Friday, 13 September 2013

Chrono Champenois - Trophée Européen 2013

15.09.2013 Official Site
France, Individual Time Trial, 33.4km
UCI 1.1

The 2013 cycling season is almost over. The Memorial Michela Fanini, which finishes on the same day the Chrono Champenois takes place, is the last stage race of the year and all we have left is a handful of time trials, of which the Champenois is one - the other races left are the Chrono des Nations, World Championships and the African TT and road race Championships, and then that's it until Spring 2014 (fortunately, there is cyclo cross).

The Champenois is a rare example of a race that started out as a women's event, right back in 1989, and later expanded to include a men's race too.

Previous winners
Jeannie Longo of France and the Swiss Karin Thürig have enjoyed the most victories with four apiece (1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999 for Longo; 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 for Thürig). Several riders have won twice, including Britain's Wendy Houvenaghel who won in 2009 and then again in last year's edition.

2012 winner Wendy Houvenaghel
1989 Nathalie Six
1990 Nathalie Gendron
1991 Nathalie Gendron
1992 Jeannie Longo
1993 Svetlana Samokhvalova
1994 Svetlana Samokhvalova
1995 Jeannie Longo
1996 Jeannie Longo
1997 Alessandra Cappellotto
1998 Zoulfia Zabirova
1999 Jeannie Longo
2001 Kirsty Nicol Robb
2002 Zoulfia Zabirova
2003 Hanka Kupfernagel
2004 Karin Thürig
2005 Kathy Watt
2006 Karin Thürig
2007 Karin Thürig
2008 Karin Thürig
2009 Wendy Houvenaghel
2010 Anne Samplonius
2011 Judith Arndt
2012 Wendy Houvenaghel

The Parcours
The majority of the route is made up of long, straight sections and is as a result not highly technical; however, there are several tight corners which may become slippery after rain. An added hazard at this time of the year is the horse chestnut trees found at several points along the way - the spiky nut (conker) shells they drop can easily cause punctures. There are also a number of short tunnels passing under railways, while these are not narrow enough to cause problems for a single rider water and leaves often collect in them, causing slippery conditions.

View Chrono Champenois 2013 in a larger map

The climb, which takes up most of the third quarter of the race, looks daunting on the altitude profile but in fact gains only around 90m in 8km, making the average gradient negligible. With the highest gradient, around 24km from the start, less than 6% and lasting for only a short section, gradients won't play much of a part in deciding the outcome - what matters is being able to maintain a good rhythm around the corners and keep your momentum all the way to the finish.

Getting there
Calais to Betheny by car isn't a difficult journey, being some 270km down the A26 - though you'll have to pay tolls at a few points; the suggested Google map is here. Completing the journey by bike is probably not possible for the majority of people at this late a stage since avoiding the motorway increases the journey to 310km; however, the Google map for the suggested route is here - and you could always drive the first bit, then cycle the last 100km for one last bike adventure before the weather turns bad.

How to follow the race
As ever, we're probably going to be limited to Twitter updates from Karl Lima, Richie Steege, Anton Vos and Bart Hazen - so it's a good thing that all four of them do a fantastic job of providing information. The race doesn't seem to have an official Twitter account, but using the hashtags #womenscycling and #chronochampenois may turn up some good stuff - be sure to use them to share any information on the race or media coverage you may come across.

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