Race Design Thread

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Right, while ACF is working out how best to utilise Melbourne's natural amazingness, I'm going to unleash my most ambitious project yet.

In my alternate universe, the Vuelta has decided to move back to April thanks to incessant problems with the Worlds, thus opening up a huge void in the calendar. In my alternate universe, the UCI aren't completely pathetic. In fact, in my alternate universe, they've decided that non-WT events of high historic tradition will pay the same kind of UCI points as WT events, but not need to be WT, and so they have become popular events with second- and third-tier teams as opportunities to pick up some major points and progress through the ranks. One of these races is the Volta a Portugal. Given its location in the calendar, it has become popular as a Worlds warmup event, and for ProContinental teams looking to pick up extra points and get in the World Tour, and as a result, they've seen vastly improved fields and sponsor interest. To the point where they can increase it back to its original three weeks.

Quite a long-winded justification for what's basically saying "I'm designing a 3-week version of the Volta a Portugal" I guess. Still, with "medium mountains" being the in thing at the moment, I'm thinking that there's plenty of scope for that sort of thing...

Anyway, on with the race:

Stage 1/Prologue: Lisboa - Lisboa, 2,5km (ITT)



Our prologue is exactly the same as the one from 2009, albeit slightly (very slightly) longer, running from Praça Marques de Pombal down Avenida da Liberdade to Praça dos Restauradores and back, for a flat-out drag. It's actually slightly downhill in the first half and back uphill in the second, but 1,2km at 3,4% is not enough to categorise.



On a very similar course in the 2009 Volta, Cândido Barbosa was the fastest, setting a time of 2'56", edging out Filipe Cardoso by half a second. It's more than likely that, just as in 2009, this will just be a short, fast drag that really has little to no effect on the overall GC, given all the fighting to come.

Praça Marques de Pombal (Avenida da Liberdade in the background):


Praça dos Restauradores:
 
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Tour of Bengal Sikkim
Kolkata ITT (25.4km)
The race to start from the Ganga Bhramaputra deltas in Kolkata and move northwards for a couple of flat days before entering the Shiwalik Himalayas, the shortest and most humane of the Himalayas.





The route does not cross, it's a flyover
It passes through
The Victoria Memorial


The Raj Bhavan (Governor's Residence)


The Eden Gardens Stadium but most importantly The Grand Trunk road, whose original date dates back to the 3rd century BC and was extended by one of the great non Mughal Muslim rulers Sher Shah Suri.
 
Jul 4, 2011
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Stage 2 & 3 are very flat mainly because teams will complain about transfers which could exceed 600km to go straight to the mountains.





Stage 3




Keen observers of the history of the British Raj will notice that the stage passes through Plassey, a seemingly small sleepy town which was host to the Battle of Plassey. The Battle of Plassey, while a small and farcical battle was essential to the establishment of the dominance and monopoly of The British East India Company in India.

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_plassey.html

For the record, even Siraj ud Daulah's forces didn't lose lots of their troops.
 
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Stage 4
Jalpaiguri Tamang Monastery 203.2km
The first mountain stage of the tour which starts at Jalpaiguri, the starting point of the famous yet slightly irritating toy train to Darjeeling (mainly because it doesn't exceed 10mph).


The route heads eastwards to the forests of Gorumara bordering Meghalaya before turning west and into Siliguri, which was the host of this astonishing event

Thanks Maxiton.

After an innocuous first half of the stage it moves north towards to reach an altitude of around 2000 metres as the race head towards its destination Tamang Monastery near Darjeeling


Tamang Monastery
 
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Stage 5
212.5km
Darjeeling Ravangla
Starting from the home of India's finest tea in Darjeeling the road descends to Kalimpong at 300 metres above sea level. The first climb starts from Rangpo and continues all the way to just prior to Damthang. After a long descent the race heads to it's second and much sharper climb to Soreng. The route after passing Kaluk descends sharply and quicky the route goes back up to the destination Ravangla.





Soreng


Ravangla


Descent from Darjeeling
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-GNMDz5pvXgE/TpvCGsqK8CI/AAAAAAAAAEM/8CoFOJvFzsA/s720/darjeeling-india.jpg

Sorry, I don't have any profiles and the mountains aren't named but I have gone to Soreng and Ravangla.
 
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A one-day classic for Australia

Personally, what I reckon Australia could do with is a ripper one-day pro race (perhaps as a prequel to the Hun Tour), and I don't think any of the existing one-day races are very spectator-friendly.

Furthermore, while I think Melbourne is the ant's pants, it's kind of a shame that Australia's largest city never sees pro cycling.

