Eight things you didn’t know about Tour de Suisse – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling is returning to the Tour de Suisse for the second time in the team’s history. Held from June 6 – 13, the team will face a stacked WorldTour peloton that includes Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo Visma).

Last year’s edition went virtual and although the team had much success, they’re very much looking forward to racing on real roads and through one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Roster: Rob Britton, Matteo Dal-Cin, Ben King, Gavin Mannion, Kyle Murphy, Joey Rosskopf, and Nickolas Zukowsky.

Stage rundown
June 6, Stage 1: Frauenfeld > Frauenfeld – 10.9km ITT
Frauenfeld couldn’t look or feel more Swiss if it tried. As well as the super technical opening time trial at this year’s race, the historic town is home to Frauenfeld Castle, which looks more movie set than a stronghold. It’s also home to Sigg Switzerland, a company famous for its iconic water bottle design which is included in the permanent design collection of MOMA in New York.

June 7, Stage 2: Neuhausen am Rheinfall > Lachen – 173km
The punchy second stage starts at the most powerful waterfall in Europe. In summer, about 600,000 litres of water per second tumble down into the falls, so it’s no surprise that it’s the most visited day trip destination in the area. The peloton will race through more historic towns (this will be a theme from here on), some of which date back to early last millennium, and will visit Lake Constance, or Bodensee, on their way to Lake Zurich.

June 8, Stage 3: Lachen > Pfaffnau – 185km (2490m)
Stage 3 has been described as having a Spring Classic character. If you can pull your eyes away from the attack-filled bike racing, there’s plenty of history to get your teeth into. About an hour into the stage is the site of the Battle of Morgarten on the edge of Lake Aegeri, which marked the start of the Swiss Habsburg Wars from 1315. The race will also get its first sighting of the St. Urban Monastery, a marvel of Cistercian architecture which now plays host to concerts, art exhibitions and guided tours.

June 9, Stage 4: St. Urban > Gstaad – 171km (2096m)
Starting from St. Urban, stage 4 does a touch of climbing on the way to the high-end town of Gstaad – you’ve probably heard of it. At one point it was home to the most millionaires per capita in the world. It’s the kind of Swiss town where the grass is cut by hand with scissors, or so the joke goes. Think Monaco, but in the mountains. Hemingway was a frequent visitor to Gstaad’s luxury retreats.

June 10, Stage 5: Gstaad > Leukerbad – 172km (2850m)
As the peloton leaves Gstaad, look out for the many old collectible cars and Ferraris the locals will want to show off. They’ll soon be forgotten though as the race heads into the mountains proper before dropping back down a stunning descent into the Valais. They’ll visit Aigle, home to the headquarters of the UCI, and pass through one of the most sought after wine regions in Switzerland. Look out for the frankly bizarre Schloss Leuk (Leuk Castle) and its curious egg-shaped glass – err – helmet just before the final climb.

June 11, Stage 6: Andermatt > Disentis-Sedrun – 130km (3190m)
And so begins three days that will have heads spinning by the end of the race. The race organizers have had to change the entire route, diverting away from the still snow-covered high passes and routing the last three stages around the remote holiday destination of Andermatt. Stage 6 sees the first passage of the San Gotthard Pass (2,106m) which includes the first road tunnel in the Alps and the strikingly-named Devil’s Bridge, a site oozing with stories dating back to the French Revolution.

June 12, Stage 7: Disentis-Sedrun > Andermatt – 23.2km ITT (656m)
The individual time trial on the penultimate stage is frankly cruel. In the first half of the stage, each rider will climb the 11.9km Oberalppass which peaks at 2,046m, and then ride the fast descent back to Andermatt. Perhaps the best seats in the house will be from the mountain train that ferries passengers to the summit.

June 13, Stage 8: Andermatt > Andermatt – 160km (3560m)
The last day essentially retraces the past two stages, which means there’s a lot of climbing to do on some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. Given the wintery weather that has lingered deep into spring, we can expect some high walls of snow over the higher passes. Though it’s physically not the most hospitable of environments, it’s visually breathtaking and a true Mecca for cyclists.

Viewers in the US, Canada, and Australia can watch each Tour de Suisse stage live on FloBikes.

— Info Circuit to rallycycling.com

Robin Carpenter heads to Unbound Gravel – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling is heading to Unbound Gravel with Robin Carpenter on June 5 to take on what is widely regarded as the world’s biggest gravel event. 

With 200 miles of hard pack gravel, rolling hills, and searing summer heat, Unbound Gravel will take the riders to their limits as they navigate the Kansas Prairie. Such is the difficulty of the race that 2019 champion Colin Strickland’s finish time was just a shade under 10 hours. 

This year’s edition is the first gravel race that Carpenter has ever entered.

“It’s going to be a brand-new experience,” Carpenter said. “It may be my first gravel event but I know to respect the scene and its level of importance.”

The start list is very competitive. 2019 champions Colin Strickland and Amity Rockwell return to defend their respective crowns, as well as a host of WorldTour professionals who will join Carpenter in Kansas.

WorldTour riders Kiel Reijnen and Quinn Simmons (Trek – Segafredo) will be racing, as will Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar Team) and Women’s WorldTeam rider Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon SRAM Racing) and cyclocross talent Rebecca Fahringer. Ex-professionals Ian Boswell, Peter Stetina, Laurens Ten Dam, and Thomas Dekker will also be in attendance at the mass start event.

The race only entered Carpenter’s calendar following an early exit from the team’s recent European campaign. A key race cancellation freed up the San Diegan to return home as a long-time goal came within reach.

