TEREZA HUŘÍKOVÁ DESCRIBES THE CLIMBS OF THE MOUNTAIN STAGE 2024
She was the queen of the peloton. Not only in the Czech Republic! Tereza Vlk Huříková beat the whole world in her fight with the chronometer. On the road and bicycle, she measured herself against the best women on the planet. Her training ground was Šumava and its hills, which will play a key role in the Mountain L'Etape Czech Republic 2024.
She sits over a map and studies the route of the biggest domestic road race for hobby cyclists, which will start on August 17 in Prachatice. A total of 102 kilometres with a portion of 2,200 vertical metres. "If the challenge wasn't so bad, what a challenge it would be," laughs the thirty-six-year-old former pro, orchestrating her two children's offspring.
It's been a few years since she retired from top-level cycling and she's mainly in the saddle for fun now. That's why she has accepted the role of Mountain L'Etape Czech Republic 2024 ambassador and patron of the L'Etape Femmes Czech Republic project. "I would like to tell everyone interested that I can do it without training, but I would be lying. I will have to start riding a bit more too. I take it as a great motivation for the whole year to keep going and be active not only as a mom but also as an athlete. I've already completed the challenge of an hour-long race, and for next year I wanted something "big" beyond my current performance level. Then when you do it, the experience is all the more powerful. For me. And for everyone at the start," reflects Tereza Vlk Huříková.
WHAT DO THE TEN MOST CHALLENGING CLIMBS LOOK LIKE THROUGH THE EYES OF A FORMER CYCLING REPRESENTATIVE?
Husinec - Dvory
The first climb on the 1,750-metre route with an average gradient of 4.9 %, where 87 vertical metres are required from the bottom.
"The hardest passage is before the village of Horouty and a little bit after it. A couple of times the gradient goes into double digits there. Quite a nutritious hill. But in the context of the whole route, a negligible hill."
Up to Lažiště
The second climb of the day. Before arriving in the picturesque village, the road rises nicely and the racers have to climb 56 vertical metres over 910 metres. The gradient is on average 5.6 percent.
"After the previous climb, there is a short downhill where one can hang on to one's legs and take a breather. With its curves and views, this passage reminds me a little of the Alps. When I'm riding, I'm full of energy here, so I don't even think it's quite a steep hill."
This is where the peloton will split. The 5230-meter long climb, where the cyclists will climb 217 metres, has an average of 4.1 %.
"The stand after Záblatí to Dobrá Voda is very steep. Between the first and second kilometre the numbers don't go below a double-digit gradient, there are terrible stands. On the right is the Cross Road, but only brute force will help here. This is the first real hill where you have to turn your engines on 100%, stomp, and keep going. Mental resilience is a must because a cyclist can easily get the feeling that he is pedaling while staying in place and not moving. Still, I have fond memories of this place. There were children's races here and I caught the signature of Katherine Nash, who represented us in both classic skiing and cycling, in my children's diary. The second part of the climb is gentler, but you are again drained from the first half... So it hurts."
Judging by the numbers along the entire stretch, it's nothing scary. In the Strava app, a total of 6,680 metres, 121 vertical metres, and an average gradient of 1.8 % ...
"The first kilometre to Zbytiny is brutal. After that, it's downhill and I'm completely lost for thoughts as the road undulates nicely in a beautiful landscape with breathtaking views. Sensationally, with the previous passages, it's a more enjoyable hill. Except at the very end, when the last nine hundred metres before Krisanovo are very sloping. The tricky nature of the whole section culminates in the downhill, which includes tricky sharp corners, especially after Markov. Everyone will be wrung out from the long climb, as it will be virtually a twenty-six-kilometre climb, but you need to stay focused and read the terrain well."
After passing through the Boletice military compound, the peloton will face a 1,380-metre climb with an elevation gain of 66 metres and an average gradient of 4.8 %.
"It is not a negligible hill. I don't like such short climbs because they throw the pace around terribly compared to a long climb. I can see the bunch coming up the hill with brute force, somebody can't hold on, the peloton is stretching..."
After Křenovský Dvůr it will turn left towards Lazec. The peloton will have over half of the route in its legs and the prelude to the ascent towards the Klet' peak will be one rather difficult passage. A total of 1900 metres uphill with an elevation gain of 78 metres.
"If you run out of energy and want to shorten the wait, there is a graphite mine on the slopes of Lazecky Hill, which was still mined in the 1990s... This is more of a tip for fans and families of cyclists who will be on the route. The hill itself falls into the energy-draining category, as it's very likely to be ridden at an irregular pace."
Climb up to Planský
From the village of Vyšný, it ascends to the village of Plánský. Here the peloton will climb a total of 334 metres over eight kilometres. After the initial warm-up, there is a passage where the gradient is fourteen percent, before the junction at the car park it jumps up one more number and then the gradient stabilises in the range of 10 to 15 percent until the left-hand bend below the Granátník peak, where the tourist shelter Přísečná is located. In the Strava app, biker Martin Stošek and Karel Camrda hold the records here.
"The very beginning will be a hell of a ride. It will be a nutritious ride that will take a lot of strength. Just look ahead and pedal. If anyone feels an unpleasant burning in the thighs, I recommend as a poultice the comforting memory that they don't have to go all the way to the top of Kleti. And if one runs out of breath, turn around and enjoy the view of Český Krumlov in the open spaces, which is sure to energize."
The exit from Brloh towards Kuklov is 3900 metres long. However, the initial 1900 are gradual and the gradient varies between two and four percent. But the end... 2000 metres with an average of 6.4 percent and an elevation gain of 130 metres. Triathlete František Linduška and Corratec athlete Karel Vacek climbed the climb in 4:55 minutes!
"It is an ascent to the unbuilt monastery of the pavilions with the church of St. Andrew. A very unique place. The hill is quite rideable. The road only picks up at the very end past the monastery, but overall it is a tolerable climb."
An inconspicuous hill 2070 metres long with an average gradient of 4.7 percent and an elevation gain of 97 metres.
"The climb up the hill is gradual, then there is a passage where the road gradient does not go below ten percent and in certain passages it has even fifteen percent. It is about four hundred metres in the middle of the hill. Feeling it, I would say it undulates nicely. Of course, you have to take into account that there will be a lot of mileage and vertical metres in the legs already."
Within sight of Prachatice and yet far from the finish... A hill 1580 metres long with an elevation gain of 153 metres and an average gradient of 9.6 percent! The climb here will start at a five percent grade and the curve above the railway there will be a passage where the gradient will be continuously in double digits. And when it lets up, the road is still around ten percent.
"Massacre at the end. If anyone wants to save their strength for the finish sprint, I'd recommend sacrificing it here. The fact that there is a ski slope on the hill says it all. It's just a matter of survival before the finish to Prachatice. It will be hell, but I'm already looking forward to it!"