The Copenhagen circuit, for sprinters?

That’s a video of the World Championship circuit in Rudersal near Copenhagen. Note the on-screen altitude profile so if you are pressed for time, fast forward to the hills.

Yes, the hills. When you see the rises en route they are certainly not big. But the Worlds is all about repetition and attrition. They’ll do 17 laps and by the last three laps I suspect the bunch will be thinned down. As much as everyone says this is a course for sprinters, it is clearly hillier than Zolder, perhaps the last true Worlds finish for sprinters in 2002. The course could suit the likes of Philippe Gilbert and Robert Gesink.

For me the uphill finish looks interesting to say the least. It is a long climb for a sprinter. Thor Hushovd and Peter Sagan could be happy. It’s only a Youtube video – indeed does the camera exaggerate the profile? – but having seen this, the odds on the course suiting Mark Cavendish shrink a little. Although the moment you forget Cavendish is the moment he pops up to win.

We heard in June that it was a sprinters’ race, but when I saw the course I was quite surprised how hard it was, one for the climbers. We then saw how the under-23 riders were racing and we thought, maybe it is a sprinters’ course.”

That’s Thor Hushovd on the Geelong course last year, quoted by Cycling Weekly. When people say Copenhagen is for sprinters, be warned. The course could provide for surprises. Don’t tune in for the last five minutes in anticipation of a bunch sprint.

Thanks to reader Martijn Hendriks for bringing the video to my attention.

28 thoughts on “The Copenhagen circuit, for sprinters?”

  1. The course could certainly produce surprises but I would bet that if the top sprinters like Cav miss out on the finale it will be because of tactics and attacking and not because of attrition. The thing that makes me pretty sure it will be a pretty big group at the end though is the course from the right hand turn at 10:25 in the video. That long straight run-in pretty much assures that any attack can be closed down by the trains as long as the race has been reasonably controlled up to that point.

    At the right hander at 800m it will be a freeforall. Barring a monsterattack from Cancellara there, the winner will be whoever times his sprint and effort best (and it will be Gilbert).

  2. I’ve run over a few likely scenarios, which means none of them will actually happen. The race always seems to deliver a surprise.

    If Cavendish is in a decent position under the red kite, it is his race to lose. It doesn’t matter how big the lead group is; if he sees the finish line, he will go deep just a few meters longer than he reckoned, and nobody will get around him.

    Hushovd only stopped being a “sprinter” when Cav won Milan-San Remo. His defense will be noble, but not enough.

    Cancellara’s season is long since over. I question whether he’ll even make the TT podium.

    Sagan is powerful AND crafty; he proved his wiles in the Vuelta finale. If he and Gilbert make the final selection, they will mark each other out.

  3. You seem to forget Freire. His form has been dodgy this season but the Spanish team is quite strong and if he gets to the last lap with chances I wouldn’t count him out.

  4. Peter Sagan is the man. He is clearly the rider in form after la Vuelta. Hushovd has become ill while counting next years money, Cav lost morale counting next years money, Boonen out since loosing his kryptonite, Tyler F – not on form and Gilbert might slowly have lost some of his stamina after a long season – and a hard period of time counting next (three) years money. It is all about who wants it most – and who came out of the Vuelta with high morale. Come Copenhagen end September, come rain showers, low temperatures and blistery windy conditions and only a rider who desires wins. His name is Sagan, Peter Sagan!

  5. Sagan has to be a candidate but how will he do after 260km? Once you go beyond 200km, everything changes and each additional 10km becomes a punch drunk contest of survival where it gets increasingly difficult to think straight, yet alone ride straight.

    Hushovd and Boasson Hagen could be interesting. But what I wanted to say with the piece above is that it’s quite open. Too many people say it’s a sprinter’s course but maybe it’s not quite so.

  6. This is the first time I’ve checked out the video of the course and it surely looks difficult for the sprinters. The last hill after a full righthander makes the job all the more tricky for Cav. But this time he has a strong GB team to support him and Geraint Thomas will be a key factor in Cav’s success. Given the recent form and results, Gilbert, Gesink, Thor will obviously be up there but I will put my money on Cav and as an outside bet on Goss because he is slightly better in fast punchy finish.

  7. The final climb is about as steep as the Poggio, I’d think. (no?)
    But here will be no chance to get back to the front after the climb and before the finish line.
    Of course it’s also a much shorter climb. I don’t know…
    What I know is that I’m eager to see it.
    U23 race should tell us quite a bit again.

  8. Cipo’s victory at the ’02 World’s on a designated sprinters course, saw only 30 riders in the final front group, after the Italians and Co decimated the field through pure average speed. 46.5 kph avg (29mph) for 5.5 hrs killed off anyone without decent form.

    Copenhagen will probably be no different. Attrition through distance at speed.

    If a top sprinter wins, he deserves to be World Champ.

  9. I and have trained and raced on part of the circuit for years. The 2 hills (km 3.2 and at the finish) are 400 meters @ 6% and 600 meters @4%. Not that hard. But as INRNG states: It’s about repetition. I will add that most of the circuit is quite technical and can be stressfull, especially if you have to chase down riders. Furthermore, it’s up or down most of the time and combined with a distance of +250 km I think it makes for a inpredictable outcome.

