Wake up! Stages 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Tour de
Sagan Suisse are over. It's all downhill uphill from here. A hilly TT, a mountain top finish up Arosa, and then a juicy Queen stage to finish the 2012 TdS.
Last time we chatted, I was busy trashing the Tour de Suisse course. Soon after, my wife walked into my man cave and banged me on the the head with my "Book of Interesting Swiss Alpine Passes."
"You are nothing but a Poseur Charlatan - you have never cycled the Gunter Glieben Glauben Globen Glaubenbergpass-Glaubenbielenpass loop. What a fake rant." Next, she dragged me by the ear, strapped me into the car's child seat, and dropped me off at a tiny Swiss train station with a 3rd class ticket to central Switzerland.
After the jump, the zombie Maurice Garin, Fabian Cancellarra(??), and a first hand look the at two hors categorie climbs in Sunday's Tour de Suisse Queen stage. I promise: less ranting, more drooling.
To review: the second half of stage 9 is a loop. The peloton will cycle Glaubenbielen pass, the Glaubenberg pass, and then return to climb the same beginning stretch of Glaubenbielen but finish at the ski station of Sorenberg (marked on the 2nd profile below). Got it? Good.
Me, being smarter than Peter Sagen, only cycled the loop once, skipping the second ascent to Sorenberg.
I was surprised but pleased to bump into the Zombie Maurice Garin near the start. We hadn't ridden together in a century, but he was looking fit as ever. My fist is huge.
This is by far the hardest of the two climbs. As the profile show there are two very steep stretches of three kilometres. It's a lovely, quiet road that I'd rate as a difficult Category 1.
High Swiss alps in the distance, maybe the tips of Jungfrau and Eiger:
Hey Pablo and all you strava.com geeks. Look who has the Glaubenberg KOM. I am awesome! And no, there is no need to look at the details of this strange segment.
I even had to battle these thugs seeking "protection money" to win my KOM.
Nearing the top I passed Fabian Cancellara - he's no climber. Don't you dare tell me that it's not Fabian. Maurice saw him tweeting: "Hey Horney, hopping back not to sore"
This friendly couple had read my previous rant and decided to cycle the route on a tandem:
Narrow, but well surfaced, the descent scares me. I believe I counted six cattle guards (barrieres Canadiennes en francais), and they are nasty. Some (not all) have tricky but smooth ways to sidestep but they were fenced off - hopefully organizers will remove them. I cannot imagine surviving these at speed.
This is the most beautiful of the two passes, but also the easiest - not remotely hors categorie. In TdF parlance, I'd say easy cat 1 or tough cat 2. The tough stuff is above Sorenberg, and it's easily the best part of the entire loop in terms of cool views, hairpins, etc.
As the profile show, even for me, the early slopes are easy and passed by quickly. Sorenberg was clearly prepping for the stage with lots of signs (plus the first photo above) and celebrations planned. A beer tent was set-up but there were no bartenders yet. Bah.
Everyone had cycling on their mind and we chatted with a few locals:
According to the monument, this great road through the mountains was built during and finished just after WW2 by the Swiss Army:
The descent of Glaubenbielen is far steeper than the climb. No cattle grids, and crazy fast for the pros. Lower down are fantastic views of the Sarnen See (lake).
All in all a truly fantastic route, although according to my tired legs: it sucks.
PS - Jens, look away!
All photos by Will - (I forgot my video camera)