A preview of the 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour
With yesterday's team presentation a success, the teams are now preparing for tonight's opening prologue. Later today, we will send out a run-down of all 19 participating teams - but first we give you a preview of all five days of racing so that you are well-prepared for the coming stages. The maps and profiles of each stage are included as well, and you can click on them to access further information on the race website.
Prologue: Sibiu Historical City Centre ITT; 2.3 km
The second edition of the Sibiu Cycling Tour in 2012 was the first to start the race with a short prologue through Sibiu's old town. Five years later, the technical prologue at just over 2 kilometres is a regular and defining feature of the race.
This year, riders will start on Piața Huet next to the Protestant cathedral. The first part of the route is the most technical, with five 90-degree turns and several changes of surface: From smooth modern cobbles onto medieval cobbles in Strada Centumvirilor and onto even rougher cobbles in Strada Poștei. A 200-metre stretch of asphalt in Strada Mitropoliei gives a short respite before the smooth cobbles start again on Strada Brukenthal.
After crossing the Piața Mare, the riders turn left down the Strada Nicolae Bălcescu. Two left turns at the end of this street, normally a pedestrian area bustling with shops and restaurants, take the riders onto the Strada Cetății where they ride along Sibiu's medieval city walls before the asphalted Strada Alexandru Papiu-Ilarian leads them onto the cobbled Strada Tipografilor. Turning left at the Piața Friedrich Schiller, the Strada Arhivelor leads the riders to an arched gateway that takes them back to the Piața Mare for the final of the prologue. Although the finish is in sight already, the riders have to turn right towards the Turnul Sfatului. The northern archway of this medieval tower takes them to the Piața Mică for an 180-degree turn before the southern archway brings the riders back to the Piața Mare for the finish. Only about 250 m of the prologue takes place on asphalted roads, the rest is on cobbles.
Stage 1: Sibiu – Blaj – Miercurea Sibiului – Sibiu; 211.8 km
This stage is expected to end in a sprint on the Bulevardul Victoriei, but going through rolling terrain including seven classified climbs as well as three intermediate sprints it is far from flat. After the sign-in on the Piața Mare that saw yesterday's prologue, the 211.8 km stage is started in the outskirts of the city after a short neutral section.
The road immediately goes uphill to the first mountain sprint (category C) above Șura Mare after just 7.3 km, providing a first springboard for attacking riders looking to make the break of the day. This is followed by the first intermediate sprint in Ruși and another category C climb near Șeica Mare. A short descent is followed by a gradual downhill following the Târnava valley to Blaj for the day's second sprint.
The race enters the rolling hills again, and the four category C climbs of Cergău Mare, Vingard, Șpring, and Presaca will play a big part in deciding who can don the green mountain jersey after the stage. After a technical descent from Presaca, the day's feed zone is situated just before Miercurea Sibiului. The last classified climb of the stage starts after Apoldu de Sus, cresting 37.4 km to go and followed by the last intermediate sprint in Săcelu. In Cristian, the route turns right towards Orlat and Poplaca, approaching the finish from the south. This last part of the stage is not particularly difficult, with the final kilometres gradually downhill.
The number of mountain and sprint points on offer should promise a fight to get into the breakaway, but the length of the stage and the final favour a peloton with teams determined to deliver their sprinters to victory over a small group.
Stage 2: Sibiu – Agnita – Bâlea Lac; 160 km
Again, the sign-in is held on the Piața Mare, with the neutral section taking the peloton to the Sibiu zoo at the city's southern outskirts for the real start. 160 km lie ahead of the riders, with the finish at Bâlea Lac on 2040 metres.
The stage starts with a category C climb to Cisnădioara and an intermediate sprint in Cisnădie. After descending into the Olt river valley and passing by Avrig, the Săcădate climb after 44.1 km is the start to a rolling section in the area east of Sibiu with an intermediate sprint held in Nocrich. The feed zone in Agnita is followed by a small climb outside Vărd. Eventually, the race comes back to the Olt river valley, crossing it from the north to the south and turning onto the Transfăgărășan Road.
