 
Stage 13: Sangerhausen - Leipzig, 150km





Intermediate sprints:
Klostermansfeld, km18,2
Landsberg, km116,0
Wiedemar, km125,1

GPM:
Ritterplatz, km5,8
Löbejüner Berg, km71,1

The 'run for home' begins with this, a short but tough rouleur stage which runs through well-trodden traceur fare. That's partly why I'm not so happy with the closure of this race, having already bled out a lot of the potential of this part of the DDR, but at the same time because I made a few new discoveries that have underpinned another route which uses completely different parts of the countries because I couldn't get them to fit into this one.



Sangerhausen is a city of just over 30.000 inhabitants which sits on the south edge of the Harz massif, so it's a fairly easy transfer from yesterday's split stage as a result. It's one of the oldest towns in Sachsen-Anhalt, but much of the traditional centre has rather been superseded of late by a couple of DDR-era icons in public image of the city. Two of its most significant landmarks are of the era. Firstly, the cone mine dump "Hohe Linde", which saw its first load dumped on January 1st, 1956, and has since grown to an enormous cone overlooking the city, and the city's pragmatist railway station, the first to be built in the German Democratic Republic and now a protected historical monument. The station is a little outside the centre of the town and is now a popular hub due to the town being a junction station - it is one of the key change stations for those wishing to travel from side to side of the country on Deutsche Bahn's fabulous Schönes Wochenende tickets - allowing up to 5 people to travel anywhere in the country on one very affordable ticket so long as they only use Regionalbahn trains - and for most locations in the south and centre west of the country, Sangerhausen will be one of the changeover stations en route to Berlin and vice versa (for example, from Frankfurt it was Kassel, Sangerhausen and Magdeburg that served as these). The station has undergone renovation in 2014 to upgrade and modernise without losing its classic DDR look.

The city never hosted the Peace Race, though it has hosted the national championships since unification, in 2010, when Christian Knees took the road race and former DDR native Tony Martin took the time trial. It has another cycling link in the form of Thomas Liese, a former national time trial champion who was just hitting his stride when reunification took place, winning a World Championship as part of the DDR's successful tilt at the Team Pursuit in 1989, among the last successes ever won by a DDR team in the sport. Winning the Olympia's Tour in 1989 as a 21-year-old and also taking two stages of the Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt, he remained steadfastly amateur for much of the 90s, specialising in the latter race where he took stage upon stage year after year, before becoming a pro in the late 90s - by this time he had already won 3 of his career 4 Peace Race stages, specialising thanks to his track origins in prologues and short time trials as well as in sprints. He typically stuck to racing at home and most of his successes were in Germany, most notably in the Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt, the Sachsentour (which he won outright in 1998 and 2000) and the Bayern-Rundfahrt; after retiring in his mid-30s he became a coach.



The first thing we do in the stage is climb, although it's not likely to cause too much trouble, being about 5km at 3,5%. It might make the battle for the very early intermediate sprint in Klostermansfeld more interesting, however, as some bonus seconds are there for the taking if the GC is tight, but it will entail trying to control people trying to make something of the race late on by getting into breakaways for a frenetic opening. The next 30 kilometres or so are fairly benign, before the all-important middle third of this stage begins, and that means one thing when we're in this area, surround Halle (Saale) - Katzenköpfe.



Yes, while many still survive in large parts of Brandenburg and elsewhere, southern Sachsen-Anhalt is the undisputed king of the Kopfsteinpflaster regions in the former East Germany, with investment problems meaning the replacement of the old cobbled DDR roads has taken place at a slower pace than elsewhere, both before and after the Wende. Those road signs for "Straßenschäden" proliferate around the area north of Halle, and it is therefore no surprise that this region has become a popular area for both traceurs and hobbyists alike. And while it's perhaps a bit lazy (no, it definitely is a bit lazy, since I haven't got round to using that cobbled berg at Jocketa yet) the route called for a bit more rouleur challenge here, so we've gone back to the well on the Hölle des Ostens parcours, mainly because their research is rather more definitive than mine, especially considering the difficulty of many areas in Germany owing to the lack of streetview.

On the plus side for the riders here, however, I haven't gone full on cobbled hell, and that's for tactical reasons. Firstly, I don't want this stage, on a Friday, to be too decisive because there's a difficult and interesting weekend ahead, but also because the rouleurs have a hard day for them tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see if they dare here, with a stage that isn't all cobbles all the way to the line, because it will force climbers to chase, without giving up because the easier run-in may enable them to limit their losses - at the expense of a lot of energy that will blow up the race in tomorrow's stage - or leave them domestique-less early.

The cobbles begin with an easyish 1km stretch before the town of Könnern, but then they come thick and fast, with a total of 24,7km of cobbles, 22,8 of which will be familiar from the Hölle des Ostens parcours. These include a few favourites like the small cobbled berg in Löbejün:



And the brutal stretch from Nehlitz to Ostrau where 7,5km of a distance of 9,5km are back to back cobbles:



You can see some video of the kind of thing we'll be dealing with here.

Anyway, most of you are familiar by now with the Katzenköpfe of this region so perhaps the interesting thing for you will be that the antepenultimate sector of cobbles is done with by the second intermediate sprint with 34km remaining - relatively early you would say, especially in a stage only 150km long - but that's part of what I was describing above. I don't actually want a Roubaix-alike here. This is a potential banana skin, rather than a focal stage to kill action before it. It's too dangerous not to treat with respect, but not so dangerous that it will automatically create big timegaps, as that might kill the weekend's action. The penultimate sector is completed with 27km to go, between Klitschmar and Wiedemar, and then we pass another DDR landmark, Schkeuditz, or Leipzig/Halle Airport. Only the 13th biggest airport in Germany in terms of passenger numbers, it nevertheless handles a lot of cargo, and is behind only Frankfurt, of course a gigantic transport hub, in terms of freight traffic, thanks mainly to DHL choosing it as their main aviation hub in 2008. Built in the 1920s, it became a hub for Interflug, the East German state airline, in the 1960s, and expansion has led to some bizarre quirks - there are two runways, one of which requires crossing a railway line, and even better, the lack of available land means that much of the terminal buildings are on the opposite side to an Autobahn to the runway, leading to taxiways crossing a major traffic thoroughfare, as you can see here.



It has also been used as a stand-in for Berlin in films on a couple of occasions, as well as being a key location in its own right in the Captain America: Civil War movie.

From here, it's a fairly straightforward run-in that will enable groups to try to work together to preserve leads or to chase escapes, until we get to the outskirts of Leipzig, where a series of 90º corners in succession enable us to take on a few cobbled roads in the outskirts such as Prellerstraße as well as, with numerous corners in close proximity, enable the possibility for a late attack to get out of sight and gain sufficient time to be able to hold it to the line, with some 8 corners in a 600m stretch. After that, we pass the famous Zoo, and head through wide and fast roads down to the Neues Rathaus, built in the early 20th century and a key landmark of the city, the tallest town hall tower in Germany and also with some cinematic history, featuring in Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, a thriller about a scientist pretending to defect to the East. It also has some notoriety with a number of key officials committing suicide in the hall as Germany's total defeat in WWII neared, before being restored to its glory as the ruling roost of Leipzig under the SED.



From here, we take two left handers onto the city centre Petersstraße to finish in the main market square with what will probably be a sprint of whatever small group remains in front of the Old town hall.