    Having watched the GP Quebec my money is on Gilbert. He will win a smaller or larger group sprint by many lengths. Another beautifull win for the most impressive rider of 2011.

  10. Just got back from the GP de Quebec (was able to pretty much watch the race from my hotel room, btw) and I have to agree with Melting Tarmac. A punchy finish like that seems tailor-made for Gilbert, who has proved with his GP de Quebec win that he still has form. Even in the GP de Montreal, where he didn’t win, he managed to ride away from Gesink handily on the Cote du Camilien-Houde before settling back into the pack

  11. I would expect the top 5 to feature some or most of the following names: Goss, Boassen Hagen, Sagan, Gilbert, and maybe Hushovd, though I’m skeptical of his health. Goss has proven he can win after a very long day in the saddle, but I’m going with the guy who just 3 stages in the Vuelta. Sagan will win the first of multiple rainbow jerseys that he’s likely to collect during his career.

  12. Sagan — Recent history shows the Vuelta to be the best prep(although most withdraw before the end — that leaves a bit of a question) and I think he has a better sprint then Gilbert. If he can stay with the leaders until the end he wins.

  13. Waiting to see the GB team before placing my money on Cav, it will be the deciding factor in my opinion. If Wiggins, Millar, Thomas, Froome are there they’ll be there until the end for the leadout. Add in Stannard and others for break control and it could be a great end to what is already British road cyclings best ever year.

  14. Waiting to see the GB team before placing my money on Cav, it will be the deciding factor in my opinion.

    If Wiggins, Millar, Thomas, Froome are there they’ll be there until the end for the leadout. Add in Stannard and others for break control and it could be a great end to what is already British road cyclings best ever year.

  15. really interesting…no big selective feature. I’d agree with how technical it looks. Narrow roads, tight turns w/furniture. I think it will be hard for a Cav style train to hold it together. Esp. one that isn’t necessarily as well drilled as a unit as the HTC train. That gives the edge to the small group, I think.

    Even so, would Cav finish on that steep uphill? Seems more like a Freire/Thor/B’Haggen finish (if he were really on form).

  16. You say it “isn’t for Cavendish” but in the tour of britain he scored kom points today and finished 4th uphill. and getting to the finish an a group of about 30 (without houshovd) wasn’t because of luck.

  17. Interesting to hear everyone say the video made them think the course was less sprinter friendly, I came away with the opposite impression, that the hills wouldn’t break the race up but the corners and constant slowing-acceleration would.
    Regarding the Vuelta, I think it was Cyclocosm that did an analysis (before last year) that showed that while almost all recent world champs had entered the Vuelta most had not finished. Either way its going to be an awesome race.

  18. How freaking cool is this blog to have the World’s course on video to preview? INRNG once again amazes me with its content. This guy deserves to be paid well for coming up with this kind of stuff. Thank You, INRNG.

  19. sagan or gilbert… maybe bling mathews if he’s got any form, it’s not for goss or cav, eddy boss outside bet if thor will work for him (thor has gotta be one of the best wind protectors out there? lol), although seeing his form in ToB thor might want to go for it himself again now.

    only other option is a massive breakaway upset through lack of race control (which is entirely possible!)

    chris froome or johnny belis to win for the ultimate story of the year finish 🙂 cept johnny will never be selected and froome will also be overlooked in favour of a cav train. /shame

  20. As far as I can tell, using the Whats that Path Profiler site, (correct me if I’m wrong) the finish looks like 6%+ average for 400m or so. I think that’s unfortunately a bridge too far for Cavendish though I’d love him to prove me (and others) wrong (again). It’s difficult to see past Gilbert pulling out a few bike lengths on the run in.

  21. Just watched the video. You’re right to say this course makes it an open race. The technical section (from circa 2:30 to 6:20 on the video) is surprisingly narrow in places and includes street furniture, tight turns etc. The wide, straighter sections might not be long enough for the bunch to regroup and the first or second break could stay away until the end.

  22. I can add a bit of bonus info in terms of the street furniture. Quite some of it is actually being removed termporary these days, for what I assume to be safety precautions.

  23. There can be no doubt that given recent form, being favoured by the course, and consistent discipline — Gilbert is the winner, however he doesn’t have the chance of setting up the win by a climb closer to the finish, which he favours. But in any case, if you are considering Gilbert than how can you overlook his team-mate Greg Van Avermaet, who is a slightly younger rider giving indications he can follow in Gilbert’s successful tracks.

    And then, of course, if you are considering that a rider may win either in a bunch or in a break, you must consider the chances of Lars Boom, who recently won the Tour of Britain, fits the mould suitably and will relish the course even more should it rain or become tricky with the wind. Yes, there are surprises at these events, but the only surprise to me will be how under-rated Boom is should he win, and how good Belgium are at developing these circuit experts if Greg Van Avermaet were to win.

    Pablo Lastras, Rein Tarramae, and Daniel Martin for perhaps unsurprising surprises, and I agree Cavendish is unsuited by the finish.

    Indeed, thanks to Mr. Hendriks for the video, there can be no doubt that it’s a punchy finish!

    Daniel Moszkowicz

  24. Glad to have been proven wrong – congrats Cav and an immense team GB! That shows quite how fit pro cyclists are for sprinters to be flying up climbs like that so fast.

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