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Race Design Thread

Page 40 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Sep 8, 2010
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Torino - Bruxelles || Stage 5, Freiburg - Karlsruhe, 156 km





Climbs
Wattkopf (Cat.3, 325m) 4,2 km @ 4,4%

Right now from were we are, there are lots of possibilities to go for Luxembourg. I decided to do the sprinters a favor and give them an almost dead flat stage along the Rhine and the Frech-German border. Things shouldn't be too easy, so I put in a short climb. Guess this will stop no one besides Guardini.

Freiburg


Karlsruhe
 
Jun 1, 2011
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BillytheKid said:
Ironically, Telluride is located only some seven kilometers as-the-crow flies from top of the Red Mountain pass on US route 550 which tops out at 3053 meters. A finish atop the Red Mountain Pass would be a logical extension of the Iron Horse Classic 550 route from Durango to Silverton.

OK there is a MT finish here somewhere.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2512/3943126714_4cafd9a15e.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-h2uEA5wuUhU/Tfrc_lN-6XI/AAAAAAAAAKQ/tBe9K0XaQPs/s1600/red+mtn+pass+drop.jpg

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4116/4888568808_4401513d09_z.jpg

I guess you will have to link to these pics.

Three major "Cols" of Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain, and the preamble climb of which I will call Purgatory which offers a pitchy stair-stepping climb to the base of the Coal Bank.
Telluride will be the finish of stage one. Will it be a flat run in to the town below or hopefully an uphill finish at the new Mountain Village over the ski on the far ridge?


Telluride, Colorado sits in a box canyon that ends abruptly (below). The ski area can bee seen on the facing ridge. Telluride Mountain Village sits just over that Ridge and offers an best chance at a uphill finish on the opposite slope.



This winter view shows the Telluride Mountain Village, right, and Telluride in the valley, left. There's at least some elevation gain.



Just west of Telluride is the mining village of Pandora (somebody had a sense of humor) with the box canyon bit.) You can see a jeep trail notch into lower mountain. It will take you up through Black Bear Pass at the foot of Telluride Mountain to join the Red Mountain Pass (my original pick for the finish of this stage)Except for the lower switch backs it becomes an mountain bike ride only.
 
Library Post

Fictional Stage Races (Eastern Europe)

Friedensfahrt/Peace Race [WPB] (Libertine Seguros) Intro Prologue Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8 Stage 9 Stage 10 Stage 11 Stage 12 Stage 13 Stage 14

Friedensfahrt/Peace Race [WBP] (Libertine Seguros) Stage 1a Stage 1b Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6a Stage 6b Stage 7 Stage 8 Stage 9 Stage 10 Stage 11 Stage 12 Stage 13 Stage 14 Stage 15

Friedensfahrt/Peace Race [BPW] (roundabout) Entire parcours

L'viv-Chernivtsi Tour (Kvinto) first editionStages 1-3 Stages 4 & 5 Stages 6 & 7 second edition Stages 1 & 2 Stages 3 - 5 Stages 6 & 7

Tour of Hungary (togo95): Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8

Tour of Russia (Libertine Seguros): Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8

Tour of Slovakia (togo95): Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8

Tour of the Czech Republic (roundabout) Stages 1-7

Turul Transilvaniei (McLovin) Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8

Závod Zl?*nským krajem (togo95): Prologue Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4

More will be added here as they are posted. All library posts are linked from the original post in the thread.
 
Sep 8, 2010
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Torino - Bruxelles || Stage 6, Karlsruhe - Luxembourg, 266 km





Climbs
Orscholz (Cat.3, 385m) 4,6 km @ 4,3%

Time to satisfy my love for long stages. The next two stages will feature classic length of over 250 kilometers. This stage here is for the sprinters, tomorrow's stage is for the GC riders and stage hunters.

From Karlsruhe the stage enters France and crosses the national park of "Vosges du Nord". I really thought about a stage in the classic Vosges, but I think that this kind of terrain is covered with my stage in the Black Forest. In Sarreguemines the stage returns to Germany and heads north. After passing by the Saarschleife, the only categorized climb of the day starts. From here it is a little bit of up and down.
Optional you can go for an uphill sprint at the Fort Thüngen. But since I couldn't find out about the roads there, I put that idea aside. So this is gonna be a normal sprint royal.

