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.
AgreedThe European Cup For People Who Don’t Want To Do Proper Skiing
There are two version:F_Cance said:Is there a link or something to the tool? Never heard of something like this before.
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).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.
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