Route for 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour presented
In 2017, the Sibiu Cycling Tour will be run on a balanced parcours that gives opportunities to sprinters, climbers and prologue specialists alike.
After hosting a climbing time trial to Bâlea Lac in 2016, the famous Transfăgărășan Road will be back as part of a 157 km normal road stage. The action starts on Wednesday, 5th July, with the traditional prologue winding its way through the Historical Centre of Sibiu. Stage 1 is one for the sprinters, but with a number of small climbs, it is not completely flat. Stage 2 starts in Sibiu and takes the peloton to Bâlea Lac where the 22.6 km climb on the Transfăgărășan Road will reshuffle the general classification. The next stage to the Păltiniș mountain resort offers the opportunity to claw back time lost on the previous day, or extend an already-existing lead. The final stage on Sunday, 9th July, should not change the general classification; it is another opportunity for the sprinters who will nevertheless have to fight for it with two climbs in the last 30 km and the uphill final kilometre to the finish on the Piața Mare.
Eight teams including two Professional Continental Teams have already confirmed that they will participate in the race, so the 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour promises to become one of the best in the history of the race.
A 2.2 km prologue in the Historical Centre of Sibiu will kick off the race on the evening of Wednesday, 5th July. The riders will start off the courtyard of the Casa Altemberger. For over 400 years, from 1545 to 1948, this was the city hall of Sibiu; today, it houses the city's history museum. From there, the riders pick up speed down the Strada Mitropoliei before turning right onto the Strada Poștei. From here on, most of the parcours will be cobbled, in some cases rather roughly, making bike handling a very important skill. Another right turn takes them down the Strada Centumvirilor and then up the Strada Alexandru Odobescu, passing the start ramp on their right. After crossing the Piața Mare, the riders turn left down the Strada Nicolae Bălcescu. A left turn at the end of this street, normally a pedestrian area bustling with shops and restaurants, and another left turn shortly afterwards takes the riders onto the Strada Cetății where they ride along Sibiu's medieval city walls. The asphalted Strada Alexandru Papiu-Ilarian gives a very short respite before the cobbles start again on the Strada Tipografilor. Turning left at the Piața Friedrich Schiller, the Strada Arhivelor offers 200 m of asphalt to the riders before an arched gateway takes them back to the Piața Mare for the final of the prologue. Although they have the finish 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 which is crossed twice before the southern archway brings the riders back to the Piața Mare for the finish. Only about 400 m of the prologue takes place on asphalted roads, the rest is on cobbles.
Stage 1 is ceremonially started on the Piața Mare, with the real start to the 200 km race given on the bridge over the A38 Sibiu bypass. The route heads north until reaching Blaj after about 60 km; on the first 30 km, the climbs of Slimnic, Ruși, and Șeica Mare give attack-minded riders ample opportunity to form a breakaway. After the race's first-ever passage through Blaj, another hilly section with the climbs of Cergău Mare, Vingard, Șpring, and Presaca will keep both the break and the chasing peloton on their toes. The race then goes past Miercurea Sibiului with about 50 km, and the climbs of Apoldu de Sus and Săcel are the last difficulties en route to a sprint on the Bulevardul Victoriei in Sibiu.
Stage 2 will take the peloton to the highest point of the race, the glacial lake Bâlea Lac at the top of the famous Transfăgărășan Road, the "best road in the world". Again starting on the Piața Mare, the race gets underway at the Sibiu Zoo just south of the city. After climbing to Cisnădioara, the peloton will pass Tălmaciu on the way to the Olt river valley. After a flat stretch to Avrig and crossing the dammed-up river, the Săcădate climb is the start to a rolling section in the area east of Sibiu. Shortly before Agnita, the riders head south, taking in a short climb through Vărd on the way back to the Olt river. Having crossed back to the south bank, the race goes directly towards the Transfăgărășan Road. The climb officially starts with 22.6 km to go; More than 30 turns including 22 hairpins lie ahead of the peloton. With an average gradient of 6.11%, in places going up to 12.1%, the climb to Bâlea Lac will mean that only the strongest climbers can challenge for the win at an altitude of 2040 m. The general classification may well be decided on this stage.