Karlsruhe


Luxembourg
 
Apr 19, 2010
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GP Lac Léman: Lausanne - Lausanne; 236 km

Start and finish located in one of my favourite cities - Lausanne. With good weather, this would be an amazing one-day race to watch, with such great sceneries of Lac Léman and surroundings.
Riders will go around Lac Léman counterclockwise. First climb is on the menu is 33 km from start. Descent from it ends in Nyon, and then the route head to Genéve through rolling terrain and also they will get into France for the first time. In Genéve route turns direction to east and we are going through borders into France once again. This time, the part in France is over 80 km long, and there is another climb there. Starting from Thonon-les-Bains, the climb to Vinzier is 15 km long.
After the descent there is flat terrain for over 40 km, ending in Vevey (Suisse), 37 km before finish. From now on the longest flat part is no mre than 5 km long. Next climb is Mont Pélerin, though riders will climb just half of the road to the top (30 km to the finish line). Descent is very technical and on narrow roads. It is followed by a 5 km long stretch along the shore of Lac Léman. Next climb - Bossiéres is 3,5 km long and it's very inconsistent, the steepest 500 metres have an average gradient 17%. The top of this climb is only 16 km from finish, and two hill are still here to be climbed.
Another short flat part brings riders into Lausanne already. Second to last climb is Bois Mermel just under the airport in Lausanne. It is almost 5 km long, and from the top only 5 km remain to finish. Firstly, cyclist must descent to Chateau d'Ouchy, and the last km is on the straight Avenue d'Ouchy with average 10% slope.
This race would be probably most interesting in the last 35 km with so many places to attack.

Link

Climbs:
Bois d'Outard - 18 km; 5,3%
Vinzier - 14 km; 4,3%
Mont Pélerin - 6,1 km; 8,8%
Bossiéres - 3,4 km; 7%
Bois Mermel - 5 km; 4,8%
Avenue d'Ouchy - 1,1 km; 10,4%





Lac Léman:


Lausanne:
 
May 6, 2009
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togo95 said:
GP Lac Léman: Lausanne - Lausanne; 236 km

Start and finish located in one of my favourite cities - Lausanne. With good weather, this would be an amazing one-day race to watch, with such great sceneries of Lac Léman and surroundings.
Riders will go around Lac Léman counterclockwise. First climb is on the menu is 33 km from start. Descent from it ends in Nyon, and then the route head to Genéve through rolling terrain and also they will get into France for the first time. In Genéve route turns direction to east and we are going through borders into France once again. This time, the part in France is over 80 km long, and there is another climb there. Starting from Thonon-les-Bains, the climb to Vinzier is 15 km long.
After the descent there is flat terrain for over 40 km, ending in Vevey (Suisse), 37 km before finish. From now on the longest flat part is no mre than 5 km long. Next climb is Mont Pélerin, though riders will climb just half of the road to the top (30 km to the finish line). Descent is very technical and on narrow roads. It is followed by a 5 km long stretch along the shore of Lac Léman. Next climb - Bossiéres is 3,5 km long and it's very inconsistent, the steepest 500 metres have an average gradient 17%. The top of this climb is only 16 km from finish, and two hill are still here to be climbed.
Another short flat part brings riders into Lausanne already. Second to last climb is Bois Mermel just under the airport in Lausanne. It is almost 5 km long, and from the top only 5 km remain to finish. Firstly, cyclist must descent to Chateau d'Ouchy, and the last km is on the straight Avenue d'Ouchy with average 10% slope.
This race would be probably most interesting in the last 35 km with so many places to attack.

Link

Climbs:
Bois d'Outard - 18 km; 5,3%
Vinzier - 14 km; 4,3%
Mont Pélerin - 6,1 km; 8,8%
Bossiéres - 3,4 km; 7%
Bois Mermel - 5 km; 4,8%
Avenue d'Ouchy - 1,1 km; 10,4%





Lac Léman:


Lausanne:
If the UCI wanted a new Swiss WT race to take over the spot of Züri-Metzgete then you won't go wrong with this one. Maybe at the start you could add an extra 20km to make it 256km and I'm sure one of the most scenic. It could also be a great lead up race for Lombardia if you didn't want to give them WT status.
 