Leipzig, being as it was the second largest city in East Germany, after East Berlin, and with nearly 600.000 inhabitants the largest city in Saxony to this day, unsurprisingly was a staple of the old Friedensfahrt, appearing on numerous occasions, beginning with 1952, the very first edition in which the DDR played a role in the race organisation. On that day, Jan Kuznicki of the anomalous "Poles living in France" team that was a staple of early Peace Race editions - and featured luminaries and legends of the sport like Jean Stablinski too - though Stablinski himself - then known as Stablewski - lost the race lead to Czech legend Jan Veselý the same day. Leipzig remained an annual fixture in the 1950s, with the Czechs Miroslav Malek and self-same Jan Veselý winning in the city the next two years as the Berlin-Leipzig and Leipzig-Karl-Marx-Stadt stages (the latter of course famous for the Steiler Wand) became Peace Race traditions. It took a flip of direction to bring a home win, as in 1955 the Prague-Berlin-Warsaw route design meant the riders would be heading to Leipzig from Karl-Marx-Stadt rather than the other way around, and although that meant Meerane was much, much further from the finish, the 200km+ stage length (even though the cities are only 80km apart) and the difficult roads creating separation as the leader, Stan Brittain of the, er, British team lost contact with an 11-man group, and from this the Belgian Joseph Verhelst, who had already won two stages, and hometown hero Gustav-Adolf Schur sprang forth to fight over the stage honours; Täve took the stage but Verhelst inherited the race lead, only to lose it to the East German a day later to thunderous cheers from the Berlin crowd.

Leipzig missed its first Peace Race in 1957, but it returned to its annual stage hosting deal a year later with Raymond Mastrotto the victor - a Frenchman of some pedigree who later won the Dauphiné Libéré and finished 6th in the 1960 Tour de France. Erich Hagen won there en route to his somewhat fortuitous overall triumph - teammate Egon Adler was leading the race with a day to go but a terrible crash on the way to Berlin meant he lost minutes with several teammates dropping back to help him - Hagen therefore had to control the unruly Belgian Jean-Baptiste Claes, who was only a few seconds behind him, and eventually won the sprint in Berlin to take the GC with 2 stage wins in the last three days. Anatoly Cherepovich won in Leipzig in both 1961 and 1962, among the tragic Crimean's greatest triumphs before his untimely death in a car accident three days after his 34th birthday. After the mid-60s, as the recovery from WWII continued to gather strength and the DDR's infrastructure became better, more varied routes were available and Leipzig ceased to be as integral to the route, however it still appeared regularly, and other notables to have taken stages in Leipzig include Marcel Duchemin (1970 ITT), Stanisław Szozda (1974), Olaf Ludwig (1988) and, in its sole appearance after the fall of East Germany, Steffen Wesemann (1996).

Berlin-Leipzig, as well as being a traditional Friedensfahrt stage in the early days, was also a prominent one-day race in the DDR days. It actually traces its origins back to the 1920s, but reached its peak in East Germany. Though nothing like the importance of Berlin-Cottbus-Berlin or the Rund um Berlin, it was nevertheless a key one-day race in the calendar, generally taking place on Easter weekend, and known colloquially as the Osterfahrt in much the same way as the Frankfurt race in the BRD became known as the Maitagrennen. Its winners include Erich Schulz, Täve Schur (twice), Egon Adler, Lothar Appler and Olaf Ludwig.


Berlin-Leipzig race, 1988

Leipzig also hosted the UCI Track World Championships in 1960, back in the days when the track and road championships tended to stay close to one another - while Karl-Marx-Stadt got the honour of the road (actually the Sachsenring motor racing course, of course), Leipzig's famous outdoor velodrome, the Alfred-Rosch-Kampfbahn, hosted the track championships in the sprint and pursuit disciplines, while the motor-paced derny race was at Karl-Marx-Stadt. Leipzig didn't get to see any home triumphs - the only DDR Gold medal was Georg Stoltze in the amateur derny race - but they did at least get to see fellow German Rudi Altig win in the 5k individual pursuit for professionals, which as ever was greeted with more enthusiasm by the East German populace than by the East German authorities and media. Still outdoors but now a covered velodrome (under a partial roof made of sustainable photovoltaic cells - no, really), the Alfred-Rosch-Kampfbahn has been renamed the more straightforward Radrennbahn Leipzig, as the previous name had been to honour a communist dignitary, and remains in use, though its position of strength as a national home of the sport has eroded significantly since the DDR days. It was also the home of ex-rider from the late 40s and early 50s Erich Stammer, who made a strong career teaching and training East Germany's formidable track cycling corps. Täve Schur's son Jan was born here and indeed completed his studies in Leipzig after his career finished, but like his father he is more associated with Magdeburg and the Harz region, where he opened a hotel named for his father. I could also mention Petra Rossner, former World champion on the track in the 80s whose career lasted well into the 2000s, spanning from being 3rd in the inaugural Giro Donne in 1988 to winning the World Cup overall in 2002 and the national championships road race in 2004.


1960 World Championships in Leipzig

Perhaps more famously in the cycling world, it was the home of Erich Hagen, the 1960 Peace Race winner in the style described above. Exploding onto the scene by shocking everybody to win the 1956 national championships road race aged just 19, he missed out on a medal in the Melbourne Olympics for the Unified German Team as only the first three riders on a team counted for the teams prize, and after Horst Tüller (BRD) and Täve Schur (DDR) were both up at the front, he narrowly missed out to West German Reinhold Pommer in a battle over who would be the third German finisher, with national pride at stake. Four years later, having just won the Friedensfahrt, and now four years stronger, he wouldn't miss out again, riding with Egon Adler, Täve Schur and Günter Lörke to a silver medal in the 100km TTT. He never achieved that level again, however; he was 9th in his defence of his surprise Peace Race victory, and while he was often good at the DDR-Rundfahrt, he struggled with the Peace Race selection races, then he made a lot of enemies and was thrown out of the DHfK Leipzig, one of East Germany's premier sporting factories, and the national team, for comments made about the construction of the Berlin Wall, and after failing to achieve the selection criteria for the 1964 Olympics he went out, aged 27, not with a bang but a whimper. His public criticism of the regime had not left him in good favour; he managed to forge himself a career as a taxi driver, but financial and familial problems hit him hard. In May 1978, aged 41, Hagen was found dead, victim of a one-car accident on the Autobahn near his home in Leipzig. From evidence at the scene it is believed to have been suicide; he deliberately veered off the road and collided with a bridge support at high speed with no evidence of braking.


Erich Hagen, celebrating his 1960 Peace Race triumph

The DHfK that Hagen was thrown out of was a very important institution for sport in East Germany. Standing for Deutsche Hochschule für Körperkultur, it was an institute of higher education and sport - but also one of the most notorious places in sports science, for it was within the Forschungsinstitut für Körper und Sport (Research Institute for Body and Sport), the research arm of the institute, that over 20 different doping products or methods were synthesised, designed, isolated, innovated or otherwise used, that led to the abnormally strong position of East Germany within sport in the 70s and 80s, with their medal tallies vastly disproportionate to the financial strength for developing facilities and the population size of the country. It was closed down upon the opening of its files following the Wiedervereinigung and replaced by the Olympiastutzpunkt Leipzig, one of 18 inter-linked sports hubs in unified Germany.

As a result of this, the number of star sportspeople to have come from Leipzig and its surrounding area is abnormally high, even for a city of its size. To name a few from the DDR days, Superchampion of the 1988 Seoul Olympics Kristin Otto, a swimmer who took six golds from the single games, Four-time Olympic gold medallist sprinter Bärbel Wöckel (née Eckert), Olympic shot putt champion Margitta Gummel, Nordic Combineder Andreas Kunz, three-time World Champion handball goalkeeper Hannelore Zober, Olympic silver medallist sprinter Rita Wilder, relay silver medallists Christina Heinich and Barbara Krug, silver medal-winning high jumper Stefan Junge, Peter Rost, captain of the gold medal-winning handball team in the Moscow Olympics, two rowing champions at those same Games - Hans-Peter Koppe in the men's eights and Silvia Fröhlich in the women's fours, two time World and one time Olympic discus champion Martina Hellman, bronze medal-winning marathon runner Katrin Dörre-Heinig (who continued into the 90s). Since reunification the likes of Carsten Eich (marathon), Udo Quellmalz (judo) and Heike Fischer (diving) have kept sporting success in Leipzig's blood, but the glories aren't quite as common as they were when it was one of the world's epicentres of doping technology.

Similarly, this city's musical heritage has fallen apart - long known as the city perennially associated with Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach and his family, its most famous current sons are likely the Kaulitz twins, lead singer and lead guitarist with the pop band Tokio Hotel...


Some of the greatest advances in sports science, and some of the most blatant cheating in sports history, was born, designed and implemented behind these walls...
 
