Race Design Thread

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Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
Nordic Series 19: Erzurum/Kandilli



A bit of a left-field one, this, but with the re-tooled OSM Builder having a couple of limitations (closed roads over winter, which the old Google Maps builder had found a way around; and manual routing), I have a bit of re-adjustment to do on a few of my proposals for stages in high mountainous / traditional cycling areas, but that doesn't mean the Nordic Series cannot continue apace. After all, there are new areas adding bike races, and unusual additions to the calendar left right and centre these days.

We're all pretty familiar with the modern Tour of Turkey, but much of its history prior to the reboot in the mid-2000s is pretty little known. It grew out of a Tour of Marmara, so focused on northwest Anatolia, and then grew to incorporate more of the Mediterranean coastline and resorts, and a few stages in central Turkey. The northeastern corner of Turkey, the historical region of Armenia Minor and now part of the Black Sea coastal areas and eastern Anatolia, however, has been more or less ignored by the national tour. There are, however, a large number of smaller stage races in Turkey, mostly 2.2 races, and a couple of these go close to the area we're talking about here - most notably the Tour of Mesopotamia, run for the first time in 2018 and won by Nazim Bazırcı, which takes place in southeastern Turkey, surprisingly close to the Syrian border, and the Tour of the Black Sea, which takes place in the area around Rize, halfway between Trabzon and the Georgian border. Heading inland from Rize, we rise up significantly (after all, at Turkey's latitude you would need to be at significant altitude to have sufficient snow conditions for a Nordic venue) into the Anatolian mountains, onto a series of high plateaus, in which, at an altitude of 1750m, we find the city of Erzurum. Known since antiquity as Theodosiopolis, and to long-time settlers the Armenians as Karin, the city retains a Catholic titular see, although Catholicism has long since died in the area, which is predominantly Islamic now, even if this dominance has only become apparent in the last 125 years following the repeated massacres of the city's Armenian population from the 1890s through to the Armenian Genocide from late World War I era.

Anyway, the intention was not to depress, but to talk about Erzurum at present, which is a bustling city, which boasts Turkey's finest wintersport facilities, and when it comes to the Nordic disciplines, by a wide margin. This is mainly as the city hosted the 2011 Winter Universiade, which necessitated the construction of venues for all of the student games required.





The cross-country skiing and biathlon were held at Kandilli, a wide open plateau area around 40km from Erzurum, with some rolling terrain. The terrain did mean a good view of everything that was going on, as well as a lot of open space, so it was hard for athletes to get out of sight and out of mind, as you can see from this summary from the biathlon. As is often the case, the former Ostbloc nations were able to dominate the medals here, with Vladislav Skobelev, a skier who has mostly been confined to the Continental Cup, winning gold in all three distance events in the XC, but Slovakia's Alena Procházková matched his achievements among the women, not winning the 5km classic but compensating by winning the sprint, which Skobelev could not. Other recognizable medallists to regular XC fans would include Eva Nyvltová (now Vrabcová-Nyvltová) in the sprint, Virginia de Martin Topranin in the 5km classic, Anouk Faivre Picon in the relay and Baptiste Gros in the sprint, the relay and the mixed team sprint. The biathlon fields were more star-studded, or at least World Cup recognized athletes-studded (though several of them had yet to make their names). Ukraine won six golds, with Artem Pryma and the very well-known Valj Semerenko winning two each individually plus one with the mixed relay, and Serhiy Semenov adding another. Bulgaria's Krasimir Anev won two silvers, plus a bronze in the team event along with fellow World Cup names Yordanova and Iliev. For Russia's part, the still fairly inexperienced Evgeny Garanichev won two bronzes individually and a silver in the relay, while Daria Virolaynen, some three years from her World Cup debut, won the Individual. For the 'other' big biathlon nations, only Germany had any real presence, with the now very well established multiple champion (mainly in team events) Franziska Hildebrand taking silver in the Individual, and her twin sister Stefanie, who quit the sport before Franzi made it to the top level, taking bronze in the Mass Start. These venues have gone on to become the focal point for the country's forays into cross-country and biathlon, although it is still baby steps for the time being and the likes of Nihan Erdiler and the Ustuntas brothers are not going to be troubling the top of the leaderboard at the World Cup anytime soon.



The focal point of the event, however, was the brand new Kiremitliktepe, the ski jump facility which took pride of place overlooking the city on a hill which has great prominence above the city centre. With a K-95 and K-125 hill, the facility was built to be state of the art and was the great pride of the Universiade. The central location made it easy to attend and while audiences weren't capacity, they were nevertheless sufficient to provide a pretty good atmosphere especially considering the paucity of domestic talent on show. Only a handful of those on show in Erzurum in 2011 have gone on to be household names - the Kot brothers, Maciej and Jakub, chief among them, though there was also Nicolas Fettner, brother of the more famous Manuel, on hand.

The venues' introduction to the world was a success, however, and they were reused a year later to hold the 2012 Nordic Junior World Championships, or the U23 Worlds more precisely. The names that were the stars there have, in the main, gone on to be far bigger fish, and many are at the forefront of the three sports (XC, ski jump and Nordic Combined) today; in the junior categories Sergey Ustiugov managed a clean sweep, winning the sprint, 10km classic, 20km skiathlon and relay; Sindre Bjørnestad Skar won a silver and three bronzes, Sondre Turvoll Fossli won two bronzes, an 18-year-old Stina Nilsson won the sprint. In the U23 categories Gleb Retivykh and Evgeny Belov were the dominant men, while Hanna Kolb won the sprint and the only women to leave with two medals were Martine Ek Hagen and Emma Wikén. Nejc Dežman won the ski jump on the NH, while Stefan Kraft was part of the Austrian bronze medal team; with women's ski jumping being a relatively new sport, save for a few veterans all the big names at the time were young, so you had a podium which consisted of the most successful female ski jumper of all time, Sara Takanashi, the inaugural women's World Cup winner, Sarah Hendrickson, and the first Olympic champion in the discipline, Carina Vogt. Not bad going! Not to be left out, Nordic Combined left us Manuel Faißt as NH10k silver medallist and Ilkka Herola matching this feat in the NH5k, while the team gold for Austria was helped by Philipp Orter and, as of today, individual World Championships medallist Franz-Josef Rehrl.



There was a problem however. With the Kiremitlik hill being of a soft and permeable type of earth, insufficient foundations had been built to cope with the volume of water once the artificial ponds added into the complex at the summit of the hill were taken into account, and this made the hill prone to landslides. While the problem looks worse there than it actually is (these are the smaller sized training and youth hills, the full-sized ones are to the left of shot), successive landslide damage in 2014 and 2015 meant the venue had to be rebuilt afresh. It was thought that this might signal the end of the Turkish interest in Nordic sport, but Erzurum successfully bid for the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival and was not going to let this slip, therefore the ski jumps were rebuilt and the hill complex reconfigured to minimise the risk of a repeat performance. These events went off without a hitch, and even saw the birthing of two potential new stars - both Slovenia's Timi Zajc and Russia's Lidiia Iakovleva won gold medals at Erzurum and have gone on to win their first World Cup events in 2018-19, while both still in their teenage years. And now there's enough space at the back of the ski jump to hold a puncheur finish up the hill too, so that's a bonus for us here.



Stage proposal #1: Rize - Kandilli, 237km


This is the kind of stage we never see nowadays - a long, looooong transitional stage with some monster climbs in it, but without them being expected to be decisive. It could produce some terrible racing or it could be incredible, depending on the race, the field, and the intentions. It includes an absolutely monstrous climb, which despite being on a four-lane highway is over 30km at 6%, over the Ovit Pass, which can be circumvented by using the tunnel in the event of problems. As you can see here, however, there really isn't a problem with the road conditions at the pass at present (obviously the bit from the tunnel to the height of the pass isn't still a highway). Let's just say that it'll be a long day in the saddle for the sprinters because this behemoth - over 30km climbing and an altitude of 2640m - is only a third of the way through the stage.



The following pass, Gölyurt, is borderline HC in its own right, but looks like a dwarf next to Ovit. 2380m high, it's got stats akin to Aubisque from Laruns, or Saint-Panthaléon. This is a long slog of a stage, you see, so even then there's still 95km of rolling terrain at high altitude to go. I want this to be attritional, so this will be something between the 1996 Pamplona stage and one of those Vuelta a Colombia stages where everybody is having to get used to thin air. After this, the HARD climbing is over, but there will be a paucity of domestiques even if they've soft pedalled everything, and so the smaller climbs will still hurt - the last of which is a 1500m climb just inside 20km from the line. After this, however, it's a pretty straight run-in. Oh, and did I mention that this plateau is susceptible to strong winds? Because it is. A lot of riders will hate me for this one. On the plus side for them, I finish at the XC/biathlon venue rather than make them continue on another 35km to Erzurum...

Stage proposal #2: Erzincan - Kandilli, 217km


Again a long stage, this time we're approaching from the west, so we're already at a reasonable altitude before we start on our way to the Kandilli XC/biathlon stadium, which will please the weaker climbers out there that don't have to take on a behemoth like Ovit Geçidi. That doesn't mean there isn't some serious climbing to be done though - firstly it's some serious climbing straight off the bat, with the first 16km all being uphill at around 5%. However, after that it's pretty rolling until we get to the old Silk Road city of Bayburt, whose medieval castle still at least partially survives.



The second half of the stage is focused around the climb of Kop Daği Geçidi, a famous pass in eastern Turkey which we are climbing the shorter but steeper version of. You can see a more detailed image here (we're riding right to left), cribbed from this Turkish cycling blog. There is really a sort of double-summit, with the actual pass as well as Kop Şehitleri Abidesi, a memorial complex.





This climb crests with 49km remaining, so enough time for those who haven't fallen TOO far back to recover, however, there's also a sting in the tail in the form of a short dig of a 4km climb 15km from the line, and then some narrow roads down to the finish - this could be a bit of a banana skin with the altitude too.

Stage proposal #3: Göle - Erzurum, 192km


Now approaching from the east, we start over toward the border with Armenia and Georgia, in a town which has changed hands between Georgia, Armenia, Russia and Turkey/the Ottoman Empire multiple times in its history. It's a fast start because of us heading vaguely downhill for a lot of the early part of the stage but none of the gradients get especially tough that this turns into all out descending. It's essentially a long descent from 2100m to 1100m, before we rise back up again, over the easier side of the climb between the towns of Aksu and Yayla, through lush verdant forest climbing back to just under 2300m.

The somewhat severe descent here (this is akin to climbing Col de Menté east, as the Tour is wont to do, leaving the harder west face to be a descent only) leads into another gradually steepening climb, Güzelyaya Geçidi, at 2090m and part of a region renowned for its own microclimate - this can often lead to swirling winds, rain and snow. Its meagre average belies that there are some harder stretches, but even these are only 6-7% so nothing to be significantly feared 55km from the line. There is a final, important ascent at 13km from home, much like in the second proposal - this time to the part of town named for folk heroine Nene Hatun, who joined the fight to defend the Aziziye fort from the Russians, the site of which is now Nene Hatun Tarihi Milli Parkı and has a statue of her accordingly. The climb is only around 5% on a fairly wide road, it's somewhat reminiscent of the Vuelta stage to La Lastrilla a few years ago that Philippe Gilbert won, only with the climb being twice as long. We then descend into town to finish at the complex at the back of the ski jumps, so the last 500m or so is uphill at 5%.



Stage proposal #4: Bingöl - Erzurum, 176km


This is perhaps the more realistic option, though it's still not a 'pleasant' option - there is much less in the way of keynote climbing to be seen here, but still a lot of going up and down; it's rather reminiscent of some of those Vuelta stages which are classified as flat stages but see the péloton relentlessly going up or downhill all day in searing heat. At least at altitude of 1800m for most of the day the riders will be spared some of that torture, although obviously at altitude the impact of these smaller climbs will be amplified of course.

This is the stage approaching from the south (we've basically had one from north, one from west, one from east, so now one from south to complete the set), and as much of this is high plateau too, there isn't so much in the way of big climbs and differences in altitude, although there are still some ridges and mountains we must cross - the Palandöken mountains cover much of the south of Erzurum province, and we need to get into the province from this direction, so voilà - another almost 2400m mountain pass; although at least this time we're already starting from best part of 2000m altitude, so it only gets cat.2 status.



For the most part though, this is all about uncategorized or low-categorized bumps as it's terrain - both visually and topographically - that may remind one of the Volta a Portugal. Finishing by arriving in Erzurum from the west (to the south is the Alpine resort which can only be accessed from one road, so you can't just drop from a mountain pass directly to finish in Erzurum, at least not on a road bike) - with the finish being the 2km at 5% that is the uphill ramp into this side of town then the final drag up to the ski jump tower.

See, even in the more obscure venue locations, you can do some interesting stuff with the Nordic venues.
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I totally missed this during my studies. Brilliant knowledge once again, and very happy that someone else is realizing the potential stages in Turkey. Great to see the Ovit-Gölyurt combo :cool:

Also, great to see a mention of one of the best Turkish cycling blogs in my opinion.
 
Well, this is quite funny. I almost (that might be stretching it) rode your stage 6 just a few weeks ago. I was visiting a friend in Altensteig riding there from Heidelberg. It was more of a direct approach though, after passing some of the hills preceding the Schwarzwald I entered the range from Neuenbürg. Climbed a nice road from Calmbach to Würzbach as the main difficulty (overall some 120 km with 1500 m of climbing). During our ride the next day we also decsended the road you used to climb to Simmersfeld.
 
I started a Giro in last years August. But I took a break from race designing due to studies and couldn't post the rest of it. Now that the exams are finally over, time to post the rest:

Stage 2 was this: viewtopic.php?p=2305340#p2305340

Giro d' Italia Stage 3 Nuoro-Cagliari 245.6 Km Hilly/Transitional
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/154928

KOM SPRINTS:
Orgosolo (3rd Category, 747 m, 13.9 Km at 3.5%, Km 25.6)
Passo di Correboi (3rd Category, 1240 m, 23.0 Km at 2.6%, Km 52.9)
Madonna del Carmine (3rd Category, 974 m, 9.6 Km at 4.9%, Km 110.1)
Sadali (4th Category, 900 m, 7.2 Km at 3.0%, Km 123.9)
Esterzili (4th Category, 729 m, 3.7 Km at 7.4%, Km 140.3)
Passo di San Basilio (2nd Category, 675 m, 13.6 Km at 4.2%, Km 190.4)

Unfortunately I could only find a profile of these 3 climbs.

Orgosolo:
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/81821

Passo di Correboi: (only the last 23 km of this)
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/81827

Madonna del Carmine:
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/81813

A very long hilly stage that is tough to control. It should weaken the legs a lot and maybe some teams can go ballistic or maybe with no one chasing we can have 2nd-3rd rate GC contenders getting minutes. Or it can be a reduced bunch sprint of 50-60 riders. Depends on how its ridden.


Nuoro:


Cagliari:
 
You've got to know that in the Giro, only one climb before San Basilio would be categorized, just to mess with people. It would probably be Sadali too, just for the hell of it!

Stage 9: Hochfilzen - Götschen, 122km





GPM:
Hirschbichlpass (cat.1) 6,6km @ 7,8%
Ahornbüchsenkopf (HC) 11,2km @ 9,0%
Ahornbüchsenkopf (HC) 11,2km @ 9,0%
Götschen (cat.2) 2,3km @ 11,6%

So… the one “predictable” part of the route - I did not allow myself Kandel, or the Hölle des Ostens cobbles, or Teufelstein, so in trade off for that, I am allowed the Berchtesgadener Land, as after all this is where the hardest climbs in Germany lie. But while it’s not very innovative to put a mountain stage in the Berchtesgadener Land - in fact, anybody who’s anybody who’s attempted to design a comprehensive stage race in Germany has ended up in the Berchtesgadener Land (i.e. you won’t have ended up in the Berchtesgadener Land if you were designing, say, the Hessen-Rundfahrt or the Peace Race, but anybody who’s tried to do a DeutschlandTour, or similarly Gigs’ DACH-Rundfahrt, will have wound up here). But while it’s hardly “innovation” per se, there is an element of innovation for me as I try to piggyback this current craze for short mountain stages. I’ve said my bit about them and I don’t really understand the huge crush people have on them (especially when you consider that the one stage that really kickstarted this craze came the day after a superior 200km mountain stage), but they’re seemingly here to stay, so I may as well have a play with the format.



We start the stage in the small town of Hochfilzen, a few kilometres down the Pillertal from Waidring, which served as the base of yesterday’s summit finish at Steinplatte. It’s a very small locale for a stage host - just 1200 inhabitants - but it has the wherewithal to host, between it and neighbouring Fieberbrunn. Initially an outcrop of farming houses that belonged to the municipality of Kitzbühel, its modern history was set en route in the 1870s when the railroad connecting the Tirol to Salzburg was routed through the town, and a few years later an artillery shooting range was set up in the village owing to the relatively secluded location. While this was closed later on, it was reopened ahead of World War II and taken over by the Austrian Army in the aftermath of the conflict. With the area of the Pillertal being popular as a cross-country skiing retreat, the shooting range served as the inspiration for a biathlon stadium which was opened in 1967, and has been a regular fixture of the Biathlon World Cup since the mid-80s; at first alternating with Feistritz an der Drau and Bad Gastein, but then since the early 2000s being the sole home of Austria’s World Cup round. The town has hosted the Biathlon World Championships on four occasions, in 1978, 1997, 2005 and 2017. Back in 1978, biathlon was a male-only sport with only three disciplines - Sprint, Individual and Relay - and aside from Odd Lirhus’ gold in the Individual, all the rest of the medals were bogarted by the DDR. By 1998, the legends of the sport were starting to be born, and medallists at these championships include Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Raphaël Poirée, Egil Gjelland, Halvard Hanevold, Sven Fischer, Ricco Groß, Vladimir Drachev, Frank Luck, Magdalena Forsberg, Liv-Gretel Skjelbreid and Svetlana Ishmuratova. By 2005 the sport is well on its way to becoming the audience behemoth that it is today; Bjørndalen, Fischer, Poirée and Groß are still on top, but they’re being pushed by the likes of Tchepikov, Kruglov, Greis, Sikora, Bergman and so on. The Germans are starting to become a driving force in the women’s competitions, with Uschi Disl winning sprint and pursuit and Andrea Henkel winning the Individual, while this was the era in which the Chinese were a major force among the women too, winning individual medals with Sun Ribo and Liu Xianjing. 2017’s championships were some of the best in recent memory, with some very competitive races and surprise results, especially among the men where the dominant Martin Fourcade was met with some stern competition and surprise vanquishers; the championships are mainly synonymous with women’s super force Laura Dahlmeier, however, who emerged from the championships with the greatest ever haul from a single Worlds - five golds, and one silver.

The town is also home to a significant ÖSV training centre, which has attracted some of its stars to come and live in the area. The most prominent is biathlete Dominik Landertinger, who became the youngest ever World Champion in biathlon when he won the Mass Start in Pyeongchang in 2009; he has also taken two silver medals and two bronzes in the Olympics, a silver in the sprint in Sochi and a bronze in the Individual in Pyeongchang; the others are in the relays from Vancouver and Sochi. Landi is not originally from Hochfilzen, but he is the town’s favourite son, especially as much of its year revolves around the events at the biathlon arena; he for his part has gladly adopted Hochfilzen as his home, perhaps because his birthplace, Braunau am Inn, has some moustachioed fellow as its most famous son, not that most of the city is particularly proud of that.



Considering this is one of those espoir-length mountain stages, the opening is fairly benign, with the first 25km being flat as we negotiate our way around the Pillertal and Saalach valley avoiding the town of Saalfelden. However, at this point it starts to get serious, and stays that way forevermore. The first climb of the stage is the Hirschbichlpass, which is a “sort-of” cat.1 climb which mainly gains its difficulty from the kind of inconsistency that even Basque climbs get jealous of. At 6,6km @ 7,8% you would see it typically as cat.2,but with a kilometre at 11,5% at the start, a second kilometre ramping up to 15% and averaging well over 10%, then some false flat, another ramp, a return to false flat, a slight downhill and then 1,5km at 13% with a maximum of 22%… it’s meriting the cat.1 with those. The verified max is well over 20%, but the signs suggest it may even reach 30%.


It starts off fairly benign…


The summit area is very narrow. This is just after the summit so is on the German side; this stone ford is the most dubious moment of the downhill section

The first kilometre of the descent is really, really tough - narrow and very steep, but once that kilometre is done with it’s not too bad. There is a very steep 500m a little way into the descent - 16%. This comes just after a series of corners, however, so the speed on this section will not be too high, thankfully, and for the most part the tarmac is in good state, so it’s achievable. This takes us, of course, into the Berchtesgadener Land. I’ve already done a stage that jumps up Hintenbrand at this stage to go to Ahornbüchsenkopf/Roßfeld Panoramastraße; I’ve also done a stage that climbed Roßfeld from the other side, descended through the steepest bit, then jumped up through Hintenbrand as the final climb; I could have gone to Hochschwarzeck here, and I could easily have incorporated Hintenbrand, but instead of doing the back-to-back cat.1s, I’ve decided this time to be a bit more straightforward and basic… and just go up to the Roßfeld Panoramastraße twice back to back. The thing is, this is going to be a short mountain stage, and I wanted to throw some HC mountains in, having skipped the southern Schwarzwald; and I’m not expecting a summit finish at Kehlsteinhaus to ever be a possibility for the same reason as the Vuelta never puts a finish at Valle de los Caídos. So instead, we’re going to loop Berchtesgaden, with our first intermediate sprint in the town on the same line that will hold two further intermediates.



Formed as a buffer between Bavaria and Austria, the micro states that now make up the Berchtesgadener Land have changed hands a few hands, with part of it having formerly been part of the Duchy of Salzburg, and became its own region as of 1972. The signing of the Schengen Treaty in 1990 by the Austrians have led to Salzburg increasing significantly its influence over the area, beginning to take precedence over Munich. Like much of the area, its salt mines are the source of mineral wealth, and it is a town of 8.000 inhabitants locked deep within the Bavarian Alps; like many scenic areas in Germany, it developed a tourism industry in the 19th Century, and nearby Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden gave birth to Malereck, a scenic lookout onto Königssee, the mountain lake which characterises the area.

Due to its attractive combination of scenic isolation, its proximity to Hitler’s hometown and, following the Anschluss with Austria, its distance from any threats, it became extremely popular with the Nazis, who requisitioned a lot of land in the area, including the former family house of Sigmund Freud, which was purchased by Heinrich Himmler. They hosted guests - including several politicians - and obviously the Kehlsteinhaus is the most famous remnant of this era. After the war, much of its Nazi heritage was wiped out and requisitioned by the US military, and the city rebuilt up to the point of the city putting itself forward as a Winter Olympic host, eventually losing out to Albertville. They’ve redeveloped the city as a winter sports area, and it is especially famous for its luge and bobsleigh track, which hosts an annual round of the World Cup and has held the World Championships in bobsleigh four times (plus a fifth in skeleton only), and the World Championships in Luge six times. This was most recently held in 2016, where the local athletes dominated, thanks mainly to Felix Loch and Natalie Geisenberger, with only one gold medal not being won by Germans (Martina Kocher’s gold in the women’s sprint) and a full lockout of the podium in the men’s sprint. Most of the city’s famous sons and daughters come from the fields of luge and alpine skiing - the likes of Wolfgang Bartels, Kathrin Hölzl, Patric Leitner, Hans Plenk and so forth. Of particular note is Georg Hackl, known as Hackl-Schorsch and affectionately known as the “Godfather of Luge”; he became the first Winter Olympian to ever win medals in five consecutive Games, taking two silvers in Calgary and Salt Lake City, bookending three golds at Albertville, Lillehammer and Nagano. He won 22 world championship medals, ten of which were gold. After his retirement at the age of 40, he and Leitner started the “Sunshine Training Group”, where a number of luge stars including the aforementioned Loch and Geisenberger were relocated to Berchtesgaden to train with them, and led to Germany’s clean sweep of the golds in Sochi.



As mentioned above, most of us have been seduced by the Berchtesgadener Land in a race design sense, and there really isn’t much new that any of us can wring out of it. Roundabout is the first to post a stage there, all the way back in 2011. Descender was using it back in 2013, as was I, in this stage which featured a route design like something out of the Amstel Gold Race, with Hintenbrand the final climb, and with two different ascents of the Roßfeld Panoramastraße to the one I’ve included here (the 2013 stage descends the side we are now climbing). Two years later Gigs showed us the combo of Hintebrand backing directly onto the Panoramastraße, and later that year I posted a very similar stage which appended an uphill finish at Obersalzberg. This time, rather than ascending to it in a two-stepped manner using Hintenbrand, we’re just going straight for the jugular, so here we are: a genuine killer, and the second and third HC summits of the race.



Gigs showed us the Roßfeld-Kehlstein combo in the DACH Rundfahrt shortly afterward in this post, while Lemon Cheese Cake upped the ante with two climbs of Roßfeld first here. Gigs also in 2016 showed the Hintebrand-Ahornbüchsenkopf combo mid-stage in an Österreich Rundfahrt stage, while OlavEH went for a different Hintenbrand/Roßfeld combo using a different side of the latter climb in late 2016. Finally, we have Mayomaniac and rghysens showcasing other interesting combos. I guess, what I’m saying is… I needn’t introduce this climb to you: most traceurs are well aware of it. The first time we crest it, it comes at 53km from the line, and the second (final) time, at 26km from the line. And there are intermediates with time bonuses at the bottom of both descents, too.



After we arrive in Berchtesgaden after the second ascent of Ahornbüchsenkopf, I have incorporated a short stretch of flat into Bischofswiesen, a city of 7.000 of its own on the outskirts of the Berchtesgadener Land and at the edge of the Lattengebirge, which is home to Hermann Weinbuch, head coach of the all-conquering (until recently) German Nordic Combined team, and a former World Champion in his own right, winning individual gold at Seefeld in 1985, and team gold both at the same championships and two years later in Oberstdorf. He also became the first non-Norwegian World Cup overall winner in 1986 (although that wasn’t quite the achievement it sounds - it was only the third World Cup - however from 1983 to 1999 Norway only failed to win the team title twice, in 1986 when the Bundesrepublik won it, and in 1993, when the Japanese team triumphed). The proximity to Berchtesgaden means we do have the same tradition as before, with a number of star luge competitors calling Bischofswiesen home, including Olympic doubles champion Franz Wembacher, who won the gold in Sarajevo 1984, and Anton Winkler, who won the very first World Cup overall in Luge in 1978.



There’s a bit of a sting in the tail, though… although we’re moving away from the monster ascents of Berchtesgaden itself does not mean that the riders have got off lightly. Instead, we’ve got a very steep final ascent in the Lattengebirge. The climb to Loipl, a small Fraktion of Bischofswiesen, ascends very quickly; Loipl is almost 300m above its parent town, and the road between the two is only just over 2km long, which tells you that it’s really steep. This is the Quäl dich profile, which as you can see includes countless ramps up above 10%, including five different 100m sections averaging over 15%, with the steepest being 17%.

The Loipl village has two claims to fame; firstly for the Rehabilitation clinic that combines the restorative benefits of clean air and natural peace and quiet with medical expertise, specialising particularly in the rehabilitation of patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, strokes and brain tumours. The second claim to fame is Skigebiet Götschen, a training centre for alpine skiers and snowboarders, which is part of the Olympiastützpunkt Bayern group. Sadly, because of the proliferation of these trivial nonsense X-Games disciplines into the real Olympics, a lot of facilities for people who want to do flips and tricks rather than ski properly have been built. But it does mean there is at least a sizeable parking area, as you can see from this photo.

The European Cup For People Who Don’t Want To Do Proper Skiing has rocked up in Götschen the last two seasons, hosting Big Air competitions in 2018 and 2019 as well as some Slopestyle. There have been some proper skiing competitions at a lower level before, with FIS rated Alpine events in 2013 and 2017. Either way… the climb up to the resort is 2,3km averaging 11,6%, with the last 300m being a bit flatter, so given it’s a summit finish I gave it a generous cat.2, to incentivise a bit more aggression too. This is the middle Sunday of the race and there’s a rest day tomorrow, so with it only being a short stage too, what further incentives can you possibly need to make this one a tough race?!

 
Yes, they don't categorize many climbs in Giro. I think categorizing all these climbs gives riders who are chasing the GPM classification an incentive to attack, especially this early in the race.

As another biathlon fan I appreciate the start at Hochfilzen.

Also:
The European Cup For People Who Don’t Want To Do Proper Skiing
Agreed :D
 
Giro d' Italia Stage 4 Trapani-Trapani ITT 31.9 KM
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/154929

KOM SPRINT: Erice (1st Category, 690 m, 9.1 Km at 7.5%, Km 14.6)
INTERMEDIATE POINTS: Trapani (7 m, Km 5.5), Erice (690 m, Km 14.6), Casa Santa (24 m, Km 26.6)

A mountain time trial around Trapani. The climb of the day is Erice, 7 km at %8.3. After the descent the riders will arrive back to Trapani. You need everything today. TT, climbing and descending.

Profile of Erice:
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/89716

Trapani:


Erice:
 
Stage 10: Traunstein - Großer Arber, 228km





GPM:
Ruselabsatz (cat.1) 9,1km @ 5,8%
Oberhirschberg (cat.2) 2,3km @ 9,5%
Kalteck (cat.2) 3,3km @ 8,8%
Bretterschachten (cat.1) 9,0km @ 6,1%
Brennes (cat.2) 6,4km @ 5,3%

With the riders now refreshed from a rest day, it’s time to get back to what this race has a penchant for: long intermediate stages. These are seemingly a dying breed in the world of cycling, but they’re something Germany is particularly well-suited to and has historically been enamoured of. Here we showcase a bit more of what the Bayern Rundfahrt COULD have been, but of course wasn’t. Although occasionally the race would head into the foothills of the Alps, it only seldom included a serious climb in such a manner as to have an effect on the GC, such as 2014 when Mathias Frank won on Winklmoosalm before losing his advantage to Geraint Thomas in the ITT. Historically, the Bayern-Rundfahrt has been a race for sprinters and time triallists, which is why the stage race in the German Land with the biggest Alps and with the tradition of skiers and rodlers has a list of winners including such climbing luminaries as Michael Rich, Adriano Malori and Alex Dowsett. For his part, Geraint Thomas won it both in 2011, when he was really not built to climb, and in 2014, when his transition towards the later career GC-tilting Thomas had already begun. But nevertheless, even if they did not want to use the Bavarian Alps, this stage illustrates the kind of thing the Bayern-Rundfahrt could have done to make itself a more tricky all-round race and a more entertaining and enjoyable spectacle for fans and riders alike, as we transition from the Alps to the Bayerischer Wald.



More chocolate box scenery to begin with, as we depart from Traunstein, a city which is host to 20.000 people with panoramic views of the Chiemgauer Alps to the south, just a short trip north from Berchtesgaden and Bad Reichenhall. Expanding from a fortified settlement to protect the salt route from the Berchtesgadener Land to Munich, it expanded rapidly in the 17th Century, but has also been rebuilt repeatedly following fire damage, usually during the course of conflict. Salt production ceased in the early 20th Century, and its facilities became used as a POW camp in World War I. As one of the larger cities in the area, many stars of the sports practiced in the nearby mountains have been born in Traunstein, with the proximity to the Ruhpolding biathlon facilities being particularly notable, as cross-country skiers and biathletes proliferate. Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who I mentioned a couple of stages ago, was born in the city, as was veteran cross-country skier Tobias Angerer, who has two silvers and two bronzes from the Olympic Games (one of each being individual and one of each being in the relay) spread from Salt Lake City to Vancouver, along with four silvers and three bronzes from the Nordic World Championships, running from Oberstdorf 2005 to Oslo 2011. He has 11 Individual World Cup victories, but perhaps his best claim to fame is winning the overall GC of the very first Tour de Ski in 2006-7, taking the lead in the 15km classic in Oberstdorf and building a lead over mainly sprint-biased athletes that he could defend on the Alpe Cermis. Alpine skier Josef Ferstl is another local, a stalwart of the scene who has managed just two individual victories in his World Cup career, specialising primarily in the Giant Slalom. They are joined by Josef Buchner, a moderately successful Nordic Combined athlete in the 90s, Marion Deigentesch, a young biathlon prospect who is currently at the IBU Cup level, and Martina Zellner, one of Germany’s first women’s biathlon heroines, part of the gold medal-winning relay team at Nagano in 1998 along with Uschi Disl, Katrin Apel and Petra Behle, and a double world champion at the 1999 World Championships in Kontiolahti.

The first part of the stage is flat, as we traverse the Bavarian plain that makes up much of the centre of the region, linking the Alps and the Bayerischer Wald/Sudeten mountain chains (the latter continue on into Austria but are separated from the continuations of the Alps by the Danube). And which has generally hosted the Bayern Rundfahrt in its desperate attempts to not provide an interesting cycling event. Our first significant stop-off is the town of Altötting, which has great tradition for ‘old’ Bavarian history, with the hearts of the deceased kings of Bavaria required to be placed in an urn and kept in the chapel at Altötting. The town is also a popular pilgrimage site for Catholics, to the Gnadenkapelle shrine to the Virgin Mary, alleged to have revived a young boy in the 15th Century, and visited twice by Popes in recent memory, by John Paul II in 1980, and Benedict XVI in 2006 (partly influenced by the fact the town is just 10km or so from Marktl, his birthplace). Because of this religious link, several of its twin towns/sister cities are similarly linked to shrines and miracles - Lourdes, Fátima and Częstochowa being notable.


The main church of Altötting, dwarfing the far more significant Gnadenkapelle

We cross the Inn river shortly after this, and our next notable town is Eggenfelden. This town of similar size to Altötting - around 14.000 - has a noteworthy cycling connection, although the town itself contributed little to that connection; it is the birthplace of Australian cyclist Katrin Garfoot, a former heptathlete who relocated to New Zealand at 25, then subsequently to Australia a year later, and took up cycling at the age of 29. Acquiring Australian citizenship through her marriage, she swiftly took to the sport and accumulated good results in the NRS through 2012 and 2013, including winning the Oceania Continental Championships in the latter year. After some strong results and getting to race in Europe as part of an Australian national team in early 2014, she was signed by the Orica team, riding the Giro and finishing on the podium of the Commonwealth Games ITT. Garfoot historically favoured the time trial, but while the long climbs tended to catch her out, she was always able to get over a good few obstacles, scoring results like a 5th place in the Emakumeen Euskal Bira in 2015. The TT continued to be her calling card, missing a medal at the Richmond World Championships by just 4 seconds, winning the national championships in the format twice, and winning the Chrono Champenois, essentially like the Chrono des Nations. She could only manage 9th in the Rio Olympic time trial (perhaps due to the proliferation of mayflies in that event) but she did manage to secure a bronze medal from the World Championships in Doha to make up for the previous year’s disappointment. She also finished 2nd in the GP Elsy Jacobs and scored top 10s in hilly classics, including the Flèche Wallonne and the GP de Plouay. Through 2007 she raced more sparingly, although she did win a stage and finish on the podium of the overall GC of the Emakumeen Bira, being found out as her entire otherwise dominant team was on Jaizkibel when Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio hit the afterburners. She did manage a somewhat surprising double medal at the World Championships in Bergen, however, taking bronze in the ITT once more before a somewhat controversial silver in the road race, thumping the handlebars in frustration at the end after winning the sprint for second, but, considering her refusal to cooperate in the chase and general Simon Gerrans tactics on the day, she should be thankful for silver, because she had no right to be upset the sprint wasn’t for gold. She retired from international competition after that, but raced on on the Aussie domestic scene for a few more months, winning the national title in the TT once more and the Commonwealth Games TT in 2018, before calling a close on a relatively short but action-packed career at the age of 36.



The stage gets going for real at around the halfway point, with the crossing of the famous Danube river, the second longest in Europe (and the longest in peninsular Europe, as the longest is the Volga), one of the three rivers (along with Father Rhine and the Elbe) that fill German folklore, and a vital trade route. The feed zone is in Hengersberg, on the northern banks of the river, with 101km remaining, and all of the obstacles of the day are crammed into this last part. Starting with the ascent of Ruselabsatz, a famous pass that connects Regen and Deggendorf, just above the village of Rusel, often affected by snowfall in winter. It has three sides, we are climbing the southern face from Schaufling - although profiles for this side fail to take into account that before one even reaches Schaufling there has been 3km of climbing at 4,5%, therefore the climb is a little more difficult than the 6,7km @ 6,3% recorded by Quäl dich. As a result I have upgraded it from cat.2 to cat.1 on the basis of the 9km at 6%, which is marginal I know, but I’m also trying to incentivise some moves with these aggressive categorisations, and if ASO can give the freaking Côte de Chevrères cat.1, then this is not a problem. And the categorisations have been relative, anyway.

The summit connects to Langlaufgebiet Rusel-Oberbreitenau-Hausstein, a network of skiing trails for the sensible cross-country skier, and connected to hiking trails and to Deggendorf golf club in summer. There is then a fast and very straight descent through Mietraching to Deggendorf itself, where the second intermediate sprint takes place. A city of 35.000, its history has barely begun when it achieves notoriety for one of the earliest massacres of the Jews on German soil, taking place in 1337 or 1338, as after a fire spread through the city and destroyed many houses, indebtedness to Jewish money-lenders led to hostile reactions from the German locals. It had its own folklore, involving host desecration, that led to pilgrimage routes, but in the 1960s the anti-Semitic overtones of the event drew criticism and led to its eventual demise. The city is also home to track cyclist Gudrun Stock (seen here with Kristina Vogel), primarily a pursuit rider, but with some experience in the Points race and as leadout in the Team Sprint also. She has done some road racing, with Maxx Solar, but typically apart from the Thüringen Rundfahrt and Graciá-Orlová this has been limited to the national calendar.



Kalteck is the most famous of the routes from Deggendorf to the higher plateau of the inner Bayerischer Wald, however I’ve elected to take a less famous intermediary step; heading along the gradual, unthreatening B11 road toward Ruhmannsfelden is rather the easiest route to get up here, a bit like taking the autovía from Bilbao to Vitória rather than Dima or Urkiola, or crossing between Italy and the Tirol via the Brenner rather than the Rombo. However, to the left there is a short but very steep - averaging over 9% - climb up to the small village of Oberhirschberg. The steep descent from this deposits us at the base of the more famous Kalteck climb, a 4km ascent averaging around 8%, with the last 3km at nearly 9%. This ascent is a worthy cat.2, a Mende-type climb which includes some significant gradients. It’s popular as a hillclimb both in sanctioned and illegal motorsport competitions (the latter of which have led to some minor notoriety), but is also a more than worthy climb for cyclists to try their hand at. Here, it comes at 55km from the line, so I don’t anticipate too many aggressive moves, but it will affect the break and hopefully the backing of these three climbs into one another should mean that we get rid of a fair few rouleur domestiques making it harder to control the ensuing 20km of rolling terrain or so.