The last intermediate sprint in Cârțișoara is still in the valley, but soon afterwards the road starts to ramp up. The final 23.6 km are uphill with an average gradient of 6.1%, a maximum gradient of 9.2%, and countless turns and switchbacks. Starting in the forest, the road crosses the treeline near the waterfall Bâlea Cascadă. On the second half of the ascent, riders will be able to catch sight of the finish in the distance – but they still have to climb for some time.
With the long climb at the end of the stage, the strong climbers and favourites for the overall win will come out to play on this stage, trying to get rid of their rivals and taking the yellow jersey.
Stage 3: Sibiu – Sebeș – Păltiniș
Stage 3 over 211.5 km will take the peloton to Păltiniș. The mountain resort is a popular destination for Sibiu citizens wanting to enjoy the outdoors, and a cyclotour is held in conjunction with the UCI race. Everyday cyclists can participate in the 'King of the Mountains', with routes offered for road cyclists and mountainbikers.
While the fans enjoy their own climbing and get ready to welcome the Sibiu Cycling Tour peloton, the professionals have a number of other climbs to race over first. After the ceremonial start on the Piața Mare and the real start at the southern city limits, the stage gets underway with the 20 km long, but gradual climb from Tilișca to Jina (category A) that is followed by a short and technical downhill to Dobra.
Following the Sebeș river valley to the city of Sebeș where an intermediate sprint is held, the race continues down the E81 main road to just before Miercurea Sibiului where the feed zone is situated after 103.7 km. The short climb of Dumbrava is just a small taste of what is to come, though. Back in the Sebeș valley, the race now goes upriver to Dobra where the riders climb the road they descended earlier in the day. The 5.1 km, 8.6% average climb to Jina (category A) cresting after 154.2 km will be a first test for the general classification favourites; the race will not be won here, but it could be lost.
After a long and winding descent on narrow roads towards Săliște, the finishing climb to Păltiniș is not far. The first half of the 14.8 km, category A climb includes steep parts of up to 11%, with the road flattening out somewhat at about 5 km to go. The gradient picks up again on the final two kilometres to the finish at 1438 m, ensuring a final contested by the strongest riders and possibly shaped by different race strategies where some riders go all-out to win the stage or take back time while others ride tactically to protect their overall placing.
Stage 4: Sibiu – Mediaș – Sibiu
The final stage will take place on Sunday 9th July in the evening, with the race both starting and finishing on the Piața Mare. The real start is given at the city's eastern outskirts, and immediately the climb of Dealul Dăii gives contenders for the mountain jersey a chance to pick up points. The stage is mostly flat to rolling, with the Pelișor climb also offering mountain points.
The final 25 km include the climbs of Ruși and Slimnic, offering the breakaway or late attackers a last chance to spoil the sprinters' plans. The high-speed descent to Sibiu is followed by a hectic run-in through the city, finishing with a cobbled uphill finish into the Historical Centre. The finish line is located on the Piața Mare where the stage winner, the overall podium and the wearers of the various classification jerseys will receive their prizes amid public applause.
Three Professional Continental Teams, fifteen Continental Teams and a Romanian national team make up the peloton of the 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour. 2016 winner Nikolay Mihaylov is back to defend his title, but he will face strong opposition from the likes of Egan Bernal or Daniel Jaramillo. The sprints will also be fiercely contested, with Simone Ponzi, Sebastian Haedo, Andrea Palini, and Edwin Ávila just a few of the fast men vying for stage honours.
Here you can find the full startlist.
List of teams in the 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Androni - Sidermec - Bottecchia
Unieuro Trevigiani - Hemus 1896
Tușnad Cycling Team
Monkey Town Continental Team
GM Europa Ovini
Team Differdange - Losch
Team Giant - Castelli
Roth - Akros
Dukla Banská Bystrica
Romanian National Team
Christina Jewelry - KUMA