Jun 1, 2011
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Libertine Seguros said:
Stage 12: Foix - Mantet, 180km





Climbs:
Col de Chioula (cat.1) 9,7km @ 7,3%
Col des Sept Frères (cat.4) 1,2km @ 7,1%
Col de Dent (cat.2) 13,4km @ 4,0%
Col de Jau (cat.1) 13,4km @ 6,7%
Col de Mantet (HC) 21,3km @ 6,1%

Points:
Prades (Avenida Louis Prat), 151km
Mantet (Parking), finish
]
Libertine, this is great detail. What mapping software are you using?
 
Stage 13: Narbonne - Lunel, 154km





Climbs:
Mont Saint-Clair (cat.3) 2,7km @ 6,3%

Points:
Villeneuve-lès-Maguelones (Avenue de Mireval), 105km
Lunel (Boulevard de Sainte-Claire), finish

As we head towards the penultimate weekend, the riders get the chance to give their weary climbing legs a rest after the travails on the Col de Mantet yesterday. Instead, it's a relatively straightforward flat stage, with a solitary climb to mark it, and its relatively short length will probably also come as blessed relief for the riders.

Before the départ there is the small matter of a quite lengthy transfer from the mountains of Pyrénées-Orientales to the city of Narbonne, in the Aude region. The stage begins benignly enough with a flat, slightly rolling first 30 kilometres into Beziers. The break of the day should be able to go here; as a transitional day the péloton may be happy to let them go; it will probably depend on how toughly the race is raced (er) in the main bunch later on; sprinter's teams may feel the need to take advantage of the few opportunities that the rest of the parcours offers them. Once in Beziers, the riders will turn right, towards the coast and the seaport of Agde alongside the Canal du Midi. A slight, almost imperceptible rise around the perimeter of Mont Saint-Loup, which separates the city of Agde from the notorious Cap d'Agde, takes us to the edge of the Étang de Thau, the largest of a series of inland lakes close to the Mediterranean coast; the riders now face 15km of extremely flat racing on a thin band of coastline between the two bodies of water, before arriving in Sète.

Sète contains our only categorised climb of the day, the cat.3 ascent of Mont Saint-Clair, a hill upon which the city has been built; it is not threatening to all but the most appalling of climbers, but it does mean that some of the sprinters who are least capable of dealing with uphill stretches may be further down in the péloton than they may like should splits occur. This is the last time we'll be more than 10m above sea level today.

Should the wind blow from the Mediterranean coast, of course, then there is a good chance that such splits could occur; almost all of the over 70km remaining in the stage take place right on the coastline, taking in the D60 Avenue des Étangs through Frontignan, briefly turning inland for roads do not pass on the thin strip of land between the Étang de Vic and the Mediterranean, whereas elsewhere this thin band of exposed coastline makes for an ideal spot to let the strongmen take control and form echelons. This detour takes us through the towns of Vic-la-Gardiole, Mireval and finally Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone, where the intermediate sprint for the day will take place, where the sprinters will hope to claw some points if the rouleurs haven't caused too much trouble with the echelons already.

Now turning back to the roads that sit on the exposed, open strips of land separating Les Étangs from La Mer, the péloton head through Palavas-les-Flots to the town of La Grande Motte, a tourist spot that hosted the Tour in 2009, when the wind blew and the péloton split apart, with Armstrong ahead and Contador behind; both the points jersey contenders and the GC men will want to make sure that they are in the right place in the péloton - nobody wants their chances ruined by a split in the péloton here, so they will have to be vigilant. The ordeal is not yet over; we continue on to Le Grau-de-Roi and turn left across the Étangs to Aigues-Mortes; with 18km left the riders will turn back inland and breathe a very loud sigh of relief, as though completely and utterly flat, and probably still windy, the run-in to Lunel is less totally exposed.

This is certainly a day when the péloton could let the break go, but with the green jersey outcomes still hopefully hanging in the balance, the sprinters' teams will want to control this one, while the rouleurs will be trying to break their resolve and split the péloton up; it will test the GC riders' strength and brains ahead of the penultimate weekend's challenges. They will probably be thankful the stage is short.

Narbonne:


Lunel:
 
May 24, 2010
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Fantasy time again, been working on a killer race through the Alps purely for climbers, no sprint stages, a hilly TT and I think some cracking stages. 9 stages, two rest days but at the minute I'm not quite there just yet, I'll post when I'm completely happy with it.
 
