|Geels Skov (© Jørgen Larsen CC3.0)|
If there was ever a parcours guaranteed to please spectators - and TV crews, for that matter, which pleases even more spectators - then it's got to be the route around Rudersdal. It's got some difficult corners, some lightning-fast straights and even, though this part of Denmark is pancake flat, so respectable climbing: only 105m per lap, but that soon adds up: the Elite Men will climb 1785m in total, which would take them higher that the highest point of the Col d'Aubisque. It also passes through some very beautiful landscapes, making it not unlike a stage in a tour. However, it has one advantage from a spectator's point of view: instead of the usual several hours of waiting followed by two minutes of excitement before the long haul journey to tomorrow's parcours, fans can see the peloton pass by several times - the Junior Women will complete five circuits, Junior Men nine circuits, Elite Women ten circuits, Under-23 Men twelve circuits and the Elite Men seventeen circuits (plus a 28km section from the Rådhuspladsen in Copenhagen city centre.
The circuit begins on the Kongevejen, a highway running along the western perimetre of the Geels Skov - a forest which has become as famous for its mountain biking trails, some of them running along ancient roads still rutted from the wheels of the logging carts that once ran along them, as it has for the anemones that completely obscure the leaf litter every Spring. In the centre of the forest stands what now appears to be a natural hill, unremarkable but for rising up like a tiny Mont Ventoux from the otherwise flat surroundings. In fact, it's not natural at all; having been specifically built as a ski jump in 1947 and remaining in use until 1980 when the site was returned to nature. Today, Geels Skov is a quiet, peaceful and very beautiful place, but it's seen its share of violence - in 1945, Yngve Marinus Nielsen and his wife Hildur Ruth were brought here by Resistance operatives and executed with a machine gun. Though the couple, both hairdressers, were known to have collaborated with the Nazis, the execution caused much controversy as it took place two days after Denmark was liberated.
|Church in Søllerød, near the route (© Claus B. Storgaard CC2.5)|
The next bend is a very gentle right, leading into a short straight of 225m with a very slight descent - possibly a good spot for a breakaway group to attack, gaining a slight lead before hammering on the gas when out of sight around the coming medium left whilst the peloton can't see what's going on. The next straight, 0.53km, leads to a 90 degree left onto Mothsvej - however, as the roads are wide, they're shouldn't be any issues in getting around the corner at speed provided the pack is sufficiently spread out so as not to force anyone into the little traffic island (with signs on metal poles) in the middle of Vangerbovej as they enter the turn.
A much tighter 90 degree left 200m later, meanwhile, could require caution. It's on a narrower section of road with gravelly paths either side - a front wheel slipping on gravel could very quickly lead to the bike hitting a kerbstone and catapulting the rider into the rather scratchy looking hedges shielding the houses from the road. A very similar right-hander lies 65m ahead before the road straightens for 154, leading to the grand cast iron gates of Søllerød Slot, a baroque mansion dating to 1740 and set in parkland with a formal garden. (The house, incidentally, was occupied by Johan Frederik Vilhelm Schlegel; a lawyer who according to the auto-translated page on the house I'm currently reading earned himself an Access to IT qualification in 1787. Clever guy.)
|Emma Pooley - a dead cert for |
second place in the Elite Women,
(© John Chapman CC3.0)
|Wiggins for Elite Men silver?|
(© Adambro CC3.0)
Having followed a slight bend to the right 0.38km after the bridge, the roadside vegetation on the right includes what looks to be a stumpy, thorny hedge after the route passes a somewhat ramshackle half-timbered thatched cottage on the left. Punctures are extremely likely in this section.
As the athletics and sports centre at Rundforbi Parken comes into view on the right (55°49'36.27"N 12°32'28.22"E), any riders who have been making use of the cycle path will need to be cautious of the bollards around the entrance to the car park on the opposite side just past a pedestrian crossing. There are more on the right, but these are positioned where they won't be immediately in a rider's line - however, catching the right-side pedal on one could be disastrous. The end of the section at Rundforbivej comes 1.23km after the motorway.
|Sommer's Automobilmuseum (© The Owner, used with thanks)|
|While most people are backing|
Wiggo, Thor or Gilbert, we rather
fancy Geraint Thomas' chances for
the Elite Men title... (© Petit Brun CC2.50)
The route enters a long straight with overhanging trees before being divided by another central reservation leading to a crossroads, once again with pedestrian crossings either side - the road becomes quite narrow for a short stretch until the end of the central reservation, then passes a lay-by 137m later (55°48'27.48"N 12°30'29.71"E). The following section has trees lining the roadsides, meaning slippery leaves and snapped collarbones for anyone who crashes into a trunk. After a short while, a turn for Mothsvej passes by on the right, followed by traffic islands 0.24km later as the road leads to a roundabout.
|...and for Elite Women gold, can|
Marianne Vos be beaten?
We very much doubt it
(© Rolf van der Zwart CC2.0)
This end of Kongevejen, like the northern part at the start of the race, is a wide highway with plenty of room for a mass sprint to the finish at the end of the final lap of each race. A final climb leads up into Geels Skov, past an obelisk-shaped milestone marking the last 300m of the lap and on to the finish line, back at the same point from which the race started.
For a guide to the 28km section featured in the Elite Men's race only, click here.