środa, 15 maja 2013

Tour de Pologne 2013 and Race Appeal project

This year's Tour de Pologne is going to be special. And it's not only about the 70th edition - for the first time the event starts so far from its home ground - in Trentino, Italy. Two hard mountain stages are going to sort the general classification before the action comes back to Polish roads. But that's not the end of suprises. The UCI also contributes to the organization, changing the number of riders and estabilishing a new classification that can potentially influence the final standings.

First of all - teams. Each squad is allowed to bring 6 riders, not 8. This change is supposed to: highlight the excitement and attractiveness of each day of racing. This is an experiment - we'll see how it works out. But given the conditions, it may be a good idea. The mountain roads in Poland are narrow and cause problems for bigger groups of riders. On the other hand, the average gradient is high and some steep (but not really long) slopes take its toll, breaking the bunch and making the riders struggle alone or in smaller groups.

That's just the begining. From the official race website:

The project introduces a new system of bonus points for riders who win a series of contests organised during each day of racing. These may include intermediate sprints, and mountain pass or hill contests. At the end of each stage a general “Race Appeal” classification will be established by adding up the points awarded. The top riders of this classification will obtain time bonuses on the event’s general classification.

There is no information about the bonuses and their number per stage but believe me - it's not going to be one or two. I don't know if there will be bonus seconds for the top3 on each stage but my guess is: yes, there will. All that is going to make the race harder to control and with 6 riders per team we should see less crashes and more fighting and unexpected situations.

The 70th TdP starts on July 27th and finishes on August 3rd, so it's 8 days long. The route itself seems to be quite demanding - first two stages finish in Dolomites - on Madonna di Campiglio and Passo Pordoi. Then there is a rest day - transfer to Poland. Next to stages - to Rzeszów and to Katowice should be an opportunity for a bunch sprint (however stage 3 can be tricky and losing time can be a matter of temporary carelessness). Stage 5 features some of the well known climbs, for instance - Głodówka (which can be translated as "the hill of the hunger") . Stage 6 - well, last year we had almost the same thing here. I remember Alex Dowsett's tweet before the race: "Mum described the elevation profile as looking like a set of jagged teeth". Indeed, the profile looks just like a comb but the funny thing is that one of the hills is called "Ząb" - in English "tooth"... Anyway, there's an uphill finish so we'll see the riders fighting for the GC once again.

Last stage is a 37-km time trial. The route is undulating, technically demanding in the first part and finishes on the cobbles of the beautiful main square of Kraków. If you haven't been there - it's really worth coming. Kraków is a pearl of Poland - the heart of its medieval statehood. You can feel and touch history on every corner. The main sights are of course: Royal Castle Wawel and the market square of the Old Town (the biggest main square in Europe in Middle Ages) with St. Mary's Basilica (details here) and Drapers' Hall.

You  can see the official promo of the race here:

The video itself is better than the ones we saw for the last couple of years but it's also a compilation of the scenes from last couple of editions (used every in almost every promo, each year), so nihil novi, as we say in Poland. But it's nice that it's been made - broadcasting it in Eurosport during Giro d'Italia is a good idea and as far as I know, there will be one more promo - for the Tour de France time.

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