Deutschland Rundfahrt 19. Etappe: Klingenthal - Aue: 174km, medium mountains
(Sachsen)



Not too much hassle for the remaining riders and teams' staff, as the start of stage 19 is at the same city where the previous stage finished. But soon, the peloton leaves Germany and enters the Czech republic where it will stay for the first half of the stage.

A first small hill after 10km is followed by some rolling terrain and a bigger climb on the slopes of the Trousnická skála or, as the Germans would call it: Trausnitzberg. It's a medium length, not too steep climb, granting it a 3rd category rating. Some 15kmlater the thirdclimb of the day starts, a bit longer and more irregular, but still a 3rd category hill. The course leads further to Luzný, at the foot of the main difficulty of the day (but probably not a race deciding one): Horni Halze Vykmanov, which will be crested just after halfway. It can be considered a part of the larger Klinovec (Keilberg), but I'm splitting it in two, given the 9km of rolling roads in between two steeper parts.

Soon after the Klinovec the race re-enters Germany and will search for lower altitudes, but steeper gradients. The first climb on German soil is no more than a small fill ridge in between two small streams: Pöhlwasser and Schwarzwasser. The seventh climb of the day, called Hohe Henne, is the first part of the southeastern climb to Jägerhaus im Erzgebirge. This climb as often used in combination with the climb to Teufelstein (insert a 5000 word historic overview by LS), and that's what we'll do too. From Teufelstein it's only 8.5km to the first passage of the finishline, as we'll make a 28km long lap around Aue. This lap consists of two more categorized climbs (and one uncategorized) before emerging at the foot of Teufelstein once more, and a repetition of the part from Teufelstein to the finishline.

Aue is a fairly nondescript town, that never really recovered after a mining boom in the early years of the DDR.
 
Oct 19, 2015
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Giro d'Italia 2 by railxmig - preview.

No worries, i'm not trying to squish in between rghysens Germany tour and LS' East Germany tour. I think after quite a long time (partly taken by my not so recent Tour de France) i've came up with a Giro that for now i'm satisfied with enough to post it here. However, i'm only starting the writing process so it should be ready for release somewhere from January to early March (depends on how much interruptions there will be and how fast the writing will be going). I'll try to not be too detailed because we're talking about Italy, which is one of the most history-heavy places out there. If you know, where to look then you may have seen the Giro i'll be going with but there still may be some minor changes.

Here's a small preview of the tour:
- 3 stages in Sardinia (with 1 medium mountain without Supramonte),
- some minor cobble action,
- Dolomiti, but not those you're thinking of,
- Stelvio as Finestre 2018 (old idea combined with some Chris Landis inspiration),
- some Trento and Alto Adige walls,
- a proper Ligurian entry and...
- some unusual TT ideas.
 
You won't have long to wait for that 5000-word description either, because guess where I am?

Stage 14: Zwickau - Aue, 163km





Intermediate sprints:
Ostrov, km67,8
Schwarzenberg, km142,2
Aue, km160,3

GPM:
Hoher Schneeberg, km17,6
Jägerhaus, km28,5
Breitenbrunn, km35,4
Fichtelbergpass, km51,8
Srní, km91,6
Klinovec/Keilbergpass, km119,1
Teufelstein, km151,7
Parkwarte, km162,7

Here we have arguably the toughest stage of the entire race, not an especially long one but this does have the most severe climbing since stage 5. The finish at Magurka Wilkowicka is harder than this one, don't get me wrong, but the sequencing of climbs and the fact we're on the penultimate day of the entire race here should mean we get some serious carnage ensuing with the small team size, how deep into the race we are and the fact we have some legit difficult climbs that will sort the men from the boys.



A city of 100.000 in southwestern Saxony, Zwickau has its claim to fame as an automotive hub, as many of the most recognizable names in German motoring history have had either their administrative hub or their manufacturing concerns in the city and the surrounding area. The August Horch Museum is one of the most significant collections of classic automobiles in Europe as a result - the eponymous August Horch's own company, Horch, was one of the companies that merged to form Auto Union in nearby Chemnitz; another historic company out of the city was Audi, which of course relocated West and is doing ok for itself nowadays. But let's face it, the most important Zwickau-based motoring company is VEB Sachsenring, manufacturers of the single greatest automobile created by man, the Trabant 601.



You still see the mighty Trabi in some parts of East Germany today - increasingly rarely as their age catches up with them, but perhaps no single item benefited as much from the phenomenon of Ostalgie as the humble people's car, the plasticky bubble vehicle with its two-stroke pollutant engine. Truly a thing of glory. While the production of the Trabant may have ended with reunification, Volkswagen purchased the plant, probably hoping to learn something from the manufacture of such a timeless automobile. After all, it's not like Volkswagen have designed or built any iconic vehicles of their own...

Zwickau's other major industry was, as ever in this part of the world, mining, with the final coke plant closed off in 1992. As a result of a combination of the cessation of the mining activity in Zwickau and the flood of Ossis to the west in the immediate post-Wende period, the city is therefore one in decline, having lost 1/5 of its population since reunification. It is also renowned as the birthplace of the composer Robert Schumann, and of the sportsmen Lutz Dombrowski, gold medal-winning long jumper at the Moscow Olympics, and Lars Riedel, Olympic discus gold medallist in Atlanta and multiple World Champion. The city didn't appear as a stage host in the Friedensfahrt until the 1970s, when the changing face of cycling meant that the organizers wanted to bring the decisive climbs closer to the finishes, and the infamous Steiler Wand von Meerane's proximity to Zwickau meant it became a stage host candidate. Marc Demeyer of Belgium was the first victor in Zwickau, in 1971, while it served, as it does here, as a stage start only on a stage through the Erzgebirge, this time finishing in Most, in 1984, which was won by Nencho Staikov in a solo break, the Bulgarian then holding the yellow jersey until Sukhoruchenkov took it from him in Karpacz. The city also appeared post-Wende a few times, when the changing face of cycling meant it was even more important to have smaller obstacles - to the pros, Meerane was a bit less selective than it historically had been given the varying levels of the amateur field in the Friedensfahrt - closer to the finish to enable them to be decisive. As a result, we saw Bert Dietz win in Zwickau in 1998, showcasing his love of 230km+ stages, and Jakob Piil in 2001, en route to his decisive GC victory. It last saw racing action in 2005, when Thomas Ziegler won a Sachsentour stage there. There's actually some nice footage of the 1998 race from local TV, which you can see here.

This is a stage which is all about climbing, though, and doesn't finish in Zwickau, only start there, like in 1984. So we head immediately toward the foothills of the Erzgebirge up a gradual false flat (uncategorised climb) toward Schneeberg. It is just 4km from Aue, our finish town, but we've got a lot of looping around to do before we can finish today. A first categorized climb comes out of Scheeberg as we head towards Zschorlau and then on to the foot of the Jägerhaus climb, a well known ascent in this region. I've used it before, in the Rund um den Erzgebirge stage in my DDR-Rundfahrt, and rghysens has used part of it above. Frustratingly, there are some anomalies in quäl dich's profile of this side but it's generally about a 5,5km at 6% kind of climb with a couple of sections that are up at the 7% mark and a couple of false flat kind of areas.



It would be possible, as in my DDR-Rundfahrt, to descend from here direct to the base of the Teufelstein and make this an exceedingly short stage, but we aren't going to do that, for obvious reasons. Instead we head up a very straight but steep road to Antonshöhe and then turn right onwards to Breitenbrunn, for a combined 2,5km at over 8%. There's a secondary small ramp of around 300m in the town itself but I haven't categorized that. We then descend into Ehrenzipfel to take on the main Fichtelberg road.