The ensuing phase is flat - well, flattish - as we head via Ruhmannsfelden to our final intermediate sprint, which also kind of comes, well, slightly into our penultimate climb of the day, and also the climb I expect most action on, since the hardest mountain days of the race are now in the past so the climbers need to make the most of what remains. Arriving in Bodenmais entails lots of short ramps and gradual ascents, a bit like the Puerto de la Quesera; the eventual climb isn’t that hard but there are a huge number of uncategorised climbs leading into it. 800m at 9%, for example, might be categorised elsewhere, but here it’s just a pre-climb warning shot for the Bretterschachten.



Bodenmais is a beautiful town of 3.500 which is the gateway to the Großer Arber, the highest non-Alpine peak in Bavaria, and its associated ski area, the most prominent in the Bayerischer Wald. Its seat at the foot of the range lends it the same kind of prominence to the region as, say, Freiburg for the Schwarzwald, Alès for the Cevennes or Ponferrada for the Macizo Galaico. It is a Luftkurort, which hosted a stage finish of the 2005 Deutschlandtour, a descent finish after the easiest of all sides of the Bretterschachten which was won by Filippo Pozzato; the following stage departed from the town to Kufstein on the Bavarian-Austrian border and was won by another Italian, Daniele Bennati. It is also a feature town on the Arber Radmarathon, and has easily enough space to deal with a bike race as a) it has done so before, and b) the Hohenzollern Biathlon Arena on the plateau between Scheiben/Brennes and Bretterschachten hosts the IBU Cup every year and therefore has to take in 20+ teams, 200 or so athletes and their associated paraphernalia, so this should be no different. Sadly I can’t find any non-watermarked photos of it, but just because I’m a horrible person, but partly because the battle for bonus seconds might be interesting and mean it’s attacked early and there’s no respite because we’re already on the lower slopes of the penultimate climb, I’ve placed the intermediate sprint on the steep, cobbled Bergknappenstraße. Happy bonus hunting, GC guys!


View from Bretterschachten summit down to Bodenmais

The climb to the Bretterschachten summit, at 1120m, and its associated cross-country skiing Loipe network, is only 6,5km in length from Bodenmais, averaging 7,4%, but it is hellaciously inconsistent not to mention that there’s already a good 2-3km of inconsistent ascent leading into Bodenmais itself. At least 7 lengthy periods of 10% or more and a max of 16% means that this climb, cresting with 22km remaining, is definitely the place to make a move. It’s a shame that this was the side descended in the Deutschlandtour, because it would likely have been much more interesting otherwise.

After cresting the summit of the Bretterschachten, we then descend the Regenhütte side of the climb, a much more consistent variant which nonetheless includes some technical corners. I could have taken the option of descending just the first 3,4km of this, to the Arbersee junction, which looks like this (this is the side which was climbed in the 2005 Deutschland Tour) and then hanging a left rather than a technical sharp right, to either finish immediately at the Großer Arbersee, or perhaps more likely given that it is me that is designing this route, after 900m at 6,7% placing the finish at the biathlon facilities.


Why yes, this stage did come about following some plans for a Nordic Series post! Bretterschachten summit in distance on the left hand side.

Instead, however, for once I shall forego the biathlon connection and descend into Regenhütte before a short uphill false flat into Bayerisch Eisenstein, known simply as Eisenstein until the 1950s, a border town with the Czech Republic, to differentiate it from other German-settled cities in the Sudetenland and border area (now Böhmisch Eisenstein and Dorf Eisenstein to Germans, and renamed by the Czechs, the more prominent being Železná Ruda, a direct calque of the German, and the other being Špičák. This is as the two towns were once one, straddling the border, but since the boundaries became closed following WWII, it became necessary to distinguish - much as Görlitz (Germany) and Zgorzelec (Poland), or Gorizia (Italy) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia) have been divided by the former Iron Curtain. In fact, the train station was split in half by the border, a pretty unique situation at the curtain, however this was circumvented by the Czechs on the basis that now that their side of the town was cut off from the western side, a new station in what had been the eastern suburbs was built and named Železná Ruda (Centrum), as it was now closer to the centre of the Czech town than the original station (plus the Czechs then developed their town into an independent one of its German neighbour). Because of its proximity to the biathlon arena, SV Bayerisch Eisenstein is historically one of the most prominent in the sport in Germany. It also serves as the base of our final climb, up to Brennes, the southeastern side of a double summit with the Scheiben climb from the 2005 Deutschland Tour (lying to its northwest).

The final climb of the day is a somewhat easier - but still rather inconsistent - ascent of 6,4km @ 5,3%. Large amounts of the climb are just false flat, but there are numerous ramps, including 200m at nearly 15% early on, and 350m at 11,4% in the middle. This will not be that decisive a climb in and of itself, however, which should hopefully incentivize more aggression on the Bretterschachten climb that precedes it. For the record, the Scheiben side (there is a 4km or so plateau between Scheiben and Brennes) which was climbed in the Deutschland Tour is 8,2km @ 5,7%. It’s somewhat disappointing that they didn’t therefore descend through to Bayerisch Eisenstein and do the last 30km of my stage in reverse to toughen up the stage, but then the Deutschland Tour never quite maximised its potential I guess. The finish of the stage is around 1,5km of rolling terrain after the summit, at the Großer Arber ski station, which sits a few kilometres further up the road connecting Arbersee and the Brennes summit; had we continued past the biathlon arena we’d have had a short punchy climb and then arrived at this summit anyhow; but the route we took was far more interesting.


Großer Arber ski station, we’re arriving from the top of shot. Just beyond the building in the background is the road connecting Brennes and Scheiben.

There are roads which go higher - mainly dirt and gravel roads admittedly, but this is an intriguing and interesting finish which brings a few types of stages to mind. The short flat after the summit brings to mind a few Spanish climbs like Arrate or Xorret del Catí, but the climb is easier than either of those. The shape of the finish also brings to mind 2010's Station des Rousses stage at the Tour de France, or the Rocca di Cambio stage in the 2012 Giro, but the final climb is shorter than either of those. I guess La Molina in the Volta a Catalunya falls in the same category as those, also. The 2010-2011 variations on the Chieti finish in Tirreno-Adriatico are also a possible comparison point, but the Chieti climb is shorter and includes steeper ramps. The finish is perhaps more along the lines of the Volta a Portugal stages to Monte Assunção, helpfully those are always better once the GC stages have already taken place so that’s what we’ll be aiming for. Vajont is probably the best comparison I can make, but the breakaway took that stage and the only relevant GC gains were Beñat Intxausti taking 18 seconds late on - but that was without a potentially selective penultimate climb. This is somewhere between a fairly middling País Vasco mountain stage - say around Zierbena or something - and that Vajont finish. I guess the best comparison would be the Le Lioran stage from the 2016 Tour - there isn’t really anything like the Puy Mary so close to the line, but the warmup climbs are harder and Bretterschachton is longer than Perthus (and Brennes slightly tougher than Font de Cère). There, Majka and Rodríguez gained 3 seconds on the main body of the challengers, but others lost vital seconds as again the break took it. Now, imagine how that might have been raced had the biggest mountain stages already taken place, and let’s see…
 
Reactions: gregrowlerson
Jun 23, 2019
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I wonder if someone is interested in some little tests of the many races posted here. I've got a tool that allows me to reproduce the races with their exact altimetric profile, even if they're grafically ugly (the road is a straight line). This tool was created by an user of the PCM Italy community. So if you are interested i can open a thread in which I will post my tests gradually.
 
Giro d' Italia Stage 5 Palermo-Enna 180.2 Km Hilly
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/155189

KOM SPRINTS:
Obelisco di Gibilrossa (4th Category, 315 m, 6.2 Km at 4.5%, Km 13.8)
null (4th Category, 462 m, 7.0 Km at 4.6%, Km 31.7)
Vicari (3rd Category, 638 m, 5.6 Km at 6.7%, Km 55.8)
Alia (4th Category, 600 m, 4.9 Km at 5.0%, Km 77.7)
Passo di Resuttano (3rd Category, 831 m, 6.4 Km at 6.1%, Km 115.9)
Alimena (4th Category, 751 m, 7.6 Km at 4.1%, Km 132.9)
San Giovannello (3rd Category, 665 m, 4.5 Km at 5.9%, Km 152.3)
Enna- Route Nationale 121 (3rd Category, 775 m, 5.6 Km at 6.6%, Km 170.0)
Enna-Centro (4th Category, 873 m, 3.0 Km at 7.0%, Arrive)

I only found a profile of penultimate climb: (This profile to km 6)
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/101720

Palermo:


Enna:


What to expect? Probably a break to go early, the types of Vinokourov, Wellens, Izaguirre and co. to attack on the penultimate climb and an uphill sprint in the end for the likes of Valverde with a few seconds gap here and there.
 
