Last week, the UCI gave the approval for all road and time trial races held in the UCI Road World Championships in Limburg, Netherlands. Not only was a team time trial, for trade teams, added this year but the Limburg 2012 added an extra twist to the elite men’s race with an added 100km approach to the circuit. Six municipalities in Limburg are start and finish location and as many as 14 municipalities are involved in some way or other in the Road Worlds.
The races will be held from September 15 to September 23 in 2012 over two weekends for eight days total, double the customary time. The official hashtag is #limburg2012
The organization also announced that it would not be charging admission to see the race.
Team Time Trials
Limburg 2012 brings the return of the team time trial last held in 1994, where teams of 4 riders represented their country over a 100km course. This year, teams of six will be going for the rainbow, riding distances of 53.2 km for men and 34.2 km for women on the first weekend.
And for the first time in the history of the World Championships, the riders will not represent their countries but rather their commercial team, UCI WorldTour, Pro-Continental or Continental in the contest, if their teams meet the criteria and want to participate.
All teams from the men’s UCI WorldTour will participate, and also able to race are the top 20 teams in the European Tour, the top 5 teams in the American Tour, the top 5 teams in the Asian Tour, the best team in the African Tour and the best team in the Oceania Tour. Selections will be based on the rankings of August 15th, 2012. In the women’s event, the top 20 UCI ranked teams will start.
The routes chosen for the team time trials are certainly not flat out and back. Both the men’s and women’s events start in Sittard and finish in Valkenburg. The women’s 34.2 km route includes two climbs; the Lange Raarberg, after around 20 km, and of course the Cauberg. The men’s 53.2 km route features the Lange Raarberg and also the Bergesweg in Voerendaal. The men also finish close after the Cauberg.
Individual Time Trials
To involve the entire region in the event, the starting location of the various time trials will vary but they will all end in Valkenburg, and all but the junior women will finish with the climb up the Cauberg.
Starting in Heerlen, the elite men’s 45.7-km route includes the 1-km climb up Sint Remigiusstraat with an average gradient of 7.7% and the 800-meter climb up Rozekoel/Bundersberg with 5.4% average gradient. The elite women start in Eijsden/Margraten, climb the 2.1-km Gronsvelderberg with a 3.5% average gradient before finishing at the Cauberg 24.3 km later. The junior women also start in Eijsden/Margraten, but follow a different route which includes the 900m climb up the 4.% gradient Bukel for a total of 15.6 km and does not include the Cauberg climb.
Both the under23 and junior men start in Landgraaf an include the 2.1-km climb with average gradient of 4.1% up the Sibbergrubbe but the under23 men also race an extra loop at the beginning for a total of 36km, while the junior men do 26.6km.
All road races will use the 16.5-km circuit that is largely the same as the course used during the 1998 Road World Championships in Valkenburg. The loop includes two climbs:the difficult, winding climb up Bemelberg with a length of just over 900 metres and a maximum gradient of 7%, and the renowned make-or-break Cauberg Hill with a total length of 1.5 kilometres and a maximum gradient of 12%. The finish is located 1,700 metres beyond the summit of Cauberg.
The elite women and junior men will do eight laps, the U23 men, ten laps for 161 km and the junior women will race four laps.
The first 100 km of the elite men’s 267-km race will not be raced on the circuit, but will start in Maastricht and take the riders through a rolling and technically demanding preliminary course which is the same as the first part of the Amstel Gold Race.
“I think it was be a delicate race to manage because even though the first 100 kilometers are not the most difficult, they can be risky with a few climbs. There are also a lot of areas exposed to the wind, we’ll have to see the weather on the day of the race.” Laurent Jalabert told L1.nl.
The men will then race 10 laps of the circuit, for a total of 267 km.
For Jalabert, the Cauberg, “an unpredictable climb”, is the defining challenge. If you want to win there are two options according to the Frenchman; “one, you go full throttle from the foot of the hill all the way till the finish line, or two you pull away at the top of the Cauberg and don’t look behind till you pass the line.”