Speaking of mountains... let's try and make an intermediate stage a bit more decisive.

Stage 14: Salon-de-Provence - Toulon (Mont Faron), 150km





Climbs:
Côte de Belcodène (cat.3) 6,9km @ 2,5%
Col de Roussargue (cat.2) 10,2km @ 5,0%
Montée du Vieux-Camp (cat.3) 5,6km @ 3,6%
Évenos (cat.3) 1,6km @ 11,4%
Mont Faron (cat.2) 5,5km @ 9,0%

Points:
Auriol (Chemin de St-Pierre), 66km
Toulon (Mont Faron), finish

Our second mountaintop finish comes off the back of a shortish intermediate stage, with my inspiration here being the types of stages we see to Peña Cabarga in the Vuelta; the gaps may not be extreme on such a short mountaintop, but time is most definitely there to be gained if the riders are daring enough as we move through Provence towards a finish overlooking the Côte d'Azur. Again, as a transitional stage it might be a good day for the breakaway if the GC candidates don't fancy duking out the win; the sprinters' teams certainly aren't going to fancy it with a finish like this. Expect a break containing the usual suspects for a stage like this - Pierrick Fedrigo, Carlos Barredo, Jan Bakelandts and the like.

The stage starts in the city of Salon-de-Provence, under the watchful gaze of the majestic Château de l'Empéri. The riders will head east out of Salon-de-Provence for a rolling stretch, with the road being at first gradually uphill before giving way to a bumpy period of racing around the larger Mistralian city of Aix-en-Provence. The rolling characteristics are continued with our first climb of the day, consisting of two slightly steeper stretches with a piece of flat in between. The Côte de Belcodène is fairly easy, so all but the most incompetent climbers should still be in the bunch to contend for any remaining intermediate sprint points at Auriol shortly afterward.

The second half of the stage is somewhat less rolling, however, and more lumpy. This begins with the scenic Col de Roussargue, just above the Col d'Espigoulier, which will be the first thing to thin the péloton out, at 10 kilometres in length and 5% average. At 728m it is also the high point of the day's proceedings, much to the pleasure of those who cannot climb. The descent into Gémenos is tough and technical, with several hairpins to negotiate and put the fear of God into Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso. After this we have the uncategorised drag up the Col de l'Ange, before the gradual, unthreatening ascent of Montée du Vieux-Camp. The descent from here is trickier than the climb, but still not especially threatening, before another uncategorised climb at Le Castellet, home of the motor racing Circuit Paul Ricard, and then some gradual, imperceptible and very very straight downhill leads us to 25 to go.

Here, the riders get a nasty shock, as the road ramps up to extreme proportions. The Chemin de la Basse Venette, the road to the mountaintop village of Évenos is very steep, averaging out at 11% for just over a kilometre and a half, and is quite narrow, so good placement for the key riders is essential if they don't want to waste too much energy on the way to the Col du Corps de Garde, or have to take too many risks on the descent into Toulon, because they will need that energy so as not to suffer on the slopes of Mont Faron.

Though a fixture in the Tour Meditérranéen and not an uncommon stop-off for Paris-Nice, you may be surprised to learn that Mont Faron has only been featured in Le Tour once, in 1957, when Jean Stablinski triumphed. Its slopes are steeper than the Tour's norm, as you can see here; however unlike it's Spanish counterpart, it wears its steepest gradients at the bottom (that second kilometre averaging over 11% and the steepest gradient being 16%) and is fairly consistent after that, so riders hoping to make the most of this climb will need to go near the bottom. However, there are a lot of hairpins further up, so those favouring the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach can take advantage of that. I expect the gaps here to be fairly small, but the climbers certainly have a chance to take some time from the more TT-oriented GC guys, who could well struggle on these steeper-than-the-norm slopes on narrow roads. Still, like Peña Cabarga, the proximity to a big city and the spectacular views of the coast make this a scenic and attractive stage finish.

Salon-en-Provence:


Toulon (Mont Faron):
 
Jun 1, 2011
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Libertine Seguros said:
Speaking of mountains... let's try and make an intermediate stage a bit more decisive.