Giro d' Italia Stage 6 Cefalu-Catania 244.3 Km Mountain
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/154939

KOM SPRINTS:
Portella Femmina Morta (1st Category, 1525 m, 32.5 Km at 4.7%, Km 88.9)
Etna-Rifugio Citelli via Mareneve (1st Category, 1629 m, 17.4 Km at 6.1%, Km 172.2)
Etna- Rifugio Sapienza (1st Category, 1905 m, 18.3 Km at 7.2%, Km 209.1)

Portella di Femmina Morta:


Rifugio Citelli: (From Linguaglossa)


Rifugio Sapienza: (From Zafferana Etnea)


Cefalu:


Catania:


A really tough stage with 3 tough climbs (2 of them in quick succession) and 240+ km. The first 10-12 kms of the descent from Rifugio Sapienza are technical but the rest of it is a power descent.
What to expect? If this would have been in the last week of a GT it would have been carnage but I unfortunately don't expect much in stage 6. But the climbers need to gain time, and they should start somewhere to do it. Hopefully some GC contenders who aim to peak later lose some time.
 
Giro d' Italia Stage 7 Catania-Messina 149.5 Km Flat
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/155192

KOM SPRINTS:
Miscarello (4th Category, 487 m, 3.9 Km at 6.5%, Km 46.9)
Puntalazzo (3rd Category, 576 m, 6.8 Km at 6.0%, Km 58.8)
Taormina (4th Category, 206 m, 2.5 Km at 8.0%, Km 95.0).

Well, it's a stage for sprinters but not as straightforward. There are a few climbs in the first 60 kms and with around 55 km to go this climb, Muro di Taormina, will make some riders struggle:
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/104950

What to expect? A sprint but not for the likes of Kittel.

Messina:
 
Giro d' Italia Stage 8 Reggio Calabria-Gambarie 176.1 Km Mountain
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/154936

KOM SPRINTS:
Lago Rumia (1st Category, 1319 m, 27.5 Km at 4.8%, Km 58.2)
Montalto-Aspromonte via Gallico (1st Category, 1343 m, 30.0 Km at 4.4%, Km 121.8)
Montalto-Aspromonte via Reggio di Calabria (1st Category, 1370 m, 22.2 Km at 6.1%, Km 171.9)

Today we are finally at the mainland after 3 stages in Sardegna and 4 stages in Sicily.

The first climb of the day is Lago Rumia. A tough climb and the average gradient would be higher if not for the 5 km at %2.6 at kms 16-21.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/92421

After the descent we climb Montalto via Gallico. A 2 stepped climb with the second half being much tougher than the first:
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/76703

After the descent of this climb we have our final climb of the day, Montalto from Reggio di Calabria. The stats don't tell the whole story as the climb is very irregular. I expect the decisive moves to happen between km 11 and 14 where there is 3 km at %12.3.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/76692

After the final climb there is a 4 km of flase flat to Gambarie where the stage finishes.

What to expect? A good breakaway, and hopefully proper racing on the final climb with some big gaps at the finish. Should be interesting.

Reggio Calabria:


Gambarie:
 
Stage 11: Nürnberg- Frankfurt am Main, 227km





GPM:
Hettstädter Steige (cat.3) 3,0km @ 4,8%
Geiersberg (cat.3) 15,1km @ 2,8%
Bergen-Enkheim (Röhrborngasse)(cat.3) 0,8km @ 9,3%

The second straight 220km+ stage after the rest day, this is a long transitional day that sees us leave Bavaria for the last time and head back across to Hesse as we make a beeline northwestwards midway through the second week. The stage start is hosted by Nuremberg, the country’s 14th largest city and the second largest in Bavaria, with a total population of over half a million.



An old historic city, Nürnberg was the centre of its own Burggrafschaft and an unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, thanks to the city’s historic castle regularly serving as host to the Reichstag, the Imperial Diet and the spiritual forerunner of today’s German house of the same name, until the plague years, as bubonic plague proved particularly persistent in the city, returning on at least 7 occasions in the ensuing 150 years. Unusually among Bavarian cities, it accepted the Protestant Reformation, but the Thirty Years’ War sealed its fate; despite attempts to remain unattached, it lost many of its export markets and trade suffered; Bavaria appropriated part of its land; the city asked to be incorporated into Prussia in 1803 but this was refused by the Prussians for fear of sparking further diplomatic incident, and three years later the city was handed over to Bavaria in exchange for the city-state’s debts being wiped out.

Because of its prominent role in the ruling of the Holy Roman Empire, the city became a centre of the ideological cult of the Nazis; the Holy Roman Empire was appropriated and re-characterised as the First Reich, and the city therefore became the chosen site for the annual propaganda rallies run by the NSDAP in the 1920s, which grew into enormous propagandistic festivals once Hitler had come to power. One such rally was the basis of Leni Riefenstahl’s legendary propaganda film Triumph des Willens (nb: don’t fret, the link is just a film poster, I’m not actually linking people the movie), a film which is as fêted for its cinematography and wide-reaching in its influence as its subject matter is abhorrent, with nods to it seen in everything from Starship Troopers to Star Wars. For this talismanic nature, it paid a heavy price, as the USAF and RAF bombed the medieval city to the ground in 1945; the city’s role as the centre of Nazi propaganda thus led to its second lease of life as the centre of the war crimes tribunals against the multitudes of high level Nazis that had been captured alive or surrendered following the fall of Hitler and his inner circle. The Justizpalast had largely survived intact, and so therefore for this reason it became the chosen location to broadcast the final say on Nazi Germany; many of the leadership were executed, though the most notorious of the survivors, Hermann Göring, committed suicide before this could happen.

The city was subsequently rebuilt, much like Dresden, and is now a popular tourist attraction, as is the Justizpalast. The former Nazi party rally grounds largely remain, with the tribunes decrepit and decaying, but the Zeppelinfeld largely remains, and the colossal horseshoe-shaped Congress hall is visible. The area around the former rally sites has since become used annually for, of all things, motor racing, with the roads being formed into a short but very wide and dramatic circuit known as the Norisring, after the old Roman name for the city (the organisers thought, possibly wisely, that calling it the Nürnbergring would confuse people outside of Germany due to conflation with the more famous Nürburgring), which hosts the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) annually and typically provides some of the more exciting racing of the year - which may become more dramatic as speeds increase while DTM is making moves to homologate its regulations with the extremely powerful GT500 class in Japanese SuperGT, which is faster than any European/North American GT class. It was previously longer, but after the death of sportscar star Pedro Rodríguez, the Mexican ranked as one of the best drivers never to win a World Drivers’ Championship - perhaps behind Stirling Moss, Gilles Villeneuve and Ronnie Peterson, but only those three - in 1971 the present layout was adopted.


Norisring home straight, pit complex and main tribune, with back straight on the right, Zeppelinfeld with the race caravan on it, the flooded northern part of the planned Deutsches Stadion to the north and the Congress Hall in the background

Being as it is one of the largest cities in the country, Nuremberg has a large number of famous sons and daughters. These include the legendary painter Albrecht Dürer, the philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, the baroque composer Johann Pachelbel, known for his ubiquitous Canon which has become one of the most instantly recognisable pieces of music fall time, and many others. It also has plenty of cycling history, dating back all the way to Quer durch Deutschland, the first attempt at a Deutschland Tour, in 1911, where Adolf Huschke triumphed in the city’s streets. The race has returned since in 1927, 1939, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955 and 1961 (intriguingly won by DDR defector Horst Oldenburg - his defection came late in the days before the border was closed in Berlin, and was a driving factor in the falsified drugs test to prevent Klaus Ampler from travelling to the West at the World Championships that he had qualified for, as there were fears that Ampler, like Oldenburg before him, had made friends in the West during their track races together in Berlin while the border was open), however the city was nowhere to be seen in either the late 70s/early 80s or the early 2000s reboots of the race. It also has another connection to the sport in the form of Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, a top level women’s team from the 2000s which was named after a… you guessed it… insurance company based in Nuremberg. Set up in 1999, they played host to stars like Barbara Heeb, Petra Rossner and Judith Arndt, also benefiting from strong performances from Oenone Wood and Trixi Worrack to win the UCI team ranking in 2004 and 2005, and, through Arndt and Wood, also the individual rankings those same years. They also won the Giro Donne through Edita Pučinskaitė in 2007, and made the podium overall a year later with Claudia Häusler, and won the Tour de l’Aude twice and podiumed it no fewer than 6 times through Arndt and Worrack. Having signed Amber Neben for 2009 to cover the loss of Häusler to Cervélo, the team also signed Nicole Cooke for 2010, but after the existing sponsors withdrew due to the buildup of controversies in German cycling and the replacement sponsors, a Luxembourg luxury boating firm called Skyter Shipping, fled by night at the eleventh hour and suggested they probably ought to have been called Shyster Shipping instead, the team couldn’t afford the stars; Cooke and Neben were forced to beg cap in hand for rides elsewhere, while Worrack took a pay cut to lead the much reduced in scope team, rechristened Team Noris Cycling and funded by the team owner and his son out of their back pockets, but after that it was gone, a rather ignominious end for such a successful team.


Equipe Nürnberg Versicherung in 2008. Trixi Worrack is on the left of the middle row, Regina Schleicher next to her with the rainbow bands on her shoulders, Claudia Häusler dead centre, Edita Pučinskaitė on the right of her also with rainbow bands, and Charlotte Becker seated on the right

As you can see from the profile, however, there’s really not too much here that’s going to destroy people; this is a stage that’s intended for the more durable sprinters. Well - they’ll have to have been fairly durable to make it this far into the race, to be fair. Km0 comes as we pass from Nürnberg to Fürth, and then rolling hillside is the order of the day - no genuine climbs, but also not totally flat, as we head through northwestern Bavaria. We head through a few towns of minor note - Scheinfeld, for example, became a centre of Lithuanian culture in diaspora during the Cold War after a number of Lithuanians were placed in a Displaced Persons camp in the town and ended up making up more than 10% of the town’s population - until we reach Kitzingen, which entails crossing the River Main (not for the last time today). Kitzingen has a strange double recent history, as a centre of German wine production, and of a stage post for the US Army defences against possible Soviet air attack in Western Europe. It also allegedly hosts a grave known locally as the Grave of Dracula, which has led to urban myths around the famous Vlad the Impaler and the Dracula mythology. A small uncategorised rise and then a gradual roll back down to the riverside sees us reach our first intermediate sprint, in the famous city of Würzburg, where we cross the Main for the second time today.



