In a brief presentation in Milan the checkpoints for the 2017 edition of the Transcontinental race were unveiled by race founder and main organiser Mike Hall last Friday night.
The Transcontinental No.5 will begin on Friday 28th July 2017 at 22:00 CET at Geraardsbergen in Belgium. You’ll probably know that place better in cycling parlance as the Muur, the cobbled climb that’s played a pivotal part in many a Tour of Flanders race. The Transcontinental has started there the previous two years and the send off has been so spectacular that the organisers were happy to begin there again where the send off will be hosted by Cycling in Flanders.
The first checkpoint, manned by Lezyne, is the Schloss Lichtenstein in Germany and about 480km from the start. Opening and closing of the checkpoints is based on riders doing a 250km daily distance and CP1 closes on the Monday. The mid-19th century Gothic Revival castle is built on a large rock 817 metres above sea level overlooking the Echaz Valley in the Swabian Jura.
Checkpoint 2 is Monte Grappa in Italy. A 1,775 metre summit in the Venetian Prealps you can see Venice and the Adriatic from the top where there is a monument to the soldiers of the two world wars. This checkpoint is manned by Transcontinental main sponsors PEdALED and shuts on Wednesday August 2nd.
For the next checkpoint the route kinks back north to roads new to the Transcontinental and towards the High Tatras mountains in Slovakia. The exact position is yet to be confirmed but Mike Hall was quite giggly that you had to cross the Low Tatras to get there. CP 3 is looked after by Kinesis UK.
Checkpoint 4 is on the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania. The road, technically known as the DN7C and less formally as Ceaușescu's Folly, runs for 90kms crossing the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains and was built between 1970 and 1974 as a military road in response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Then in 2009 TV’s Top Gear said that the Transfagarasan was "the best road in the world”, so it should be something to look forward to after over a week on the bike. This checkpoint is hosted by Apidura and will remain open until August 9th.
Finally the finish of the TCR 05 is at Meteora in central Greece, best known for the stunning collection of six monasteries built onto rock pillars. It’s the first time the Transcontinental hasn’t finished in Turkey and the first time there hasn’t been a coastal finish line. The finish is hosted by Visit Meteora and will close on August 16th.
There’s a flavour of the roads the TCR No.5 will travel in this teaser video that was aired just before the announcement.
The routing of this year’s race ensures route-planners need to do their homework as there’s an alternate crossing of the Alps to before and diverting up into the High Tatras means not skirting the Adriatic again, traversing Bulgaria a different way from previous years, and finding new roads in Greece.
Endurance cyclist Laura Scott tweeted a rough idea of the route soon after the presentation
There’s no precise distance as to how far this all adds up to as riders are free to choose their own route, and are actively encouraged to do their research and independently plan their own way between checkpoints. Previous years have seen the Transcontinental cover between 3,200 and 4,200kms and the winners taking between 7 and 10 days to finish.
The Transcontinental is a self-supported race that is effectively a time-trial, and a very long one, across Europe. It’s up to each of the riders to decide when to ride, when to rest and where to refuel. All food, accommodation and repairs must be purchased from commercial sources, receiving any form of support from other racers is not allowed, nor is it from any friends or family. As it’s impossible to police this across a bunch of riders spread over a continent the rules of the Transcontinental are stuck to very much on an honour basis
Registration for the Transcontinental No.5 will open at 20:00 GMT this Monday, Nov 8th and will stay open until next Sunday Nov 13th.
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.