Fichtelberg sits tall over Oberwiesenthal, and is the highest mountain in Saxony, second highest in the Erzgebirge, and formerly East Germany's highest peak (unified Germany of course has the Bavarian Alps on its side). Famous for its snow conditions, countless wintersports facilities, cross-country trails, ski jumps, toboggan runs and so forth have been set up around the Fichtelberg area, and as a result neighbouring Oberwiesenthal was either birthplace of or the hometown of countless DDR-era wintersport competitors, a tradition which has continued to this day; the most successful being superstar ski jumper Jens Weißflog, whose storied career straddles the reunification of Germany and the development of the V-technique, with his mastering both in vogue techniques during his career and winning three Olympic golds (1 in Sarajevo, 2 in Lillehammer) and 9 World Championship medals, two of which were gold. He also won the World Cup overall once (in 1984) and the Vierschanzentournee on four occasions over a decade span; and Nordic Combined superstar Eric Frenzel, who has six Olympic medals, three of which are gold (1 in Sochi, 2 in Pyeongchang), twelve World Championship medals, five of which are gold (dating from 2011 in Oslo to 2017 in Lahti), and five back to back World Cup overall triumphs from 2013 to 2017 inclusive. A mountaintop finish at Fichtelberg (listed as Oberwiesenthal) took place in the 1995 Peace Race, which Pavel Padrnos won, and was also included in the 2004 Deutschlandtour, with Francisco Mancebo outsprinting Jens Voigt and Patrik Sinkewitz (who defended his race lead) at the summit; while later the same year the Sachsentour included an MTT on this grinding 4% ascent from Rittersgrün to Fichtelberg, along similar lines to my own Brocken MTT; it was won by Davide Rebellin ahead of Peter Weening.

We aren't, however, going all the way to the summit, mainly as we can't without it being a mountaintop finish, so instead we stop at the pass close to the Czech border, which we then cross over. The climb is generally speaking a 4% grinder to this stage (there are tougher sides), and then we hang a right and cross over the border to Boží Dar, known to the Germans as Gottesgab, widely regarded as the highest altitude town in Czechia.



As you might not be surprised to learn, this high plateau offers many great skiing opportunities, especially cross-country, and has become a popular resort during the Ostbloc times - this helped the town repopulate given it had been a majority-German town up until the second world war; after the expulsion of the German population it dwindled to fewer than 200 inhabitants. The descent from here takes us to Ostrov, the birthplace of arguably Boží Dar's most famous inhabitant, the cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer. Bauer may not have been as successful as Weißflog or Frenzel that I mentioned above, but his longevity really is something else, having achieved some 20 seasons of World Cup action. He has never won a gold medal at the Worlds or Olympics, but has been close on several occasions, usually in the 15km individual start format (usually in classic, as in his silvers at the Olympics in Turin and the 2009 Worlds on home snow in Liberec - though he did get a bronze in Vancouver in freestyle) although he does also have a late-career silver from the 50k classic mass start in Falun, when he was 37, somewhat fortuitously after he inadvertently blocked Maxim Vylegzhanin's attack in the stadium which kept the group together to a sprint he lost to Petter Northug - an unlikable, egotistical (and also a criminal who was given some very lenient treatment) racer who races in an unlikable style. Although he did kind of deserve something for gambling on leaving his change of skis until very late in the race, leaving him with much better purchase to be active on the final lap of what had otherwise been a conservatively-raced event ruined by the weather.



As well as Bauer, Ostrov is famous for its examples of socialist realist architecture, having had to have much of the city rebuilt in the 1950s, and also as the home of the manufacturing plant where Škoda trolleybuses were made. Here it hosts our first intermediate sprint as we head around a rolling stretch of around 20km in the Ohře river valley, until reaching the small town of Stráž.

There are a number of ways to climb up to Klinovec, the sister summit of Fichtelberg and the highest peak in the Czech Erzgebirge, and indeed the Erzgebirge as a whole, topping at 1244m. The way from Stráž nad Ohří is the hardest, most definitely, with some seriously difficult ramps and inconsistencies. Generally, however, this climb is more about the ascent to Meluzína, a secondary summit which comes some kilometres before we reach Klinovec. Meluzína is known to Germans as Wirbelstein, and Klinovec as Keilberg.



To add to the problems for the riders, I'm only making them climb halfway to Meluzína first up - though this part is the steepest and most horrible, averaging almost 9% for 5,7km - much like a Planche des Belles Filles or a Peña Cabarga type climb, though cresting just over 70km from home so unlikely to see massive action this time around.



The first 3km average 9,5%, and the steepest full kilometre, near the end, averages 11%. Some ramps get up to 19%. This will be a difficult one for any rider to deal with after two weeks of racing, let alone some of the lesser climbers who are here to drag people across cobbles. This should hopefully get rid of any last remaining helpers, and if it doesn't, then the second time, when we go all the way to the top, really should. Officially this route to Klinovec is 15,4km at 5,5%, but that consists of Meluzína at 9,9km @ 7,2%, then a short flat/downhill false flat, then a final 3km at 6%... more than tough enough to be selective especially when you consider the steepest part - by far - is at the bottom, and the summit comes just over 40km from home, with much of that being downhill. While the last couple of climbs are challenging... that could be enough to tempt people.



The descent from Klinovec takes us across the border near Boží Dar and we swiftly rejoin the road we ascended earlier, to Fichtelbergpass, where we descend for about 25km, interrupted by a very brief dig of 750m at 9% into Schwarzenberg - I've not categorized this climb, but the second intermediate sprint is atop it, with its bonus seconds available, so it could give us some interesting outcomes. And if not, the climbs to date should have made it so that we have a fairly reduced group, allowing for open season on the penultimate climb of the day, the legendary Teufelstein.





Just 3km in length, the Teufelstein ascends no less than 320m in that time for an average of 10,7%. It was one of the very few exceptions to the traditional 5km horizontal + 250m vertical rule for cat.1 status in the Friedensfahrt, owing to its gradient exceeding 10% while exceeding 250m altitude gain. In the early days of the race, the amateur field, the terrible roads and so forth meant that it managed to be one of the most selective climbs the race ever saw even when set a long distance from the finish, often being included in stages that would head on to finish in Karl-Marx-Stadt or Karlovy Vary. I can't quite clarify if it was included in the 212km stage from Leipzig to Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1952, it is physically possible but given that stage is famous for the introduction of the Steiler Wand von Meerane and given the state of the roads that close to the war, I consider it pretty unlikely. I am more confident that it was in the 1955 Karlovy Vary - Dresden stage and the 1956 Karl-Marx-Stadt - Karlovy Vary stage as this route across the Erzgebirge becomes very much in vogue in that era, with winners of the stages through that medium mountain area typically coming from the Dutch and Belgian teams. I can be pretty certain it was in the 1962 stage through there which was won by Alexey Petrov, due to his reputation as one of the best Ostbloc climbers of his era. However frustratingly, due to a limited number of truly detailed sources on the Peace Race and its tendency to often be mid-stage, even if climbed multiple times, as was not uncommon, information about the legendary exploits on the climb itself is not often forthcoming, and sadly far less has been written preserving the legend of the Teufelstein than the Steiler Wand, and the fact that the way racing was in the era - let's not forget that at the time the Vuelta's idea of a mountain stage was 40km flat after the Puerto del Escudo or climbing over Pajáres and then the non-descent and rolling terrain into León - means that finishes in towns and cities where it would be automatically and immediately decisive in the way required in modern cycling were sparse. These did occasionally exist, however, and they tie in to our finishing town, which sits in the shadow of the climb.



Aue, an old mining town in the Erzgebirge described by rghysens above as "somewhat nondescript", was known for its cutlery and machinery carved from the metals pulled from the earth nearby, and is home to just under 20.000 people. It held a sub-branch of a nearby concentration camp in 1945 when the number of incarcerated exceeded capacity, and due to its relative proximity to the new border and the number of captured and dead Germans left at the end of the war, added to mass evacuation of people fleeing west to evade the Red Army, it was temporarily a ghost town in the immediate aftermath of the conflict. It is perhaps best known to those outside the city for its football club, FC Erzgebirge Aue, one of the more successful post-DDR teams (though languishing behind Energie Cottbus and Hansa Rostock, who spent some time in the Bundesliga, and at present they languish behind Union Berlin and Dynamo Dresden in the 2.Bundesliga too. Let's not count Red Bull Leipzig, they're not really the same team as their predecessors. Anyway, Erzgebirge are one of those teams who overachieve relative to their hometown - their stadium holds nearly 16.000 people, over 80% of the population of the city. It was originally named in honour of Otto Grotewohl, president of the DDR from 1949 until his death in September 1964; while the stadium was renamed the more neutral Erzgebirgsstadion in 1991, the ailing Grotewohl got to see the Friedensfahrt roll into Aue for the first time and finish in the stadium named for him in the same year as his death, with the Romanian veteran all-rounder Constantin Dumitrescu taking the triumph after a difficult mountainous 220km stage from Oberhof in the Thüringer Wald.


