The race itself is fairly identical to the 2014 edition with 3 stages more or less centered around Jesenik, Czech Republic. Jesenik sits in the northern bit of the Olomouc region that is just a stone's throw from Poland. The city itself was originally called Freiwaldau ("free from the woods") but after World War II, the purge of German elements occurred and the town renamed to Jesenik after the nearby Hruby Jesenik mountain range.
The first stage travels from Jesenik to Rymarov, just a short distances south. It is only 122 kilometers and while it has three KOM points, it is a fairly flat stage that will benefit either the sprinters in the race or the guys with the biggest set of balls that want to give it a try. It would last year as a two-man move stayed away til the end and won by 9 seconds.
|Praded (Wiki Commons)|
The stage itself is just 113 kilometers but the first 80 kilometers will be fierce before the first KOM climb, which is summited 32 kilometers before the finish. A small descent happens before heading up the big climb, which is around 17 kilometers in length. The KOM line is actually 3.5 kilometers before the proper summit, which is where the team cars will have to pull over, but those that are GC focus will blow past it to the weather station at the top.
|Race finish will be at the lovely Hotel Preissnitz (czechy.pl)|
-The Race Book
-The Race Website
The only surprise here is that Australia had to pull out due to too many injuries with their riders.
Doing a cursory look of the list I do see some favorites including:
-Loïc Vliegen (Belgium)
-Scott Davies (GB)
-Alexey Vermeulen (USA)
-Gianni Moscon (Italy)
-Gregor Mühlberger (Austria)
-Odd Eiking (Norway)
-Alexander Kamp (Denmark)
-Guillaume Martin (France)
-Jhonathan Restrepo (Colombia)
My wild out of my ass pick for the GC win: Jeremy Maison (France)
Espoirs Central's KOM winner: Patryk Stosz (Poland)
Stage 1 Pick: Frantisek Sisr (Czech Republic)
Stage 2 Pick: Ildar Arslanov (Russia)
Stage 3 Pick: Loïc Vliegen (Belgium)