Famous for its old stone bridge and its fortified castle known as the Marienberg, Würzburg is a city of over 100.000 which sits roughly halfway between Nürnberg and Frankfurt, though due to routing is just under halfway in my stage. The city’s name is apparently Celtic in origin, but due to a misconception that the name is derived from the German word for spice, it appears as “Herbipolis” in Latinate transcription for several centuries. It was the site of a key battle between Habsburg Austria and the newly-non-monarchist French Republic in the late 18th Century, and was a centre of Rabbinical culture and learning in Ashkenaz I as well as a staging post in travel between Ashkenaz I and Ashkenaz II during the age of shtetl culture, but obviously the 20th Century put paid to that; similarly much of its architectural legacy was destroyed in heavy bombing campaigns during World War II, with the city making a natural target as its central location and position on nodal transport routes made it a strategic base from which to work. The enormous baroque Würzburger Residenz is one of the city’s best-known icons, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s sporting heritage is slightly unusual for a Western European city, as it isn’t renowned as a football city. However, Würzburg’s basketball team is one of the top ones in the country, and its most famous alumnus is also the most famous German basketballer of all time, seven foot behemoth Dirk Nowitzki, who had a 22-year career with the Dallas Mavericks including becoming the first European to win the NBA League MVP award and also winning the NBA Finals MVP award in the Mavericks’ championship-winning 2011 season.

There’s a short climb just after this, which takes us to the small plateau in Lower Franconia around Remlingen, before we descend back down to the banks of the River Main once more at Marktheidenfeld, which is the hometown of Regina Schleicher, one of the stars of the early 2000s in women’s cycling. She was a comparatively late bloomer, despite success at the U23 European Championships, mostly hitting her stride from the ages of 28 to 32. She went on a run of success at World Cup races beginning with the 2002 GP Castilla y León (later GP Ciudad Valladolid), and running through the GP Plouay, and running all the way to the victory at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda in 2006. This particular win was achieved in the rainbow jersey, as her crowning achievement was the victory in the 2005 World Championships road race in Madrid, outsprinting Nicole Cooke and Oenone Wood for the gold. She also won seven stage of the Giro d’Italia, among several other stage wins of significant stage races, most of which sadly now departed, such as the Tour du Grand Montréal and Vuelta a Castilla y León. A cycle route between Marktheidenfeld and Zimmern, which we ride parallel to, has been renamed the Regina-Schleicher-Weg in her honour.


Schleicher takes gold in Madrid

There is a long and grinding rise through the lower Franconian hills in the Spessart range that link Marktheidenfeld with Aschaffenburg, and our next meeting with the Main, but despite a 15km length, it only averages around 3% at most so I’ve only awarded it cat.3 status. The long descent is multi-stepped, and there’s an uncategorised bump less than 5km before the second intermediate sprint, which takes place in the latter town. Although 440m in 27km really doesn’t otherwise count as a descent per se!

Aschaffenburg is a part of Bavaria today, but for much of its history it has belonged to Mainz and has been thought of as a Franconian city; indeed its dialect is Rheinfränkisch rather than Boarisch or Ostfränkisch. It owes its transition to Bavaria to Napoleon; it was placed in the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt by the French ruler, but after the liberation of much of Germany from the French puppet state control, a treaty between the liberating forces of Bavaria and Austria rendered it a Bavarian city. Its position as an important window between the Bavarian southern-facing Danubian trade routes and the Rhein-Main-Gebiet which it is proximate to meant that the city prospered post-war, and in 2002 it even was ranked the #1 place to live in Germany for quality of life. Although its distance from Frankfurt is similar to that of Mainz, Wiesbaden and Darmstadt, it isn’t technically included within the RMV area; however almost all Regionalbahn trains heading eastward from Frankfurt beyond Hanau will stop here unless they turn north toward Fulda and Kassel.



Now, we do not cross the Main for the umpteenth time in the day, but instead we continue along its basin as the stage flattens out, ideally for the sprinters. No climbs here will drop any but the most rotten sprinters, and if you’re such a rotten sprinter you can’t get over these climbs, I don’t care if you don’t have any chances to win. We continue along the riverbank until crossing from Bavaria to Hessen with around 40km to go, not long before our final intermediate sprint, in the city of Hanau. I’ve mentioned Hanau before, a city which is most famous for being the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, collectors of fairytales and, while many of you may be more aware of them for their gruesome children’s stories and collections of folk tales, arguably more important for their linguistic works, especially Jacob, who produced an unfinished etymological dictionary of the German language along with his brother and, individually, undertook a history of the German language and its grammar that enabled him to make important historical linguistic discoveries that have been enormously historically significant in the understanding of the development of Indo-European languages in general and the Germanic language family specifically. Because of the Fulda Gap that I mentioned in an earlier stage, it was a key station for the US Army, housing a garrison of almost 50.000, which only closed its doors last year, albeit after a lengthy period of scaling down. It was also the home to another iconic German sports star, the legendary striker Rudi Völler, a World Cup winner in 1990 whose blonde perm and moustache combo has become iconic in people’s perceptions of Germany and its fashion, though despite all his great exploits on the field he is probably most famous for getting that luscious perm spat into by Frank Rijkaard.



We are now deep into the Rhein-Main region, so we cross the Main for the penultimate time to cross over to Mühlheim am Main, and subsequently onto Offenbach (boooooooo), the bitter, jealous little sibling of Frankfurt. Only kidding, Offenbach, love you really. With a population of 125.000, Offenbach’s history is built on textile and machinery since the Industrial Revolution, most notably leather production, and it is home to the German Leather Museum. It is now largely a commuter town for Frankfurt, being on its S-Bahn network, but with a large immigrant or second / third generation population. Perhaps its most iconic offspring is also one of its victims - Regina Jonas, born in Berlin in 1902 and ordained 33 years later in Offenbach am Main as a rabbi, after being ordained by the head of the Liberal Rabbis’ Association following a series of rejections from more conservative seminaries - the very first female rabbi in the history of Judaism. She remained in Germany after the Nazis took over and long after the war began, to provide rabbinical services to the Jews left behind and remaining through terrible hardship. She was deported to Theresienstadt by the Nazis late in 1942, where she continued to provide rabbinical services, teachings and support, meeting new inmates from the trains and generally supporting the Jews within the concentration camp for nearly two years, before she was deported to Auschwitz where she died in late 1944. Much of her work was buried, both by destruction of records and by more conservative Jewish groups, and so it was only nearly fifty years after her death that her work came to be known. No further female rabbis were ordained in Germany until 2010.

After this, we cross the Main for the sixth and last time in the stage, into the Fechenheim district of town, before we cross up towards Bergen-Enkheim, and we essentially clone the finish of my GP Frankfurt revamp that I posted a few weeks ago - so there is a 750m @ 9% climb at 10km from home which might just derail the sprinters a little, but the run in is sufficiently well-suited to them. I discussed the loop recently so will quote myself rather than rewrite it:

The name of Bergen-Enkheim gives it away: this is a hill. And not an inconsiderable one either. I mean, in the grand scheme of things it’s a pretty small hill. But if we’ve got a group of 40 or so as we have had in recent years in the run-in in Frankfurt, it is nice to at least throw a bit of a curveball in there, so that the attackers have more of a chance to make something happen. There are a few roads that climb up from Enkheim into Bergen-Enkheim. I have chosen Röhrborngasse - 750m averaging 9,3%, with a maximum of 20%. It even has its own website. It has been used in the Hessen-Rundfahrt, but that race is long since departed, and the amateur championships of West Germany also included it in a circuit in 1975.



With only 11,5km remaining at the summit, however, this is a chance for the puncheur to make hay while the sun shines, and it’s something that the sprinters will need to think about - not toasting too many people pulling breaks back before it, as they have to think about leaving enough in their own tanks to get over these 800m - and tactical placing will be important, as will managing any attackers. Looking at the groups that have contested the sprint in the last three seasons, there are people like Jan Bakelants, Oliver Naesen, Edoardo Zardini, Enrico Battaglin, Dylan Teuns, Rein Taaramäe, Maciej Paterski, Silvan Dillier, Emanuel Buchmann and Simon Špilak who may see a climb like this as their chance - however being only 750m in length means it’s not a guaranteed difference-maker that suddenly turns this into an Ardennes race.

There’s then a second climb on the run-in, but this is not one that is likely to cause any great difficulty - after a gradual downhill on Vilbeler Landstraße and Wilhelmshöher Straße, a right turn followed by a technical left-right chicane takes us onto Hofhausstraße, in Stadtteil Seckbach. This is 1100m at 5,3%, but it’s wide open and only has a couple of corners and no real steep gradients, so sprinters needn’t be afraid of it; however, it is very liable to prove an obstacle to their getting back onto anybody who has attacked on Röhrborngasse. Luckily for them, then, at the end of this, we head onto the B521 dual carriageway, which takes us into Frankfurt-Nordend on a straight road, so they may be able to get a visual on the fugitives briefly.
I’ve also gone into some depth on Frankfurt’s cycling history in that same post, so shan’t repeat myself so soon (I may have gone back over certain things had it been a long-lost post in the annals of the forum but it’s literally a couple of weeks ago).

Now, in my Deutschlandtour stage, the climb is slightly closer to the finish, but that is because I have put the finish in Westend, on Bockenheimer Landstraße, avoiding the tramlines, and winding our way along what was the finishing circuit for the GP Frankfurt from 2010 to 2016, before turning toward Bockenheim at the Alte Oper and finishing there; this finish would have entailed doubling back on ourselves to include it in my GP Frankfurt, and so I didn’t. Here, it shouldn’t impact the finish - it’s still likely to be a sprint, it’s just that coming a week and a half into the race and in a second straight 220km+ stage, and with that little climb late on, it’s likely to be from a group of 50-60 rather than 100-120, that’s all.