Joseph Spruyt attacking over Mühlleithen Pass in the Oberhof - Aue stage, 1964

Aue returned to the route four years later in similar fashion, with an eastbound stage after a stage into the Thüringer Wald - this time in arguably the most bonkers piece of rider-fatigue-baiting nonsense of the Peace Race's entire history - a 30km individual time trial from Ilmenau to Suhl, not an easy or flat route by any stretch of the imagination, in the morning, and then a 180km stage from Suhl to Aue over several climbs in the afternoon. Ridiculous. Anyway, Klaus Ampler won, one of his last career triumphs, before he won in similar fashion on the final day of the race, when a 50km ITT and a 125km road stage took place into Warsaw.

While the Teufelstein continued to be a focal point for attacks and selections in stages to places like Zwickau, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Karlovy Vary and Most, however, Aue rather fell from favour as a stage host, and never hosted the race again. Its neighbouring climb continued to be used, almost until the bitter end, however, being included twice in the stage from Zwönitz to Riesa in 2002, which I believe was the final usage of the legendary ascent in the Course de la Paix. I'm sure in my fictitious world in which this race exists, there will have been plenty of use of it since, not least since mountaintop finishes have hit town and it could lead into a real MTF at the Markersbach Pumpspeicherwerk. Or just finish in Aue, since it's only 12km from the finish in this stage and could easily be made into a loop of some kind either on its own or with Jägerhaus in the same manner I used in my Rundfahrt der Ostalgie/former DDR-Rundfahrt here. It's closer to Aue, but we're having a final intermediate sprint just 2,5km from the line, because I want to incentivize further moves, and also because there's one final sting in the tail. And it's a very stinging sting.



Parkwarte is an observation platform on the Heidelsberg, the Hausberg of Aue, and is a somewhat unknown little dig that has a small parking area at the top and a road that runs back into town. As it was a new little surprise for me, it was a matter of some relief that rghysens didn't get their first with their stage into Aue! This should be a good one for the puncheurs - though the end of the climb comes 300m from the finish, the full stats are 1,3km @ 9,8% (the profile below, including the flat, reduces the average) - and these are gradually steepening so that the first 700m of the last kilometre of the stage will average a calf-scrambling 13,7% - the last 200m of ascent is at a gut-punching 17,5% average and 23% maximum, so this one is going to hurt - and hopefully after two times up that steep Srní part of the Meluzína climb and the Teufelstein after two weeks' racing, it will hurt enough to ensure that anybody cowardly enough to still be trying to race this as part of a group will be splintered apart anyway.



There should be riders left all over the road by this one.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
You won't have long to wait for that 5000-word description either, because guess where I am?
:D

My uncle passed away recently, and at his funeral his great passion for motor racing, and specifically within that, with engineering/aerodynamics, was spoken about with aplomb. As my father spoke about, my uncle really could have been an outstanding worker in the garage of a formula one team, however he never had the opportunity to go to university, and was never blessed with large sums of money, and instead spent almost his entire working life in a smallish country town, fixing all issues with vehicles that most people in the country (and probably the vast majority in the city) couldn't fix, and usually for a small sum, even often working overtime for free.

I know, this is unheard of for a mechanic :lol:

But I very much liken it to you, in the same terms of your level of passion and expertise for/in road race design. You - like my uncle - don't do it for the money, in fact you do not do it for the money AT ALL, but I think it is a small shame that you do not get to work for an official race design organisation. Just your knowledge of history and geography is incredible, before we even get to your knowledge of road cycling.

Don't worry, I am not trying to write your eulogy. We want you to stick around for a while yet :)
 
LS and I seemed to have similar ideas to end or respective tours, but we have a different order of our cobbled and medium mountain stage.

Deutschland Rundfahrt 20. Etappe: Weimar - Halle an der Saale: 194.5km, cobbles
(Thüringen - Sachsen-Anhalt)

Before stage 20 of my Rundfahrt there's a transfer from the fairly nondescript Aue to the hellhole Weimar. It's a bit less than 150km, which might take a good hour and a half. That's not really comfortable to do after a stage, but with modern team busses i guess it's acceptable (other GT's have seen longer transfers in between stages).



Weimar off course isn't a hellhole, but a pinnacle of German culture, and probably because of that chosen as place to write the constitution of the new German republic after WWI.
This stage starts with some minor hills, but there's a sudden change of course with 101km to go, when we enter the by (fantasy) race-designers much liked cobbles of the Hölle des Ostens. We have about 20 sectors, good for about 30km cobbles before we finish in the center of Halle.


While stage 19 was the last chance for the climbers to gain or take back time, this one is the last opprtunity for the heavy powerhouses to distance the climbers and take the leaders jersey, or if nothing else, take a spectacular stage on the last saturday of the race.

I used the folowwing cobbled sectors (name - length - distance to finish at the end):
Ihlewitz to Piesdorf: 3300m - 95km to go
Piesdorf to Strenznaundorf: 2700m - 92km to go
Könnern: 400m, slightly uphill + 500m - 84,5km to go
Domnitz to sieglitz: 1300m + 1300m, a few hundred meter in between - 74,7km to go
Piethen to Cathau: 2000m - 62,6km to go
Cathau to Löbenjün: 1500m + 600m uphill - 60km to go
Nauendorf: 700m - 55,5km to go
Merkewitz to Nehlitz: 600m - 49,3km to go
Nehlitz to Drobitz: 3500m + 300m + 1000m - 43,3km to go
Drobitz to Ostrau: 2000m - 40,4km to go
Lobersdorf to Stumsdorf: 2300m - 30,5km to go
Zorbig to Spören: 2600m - 24,9km to go
Dammendorf: 800m - 21,7km to go
Schwerz: 500m - 18,7km to go
Niemberg: 500m - 13,2km to go
Plößnitz to Obermaschwitz: 2700m - 8,5km to go
Halle: 100m - finish

TOTAL: 31,2km
 
Stage 15: Elsterwerda - Berlin, 190km

I have a few more things to post and when I finally had time to post this, Cronoescalada was having problems with google maps, so I'll post now and replace the map when things are resolved as the course has been there and ready to post for ages.





Intermediate sprints:
Märkisch Buchholz, km103,1
Mittenwalde, km130,8
Blankenfelde-Mahlow, km163,3

Not one single, solitary climb marks the final day of the Friedensfahrt; the riders have had to fight out the mountains yesterday, so today, on the last day of all, the rouleurs come back to the fore. You've got to take care right to the end here, we've had a few Peace Races where the final day proves decisive in the past, most notably the 1960 edition described earlier, so no parade stage this time. Instead, we have a tough stage over some variable surfaces to keep everything open.



