Start & Finish
The official description of the start, checkpoints and finish is on the TCR website. As in the previous three years, the race will start in Geraardsbergen, Belgium with a short loop around the town and then an ascent of the cobbled climb, the Muur van Geraardsbergen. My video from the start of the 2015 TCR is below:
After the first two editions of the TCR started on Saturday morning in London, UK, and the next three on Friday evening/night in Geraardsbergen, Belgium, this edition will start on Sunday evening, at 22:00 on Sunday, July 29th. It’s unclear what was the main motivation for this change.
The finish will also be the same as the previous year, in Kalabaka, Greece, near the Meteora monasteries, with the final parcours passing the monasteries that stand on pinnacles of rock above the town.
Despite the start and finish being in the same locations, all four checkpoints will be in countries that haven’t had a checkpoint in any previous edition. This also means that for the first time, there is no checkpoint in Italy (although everyone will pass through on their way to CP2). Here is the simplified map of the route:
The first checkpoint is in the Austrian Alps, the Bielerhöhe Pass. The pass is over 2000 meters elevation and is on the Rhine-Danube watershed. The upper part of the pass is a toll road, so tends to have very little traffic.
The second checkpoint starts on the highest road in Slovenia, at Mangart Sedlo. It’s very close to the Italian border, and most of the climb up to it will be in Italy, but the obligatory parcours is entirely within Slovenia. The parcours descends from the summit down into the Soča Valley before climbing the Vrśić Pass.
People have been anticipating the Vrśić Pass being a TCR checkpoint for several years. Expectations were particularly high for TCR no5 when an image of the pass was posted on the TCR website as one of the teaser images before the full route announcement was made, but it wasn’t included in the route that year. I’m personally very glad to see Slovenia getting such an excellent checkpoint parcours because Slovenia is my favorite Alpine country to cycle in due to the great roads, fantastic scenery and courteous drivers.
Similar to Transcontinental Race No. 5, 2017, riders will have to head north between CP2 and CP3, going all the way up to the most northern checkpoint to be used by the TCR (bearing in mind that London, UK, is further north but was used as the start for Transcontinental Race No. 1, 2013 and Transcontinental Race No. 2, 2014). Riders will have to cross into Poland before ascending the unpaved Karkonosze Pass and descending back into the Czech Republic.
CP4 also has an unpaved / gravel section. Bjelašnica is one of the mountains above Sarajevo, Bosnia that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. The facilities were subsequently used by the military during the Bosnian War, but there are now plans to renovate the site. This marks the second time that the race has visited a site that was important during the war because Transcontinental Race No. 3, 2015 visited Vukovar, Croatia, where a lot of fighting happened.
Route planning is going to be important in that region because in previous editions some people who tried to take the shortest route on roads that appeared to be quite major on some maps found themselves on long stretches of very poor quality unpaved roads and lost significant time.
The anticipated total distance is similar to the previous two years at about 3,900 km. The total height gain will probably be about 35-40,000 meters.
For the first five editions of the race, the finish party was always at the end of the 15th day. For TCR no6, it will be at the end of the 16th day. In addition, because the race start will be on Sunday evening instead of Friday evening, the finish party will now be on a Tuesday night instead of the usual Saturday night.
The extra day before the party will ensure that more finishers are able to attend, although it may encourage some earlier finishers to return home beforehand and not wait for the party. The deadline for arriving at the finish and being awarded a place in the general classification results will be unchanged at 17 days.
Announcements, Organization & Registration
In previous years, details of the next year’s race were announced in October or November and registration happened soon afterwards, with successful applicants being notified by the start of the New Year. However, following the tragic loss of Mike Hall in early 2017, it was not clear who would take over organization of the 2018 TCR. It wasn’t until December 2017 that the official announcement was made that the race had been transferred to a not-for-profit organization run by the same people who had organized the 2017 race (read this article on Apidura’s blog to know more about some of the 2017 team).
The organizers announced the race start time and began posting teaser images of the checkpoint locations in late December, 2017. The full announcement of the checkpoint locations wasn’t made until 12th January, 2018, which was also when registration was opened for two weeks. This blog post contains some of the teaser images and the early information that was available.
Last significant page update: December, 2018
This page is in the The Transcontinental Race section. The next page in this section is: