Friday 23 September 2011

Copenhagen: Elite Men's Road course

: E
Demare and Petit took gold and silver for France in the
Under 23 race, featuring twelve laps of the road circuit
Route Map: click here

As we mentioned yesterday, the Elite Men's race on Sunday features a 28km section from Copenhagen in addition to seventeen laps of the 14km circuit, giving a combined total of 266km. Riders start from the Rådhuspladsen in the city centre, as has been the case with the time trials, then travel in the opposite direction south-east along Hans Christian Anderson Boulevard for approximately 0.36km to a left turn into Stormgade with riders exercising caution if conditions are wet due to the pedestrian crossing just before and immediately around the corner (the white stripes can become slippery). The second crossing at a slight deviation to the right 96m later could also be hazardous, then the race enters a beautiful street with a row of classical columns running along the right side. Another pedestrian crossing marks the end of the columns as the riders pass over a crossroads, continuing straight ahead and across a bridge. As they leave, they'll need to be wary of a sunken kerb at the beginning of a raised section between the road and the cycle path to the left as the race enters Vindebrogade - it's only a few centimetres high, but sufficient to puncture a front tyre if hit.

If you're watching on television, note the medieval-style wall paintings on the exterior of the Thorvaldsen Museum on the right, followed by the classical church immediately afterwards. Christiansborg Palace is right behind it. The riders keep right after the church, passing the bridge back over the canal to the left, heading past the Palace to a left turn over Holmensbro bridge 176m after the last. There are various traffic islands and bits of street furniture leading onto the turn but all are easy to see and the road is easily wide enough to accommodate all riders without anyone being accidentally pushed into obstructions. There are also pedestrian crossings before and after the corner and a traffic island just after the church on the right.

Kongen's Nytorv (CC3.0)
The race follows the road left past a statue of Niels Juul, a Danish-born lawyer who became the Republican representative for Illinois in the US Congress between 1917 and 1921. The section past the statue narrows to two lanes with kerbs either side, then widens as it approaches Kongen's Nytorv, a large square characterised by the grandeur of the surrounding buildings. The square dates from 1670; having been used as a place of public executions - it contained three gallows and various torture devices - the site now occupied by the square had become a festering rubbish dump by 1670, used to dispose of anything society discarded - including the criminals, army deserters, prostitutes and simply grindingly destitute that gave the area a rotten, miserable reputation until Christian V decided that a grand plaza would look far better, instructing his architects to look to Paris' Place Vendôme for a model.

Marmor Kirken (© Pedro Cambra CC2.0)
The race turns right as it passes the famous Magasin du Nord department store and Royal Theatre, following the road as it leads to Bredgade, made canyon-like by the tall buildings either side and the comparative narrowness of the road after Kongen's Nytorv - a low kerb forms a hazard all the way along this section, running along the right-hand side to separate the road from a cycle path. It opens up briefly after 160m by a statue of Christian X, closes in again for 260m before the famous Marmor Kirke appears on the left at Frederiksstaden - a church that almost wasn't built: there was an interval of 107 years between the construction of the foundations and the construction of the church itself after Frederik V, who was personally financing the project, died and his successors decided not to continue. In the opposite direction, it's possible to look down Frederiksgade to the Amalienborg Slotsplads with its four grand palaces, as visited on the time trial course. The Alexander Nevsky Kirke, known locally as the Russian Church and looking as though it belongs in the Kremlin, is a very short way ahead on the right as the race continues along Bredgade.

John Norcross (public domain image)
We reach the end of Bredgade after just over 0.8km, arriving at a wide intersection where riders take the second exit on the left to pass onto Grønningen, another section used during the time trials and leading past the Kastellet which, during its time in use as a prison, housed the British pirate John Norcross who escaped from his cell so often that an iron cage had to be built inside the cell to contain him, spending the next fifteen years chained up within it until Queen Sophia and increasingly modern attitudes towards human rights saw to it that he was treated more humanely. During that time, he was treated as an attraction, regularly displayed before nobles who referred to him as The Mad Englishman - a nickname that was perhaps quite suitable in view of his habit of taming the mice and rats that shared his cell and training them to live in his long white beard.

Østerport Station in 1896 (public domain image)
A traffic island in the middle of Grønningen immediately after the intersection forms a small hazard but, being topped with a traffic light and thus hard to miss, it shouldn't cause problems. Overhanging trees a short way ahead may also create danger due to slippery leaves on the road. Another traffic island is located 361m after the first, then another 45m after the trees in front of a row of yellow houses on the left. The north-eastern point of the star-shaped Kastellets can be seen to the right, though the shape is obscured for much of the year by the trees that have been allowed to grow on it. We travel straight over the crossroads, passing Østerport Station on the right and avoiding more traffic islands, then enter the straight and flat 0.99km stretch to the Trianglen along Skolde's Alle, after which the race follows the same route as the time trial course north into Charlottenlund.

When they reach the end of Jægersborg Allé, where the time trial course turned right near the Akvarium (55°44'54.69"N 12°35'14.01"E), the riders turn left to continue north along the Kystvejen. There's a pedestrian crossing right after the turn and a grassy central reservation. 0.25km later, having passed a circular cafe on the left, the road arrives at the coast and will follow the seafront for some kilometres, remaining just above sea level for the remainder of this section. A short way to the west of the road lies Charlottenlund Travbane, the oldest horse-racing track in Scandinavia, then the road runs straight, wide and free of hazards for 1.01km to a slight left at Skovshovedhavn. Another central reservation splits the road in two, gradually dwindling to leave one very wide highway again. After 1.34m, the route travels away from the seafront and inland to the west of Taarbæk. The road climbs gently with a short steeper section leading to the next crossroads.

Taarbæk Kirke (© Claus B. Storgaard CC3.0)
There are a number of small traffic islands along the coming section, each marked by blue signs which will hopefully prevent crashes. The first is at the Bellevue Theatre, the second 100m later, a third marking the beginning of a long central reservation 50m after that as we head into forest. Overhanging trees - especially after the wind in the area on Friday afternoon - mean there may be slippery leaves and various puncture-causing bits and pieces on the road. Riders hugging the kerbs will also need to be wary of the street lights, which are position on metal poles rising immediately from the kerb where elbows and knees could easily take a bad knock. After 310m a railway comes along the left side, then after 580m we leave the forest and enter Taarbæk (55°47'16.65"N 12°35'28.35"E), a long, thin and attractive town that began life as a poor fishing village and later became a wealthy spa town. There are more traffic islands as the route passes through - after the second (marked with signs on read and white striped poles), the road narrows considerably and arrives at a raised speed hump 190m later and a second the same distance further on.

Once over the second speed hump, the route heads into the countryside and once again follows the seafront, climbing a small hill, as a result of which the sea is now much lower than the road. The race enters an unchallenging 1.43km section, the only evident hazards being the overhanging trees and what appears to be a greater than usual number of metal drain covers in the middle of the road - these can become lethally slippery after rain. At the end, the riders arrive to the east of Strandmølledammen after a short descent.

Public leisure area in the Dyrehavn (© CC2.5)
A short way ahead, the sea is obscured by large houses and the riders pass a sign on the right informing them that they are now in Skodsborg. The road then descends, past a line of bollards on the right and to a traffic island 183m after the sign. 315m later the riders need to avoid a traffic island with another 63m later, then a third 240m further along the road. Immediately after the third, the route turns left onto Skodsborgvej with care being required to avoid the traffic island immediately after the corner. The road leads 139m to a short tunnel under the railway, coming out 10m later into the Jaegersborg Hegn forest - the roads may be very slippery here and punctures are likely. The area to the left of the road is Jægersborg Dyrehaven, a deer park home to around 2000 deer. The road bends to the right, then 212m to the left and enters a straight 1.38km section leading out of the forest and into Nærum as it first climbs and then descends - there are potential hazards 272m, 655m, 841m and 1198m after the bend where vehicles leaving forest trails may have left mud and sharp stones on the road. A further hazard is provided by the traffic island 87m after the blue Nærum sign at the end of the forest and the narrower road a short way ahead.

Drinking fountain in the Dyrehavn (© Thomas Bredøl CC2.5)
After another 405m, the race passes a bike shop called Suhr Cykler on the right of the road, leading into the final section before joining the route of the road circuit. There are several traffic islands, some extended into central reservations, as the route continues past two petrol stations on the right but the road is sufficiently wide for them not to be a problem. 312m from the second petrol station (Q8) the riders join the circuit for the first time (55°48'54.09"N 12°31'46.99"E).

Another pedestrian crossing, and a central traffic island, lie just around the apex as the race enters the long, mostly straight penultimate section heading south-west back over the motorway (55°48'53.55"N 12°31'43.03"E) and on towards the Kongevejen. There are another two pedestrian crossings on the other side, this time hit head-on and as such unlikely to be hazardous, then the road narrows down to two lanes again. There's another traffic island 275m after the crossing, with a further hazard caused by the horse chestnut trees on the right of the road around 100m later - the spiky shells of the conkers can cause punctures and become slippery when mashed up by car tyres, plus the conkers themselves can act like ball-bearings under wheels. There are seven more traffic islands in the next 0.6km as the road enters a wide bend to the left.

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.

We like Geraint's chances for this race
The first exit leads straight on, with caution being required to avoid the cobbled traffic island immediately after the roundabout. There are more trees lining both sides of the road but the road is straight, smooth and unchallenging until the next traffic island 0.37km ahead, followed by a crossroads and the island's twin on the other side. We then enter a suburban area with a series of raised speed humps coming in close succession, followed by another smooth stretch leading to the right turn at the junction with Kongevejen (55°47'50.05"N 12°28'55.52"E) - it's not an especially difficult transition in the dry, but a selection of pedestrian crossings (immediately before and after the turn), street furniture (road sign in the middle of the road immediately after the turn), sunken, knobbly kerb (around the right-hand edge of the turn) and central reservation (immediately after the turn) could make it potentially very difficult when wet. With both roads being main routes, there's a reasonably high possibility of fuel spillages - rain combined with  patch of diesel halfway through the turn could very easily end the race for anyone sufficiently misfortunate as to hit it.

Kongevejen 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 climb leads up into Geels Skov, past an obelisk-shaped milestone marking the last 300m of the lap and onwards to the start line of the circuit at 55°48'16.87"N 12°28'37.41"E where they will begin the first of seventeen laps. To see our detailed guide to the circuit, please click here.

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