Recce of the Alpine Challenge Prologue
Sven Thiele, founder of HotChillee is currently in Annecy. He takes a lighthearted, tongue in cheek look at the new Prologue route that he tested this week. Photos all by Karin Schermbrucker and Matthew Alexander.
Annecy is a beautiful town nestled between the Haute Savoie alps and the famous lake. I've had the opportunity to recce the Prologue climb for the 2013 Alpine Challenge and wondering how that correlates with the beauty of the region.
For those that rode the Alpine Challenge in prior years, we did the Col de Leschaux on the west side of the lake. It was a pretty consistent climb of 11km at 3-6%. Any TT or prologue is hard. It's definitely always harder than you think its going to be - because its impossible to remember or imagine how hard it is to do a mountain TT - it must be some sort of human defense mechanism. The good thing about Col de Leschaux was you could maintain a rhythm and you probably would not run out of gears, and possibly even go at a speed fast enough so that it would ruffle your hair under your helmet. (Speaking for myself here!)
Col de Leschaux Profile. lots of "Green" = "Good"
So what's different for the 2013 Prologue? Almost everything. The amount of timed vertical is about 450m in 11km for Leschaux and about 600m in 8km for Forclaz on the east side of the lake. The run into Leschaux was flat and in the morning sun, the run into Forclaz is a drag with a few bumps in the shadow of some serious looking mountains. The surface on Leschaux is generally very smooth all the way up whilst Forclaz has some bad rutting and broken up tar from years of winter ice. If you look at the profile below, you can see why it's extremely hard to get a rhythm going - plus there is very little "Green" on the profile. The change from 7.9% to 3.5% in the middle section almost feels like you're going downhill again. So you big chain ring it and then suddenly it goes dark and you're scrabbling for the small ring to deal with the following 9.9%. The twists and turns in the road are more challenging than the longer gentlemanly traverses on Leschaux. With this climb you have a feeling that you're nearing the top as things are easing off (2nd last red profile section) as you go from 13% to 8% (yep you read right) only to have your legs ripped off and diced through your rear mech on the last kilometer whilst some alpine sadist goblin peels off the first few layers of your eyeballs with a blunt cheese grater. And you can do nothing
I anticipate this piece will raise more questions than I've answered so here are some extra facts.
Here are some additional tips ;-)
The view from the top of Col de la Forclaz - spectacular