Stage 10 was thought to be the first major GC battleground but only a short glimpse at the current standings is enough to show that a lot of excitement has already happened in this year’s Tour. Many metres of climbing are already in the legs of riders prior to these first “proper” climbs of the race but with the added appeal of Bastille Day and a rest day tomorrow expect nobody to hold back. With the race still young and the main favourites still unsure of each other’s form then I’m sure we’ll see for offensive tactics rather than defensive often seen near the end of the race. Enjoy!
Despite all the talk to the contrary, the 1st stage of le Tour turned out to be a sprinters stage after all, with the throngs of spectators filling the roads along with the odd road narrowing looking to cause more delays to the riders than the hills themselves. Rather than any lack of severity of the climbs themselves it was probably due in larger part to the 50km of near flat roads that followed the final climb of the day. Fear not, stage 2 will be completely different! (Apart from maybe the fans and the narrowing roads). 9 categorised climbs but plenty of uncategorised hills in between (e.g. England’s longest, continuous climb (and bunting) of Cragg Vale) will make for a tortuous day in the saddle. Couple that with technical descents and narrow roads for the last 37 km with the final, 33% Jenkin Road just 5 km from the finish in Sheffield and the end result will be anyone’s guess!
And we’re off! Le Tour departs grandly from Yorkshire’s Leeds through the majestic countryside of North Yorkshire on its way to the spa town of Harrogate. 3 categorised climbs on this stage might end the hopes of that yellow jersey for some sprinters but with so much at stake expect those sprinter’s teams to make sure that doesn’t happen. A distinctly rolling finish into Harrogate as well but with the speed of the peloton at that point expect the momentum to get even the heaviest of sprinters easily over the rises.
After having a nice chat with Emma Pooley while descending Yorkshire’s bunting festooned Cragg Vale last night she mentioned she was heading off to race the Giro this Friday. Giro? That must mean hills right? It sure does, and some corkers too. Here are the key climbs for the women’s Giro d’Italia that runs from Friday 4th to Sunday 13th July.
Switzerland has some of the most dramatic climbs in the world but despite their jaw dropping curves the gradients tend to be at the more manageable end of the scale. Two time trials break up the week so expect the GC to be a controlled affair with the main favourites trying to make the difference in the time trials.
The final 40km of stage 2 of Le Tour is likely to be action packed. The terrain will see to it that attacks will come and the cream of the world’s professional cyclists will emerge at the front to do battle until the finish in Sheffield. The roads here are largely within the Strines region which cyclists from Yorkshire and the Peak District know very well. Many local pros, past and present, have utilised the repeated steep climbs in the area to hone their racing fitness. The Strines Road itself is a notoriously steep stretch of tarmac which begins at the A616 at Midhopestones and terminates at the A57 after 15 rollercoaster kilometres. The Tour riders won’t cover the full length but they will tackle the most severe sections before turning off east towards High Bradfield and further sharp ascents on the approach to Sheffield.
One of my favourite races of the Pro Cycling calendar, the Critérium du Dauphiné. Named after the Dauphiné province in south-eastern France’s high mountains this race is always packed with the top Tour de France contenders performing their last major competition prior to the Grand Depart. Next time we’ll see this top class field it will be on the streets of Yorkshire! Taking in many of the famous climbs of the Alps with 3 mountain top finishes this year’s race will be a great warm up for the spectators as well as the riders.
The 3 weeks of the 2014 Giro d’Italia are almost up and although the snowy high point of the race (Passo dello Stelvio) has been and gone, by far the toughest climb and final showdown of the race is yet to come – Monte Zoncolan. Prior to that though are 2 more days of climbing including an individual, mountain time trial. Will Rigoberto Uran be able to turn around his deficit to Nairo Quintana? Here are all the details of the climbs of these last three mountain stages.
The Giro d’Italia is about to get serious! The sprinters will now be fighting to make the time limits as the roads shoot skywards with the next three stages tackling 6 category 1 or above climbs including the Passo Dello Stelvio which at 2,758m is the high point of the race. Fingers crossed the poor weather continuing to plague this year’s Giro (similar to last year) will abate to avoid the cancelling or rerouteing of any of these stages.
Jenkin Road is the final climb on stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France. Its position on the route, only minutes from finish in Sheffield, is crucial and is likely to influence the final outcome. Jenkin is only short but it is steep enough to be a significant challenge to the riders of Le Tour, especially as it comes after 195 hilly kilometres.