On Saturday, 8th July, stage 3 over 205.5 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 that is followed by a short and technical downhill to Dobra. Following the Sebeș river valley to the city of Sebeș and then racing down the E81 main road to just before Miercurea Sibiului, the riders finally head to the hills again. The short climb of Câlnic 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 now have to climb the road they descended earlier in the day. The 5.1 km, 8.8% average climb to Jina cresting after 149.3 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 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 2 km 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.
The final stage will take place on Sunday 9th July in the afternoon, 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.
"We want to change things a bit from year to year", says race director Adrian Aldea. "To keep the same route every year and not develop the race further would mean a stagnation. Moving the two mountain stages around made a lot of sense. The owners of the shops, restaurants, and hotels at Bâlea Lac asked us to consider moving the Transfăgărășan stage to Friday; and moving the Păltiniș finish to Saturday means that even more of our fans will be able to participate in the 'King of the Mountain' that's held in advance of the professional race."
Aldea continued: "Bâlea Lac could be a sprint from a small group on the last kilometre, like two years ago - or one rider attacks early and builds a gap, like in 2014. The stage to Păltiniș will be harder than this year since we can use the ascent to Jina again, climbing it from both sides. Finally, the first and fourth stage give the sprinters a chance to win a stage. Of course we're hoping that the best Romanian cyclists, Eduard Michael Grosu and Serghei Țvetcov, can take a victory at the 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour."
The 2016 edition saw the strongest peloton ever in the history of the race, with four Professional Continental teams facing twelve Continental teams and two national squads. Despite this, the race was not formulaic, with the overall win being decided by a strong breakaway staying away on stage 2 to Păltiniș. Andrei Nechita became the first Romanian stage winner when he took the prologue, showing that the local riders have improved over the years and are competitive against strong opposition.
Eight outfits including two Professional Continental Teams have already confirmed their participation in the 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour:
Polish team CCC Sprandi Polkowice is a regular feature of the race since 2013. They have placed a rider on the podium in each of the four editions they participated in, winning the race twice. Davide Rebellin took the overall honours in 2013, Nikolay Mihaylov triumphed this year. Cycling Academy Team was a part of the 2016 race as a Continental Team, winning the mountain jersey. The Israeli project takes the step up to Professional Continental status in 2017, and the Sibiu Cycling Tour will again be part of their race calendar.
D'Amico Bottecchia from Italy put riders in the overall top-10 at two participations in 2015 and 2016 and return for their third Sibiu Cycling Tour. GM Europa Ovini came close to winning one of the sprint stages in the last two years - having signed several strong riders, they could now challenge for the race overall as well. Monkey Town debuted at the 2014 under (under different sponsorship), and the Dutch team will come back for their fourth participation in a row.
Tirol Cycling Team from Austria have strengthened their roster with both Italian and Austrian riders. The team is an ambassador for the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck and will bring its strongest riders to Sibiu. Romania's only Continental outfit Tușnad Cycling Team around Romanian Paralympic gold medalist Carol Eduard Novak has been a part of the race since the first edition in 2011, and the biggest Romanian stage race is always a highlight of their season. Finally, there will be a Romanian national team as always.
In addition to these eight squads, the race organisation is negotiating with a number of teams and looks forward to welcoming back teams for whom participation has become a tradition as well as showing the Romanian hospitality to squads that have not been to Sibiu before. More teams are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour parcours
5 July Prologue: Historic Centre of Sibiu, 2.2 km
6 July Stage 1: Sibiu - Blaj-Miercurea Sibiului - Sibiu, 200 km
7 July Stage 2: Sibiu - Agnita - Bâlea Lac, 157 km
8 July Stage 3: Sibiu - Sebeș - Păltiniș, 205 km
9 July Stage 4: Sibiu - Mediaș - Sibiu, 150 kmTeams confirmed for 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
Cycling Academy Team
GM Europa Ovini
Tirol Cycling Team
Tușnad Cycling Team
Romanian National TeamSibiu Cycling Tour palmarès
Vladimir Koev (Konya - Torku Seker Spor - Vivelo)
Victor de la Parte (SP Tableware)
Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat - Polkowice)
Radoslav Rogina (Adria Mobil)
Mauro Finetto (Southeast)
Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)