Our second mountaintop finish comes off the back of a shortish intermediate stage, with my inspiration here being the types of stages we see to Peña Cabarga in the Vuelta; the gaps may not be extreme on such a short mountaintop, but time is most definitely there to be gained if the riders are daring enough as we move through Provence towards a finish overlooking the Côte d'Azur. Again, as a transitional stage it might be a good day for the breakaway if the GC candidates don't fancy duking out the win; the sprinters' teams certainly aren't going to fancy it with a finish like this. Expect a break containing the usual suspects for a stage like this - Pierrick Fedrigo, Carlos Barredo, Jan Bakelandts and the like.

The stage starts in the city of Salon-de-Provence, under the watchful gaze of the majestic Château de l'Empéri. The riders will head east out of Salon-de-Provence for a rolling stretch, with the road being at first gradually uphill before giving way to a bumpy period of racing around the larger Mistralian city of Aix-en-Provence. The rolling characteristics are continued with our first climb of the day, consisting of two slightly steeper stretches with a piece of flat in between. The Côte de Belcodène is fairly easy, so all but the most incompetent climbers should still be in the bunch to contend for any remaining intermediate sprint points at Auriol shortly afterward.

The second half of the stage is somewhat less rolling, however, and more lumpy. This begins with the scenic Col de Roussargue, just above the Col d'Espigoulier, which will be the first thing to thin the péloton out, at 10 kilometres in length and 5% average. At 728m it is also the high point of the day's proceedings, much to the pleasure of those who cannot climb. The descent into Gémenos is tough and technical, with several hairpins to negotiate and put the fear of God into Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso. After this we have the uncategorised drag up the Col de l'Ange, before the gradual, unthreatening ascent of Montée du Vieux-Camp. The descent from here is trickier than the climb, but still not especially threatening, before another uncategorised climb at Le Castellet, home of the motor racing Circuit Paul Ricard, and then some gradual, imperceptible and very very straight downhill leads us to 25 to go.

Here, the riders get a nasty shock, as the road ramps up to extreme proportions. The Chemin de la Basse Venette, the road to the mountaintop village of Évenos is very steep, averaging out at 11% for just over a kilometre and a half, and is quite narrow, so good placement for the key riders is essential if they don't want to waste too much energy on the way to the Col du Corps de Garde, or have to take too many risks on the descent into Toulon, because they will need that energy so as not to suffer on the slopes of Mont Faron.

Though a fixture in the Tour Meditérranéen and not an uncommon stop-off for Paris-Nice, you may be surprised to learn that Mont Faron has only been featured in Le Tour once, in 1957, when Jean Stablinski triumphed. Its slopes are steeper than the Tour's norm, as you can see here; however unlike it's Spanish counterpart, it wears its steepest gradients at the bottom (that second kilometre averaging over 11% and the steepest gradient being 16%) and is fairly consistent after that, so riders hoping to make the most of this climb will need to go near the bottom. However, there are a lot of hairpins further up, so those favouring the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach can take advantage of that. I expect the gaps here to be fairly small, but the climbers certainly have a chance to take some time from the more TT-oriented GC guys, who could well struggle on these steeper-than-the-norm slopes on narrow roads. Still, like Peña Cabarga, the proximity to a big city and the spectacular views of the coast make this a scenic and attractive stage finish.

Salon-en-Provence:


Toulon (Mont Faron):
Don't you love it when people ignore you.:p
 
BillytheKid said:
Don't you love it when people ignore you.:p
Sorry, I did mean to respond. I've answered that question a few times in the thread, I forget when I have and haven't.

I use mapmyride to draw the routes and image capture the profiles and maps. However, the longer the route, the bigger the distance between the markers and the less accurate their climb profiles, so I will seek out better information on the climbs in question, or map the climbs in isolation separately to get more accurate statistics.
 
Jun 1, 2011
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Libertine Seguros said:
Sorry, I did mean to respond. I've answered that question a few times in the thread, I forget when I have and haven't.

I use mapmyride to draw the routes and image capture the profiles and maps. However, the longer the route, the bigger the distance between the markers and the less accurate their climb profiles, so I will seek out better information on the climbs in question, or map the climbs in isolation separately to get more accurate statistics.
Thanks for the info. Sorry for the poke.;)
 
Dec 16, 2011
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Let's add another stage race to this thread: The tour of Christchurch. I think we all agree that it would be really cool to have a nice climbers race between the early season races in Oceania. This race will run from the Wednesday after the Tour Down under until the next Sunday. Therefore I hope to attract a large part of the quality field from that race.

