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NatsFest: The Road Races

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Vlaanderen90 got a running tab going in Fanposts. Let’s check in on some of the key details.

Philippe Gilbert attacks on the Muur
Fighting for the right to look this good
Tim de Waele, Getty

Hey all, doing this from vacation so please feel free to add to this post. National Championships are truly modular.

Italia

Where else to start? Nobody has more potential for a great national championship race -- and squanders it so shamefully — as Italy. As I sit here, I can (climb up on the roof and) crane my neck to see a mountain range that is interrupted by Mount Vesuvius. Southern Italy is a classic waiting to happen, as anyone who caught the few Roma Maxima editions can tell you. But it’s too hot, so the race is in Ivrea (nearTurin) and looks pretty boring. That’s a real thing, and I can appreciate not having people get heat exhaustion. But it’s a bummer.

Italian Nats profile

The main climb is the Salita della Serra, which is 3.4km long with a medium of 7% and max of 13%. Over 245km that will end up wearing people out, and the finale will be won by a famous person. Which is the goal of the Italian cycling federation.

Belgium

My other favorite country for such events has disastrously scheduled its race for Antwerp, meaning flat surfaces and poor excuses for cobblestones. As Conor offered on the most recent PodCafSt, why not do this in April? Anyway...

Belgian Nats map

Pick a sprinter, any sprinter. Riders will abound from the sub-World Tour levels, but you’ll also see Philippe Gilbert and Yves Lampaert from Quick Step, Grev Van Avermaet with a few BMCsters at his side, plus the very fast Trek duo of Edward Theuns and Jasper Stuyven.

Netherlands

Held in the Gelderland city of Montferland, this will be the usual flat affair and probably favor Dylan Groenewegen, who could be wearing those colors for a while. Full program here. Map:

Dutch road race course

Spain

Pretty moderately rolling course, which means a probable sprint. Congratulations Alejandro Valverde! Anyway, it’s not far from our friend Pablo’s house I think, being just inland from Benidorm but not taking in any major peaks nearby.

Spanish nats course

France

Probably the best of the lot. The course is in Saint-Omer (St. Homer), which is a pretty good start, but it gets even better, because it’s just over the border from West Flanders. Best of all, it has a pair of serious climbs in the 15km circuit, which makes for a fairly open race. For more go here.

French Nats

Germany

Based in Chemnitz, this is actually a hilly affair and probably counts out a few of the usual Gorilla-like suspects. Go here for the details.

OK, I need a (fabulous) espresso and have to get moving on the day. Someone feel free to plug in the Scandinavian, UK, Russian and other races of interest. Cheers!