I’m out there to learn and have a good time and try to see what the gravel community is all about. This is one of those special events that typically coincides with some big road events but the stars aligned and I’m excited to be on the start line.”

FloBikes will stream the race live starting at 12 pm CT on Saturday, June 5. You can also follow the riders’ progress via the live tracker here.

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com

10 raddest things about Tro-Bro Léon – Rally Cycling

Tro-Bro Léon is a one-day race that is hugely under-appreciated by the international peloton. 

Taking on many of the most brutal roads in the Finistère region of Bretagne in the north-westernmost corner of France, this race is certifiably ‘rad’

Here are ten reasons why…

It’s all about the gravel
There’s not just a little bit of gravel – the gravel is the race and the race is the gravel. And if the conditions are bad, the surface turns into something more closely resembling mud than the ‘grit soup’ you see in a race like Strade Bianche when it rains. In short, bad weather makes it even more epic.

Badger country
People from Brittany – Bretons – are fiercely loyal to the region; they are Breton before they’re French (think Bernard Hinault…). Battered by cruel Atlantic weather, Brittany is known for being rugged and tough, and the race is no different. Tro Bro is Brittany’s answer to Paris-Roubaix.

There are two winners
Of course, the man who crosses the finish line will have his name listed among the winners for all eternity, but the unique thing about Tro Bro Léon is that arguably the most celebrated finisher is the first Breton.

“That’ll do, Pig.”
Tro Bro Léon has indisputably one of the greatest prizes in cycling: the best placed Breton rider wins a piglet. No, really…

Although relatively young – it was first run as an amateur event in 1984 – it feels like a race from a bygone era. Back in the day, all bike races would of course take place over gravel and cobbles because that’s just what roads were, and Tro Bro takes us back to that time. Its cart tracks are a forerunner to the resurgent “groad” trend.

The 26 sectors and about 30km (or 19mi) of dirt, cobbles and gravel distinct to this mini classic are known as ‘ribinoù’, a Breton word that delightfully means ‘anything but tarmac’. The man behind the race, Jean-Paul Mellouët, has a more detailed definition: his sectors should have a compact and unbroken surface, scattered with small stones, and with a grassy ridge in the center of the track.

Tires on test
The nature of the ribinoù – many of them defying the ‘small loose stone’ stipulation of Monsieur Mellouët – means that punctures are pretty much a foregone conclusion. The trouble is that getting a replacement on the narrow cart tracks is next to impossible.

‘Le Petit Paris-Roubaix’
Tro Bro Léon, aka ‘Le Petit Paris-Roubaix’, aka ‘The Hell of the West’, is a race that by rights should have a far bigger status. Just like it’s older, Monumental cousin to the north-east, it can only be won by a super-tough rider.

It deserves so much more
At 207km over punchy hills and 26 ribinoù, it’s arguably tougher than a lot of the Spring Classics, but there’s beauty in its smaller status. Not least the dearth of pesky WorldTour riders who like to hog – pun intended – the limelight.

Doing it for the kids
Jean-Paul Mellouët’s goal in creating Tro Bro Léon was to raise funds for local schools that continue to teach Breton, a rare Celtic language spoken by fewer than 250,000 people and very much out of favor in 1984. The race still supports local education today.

Tro Bro Léon is coming up on May 16 and Rally Cycling are going to add their own chapter to the race’s storied history. Be sure to check the team’s Twitter account for streaming details in the US or tune in to Eurosport and France 3 Bretagne’s live coverage on race day.

Roster: Stephen Bassett, Robin Carpenter, Pier-André Coté, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam De Vos, Colin Joyce, Nickolas Zukowsky

(story images by Ethan Glading)

— Kit Nicholson to rallycycling.com

Giro d’Italia Donne – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling’s women have been invited to compete at the Giro d’Italia Donne this July. The newly rebranded race, celebrating its 32nd year, is the closest thing to a Grand Tour in women’s cycling, so to be included among the 24 teams invited is a huge opportunity for the team.

We’re delighted to have received an invitation to the Giro Rosa, the pinnacle of women’s stage racing,” says Charles Aaron, Rally Cycling’s managing director. “It’s a testament to the women on our squad, as well as our support staff around the athletes, all of whom work tirelessly to achieve the best results possible. I’m especially proud that we will be sharing Rally Health’s message of living healthier lives on the biggest stage of all in women’s cycling.”

Full details of the 10-stage route are yet to be released, but this year’s event will race through the northern regions of Piedmont, Lombardia, Liguria, Veneto, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. There will be two time trials along the way (one team, one individual) and the race will end in the Julian Alps near the border between Italy and Slovenia.

In the past, the race has included iconic mountain passes like the Mortirolo, Zoncolan, and Stelvio, justifying its status at the pinnacle of women’s stage racing.

There is no question that it’ll be one of the most challenging ten days that Rally Cycling’s women will face in 2021, but it will also provide plenty of opportunities for the varying talents of the deep roster.

The organizers have promised live coverage of the final phases of each stage, plus post-stage video analysis, which will be available worldwide.

July 2 – Stage 1: Fossano Cuneo – Team Time Trial
July 3 – Stage 2: Vado Ligure to Prato Nevoso
July 4 – Stage 3: Casale Monferrato to Ovada
July 5 – Stage 4: Formazza to Riale di Formazza – Individual Time Trial
July 6 – Stage 5: Carugate
July 7 – Stage 6: Colico to Colico (Lake Como)
July 8 – Stage 7: Valtellina
July 9 – Stage 8: Schio
July 10 – Stage 9: Fregona
July 11 – Stage 10: Cividale to Matajur (1,642m summit in the Julian Alps)

— Kit Nicholson to rallycycling.com