You will find out that stages are all located nearby Christchurch. I did this because of two reasons. First, the ridders can stay during the whole race in the same hotel. Second, I hope to attract a large amount of spectators by staying in a relative crowded area.

Allright, the stages:

Prologue: Christchurch (7 KM)

A small prologue along the main tourist attraction in Christchurch. The start and the finish will be located nearby the Cathedral. The course is extremely flat, but that doesn't matter. It is only added to create some small time gaps from the beginning of the tour.

Stage 1: Kaiapoi - Rangiora (168 KM)

This stage will be the only change for the sprinters. This stage is concentrated between the city's of Kaiapoi and Rangiora. A large lap will be followed by some smaller laps around those city's. To entertain the spectators, each passage will be highlighted with an (intermediairy) sprint.

Stage 2: Lyttelton - Akaroa (145 KM)

This stage will start in the harbour city of Lyttelton. After a basically flat first half, the heaviness will increase while entering the Banks Peninsula. In total, 5 short but steep climbs must be conquered. The last of these is located at only 12 kilometres from the finish.

Stage 3:Ashburton - Porter's Ski Resort (145 KM)

The first and only mountaintop finish of this tour! After a long flat run-up the first climb of the day will be the Porter's pass. However, this climb will only feature as warming up for the final climb of the day. After a 10 kilometres decent the riders will turn off to the small road towards the ski station. This climb will be 4 kilometres long with an average gradient around 10%. More than enough to create some serious damage in the early season!

Stage 4: Addington Race Track - Christchurch (217 KM)

The last stage of this tour will be the longest and the toughest. After a long run-up through the Banks Peninsula the riders will turn up a local circuit which will be ridden 3 times. Finally, the riders will go in one straight line back to te starting point of this tour: the Cathedral of Christchurch. In total, this stage will include 8 steep climbs. A spectacular final of this tour will be guaranteed!
 
Looks like a good little race there, a bit of everything, something for more or less everybody. Some riders may be a bit concerned about having a multi-climb, near-220km stage at this point in January, but you could always shut them up by moving the start from Addington to Lincoln of course.

Given the amount of climbing and that the riders will be based in Christchurch throughout, I wonder if it might be perhaps better to double the length of the Christchurch TT and move it to after the Akaroa, thus keeping the GC-decisive, spectator-friendly weekend intact?
 
Dec 27, 2010
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I've often thought Mont Faron would be a great addition to Le Tour but it's so narrow I don't think it'd be practical, unless you'd had a nice selective stage before the climb so you haven't got a big peloton coming to the base all together.
 
Dec 16, 2011
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Libertine Seguros said:
Looks like a good little race there, a bit of everything, something for more or less everybody. Some riders may be a bit concerned about having a multi-climb, near-220km stage at this point in January, but you could always shut them up by moving the start from Addington to Lincoln of course.
Haha, It is indeed a little cruel. However, the rest of the stages is really short, so one long stage should not be a problem.

Given the amount of climbing and that the riders will be based in Christchurch throughout, I wonder if it might be perhaps better to double the length of the Christchurch TT and move it to after the Akaroa, thus keeping the GC-decisive, spectator-friendly weekend intact?
That could be an idea. I wanted to have the start and finish of the tour at exactly the same place, and therefore made it the prologue. Maybe a longer TT is something for the second editon?
 
Tour of Crete

This is a short, scenic, 'tune-up' style race through the mountains on the Mediterranean island of Crete. It's only a 3-day tour, and all three stages follow a similar pattern; start at the coast > race through the mountains > finish at the coast. However, each stage does have a different type of finish (flat, downhill & uphill) for a bit of added variety.

Stage 1

Agios Nikolaos - Heraklion (172km)





This is the longest stage of the race with lots of short climbs through the Dikti Mountains before a final Cat.2 climb up to Ano Moulia. After a long gradual descent, the stage concludes with a flat finish in Heraklion, the capital city of Crete.

Today's Scenery
 
May 6, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
Speaking of mountains... let's try and make an intermediate stage a bit more decisive.

