Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ronde de l'Isard stages announced

The Ronde de l'Isard, which is one of the classic stage races for U23 racers every year, has announced the stages for the 2015 edition and legs have already begun to ache at the impending climbing. For those new to this, let's review a little. The race takes place, for the most part in the Ariège, which is a department deep in Southwest France in the Pyrenees that remains to be one of the relatively untouched gems of France.

Cow at Soulcem
The first stage starts in Mirepoix, the namesake of the holy trinity of celery, onions and carrots, and goes up to the dam at Etang de Soulcem, which is just a stone's throw away from Andorra. There are not many details on the stage but looking at the area, it should be a fairly easy ride to the climb up to Soulcem but the climb itself is going to be quite painful. The climb up to the hydroelectric dam, which was built in the 1980s, hits touches of 14-15% gradient over the course of 12 kilometers with an average of nearly 7%.

Steep hairpin on Plateau de Beille (Photo: via @cyclingalps and his cycling-challenge website)

The next stage will be no easier as there will be a mythic finish on Plateau du Beille. Used 5 times in the Tour de France, the climb is coming back for the first time since 2009 where Romain Sicard outpaced Alexandre Geniez and Yoann Barbas. The climb goes on for nearly 16 kilometers for an average of 7.9% with a maximum of nearly 11%. It is going to be the premier stage and could be one of the best races of the year.

The final two stages are ones that I don't know too much about as of right now but with two heavy days in the mountains behind them, there will be some tired riders.

The 3rd stage is going to Boulogne-sur-Gesse, which should be a rolling stage that ends with a reduced bunch sprint or a breakaway. Stage 4 heads to Saint-Girons, which is the typical finish for the race, and should finish in some sort of solo breakaway with the winner gaining GC time back to possibly get onto the final podium.

Expect to see more in the coming months but you will be excited to see this race. Teams already announced include Chambery CF, Vendée U, La Pomme Marseille, Lotto-Soudal U23 and Unieuro-Wilier, among others.

No comments:

Post a Comment