 
Paris - Nice v2

Link to version 1

My version 2 of Paris-Nice. The focus is somewhat similar to the first version. More stages decisive for the GC than the real versions. Shorter, steeper climbs and a stage design trying to promote more aggressive riding. And no of the 15 km long MTFs which has been pretty standard the last years.

Stage 1: Fontainebleau - Bourges, 188 km

The first stage is more or less completely flat transitional stage starting in the small town of Fontaineblaeu, just south of Paris. The town is most known for it's chateau, once a residence for the French kings, now home to ths prestigious business school of INSEAD. The course the riders first directly south before turning and going in a southwest direction to the stage finish in Bourges.

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Paris-Nice: Stage 2: Moulins - Clermont Ferrand, 174 km

Stage 2, and the race already move into hilly terrain. The riders have moved south from the previous day's stage finish in Bourges to the start in Moulins. From the start the route heads south through mostly flat terrain on the first half of the stage. After passing the through the village of Jozerand after about 84 kms, the profile of the stage changes into a more hilly terrain. The first clims is not categorized but takes the riders into the northern outskirts of Volcanes de Auvergne, a chain of old cinder cones and lava domes with Puy de Dome as the best known.

The race continues towards Clermont Ferrand, climbing Luzet as the first categorized climb of this PN. The climb is the first part of Col de la Nugere, but they turn off the road before the top and looping southeast for the first hightlight of the race, the climb to Col de Chevalard. This is a short but very steep climb on a narrow road just north of the city of Clermont Ferrand. The riders will have to tackle this two thimes in the last 25 kms of the race, and the last time just 6 kms before the stage finish. The climb will make sure that there will probably be only a small group sprinting for the victory of the stage. A stage well-suited for puncheurs like Alaphillipe and his like.

Climbs:
123 km: Luzet: 4,3 km, 6,3 %
148 km: Col du Chevalard: 1,7 km, 10,9 %
168 km: Col du Chevalard: 1,7 km, 10,9 %

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Paris-Nice: Stage 3: Clermont Ferrand - Villefranche sur Saone, 198 km

The next stage is probably the stage most suited for breakaways in this version of Paris-Nice. From the start in Clermont Ferrand the route heads east. The first 50 kms are fairly flat before the climbing starts. The toughest and longest climb comes after 64 kms and is quickly followed by an another climb to La Mataude after 86 kms.

After descending the next 50 kms are easier, but the terrain is more "lumpy" than flat, an advantage for a possible breakaway. The next climb starts after about 140 km and is followed directly by and an uncategorized climb to Col de Favardy, where they reach the top after about 157 km. After a 10 km long descent and some false flat, the last climb of the day starts after about 170 km. It's the shortest, but also steepest climb of the stage. From the top of Croix Rosier, there is a 7 km descent and 17 km flat section to the stage finish in Villefranche-sur-Saone in the Saone Valley.

Climbs:
64 km: Col de la Charme: 6,9 km, 7,2 %
86 km: La Mataude: 5,5 km, 5,2 %
145 km: Col du Pavillion: 4,9 km, 4,3 %
174 km: Col de la Croix Rosier: 3,5 km, 6,6 %

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Paris-Nice: Stage 4: Macon - Amberieu en Bugey, 175 km

The race have moved north in the Saone valley, to Macon, for the start of this stage. From Macon, the peloton first heads east, then turns south after 20 kms looping around and south of Bourg en Bresse. Then they reach more hilly terrain at the outskirts of the Jura mountains. Between 70 and 80 kms there are a couple of small lumps, before the first categorized climb starts after about 83 km.

From here there is hardly any flat in the last 90 km of the stage. There are a total 5 climbs, fairly similar in lenght and gradient. The first climb Berthiand is the steepest, starting just after crossing the Ain river. After crossing Berthiand in an eastwards direction, the riders turn and heads south over Col du Cendrier where they descend into the Bugey region.

From St.Rambert en Bugey, they loop first east and south over Col des Evoges, then north and west over Col des Arandas back to St.Rambart where they start the last climb of the stage, to Mont Luisandre. From the top of Luisandre, there is a short and difficult descent to the stage finish in Amberieu en Bugey. None of climbs of the stage are very difficult on its own, but the totality of the climbs and due to partially narrow roads and medium condition of the surface, this could be a very important stage for the GC of this Paris-Nice.

Climbs:
89 km: Col du Berthiand: 5,8 km, 7,8 %
112 km: Col du Cendrier: 9,1 km, 4,7 %
134 km: Col des Evoges: 8,7 km, 6,1 %
151 km: Col du Arandas: 7,7 km, 4,9 %
167 km: Mont Luisandre: 5,1 km, 5,9 %

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Paris-Nice: Stage 5: Lyon-Lyon, 25 km ITT

The race have moved to Lyon for the ITT. The stage both starts and finish north of the Rhone river cutting through the city, and takes part in the northern port of the city, climbing the Mont d'Or. After a first flat 5 kms, the 5 km climb to Mont d'Or starts. The top is reached after 11 km, from where they descend south towards the city. After about 20 kms they start the second climb of the ITT, a 2 km, 6 % climb across the Fourviere hill before descending towards the stage finish at the Saone riverbank.

Climbs:
Mont d'Or: 5 km, 5,3 %

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Paris-Nice: Stage 6, Valence - Station Valdrome, 152 km

Probably the queen stage of this Paris-Nice. The peloton have moved from Lyon to Valence for the start of this stage. From Valence the race heads southeast, and the first 50 kms are mostly flat. There they reach the outskirts of the Diois Massif, and starts the climbing. After climbing Col de la Chaudiere from the south, they descend the northern slopes, before heading in a southeastern direction for rest of the stage.

The profile of the stage is quite similar to the previous stage to Amberieu en Bugey, but the last climb and finish is definitely somewhat tougher. There is no descent finish here, the last climb to Valdrome is quite tough with over 6 km at almost 9 % before a gentle 2 km descent to the stage finish at the small ski station at Valdrome. The last climb has several half kilometre sections of 11-12 % and should provide action in the GC.

Climbs:
64 km: Col de la Chaudiere: 8,1 km, 7 %
97 km: Col de Pennes: 6,8 km, 8,7 %
118 km: Col de Premol: 4,7 km, 5,8 %
133 km: Col du Fays: 5,3 km, 5,9 %
151 km: Station de Valdrome: 6,4 km, 8,8 %

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Paris-Nice: Stage 7: Carpetras - Frejus, 213 km

After three stages decisive for the GC, it's time for a sprinter's stage again, giving the GC contenders a chance to save some energy for the last test in Nice. The stage starts in Carpetras and heads in a southeastern dircetion the whole day to the stage finish in Frejus at the Mediterranean coast. The stage is mostly flat, only with two 3rd category climbs about halfway on the stage, but the last 100 kms is mostly flat, giving the sprinter's teams a decent chance for controlling this stage into a mass sprint.

Climbs:
85 km: Col de Montfuron: 5,1 km, 4 %
104 km: Col de Manosque: 4,2 km, 4,7 %

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Paris-Nice: Stage 8: Nice - Nice, 117 km

Last stage, and it's the classic loop in the hills surrounding Nice. But this time with a twist or two. The race start in the centre of Nice, at Promenade des Anglais. From here the peloton heads east and then straight into Col d'Eze, usually the last climb on this stage, which means that this stage is done in a counterclockwise direction, opposite of the "usual procedure". The top of Eze is already after 12 km, from which they descend and climb to La Turbie and continues towards Cote de Peille.

After Peille they race turns westwards and continues over Calaison and Chateauneuf, usually the first climbs in this stage. From the top of the latter, they riders descend towards Nice again. But it's not time for the stage finish yet. Always down at the Port of Nice, they turn and head northeast, touching the sides of Mont Boron, passing Col de Villefort before continuing up the very steep street of Chemin du Vinalgrier which ends at Col des Quatre Chemins. The last part of the climb up Vinalgrier about 1,5 km at 12-13 % and should create an explosive final of the race. From Quatre Chemins, there is a 10 km descent and flat to the stage finish at the Promenade.

Climbs:
12 km: Col d'Eze: 7 km, 6,1 %
34 km: Cote de Peille: 7,6 km, 5,7 %
70 km: Col de Calaison: 6,3 km, 6,4 %
83 km: Cote de Chateauneuf: 6,3 km, 6,3 %
107 km: Col des Quatre Chemins: 4,1 km, 8 %

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Summary Paris-Nice v2

Stage 1: Fontainebleau - Bourges: 188 km
Stage 2: Moulins - Clermont Ferrand: 174 km
Stage 3: Clermont Ferrand - Villefranche sur Saone: 198 km
Stage 4: Macon - Amberieu en Bugey: 175 km
Stage 5: Lyon-Lyon: 25 km ITT
Stage 6: Valence - Station Valdrome: 152 km
Stage 7: Carpetras - Frejus: 213 km
Stage 8: Nice - Nice: 117 km

Total: 1242 km

3 medium mountain stage (Macon - Amberieu en Bugey, Nice-Nice and Valence-Station Valdrome)
2 hilly stages
2 flat stages
1 TT

3 cat. 1 climbs (Col de Bertiand, Col de Pennes and Station Valdrome) and 10 cat. 2 climbs

4 of the stages could/should be decisive for the GC. The three medium mountain stages should balance the medium long ITT in Lyon. The objective was to create a route that make sure that a rider could afford to lose some time at the ITT, but still has the possibility to regain this time gap at the hilly/medium mountain stages.
 

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