Stage 14: Salon-de-Provence - Toulon (Mont Faron), 150km





Climbs:
Côte de Belcodène (cat.3) 6,9km @ 2,5%
Col de Roussargue (cat.2) 10,2km @ 5,0%
Montée du Vieux-Camp (cat.3) 5,6km @ 3,6%
Évenos (cat.3) 1,6km @ 11,4%
Mont Faron (cat.2) 5,5km @ 9,0%

Points:
Auriol (Chemin de St-Pierre), 66km
Toulon (Mont Faron), finish

Our second mountaintop finish comes off the back of a shortish intermediate stage, with my inspiration here being the types of stages we see to Peña Cabarga in the Vuelta; the gaps may not be extreme on such a short mountaintop, but time is most definitely there to be gained if the riders are daring enough as we move through Provence towards a finish overlooking the Côte d'Azur. Again, as a transitional stage it might be a good day for the breakaway if the GC candidates don't fancy duking out the win; the sprinters' teams certainly aren't going to fancy it with a finish like this. Expect a break containing the usual suspects for a stage like this - Pierrick Fedrigo, Carlos Barredo, Jan Bakelandts and the like.

The stage starts in the city of Salon-de-Provence, under the watchful gaze of the majestic Château de l'Empéri. The riders will head east out of Salon-de-Provence for a rolling stretch, with the road being at first gradually uphill before giving way to a bumpy period of racing around the larger Mistralian city of Aix-en-Provence. The rolling characteristics are continued with our first climb of the day, consisting of two slightly steeper stretches with a piece of flat in between. The Côte de Belcodène is fairly easy, so all but the most incompetent climbers should still be in the bunch to contend for any remaining intermediate sprint points at Auriol shortly afterward.

The second half of the stage is somewhat less rolling, however, and more lumpy. This begins with the scenic Col de Roussargue, just above the Col d'Espigoulier, which will be the first thing to thin the péloton out, at 10 kilometres in length and 5% average. At 728m it is also the high point of the day's proceedings, much to the pleasure of those who cannot climb. The descent into Gémenos is tough and technical, with several hairpins to negotiate and put the fear of God into Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso. After this we have the uncategorised drag up the Col de l'Ange, before the gradual, unthreatening ascent of Montée du Vieux-Camp. The descent from here is trickier than the climb, but still not especially threatening, before another uncategorised climb at Le Castellet, home of the motor racing Circuit Paul Ricard, and then some gradual, imperceptible and very very straight downhill leads us to 25 to go.

Here, the riders get a nasty shock, as the road ramps up to extreme proportions. The Chemin de la Basse Venette, the road to the mountaintop village of Évenos is very steep, averaging out at 11% for just over a kilometre and a half, and is quite narrow, so good placement for the key riders is essential if they don't want to waste too much energy on the way to the Col du Corps de Garde, or have to take too many risks on the descent into Toulon, because they will need that energy so as not to suffer on the slopes of Mont Faron.

Though a fixture in the Tour Meditérranéen and not an uncommon stop-off for Paris-Nice, you may be surprised to learn that Mont Faron has only been featured in Le Tour once, in 1957, when Jean Stablinski triumphed. Its slopes are steeper than the Tour's norm, as you can see here; however unlike it's Spanish counterpart, it wears its steepest gradients at the bottom (that second kilometre averaging over 11% and the steepest gradient being 16%) and is fairly consistent after that, so riders hoping to make the most of this climb will need to go near the bottom. However, there are a lot of hairpins further up, so those favouring the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach can take advantage of that. I expect the gaps here to be fairly small, but the climbers certainly have a chance to take some time from the more TT-oriented GC guys, who could well struggle on these steeper-than-the-norm slopes on narrow roads. Still, like Peña Cabarga, the proximity to a big city and the spectacular views of the coast make this a scenic and attractive stage finish.

Salon-en-Provence:


Toulon (Mont Faron):
I was on the understanding that Mont Faron was too small to host a Tour finish? But then we've had a MTF on the Tourmalet with all the logistics down the other side in the ski village of La Mongie.
 
Tour of Crete

Stage 2

Heraklion - Rethymno (129km)





This is the shortest, and probably easiest stage of the Tour of Crete. It starts by retracing the final 40km of yesterday's stage before passing through the The Idi Mountain Range. Here the peleton will have to tackle a few low category climbs, including a Cat.2 climb past Mount Kedros, before finishing the stage with a technical descent (narrow roads and numerous hairpins) down to the seafront at Rethymno.