A fairly long transfer - one of the longest of the race, if not the longest (Warsaw to Płock might be slightly longer) takes us to Elsterwerda, a town of 8.000 inhabitants in the Elbe-Elster district. Part of the Niederlausitzer Heideland nature area, it is on the very outer edges of historically Sorb land, and you won't find much in the way of record of Lusatian Sorb heritage here, it's not like Cottbus or Bautzen where you find bilingual signage and train announcements, but it does have a parallel name - Wikow - which derives from its position as a western market town for the Sorbs. It had been a "Sprachinsel" for a while, cut off from the rest of the Sorbian-speaking areas by a ban on the language in the area of Meißen, but industrialization and development bred interference to the point where the Sorbian language was more or less expunged entirely. The language as a whole is beleaguered; Lower Sorbian, which had previously been the variety spoken in Elsterwerda, has almost entirely died out, while Upper Sorbian, spoken in the area around Bautzen, Görlitz and Hoyerswerda, is a bit better protected. Located at a river confluence it has been a convenient trading place for centuries, but it fell from prominence after a major town fire in the late 16th Century, not fully recovering before the Thirty Years' War. Then, being placed on the borders between Saxony and Prussia as the latter expanded to its position of power within the future German second Reich. Elsterwerda has otherwise had a fairly quiet history; it was only peripherally affected by the war, with some bombing mainly on the trainlines in late 1944, and it was impacted by the June 1953 protests not because there were popular uprisings in Elsterwerda itself but because it was in the region of Gröditz where the protests had originated. The city did suffer, being on the edges of the "Valley of the Idiots" (the part of the DDR that BRD TV beamed to West Berlin could not reach) and with poor economic circumstances as it stagnated in the late 70s and through the 80s, and so suffered heavy depopulation in the aftermath of the Wiedervereinigung.

The main reason for picking Elsterwerda as a stage town, however, is one of its loyal inhabitants during the 1980s, the cyclist Falk Boden.



A mainstay of the DDR team for the whole of the 1980s, Boden amassed an impressive palmarès considering he had to compete against the highly decorated Uwe Ampler, Olaf Ludwig, Uwe Raab and Jan Schur among others for race entries throughout the decade. A specialist in the team time trial format, he emerged as a track pursuit rider, twice winning World titles as a junior in the team pursuit, before graduating to the 100km four-man TTT to take the World Championship in 1979 alongside 1976 Peace Race winner Hans-Joachim Hartnick, Bernd Drogan and Andreas Petermann; he also, aged 19, took the national time trial title, which he followed up with a successful defence the nect year, which helped him take selection for the following year's Olympic TTT, in which the DDR quartet, with Olaf Ludwig replacing Petermann, took a silver medal. After the Olympics, Hartnick retired, and Boden won another world title alongside a revamped squad with Ludwig, Drogan and new entry Mario Kummer.

At this point, though, the developing young rider was becoming more of an all-terrain threat, and in 1982 he won his first national title in the road race, along with a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir, in Voreppe at the foot of the Chartreuse Alps, and then after finishing 2nd in the early-season Tour du Maroc in 1983, he arrived at the Course de la Paix in strong form. The DDR team was supreme, winning 9 stages of the race, five of which by defending champion Olaf Ludwig. However, the DDR team had lost the jersey early on when Oleg Chuzhda, a Ukrainian break specialist from the USSR team, got into an attack move in stage 3; Ludwig won the stage but had already dropped time on stage 1 after missing a 27-man front group, and a bad crash on stage 2 had caused several of the DDR team to lose a lot of time (and road captain Thomas Barth had to withdraw); Falk Boden was in the Activity jersey for attentively marking both these moves, and remained close at hand to Chuzhda - after the 35km ITT in Halle he was literally one second off the lead until finally, after a week of mostly flat stages, the climbing began in the western Czech mountains, and the Soviet leader cracked in the stage to Ústí nad Labem; Raab won the stage from a 6-man front group, Boden was safely ensconsced in the second group with Chuzhda in the third, which allowed him to take a 32 second GC lead. Boden was happy to sacrifice the Activity jersey to the Romanian Mircea Romașcanu, a strong climber who was not in a threatening GC position and was allowed in breaks that the DDR team were happy to simply manage twice in the last three stages.

Although he was twice 4th in the coming years, however, Boden never looked like replicating that victory. He won a DDR-Rundfahrt, in 1984, thanks to his TT prowess, before Uwe Ampler became the king of that format, but major victories started to progressively elude him as he was used more as an engine to set up the more successful Raab and Ludwig - though he had a second golden period beginning with another 100km TTT rainbow jersey in 1989. He turned professional in 1990, and in 1991 achieved an impressive feat when he became the first champion of the unified Germany on the road - only one other man was able to be a champion of both the DDR and united Germany, which was Jens Heppner who won the DDR Road Race in 1990, after the fall of the wall, and the German road race in 1994. However, Boden was mainly used as a helper after turning pro; like many Ostbloc athletes his greatest successes came young, and he had a lot of miles on the clock by the time he turned professional at 30, and wasn't able to have the same success as, say, Ludwig as a professional. Nevertheless, he was a mainstay of DDR cycling in its golden age, and his feats merit some remembering.


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The first half of the stage is fairly benign, simple flat stage material as we wind our way through southern Brandenburg, through towns like Finsterwalde, and Sonnewalde (another former Lower Sorbian town, known as Groźišćo to the few remaining Lower Sorbian-speakers, though most Lower Sorbian placenames are pretty much dead as there are just about no monolingual Sorbs remaining). The first major notable town for the route is Luckau (Lower Sorbian Łuków), which is the home to former track cycling Olympian Jürgen Kißner, who was a national junior champion in the Individual Pursuit and a reserve team pursuiter for the Rome Olympics. However, four years later, while trials were being held between West- and East German teams for the unified German team at the Tokyo Olympics, Kißner walked out into Cologne and never returned with the rest of the team, defecting to the West. The DDR is unlikely to honour him for obvious reasons, but one of Luckau's more famous residents is definitely somebody they would honour - early Communist icon Karl Liebknecht was imprisoned here for a period and a memorial to him was raised to mark 50 years from his death during the DDR days - unlike many of the statues raised during this period, the memorial still stands.



Soon after this we head through Lübben, where we get into Berlin-Cottbus-Berlin territory, the most famous and most prestigious one-day race of the DDR. At a length of 275km, it was the longest one day race in the Ostbloc outright for much of its existence, and had an illustrious history dating back all the way to 1909. Both pre-WWII and in 1947 and 1948 there were parallel professional and amateur editions, but after the foundation of the DDR it became amateur-only; it was also, famously, Täve Schur's Paris-Tours, i.e. the only major Classic of the era that the mighty Täve could not win (Paris-Tours of course didn't have that reputation at the time as Merckx only really crossed paths with Schur when the latter was broken down and nearing retirement, and the former was a rapidly-improving, precociously gifted teenager). Ludwig, Raab, Petermann and Schulz, they all won it, while a couple of riders acquitted themselves better than most with the long distance. The race was also won by Sportfreunde Wolfgang Lötzsch in 1985, one of the greatest "what might have been" stories in cycling's history. I shan't detain you with it here, but Lötzsch is one of the unsung icons of German sport for everything he endured. Bodo Straubel took two wins in 1979 and 1981, while Martin Götze is the king of Berlin-Cottbus-Berlin, winning three times across the 80s, alongside four national titles in the road race. Due to his attitude, however, he had problems with the DHfK Leipzig and was thrown out of it in 1982, rebuilding his career as a sport soldier. It took him until the late 80s to acquire team position in the Friedensfahrt, as a result, but this did mean that, with the number of riders turning pro after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was, by winning the final stage of the 1990 edition, the last ever rider to win at the Friedensfahrt representing East Germany.



In an attempt to keep the spirit of that kind of race going, however, I have had to deviate from their routes; the old roads have long since been upgraded and modernized so as to make a modern race from Berlin to Cottbus to Berlin on the old route basically a Marcel Kittel special. Not so for a few deviations, however, which yield some interesting results and will make my race infinitely more interesting than that. This starts with a stretch from Groß Koris to Motzen, a 6km stretch beginning 75km from the line, which begins on narrow concrete roads and ends up on Plattenweg. These are incredibly well-laid and maintained Plattenwege, however, compared to many - the presence of the Spreewald cycle route means that the forested route is not in a bad state of disrepair - but still one that requires handling with a bit of care by a péloton.



Even in the village it's far from perfect, but it's just a warning shot for us here. As are, at 60km from home, the stretch of easily negotiable city centre cobbles in Mittenwalde. Things start to get serious in Klein Kienitz, where some of the sectors from this route come into play. 3,5km of poor asphalt with serious exposure to wind takes us to Groß Machnow, and then things get serious.



