Every year thousands of cyclists get to tackle a full stage of le Tour on closed roads as part of l’Etape du Tour. This year’s route takes in two of the most famous climbs of the Pyrenees: Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam. There are even a couple of category 3 climbs thrown into the run-in to help loosen the legs but the route’s full 3D profile shown below puts these into perspective of the two Hors Category ascents still to come. Best of luck to all those riding this year’s Etape, hopefully these graphics will help build the excitement for what’s in store!
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.
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.
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.
In a previous post I covered the climbs of the first half of stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France on its way from York to Sheffield (also available is the climbs of stage 1). This post will cover the remaining climbs of the stage that could well be providing a safe pairs of shoulders for both the Yellow and Polka Dot Jerseys for a good number of days. Holme Moss is certainly the biggest climb of the day but the many small and steep climbs (and slippery, twisty descents) on the run-in to Sheffield are more likely to cause the upsets and there is a real sting in the tail with up to a 33% gradient on Jenkin Road just a few km from the line. Tom Boonen and Matt Goss both crashed fairly badly in this area during the 2006 Tour of Britain but hopefully those won’t be the kind of headlines of the day.
Stage 1 may well have been one for the sprinters but stage 2 is being heralded as a proper, Yorkshire, Northern Classic of a stage and that means plenty of climbs. The route takes in almost 4000m of climbing along its 208km starting in North Yorkshire, passing through West Yorkshire, dipping its toe ever so slightly into Derbyshire before the grand finale in South Yorkshire. There are so many climbs that I’m splitting them up over 2 blog posts! In this post we’ll cover the route from the start at York Racecourse up to the climb of Cragg Vale and here you will find Part 2 with all the remaining climbs all the way to Sheffield.
Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France will travel from Leeds Town Hall to the spa town (and home of Yorkshire Tea) of Harrogate in just over 200 km (around 2800 m of climbing) and a sprint finish (and a British Yellow Jersey?) is anticipated. But this stage is by no means flat and if you are planning on riding the stage then you might be interested in knowing what you are letting yourself in for.