So, a challenge to any New South Welshmen out there - can your capital city and its immediate surrounds put on a good one-day race? Spectator friendly, but realistic in terms of required road closures and whatnot?

Oh, and ACF, bring on the climber's stages :)
 
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Great place especially Sikkim, Darjeeling is a bit too crowded nowadays.

I've never watched that movie though.:O

Stage 6

Gangtok to Tsomgo lake 41.2km

The hypothetical final day of racing will take the riders from the picturesque capital of Sikkim to Lake Tsomgo. The early birds in the peloton will be able to see this


the impsoing peak of the Kanchenjnga at 8586m above sea level.






The riders set of from the centre of Gangtok and as the road heads eastwads it rises, all the way to Lake Tsomgo at 3752 metres above sea level.

Lake Tsomgo


Gangtok
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-iGMl2e057Ro/TpwhQx3xBzI/AAAAAAAAAEs/3rP2UcXhLZo/s720/Gangtok03.jpg
 
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I think it would be more fun to race this as a normal, but very short stage. Tour of Japan did the Fuji in 2010 also as a normal stage and it created big time gapes as well. Just my point of beeing not a fan of classical one mountain time trials. I prefer the battle of riders on a climb. ;)
 
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I thought it would be a bit short for that. Okay let's change that to a road stage. After all the race will never happen
 
Now that's something really interesting and really cool - I would never have known about any of the possibilities for racing in India, but just looking at the profile that Soreng climb looks really nasty, and they could have some really good racing there.

Thanks!
 
On to the first road stage of my Volta a Portugal, held on the Sunday of the first weekend, and we're still looping around the Lisbon area.

Stage 2: Amadora - Setúbal, 170km



As with most Grand Tours, we have a relatively benign flat stage to start proceedings, though there is a bit of a treat for the riders in the form of the Serra da Arrabida, a category 2 climb which follows a long flat period and the first passage of the finishing line. This climb crests 30km from the line, so is unlikely to see significant attacks that cause any great GC action, but given that we'll be riding in the blistering heat of Portugal at the height of August, we could well see a reduced bunch duking it out for the win on the seafront.



Climbs:
Casainhos (cat.3) 4,6km, 5,1%
Serra da Arrabida (cat.2) 5,9km, 5,3%

Riders may also want to be aware of the possibilities of headwinds and crosswinds on the climb, which may affect the racing, and offer an early potential banana skin. After all, the GC won't be won here, but there is the chance to lose time if you're not smart or strong.

Serra da Arrabida road:


Setúbal:
 
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Bit too high

Ramjambunath, loving your race design so far.

I appreciate this is a fantasy exercise, but even so it makes it more interesting if the stages are kept realistic.

As such, I'm wondering if a climb topping out at 3700 meters is too high, given the riders haven't been acclimatizing for weeks at high altitude. Sure, it's fine for riders to struggle athletically, but it probably wouldn't be a good look to have them being carted off to hospital en masse with altitude sickness.

Could you maybe top out the stage earlier, at around the 3000 metre mark?

Shame, because that scenery isn't half spectacular!
 
Continuing our trip to the south, we have a pure stage for the sprinters as we head out of Alentejo and into the Algarve.

Stage 3: Santiago do Cacém - Portimão (Autódromo Internacional do Algarve), 173km



After a transfer from Setúbal to Santiago do Cacém the riders set off across the open, exposed land, much of it completely and utterly flat. With little protection from the elements, the riders will be grinding it out, often close to the coast, and the wind coming in from the Mediterranean will be something the riders have to pay close attention to. However, echelons are not really something that is particularly typical of racing in this part of the world, and regardless, the turn inland towards the end of the stage will give anybody distanced a chance to gather their troops and rejoin the main bunch.



"Climbs":
Espinhaço do Cão (cat.3) 13,4km, 1,9%

The closing circuits, four laps of the new motor racing circuit just outside Portimão, will be fit for a sprint - but the circuit does feature some interesting gradient changes, including a short 100m or so uphill just before the final 300m. This might give attackers an onus to give it a go, and disrupt the momentum of the sprint trains, but ultimately I would expect this to finish with the fastmen.

Santiago do Cacém:


Autódromo Internacional do Algarve:
 
As we traverse the Algarve, it's time for the riders that may contest the overall to show their faces for the first time, with the first battle lines to be drawn on a short, but steep finish.