The asphalt ends, giving us 2km of sterrato between Groß Machnow and Rangsdorf, starting 47km from home, and then, after a short stretch of tarmac around Rangsdorfer See, we're in for the long haul, with 9,5 of the next 12km being on Plattenwege, of two different kinds.

Type 1:


Type 2:


We emerge in Jühnsdorf 34km from the finish, hopefully with some relatively trimmed packs, and immediately head towards Blankenfelde-Mahlow, though there is another short stretch of cobbles to deal with on the way, and in Blankenfelde itself there are the easier type of cobbles, but after this it's a fast final 25km.

Or, should be. In order to cross the border back where the old borders were, since the Friedensfahrt wasn't going to go into West Berlin, of course, we have to zig-zag eastwards past Berlin-Schönefeld Airport, the city's second airport and the hub in Eastern Germany for a number of budget airlines. In Ostbloc times it was East Germany's leading airport and the only one that serviced East Berlin, so proceeding in the proximity of the airport could be of some concern, though major bike races do not infrequently pass by sizable airports even with helicam footage (hello, Piedras Blancas TT in Asturias, Vivero stages in the Vuelta and País Vasco, Edmonton stages in Tour of Alberta and so on) and the major prominence of the Peace Race in the East would potentially mean that this could be achievable - after all they generally had to shut down the centres of national capitals for the race.

Now, one thing that helps me here in the route designing is that the DDR loved anniversaries. It loved to honour certain things and moments in the history of Communism and the nation and this would regularly play into its events, from the public to the private, and from sport to music to theatre. 2019 would mark 100 years from the death of Karl Liebknecht, so of course Leipzig and Luckau would be on the route. For this reason I would be absolutely certain that, in this universe, the 2017 Friedensfahrt would have featured a ceremonial overseas start in the Soviet Union - probably in Saint Petersburg. And that also would give me the freedom to put my finish not in Alexanderplatz or on Karl-Marx-Allee, but closer to the edge of the city, bringing the obstacles closer to the finish and also honouring one of East Berlin's great attractions - May 8, 2019 (which admittedly would be more like the start than the end of the race) will mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of Treptower Park, in southeast Berlin, with its colossal and dramatic Sowjetisches Ehrendenkmal.





While Treptower Park was renowned for its first 50 years as the home of the Große Berliner Gewerbeausstellung in the late 19th Century, nowadays it remains as Germany's biggest and most ostentatious veneration of the Soviets, this colossal monument commemorates the 80.000 Soviet soldiers who lost their lives liberating Berlin in 1945 (of course, in the long term 'liberating' may have become a debatable term, but bear with me here), and served as East Germany's pre-eminent war memorial. Berlin has two other Soviet memorials - the Tiergarten memorial, which fell into West Berlin, and the memorial in the large cemetery in Pankow, near the SED's headquarters. It is also part of a design triptych by the Soviet artist Yakov Belopolsky, along with Pamyatnik Tyl-Fronty ("Rear-Front Memorial") in Magnitogorsk and the colossal Stalingrad (now Volgograd) statue "The Motherland Calls" - although the latter was not actually a Belopolsky design. Symbolically, it was built from stone taken from the demolished Reichskanzlerei, and became a place of great veneration (and also, weirdly, the location of a Barclay James Harvest gig in 1987!) under the SED. This also, naturally, made it an obvious target in the post-Mauer era, and between the fall of the wall and the official Tag der deutschen Einheit, it suffered from vandalism and graffiti.

Since reunification, the memorial has been restored, and as part of the agreements, Germany is responsible for the upkeep of the memorial - but due to its cultural importance Russia must be consulted before any changes are made. There is an annual vigil at the park on May 9th, which is one day after the anniversary of its inauguration, but does coincide with Den' Pobedy, the Russian holiday celebrating victory in Europe (the reason for the discrepancy is that the park was opened on the anniversary of the fall of Berlin, however because the city fell late in the evening, it was past midnight in Moscow time, so the fall was on the 8th in Germany but on the 9th in Russia). Now, obviously, we cannot finish actually in Treptower Park; this isn't like Walter-Ulbricht-Stadion or the other arenas and stadia that used to be a Peace Race staple. Instead, therefore, we will circle the park - allowing the cameras to get some good aerial shots of course - and finish outside the entrance gates on Bundesstraße 96a - before holding all of the podium ceremonies, and crowning the champion, in the park itself, much as the Roman amphitheatre serves as the podium when the Vuelta a Burgos finishes in Clunia. Don't tell me that it wouldn't look absolutely spectacular - and absolutely in keeping with the Eastern Bloc - to have the podium ceremony held between the two stylized Soviet flag blocks, those two shapes in red granite with steps in front of them, decorated with the hammer and sickle and allowing the victorious riders to celebrate with the statue behind them.


The USSR team collecting its prize as 1977 Team Classification winners

So, as I said earlier on, once we've finished with the route, we can talk about who we are going to see in action. The obvious teams are the host nations and the USSR, of course. Then we have the regular western teams, and the other Communist/ex-Communist nations, and then the occasional exotic outsider. So who is eligible in the universe that this race exists in? Well, obviously in former Ostbloc nations, everybody. But for the western nations, we have some restrictions. Riders who are going to be at the World Tour or Pro Conti levels are out, of course. I think we would see a lot of younger riders and Continental level journeymen at the Friedensfahrt, plus a few of those who have settled in third tier scenes like Portugal. I don't think people who have had a several-year career at the top level who've just dropped to a team like Big Mat or MG-Sangemianini are likely candidates, but somebody who's had a year or two as a pro a few years ago and settled at the lower level might be. There are a couple of exceptions - I could well imagine Arkaitz Durán in 2012 or Damien Gaudin in 2017 being willing to slum it to prove themselves. But while some of the best U23s might enter, I don't think everybody would be throwing in the youngsters. Would the Belgians really send Remco Evenepoel (of course not now, seeing as he's signed for Deceuninck-Quick Step, but as a junior) at 18, to race two weeks back to back? One would expect not.

I would be looking at a startlist something like this:

Eastern Bloc (& Yugoslavia) - definite starting nations:
POLAND: Michał Kwiatkowski (defending champion), Alan Banaszek, Maciej Bodnar, Rafał Majka, MAciej Paterski, Szymon Sajnok (possibly also Michał Gółaś, Kamil Gradek, Łukasz Owsian)
DDR: John Degenkolb, Simon Geschke, Max Kanter, Marcel Kittel, Tony Martin, Rüdiger Selig (I think Greipel would probably have retired by now in the Pro-Am days, but if not then he would be in. There's also Burghardt, Kluge and Martens who would be in similar positions, and maybe Silvio Herklotz)
USSR: Sergey Chernetskiy, Alexey Lutsenko, Artem Ovechkin, Pavel Sivakov, Dmitry Strakhov, Ilnur Zakarin (LOTS of options here, I went with Ovechkin due to his excellent early season. Foliforov, Kangert, Liepins, Neilandts, Padun, Skujins and Stalnov are also possibilities, while among veterans who may have retired in the Pro-Am days, there's also Grivko, Kiryienka, Navardauskas, Taaramäe and Zeits)
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: Barta, Hirt, Hnik, Kreuziger, Štybar, Turek (usually a bit more reliant on veterans, especially given in this world Sagan has been traded to the West. Juraj might be available too, however, plus there's also Toupalík and Šisr)
YUGOSLAVIA: Đurašek, Mezgec, Mohorič, Pogačar, Roglič, Špilak (mainly Slovenes of course, there's also Bosnian Croat Antonio Barać, Domen Novak, Marko Kump, Luka Pibernik, Jan Polanc and Dušan Rajović)
ROMANIA: Andrei, Crisța, Dima, Grosu, Sinza, Țvetcov
BULGARIA: Cholakov, Hristov, Konstantinov, Mihaylov, Popov, Stoytchev
HUNGARY: Dina, Kusztor, Lovássy, Peak, Pelikán, Valter

