The race starts in beautiful down-town Salzburg.The early kilometres through the city are flat and well surfaced; there are a few 90 degree bends but nothing too dramatic. Every inch has barriers and crowd-control is excellent. The route exits the city along wide, flat, well-surfaced boulevards with the pits towards the edge of the city on the longest straight.
Start/Finish: where the magic happens.
The pits: where many a rider will be fed, and where many a rider will call it a day.
Heading out of town out to the hills that make up the heart of the course.
The first climb comes not far outside the city, it’s long, open and fast; there’s a 90 left then it narrows-up and starts to get twisty. It’s exposed up here and catches the wind.
Climb 1 is less than technical.
It drops briefly on newly-laid metal past Nick Nuyens supporter’s club HQ then climbs gently to the second pits and over a motorway bridge. The riders are now on a lumpy, twisty plateau with beautiful, traditional houses to the left and right. The first descent is short and sharp, always wet because it is in the shade.
A shady descent will greet the riders post-Climb 1.
The second and major climb of the day comes straight-off the descent and positioning will be everything. This climb is of an entirely different nature to the first battle with gravity; it’s narrow, sinuous and steep – to be at the back up here would be folly, especially if there’s a crash up-front on one of the narrow bends. The view at the top is great – over the mountains, but I think Boonen and co. might not be admiring it.
Over the top of Climb 2 could present some difficulties, as it is exposed and flat – a bad thing if you barely held on over the top of the climb. It’ll be fast and very very hard around this section.
The second descent is molto fast.
Over the summit it’s a rolling plateau but the trend is downwards as the road narrows and twists through picture-post-card-perfect houses. There’s a left and it drops – long, open, smooth and FAST, the trend is a gentle drift to the left before entering the suburbs of Salzburg.
The road gets a little curvy as it heads back towards town.
Of course, to get back into town, you need to roll through suburbia first.
It’s a little twisty in there and it narrows a little but nothing to write home to Flanders about. It’s out of the ‘burbs, there’s the Salzburg sign and it’s the main road, which is wide, smooth, open and drops gently into the city centre.
1k to go! Gentlemen, start your rocket engines.
It’s a wide urban run-in, good tarmac, a few bends but nothing too wild. The red kite at one K is followed by a 90 right, a short straight then a 90 left then it sweeps left, left, left to the finish.
It’s around 250 to go when you can see the banner – its arrow straight and flat as a salt pan; all you need to do now is come off Tom’s wheel.
12 laps, 265.2 km, and 2796 meters of climbing – the winner will surely be a capable one – can Boonen make it two?
With special thanks to our driver, Gerard.
If you’re hungry, a giant pretzel can go a long way to calming the fan’s insatiable hunger.
Next to skiing, sunning has to be considered the Austrian National Pasttime.