A unique climbing time trial and a hilly road course are on tap as organizers of the 2014 world cycling championships set for northwest Spain promise to deliver demanding courses that will put riders to the test.
Details of the Ponferrada worlds routes were revealed in the Spanish cycling weekly Meta 2 Mil just days after the UCI all but assured the medium-sized city would host the 2014 event. An official confirmation won’t come until later this year, but as the lone candidate city, Ponferrada is already getting busy to prepare for the races.
Officials say they want to offer a challenging and entertaining route to keep fans and racers on the edge of their seats. And that certainly looks to be the case after an early preview of the proposed courses for the time trial and road races.
What’s particularly interesting is that organizers are calling for a climbing time trial that should tip the favor away from the pure specialists and toward a more complete rider.
Rough plans call for a 39km elite men’s TT route from Ponferrada to the summit of San Cristóbal de Valdueza. The opening 30km are over rolling terrain around the vineyards of the bierzo wine region before hitting the final 9km to the finish-line summit.
The climb isn’t a monster – with an average of 6 percent for about 600 vertical meters – but it does feature two kilometers with ramps as steep as 11 percent, certainly steep and long enough to cause some real suffering. With such a contrast of characteristics, some riders might be tempted to make a quick bike switch at the base of the climb, swapping out a traditional TT setup for a lighter climbing bike for the final push up to the summit.
The road race also promises to have potential for a real dogfight. The elite men’s race will be 260km, with 13 laps on a 20km circuit. Any worlds is only as hard as the riders make it, but the men’s race will include 3,367 vertical meters of total climbing, offering plenty of chances for the daring to make a move.
The route starts and finishes in the heart of Ponferrada, with the 12th century castle of the Knights of the Templar overlooking the staging area. Each 20km lap includes approximately 10.4km of flats, 6.4km of climbing and 3km of downhill. There are two climbs, neither are terribly steep, but they are stacked up in the second half of each loop. The first descends directly to the base of the second climb while the final descent hits some flats with just 3km to go, meaning there won’t be much time for the big teams to organize before the final charge for the rainbow jersey.
A professional team time trial championship for men and women is also in the offing, set for the Sunday before the elite men’s road race. That course is different than what riders will face for the worlds and will be held on a more traditional, rolling course for the specialists.