UCI Gran Fondo – Albi 2017 – Course Analysis

The UCI Gran Fondo World Championships for amateur riders will be held in Albi, France in late August 2017. The event includes a time trial, team relay and road race, with two distances for the road race. In this post, I provide a course profile for each event. [Disclaimer – the analysis is based on information primarily sourced from the Albi 2017 website. Ensure you check the details closer to the event time in case of any changes made by the organisers, and for more accurate details of starting and finishing locations.]

Time Trial

The time trial is the first event, held on Thursday 24 August. The course is 22.5km long, starting and finishing at the Albi Motor Racing Circuit. The more technical sections of the course in terms of cornering are in the first two kilometres and last two kilometres near the start/finish line. However, the rest of the course is not totally straight, so you will need to keep focused for the whole distance to nail the turns.

The route is relatively flat, with a short uphill at around 9km, then back downhill at around 12km. Total elevation gain for the 22.5km course is around 100m.

The wind could play a major factor in pacing strategies for this course, so check the wind conditions on race day to make sure you pace yourself appropriately.

Team Relay

The team relay is held on Friday 25 August in the evening, on a circuit in the historic town centre. The start and finish are at the Sainte Cecile Cathedral Esplanade. The circuit is approximately 2km long, with a slightly downhill from the start then uphill with approx 30m of elevation gain for one lap.

Road Race – 97km

The road races will be held on Sunday 27 August. All women competitors will do the 97km road race, as will men aged 60+. Total elevation gain for the course is approximately 1000m, which makes it undulating but not mountainous!

The road race starts at Albi Cathedral, then heads west for 9.5km, where it is reasonably flat. When the route turns right (north) just before the 10km mark, the undulations start. From 10km to 20km there are several short sharp climbs, where gradients may be as high as 12-15% in some sections. From 20km to 33km, the road has a general downward gradient, but the road is far from flat, always going slightly uphill or downhill.

At approx the 33km mark, the racers will turn left and head up the longest climb of this course. It is approximately 6km long (ending at around the 39km mark), with gradients around 5-10%.

Upon reaching the top of the climb, the road levels off for about 6km, until the downhill properly starts at around 45km. The descent continues until the 55km mark. Enjoy this – as you will face some tough climbs after the descent!

There are a series of progressively longer and steeper climbs from 55km to 65km. This may be the hardest section of climbing in the course, due to the short steep nature of the climbs punctuated by descents.

From 65-69.5km is descending, until the next short hard climb, which is approximately 1km long. The next section from 70.5 until 77km is reasonably flat or trending downhill. Then, you guessed it, another short hard climb around 1km long. This is the last proper hard climb of the course – although there are still a few little climbs, they are not as long or as steep, with gradients expected to be less than 8%.

From just over the 80km mark until the finish, the course is more downhill and flat with only a few short uphill bits.

Depending on your strengths / weaknesses / concerns, the bits of the course that would be good to preview on your bike include:

  • Short steep climbs at 10-20km section (D6 road)
  • Long climb at 33-40km section (D15)
  • Descent at 45-55km section (D9 and D91)
  • Short hard climbs at 55-65km section (D600)

Road Race – 150km

The road races will be held on Sunday 27 August. Men competitors under 60 years old will do the longer road race course, which is approximately 150km (the Albi 2017 websiteย refers to 155km and 147km) with 2000m of elevation gain.

The course is the same as the short course for the first 30km, as follows:

The road race starts at Albi Cathedral, then heads west for 9.5km, where it is reasonably flat. When the route turns right (north) just before the 10km mark, the undulations start. From 10km to 20km there are several short sharp climbs, where gradients may be as high as 12-15% in some sections. From 20km to 33km, the road has a general downward gradient, but the road is far from flat, always going slightly uphill or downhill.

At approx the 33km mark, there is a short sharp climb up then straight back down again, approximately 10% gradient for around 1km.

The course then continues relatively flattish with a downhill trend until the base of the longest climb in the course, at approx 55km mark. This climb extends for almost 10km with approx 350m of elevation gain over that distance. Upon reaching the top of the climb at approx 68km, you get to enjoy a long descent about the same length of the climb.

The next section, from 77-97km, is flattish trending upwards, interspersed with a few short sharp climbs. Some of these around the 90km mark are expected to be quite steep.

At approx 97km you get to the next long climb. It is actually two longish climbs (3-5km) with a downhill/flat section in between the two climbs for around 5km. Try to pace yourself up the first long climb, as it will be tough, then get some recovery while changing up into the big chain ring for the flat section. The second part of the climb is not quite as hard as the first part. The climb peaks out at about the 107km mark.

Then …. you get another big descent as reward for your efforts. It is about 10km downhill, then there is a very short flat section before more undulations. These vary in length from very short to up to around 3km long. The terrain is very undulating, up and down, from 120-135km.

From around 135km, there is more downhill than uphill until about 145km, although there are still some short climbs to deal with in this section. From 145km until the end at around 155km, it is an uphill drag / false flat – not too steep, but just what the legs don’t need after racing for 145km!

In Closing …

Best of luck to all competitors for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships! May the training and hard work pay off, and most of all, enjoy the journey and the experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s