Rethymno
 
May 6, 2009
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The rest of my Mexican tour will be posted over the next 48 hours and then I'll start on my new Paris - Nice.
 
If Mont Faron can host Paris-Nice and Tourmalet can host the Tour with some of the caravan in La Mongie, then the extraneous caravan can stay in Toulon and they can have Le Tour on Mont Faron.

Stage 15: Cannes - Nice (ITT), 61,1km





Climbs:
Col Saint-Antoine (cat.3) 3,0km @ 5,6%
Col d'Èze (cat.2) 9,9km @ 4,9%

Points:
Nice (Promenade des Anglais), finish

Timechecks:
Col Saint-Antoine, 5,2km
Villeneuve-Loubet Plage, 22,0km
Nice (Boulevard de Riquier), 37,8km
Col d'Èze, 48,1km

We may have had 13 straight road stages since the race got underway in Le Mans, but don't you dare think I've forgotten about the Contre le Montre. Yes, it's the first of my UCI-baiting stages. After all, one requires special dispensation from the UCI to include a time trial of over 60km in length. For my inspiration here I have drawn on the epic 2009 Giro Cinque Terre time trial, and the not-held-this-year-but-now-semi-traditional Final Nice-Nice stage of Paris-Nice. So yes, the riders will be getting another taste of another race, to follow on from the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour Meditérranéen; we can add Paris-Nice to the list in an epic chrono along the Côte d'Azur, deliberately set on the last of 9 consecutive days of racing, with no respite since Super-Besse, the epic French-Basque stage, Mantet or Mont Faron, on the last day before the rest day, on the penultimate weekend. The ITT may not be the best televisual spectacle but for me, the scenery of the Riviera along with the massive GC gaps that can be created here, will make it a worthy weekend stage.

We begin on the seafront, on the Boulevard de la Croisette, before swiftly turning inland, separating the Cap de la Croisette from the rest of the city of Cannes. After about 2km the riders will turn right onto the Avenue de Vallauris, and here starts the first climb of the day, the almost entirely urban climb of the Col Saint-Antoine, after which we have an early timecheck. This climb is not particularly strenuous, just 3km in length, but then we spend a good 10km of gradual downhill through Vallauris and down to the outskirts of Antibes bringing ourselves back down to the coast. The next phase of the stage is a technical test, with several corners through villages separating the Côte d'Azur from the Alpes-Maritimes, before joining the D6007 Route Nationale on the coast at Les Groules, shortly before our second intermediate timecheck at Villeneuve-Loubet Plage.

After this, the next challenge for the riders is the wind, should the weather demand it. For 20km the riders will be side on to the coastline, in a very straight and very flat power test. The scrawny climbers will hate this part of the race, but the power guys will love the chance to open the taps and make big time as the race cuts Cagnes-sur-Mer and St-Laurent-du-Var off from the sea as it makes its way towards Côte d'Azur airport. When the riders arrive in Nice, they turn inland at the end of Promenade des Anglais, heading through town on Rue France, and heading towards the district of Riquier, where the third intermediate timecheck can be held.

This is the end of the line for the power guys; from here on in it's making use of what they've got and defending the lead they've built up; the climbers will need to have something in reserve for now is their chance to protect themselves a bit and make some time back, for now we're climbing the Col d'Èze (or more accurately, Mont Fourche, as the summit is just a bit ahead of the famous Col). The views in this area are pretty spectacular and dramatic, which will create an exciting backdrop to the racing. The climbing is not steep or especially strenuous; clocking in at just under 5% and with the steepest gradients near the bottom of the climb; however the climbers will need to attack it to make it count.

After the summit, there are still 13 kilometres to go, most of which are downhill. The descent will be familiar to you all from Paris-Nice, of course, with the steepest part first, then a flattish middle section. Watch the descent in the rain in the 2011 Paris-Nice here. With the likelihood of mid-July weather on the Côte d'Azur we needn't worry about the problems of a similarly dangerous descent; the gradients are gradual - mostly around 4% - and the roads mostly wide enough to deal with the riders. As with the usual Paris-Nice stage, we will arrive back in Nice and finish on the Promenade des Anglais.

The GC should be shaken up pretty good by this one, with gaps arriving in the minutes, ahead of our Alpine stages to come. Plenty of time for the climbers yet.

Cannes:


Nice (finish by the seafront on the left):
 

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