Western Europe (many probable starting nations but not all would enter):
FINLAND: Bäckman, Hänninen, Juntunen, Manninen, Pietikäinen, Pyykkönen (Finland almost always started the Peace Race, usually without success!)
FRANCE: Champoussin, Gaillard, Le Cunff, Maldonado, Paillot, Raibaud (mixture of young prospects who seem durable, and veterans of the Continental scene who would be Pro-Ams in this universe. Antomarchi and Lebas would also be a possibility among older riders, while people like Pierre Barbier and Nicolas Prodhomme are prospects for younger riders to enter)
NETHERLANDS: Arensman, de Laat, Inkelaar, Looij, Ruijgh, Stroetinga (I think Ruijgh would be good for experience, but there are a lot of options among teams like Metec, Parkhotel Valkenburg and so on. The Haviks, Kooistra, Oostra, Ottema, van der Kooij and David van der Poel are all available)
BELGIUM: Iserbyt, Jans, Janssens, Marchand, Teugels, van Moer (again a mix of young names with some more experienced ones. If you need some more experience there are people available like Pardini, I'm not sure how to judge the cyclocross pros like Stevens and Adams)
BRD: Carstensen, Holler, Krieger, Meisen, Steimle, Walsleben (yea I know, I picked some cyclocrossers. A bit harder to get the numbers up on the BRD guys at the Continental level seeing as most of the main development teams like TET and LKT Brandenburg are in the East)
GREAT BRITAIN: Bibby, Clancy, Cullaigh, Hayter, Stewart, Connor Swift (mixture of veterans of the domestic scene like Bibby and Clancy who can give a bit of rouleur strength and young prospects. I went with Hayter over Pidcock but only really because he's a bit older and I didn't expect them to send two riders that young. They may choose somebody like Slater or Gibson instead if they think they're both too young)
ITALY: Bagioli, Battistella, Gaffurini, Pesci, Toto, Zanotti (I went with guys who do a fair bit of racing in the East and also Battistella was 2nd in the U23 Course de la Paix in 2018. Lizde is another possibility, as are Stacchiotti, Ravanelli, Marengo, Dainese, Ficara...)
SPAIN: Alarcón, Errazkin, García de Mateos, Pelegrí, Reguero, Soto (a few of the Portuguese péloton names here, could also add Marque, or some of the track specialists who've been around a while like Mora... or also a few of the riders who've moved down from pros and are now racing in Japan, like Benjami Prades, Marcos García or Salvador Guardiola)
SWITZERLAND: Banzer, Bussard, Page, Pellaud, Schelling, Stüssi (a couple of ex-pros, a couple of journeymen Conti riders, and a couple of prospects)
AUSTRIA: Freiberger, Gall, Geismayr, Krizek, Rabistch, Zoidl (likewise with Switzerland, only with Zoidl being a returning champion after a few years' absence in the pros)
DENMARK: Christiansen, Johansen, Lisson, Toft Madsen, Veyhe, von Folsach (most of the best Danish prospects turned pro this year or are riding for Riwal who turned ProConti, so you're left mainly with late beginners and journeymen - though if Lander doesn't find a team he may be in there)
NORWAY: Dahl, Foss, Hoem, Hølgaard, Resell, Skårseth (again Riwal affects things, there's also Skjerping or Vangstad to consider)

North & South America (possibly one or two of these to enter):
USA: Bassetti, Easter, Hecht, Piper, Rathe, Swirbul
COLOMBIA: Cala, Cano, Castiblanco, Pedraza, Roldán, Rubio (limited to those who are still racing in Colombia for the most part)
VENEZUELA: Godoy, Linares, Clever Martínez, Ralph Monsalve, Yonathan Monsalve, Rivas (a very likely starting team given politics)
CUBA: Pérez Labrador, Portuondo, Arias, Nodarse, Marcos, Del León Castro (no national tour now, but a likely starting team due to politics - but no Companioni available as he defected to US)

Other (possibilities):
AUSTRALIA: Crawford, Dyball, Harper, Hucker, Roe, Sunderland (lots of possibilities here with a lot of young riders, but I thought a lot of the journeymen of the Asia Tour would be likely starters as they would stick within the Open races in a Pro-Am world. Lots of options, like Crome, Evans, Ewart, Kaden Groves, Cyrus Monk, so this could be a very competitive team)
CHINA: Chen, Jiankun Liu, Xianjing Lyu, Ma, Nui, Wang
IRAN: Kolahdouz, Khorshid, Moazemi, Pourhashemi, Pourseyedi, Safarzadeh (of course we could add Sohrabi if he wants it. And who doesn't want to see the carnage of a crazy Iranian team taking on the Europeans?)
MOROCCO: Abelouache, El Chokri, Galdoune, Jelloul, Mraouni, Zahiri (the Ostbloc teams used to regularly enter North African races and in return give them entry spots in Ostbloc races)
ALGERIA: Reguigui, Lagab, Abderrahman Hamza, Abderrahmane Mansouri, Islam Mansouri, Oussama Mansouri (likewise)
ERITREA: Meron Berhane, Yacob Debesay, Eyob, Habtom, Mebrahtom, Solomon
RWANDA: Moise Mugisha, Samuel Mugisha, Munyaneza, Ndayisenga, Nsengimana, Uwizeyimana
 
Well, it seems cronoescalada has the similar problems tracks4bikers had a few years ago and openrunner a few months: google not allowing to use google maps for free anymore.

guess where I'll end my Deutschland tour?


Deutschland Rundfahrt 21. Etappe: Potsdam - Berlin: 131km, flat
(Brandenburg - Berlin)

A parade stage similar to the traditional Champs Elysées stage.




From the palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam north to that of Oranienburg, tha south again for four 10.5km long laps in the center of Berlin, finishing at the Brandenburger gate.
 
Idunno though, it's done this before, usually for a day or two, and then gone back to normal. I've noticed that cyclingcols and quäldich have both changed their mapping engine, both are less immediately helpful in respect of terrain view but are at least fully operational. Looks like Cronoescalada are looking into it but it's "unfeasible" to pay google's cost. The gokml maps which were based on the old google maps engine are still operational in full google maps view system. As ever though, Google took a perfectly decent mapping software, ruined it (google maps is still worse than it was before New Maps were introduced, and we're about three years down the line now), and are now blocking anybody from doing anything interesting with it. I still harbour great resentment of New Maps. It was clear from the uproar when the old maps were nuked that most people had taken a look at New Maps, decided it sucked and gone back to Old Maps until they were taken away.

I mean, if you've got the knowledge, you can still design stuff in there, the roads are still visible and if you know where everything is then that's fine (I designed those Vuelta stages I posted yesterday in cronoescalada that way), but you can't switch to terrain view, or search for a location, so you have to manually zoom in, which will get tiresome fast. But Google are now absolutely everything they set out to be the antidote to.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Yes, the maps thing is really annoying.
I've designed a few stage races in a bit more exotic places, a Vuelta de Salta y Jujuy or a Tour of Wyoming, and I decided to design my Vuelta Ciclista de Chile.
The thing is, Chile is so big that I designed 2 possible routes, one in the most populated area of chile of the country from Conception up to Santiago and Vina al Mar and one in the far North of the country. Combining them to have a 2 weeks stage race like the Volta or the Tour of Qinghai Lake would be tempting, but the transfer on the rest day would be huge, 1,600 to almost 2,000km, so you'd have to do it by airplane and probably have the teams lease a 2nd set of teamcars and buses like they did in the Giro this year, so I don't really know if that's actually a smart option or if I should just go with 2 different routes.
Oh well, the maps bs (thanks Google) has put the whole project on ice.
 
Oct 19, 2015
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Actually ridewithgps seems to have working Google Maps (i don't know, for how long though), but with those pesky winter restrictions. After LFR changed their maps i went back to ridewithgps (used it after t4b) and as of now it seems to be working, but i still use LFR for the stage and climb profiles. Quickly checked if Chile works and it seems to be working ok. As of now it seems LFR is working relatively well with recent combination of having Google elevation profiles with OSM's tracing (which has a problem of not recognizing highways). I personally rarely use Cronoescalada. It's a good site but their elevations are bad to at times horrendous (even up to 30-50m difference) and i found LFR's route features (climbs, sprints etc.) a bit easier and quicker to add. However, i don't know, if it got any better.
 

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