Stage 4: Portimão - Cerro de São Miguel, 172km



The first major climb of the race is early in the stage, the category one climb to Foia. After that, however, the stage is mostly rolling rather than strenuous, though it does include a couple of climbs in the second half of the stage to test the legs, including the Volta ao Algarve's signature climb, the Alto do Malhão (approached from a slightly different route admittedly). After that, it's time to deal with the climb up to the Cerro de São Miguel. This climb is just 3,5km long, but with an average gradient of 9% and a maximum of 12%, there is plenty of scope to create some separation here. Although the climb isn't really long enough to open major time gaps, there is definitely time to be won by a GC contender over his rivals, plus the more durable puncheurs may fancy the finish too as it flattens out a little at the summit.



Climbs:
Nave (cat.3) 6,3km, 3,9%
Foia (cat.1), 11,1km, 5,0%
EN267 (cat.3), 2,4km, 5,8%
Alto do Malhão (cat.3), 3,3km, 6,2%
Alto do Barrigões (cat.3), 3,5km, 5,8%
Cerro de São Miguel (cat.2), 3,5km, 9,1%

For me it's something of a disappointment that the Volta ao Algarve doesn't use this finish; it's tough but not long enough to make it too difficult for the time. In August, in blazing 40º days, it is definitely a tough finish, but being in week 1 everybody should still be fresh enough to deal with it, and give us a bit of an exciting shift in the GC standings early on.

Portimão:


Cerro de São Miguel:
 
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rgmerk said:
Ramjambunath, loving your race design so far.

I appreciate this is a fantasy exercise, but even so it makes it more interesting if the stages are kept realistic.

As such, I'm wondering if a climb topping out at 3700 meters is too high, given the riders haven't been acclimatizing for weeks at high altitude. Sure, it's fine for riders to struggle athletically, but it probably wouldn't be a good look to have them being carted off to hospital en masse with altitude sickness.

Could you maybe top out the stage earlier, at around the 3000 metre mark?

Shame, because that scenery isn't half spectacular!
Yes, I appreciate that it might be a bit high but I thought that it needed something unique and the fact is that they aren't climbing from 0 to 3700 but from around 2000 to 3700. If anyone gets used to the Gangtok atmosphere other parts of Sikkim aren't all that daunting barring possibly the Kanchenjunga national park side.

Also altitudes are the least of the problems with this race (logistics are the biggest) as it has to be held in the Indian summer as if it held at most other times landslides are the norm and Kolkata at that time would be sweltering. It also requires the closing of national highways which would be practically impossible.
 
May 6, 2009
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How far away is Sikkim from Nepal? I know somebody who did an MTB race/challenge ride in Nepal earlier this year.
 
As we leave the Algarve and head back to the north, it's time for one of those stages - searing with heat, exposed to the elements, grinding our way through the plains of Alentejo.

Stage 5: Tavira - Beja, 197km



Don't be fooled by the look of the profile - this is pan flat. The vertical scale makes it look like a bit of an uphill finish, but realistically you're talking 13km at a slow grind of less than 1%. The first half of the stage has some rolling terrain as we leave the Algarve, but once we're in Alentejo it's flat, flat and more flat.



The sprinters will fancy this one, and the rouleurs will do their best to keep everything together. The biggest problem here might be attrition - 200km in this kind of heat on pan-flat roads may be problematic for some riders if the pace is kept high. This will definitely be a stage for the purist when it comes to the televisual spectacle, and the sprinters will duke it out in Beja to finish.

Tavira:


Beja:
 
After a short transfer it's time for another longish stage through the Alentejo region, but this time with some potential banana skins thrown in.

Stage 6: Evora - Portalegre, 193km



Beginning from the Roman city of Evora, the first half of this stage starts where we left off yesterday - long, flat, open expanses through baking heat. After the first trip through Portalegre, however, the stage becomes a bit tougher. Three climbs are on the agenda; the first two are short and not especially steep, but the last (ignore the categorisation on the profile, most of it is false flat) features 1,6km at an average of 8,6%; with a maximum of 13% it could well see some action, if only for the stage win, as it crests 17km from the finish, most of which is gentle downhill. The run-in to the finish itself is a slight uphill drag, which could serve as the killer for any solo escape or small group trying to hold off a baying péloton, while the tougher or less pure sprinters will think that this is well suited to them.



Climbs:
Serra d'Ossa (cat.3) 3,7km, 4,0%
Monte Paleiros (cat.3) 3,6km, 5,5%
Marvão (cat.3) 4,6km, 3,7%
Nossa Senhora da Penha (cat.3) 1,6km, 8,6%

None of these climbs are especially difficult, but after 150km in the saddle in 40º heat, they could whittle down the bunch, most definitely, while this stage will also be a good opportunity for a breakaway to pick up the leader's jersey. If an attackers' group is able to get clear, the run-in to the line could become very interesting.

Evora:


Portalegre:
 

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