The focus of the UCI World Tour now changes to the week-long Tour de Pologne. The 70th edition of the Tour de Pologne will traverse 1238km of Italian and Polish terrain, with two stages and 391km ridden in Trentino, Italy.
The parcours features two bona-fide mountain stages, two potential sprint stages, two hilly stages, and concludes with a 37km individual time trial.
There is also the addition of two mountain top finishes in the infamous Dolomites, thanks to the race’s grand depart in the autonomous province of Trentino, Italy.
The 2013 Tour de Pologne will favour the climbers amidst the peloton.
However, with the race concluding with an individual time trial, the favourites for the General Classification shall have to be strong ‘stage racers’, or have built a significant time advantage.
There could be fewer harder beginnings to a week-long stage race this year. As the peloton journey 184.5km from the city of Rovereto to the Ski Resort atop Category 1 Madonna di Campiglio.
Along the parcours the peloton will encounter the Category 1 Fai Della Paganella, the uncategorised Passo del Ballino, and the Category 2 Passo Del Durone.
The Dolomites will present a considerable challenge, and dissimilar to the French Alps of Tour de France the climbs are not suited to tempo riding.
The constantly changing gradient and rugged nature of several of the climbs will force cyclists to change their tempo, which saw some cyclists exposed during the Giro d’Italia.
The second stage of the Tour de Pologne is arguably even harder than the first, as the stage finishes not at a Ski Resort but atop the rugged beauty of the Category 1 Passo Pordoi.
With the Category 1 climbs of the Passo Pampeago and Passo Costalunga preceding the summit finish, it is difficult a large peloton surviving the climbs at a high race temp with the Passo Pampeago arguably be the hardest climb tackled during this year’s parcours.
After the travelling from Italy to Poland during scheduled rest day on Monday, the sprinters finally get a whiff of an opportunity to claim a stage victory.
The third stage, 226km in length, from the city of Kraków to the city of Rzeszów favours those sprinters able to cope with the odd hill.
As Stage 3 finishes with a three lap criterium, each lap some 6km in length, around the streets of Rzeszów.
The sprinters shall have to grab the two opportunities the race organisers have given them firm with both hands.
As Stage 4 signals farewell of the Tour de Pologne’s sprint stages, with a 231.5km stage from the historic city of Tarnów to the more modern city of Katowice.
Stage 4 concludes with another criterium, with four laps of 12.3km, as the sprinters adjust to the rolling profile of the criterium finale.
The puncheurs and General Classification favourites will come to the fore for Stage 5 and 6, as the Tour de Pologne once again visits the hills of Southern Poland.
Stage 5 journeys 160.5km from the town of Nowy Targ to the city of Zakopane.
The stage utilises multiple ascents of the Bukowina Tatrzańska, Głodówka, Łapszanka, and successive Droga Do Olczy and Zakopane climbs, with the stage concluding atop the summit of the Zakopan.
A lengthier and gruelling parcours awaits the peloton for Stage 6, a similar situation to Stage 2 in the Dolomites.
As the peloton cycles a 192km long five lap criterium beginning in Bukowina Tatrzańska, each lap 38.4km in length.
If Stage 5 was somehow won by a sprinter with good legs on the climbs, Stage 6 will certainly be for the puncheurs qwith the repeated punchy ascents of the Ząb, Gliczarów Górny, and Bukowina Tatrzańska climbs.
The overall winner of the Tour de Pologne could ultimately be determined by the 37km individual time trial from the mining town of Wieliczka to the city of Kraków.
The parcours should suit the time trial specialists, however, the length and rolling nature of the terrain should shorten the time gaps to a degree.
The individual time trial should allow the favourites for the UCI Road World Championships Elite Men’s Individual Time Trial to gauge their preparation and performance approaching the event.