The 2014 TORTOUR race got underway in Switzerland this morning, with road cyclists setting off on what promises to be an incredible test of endurance, determination, and pure grit. The race, which covers more than 1000 km (620 miles), and includes 13,000 meters (42,650 ft) of climbing, runs non-stop, until the teams and solo racers reach the finish line. That is expected to take between 32 and 48 hours.
Yesterday, the check-in and prologue took place, with the riders heading out onto the roads today. They’ll now spend the next few days trying to complete this grueling event, which started, and ends, in the town of Schaffhausen. The course runs across much of Switzerland, with a great deal of mountain terrain to contend with. Cyclists are allowed to compete solo, or on teams of two and four, in either a mens, womens, or mixed category. A six person corporate team is also allowed.
Amongst the participants in this challenge are former pro tour rider Alex Zülle, who finished second in the Tour de France back in 1995. Professional track rider Franko Marvulli is also taking part in the TORTOUR, as is Jan Frodeno, who was the gold medal winner in the triathlon at the Olympic Games held in Beijing back in 2008. They’ll be joined by Urs Lehmann, who is a former world champion downhill skier.
This race looks like it’ll be an incredible test of endurance over the next few days. In a sense, it is like riding ten stages of the Tour de France, back-to-back, without stopping. All of that vertical gain will certainly take its toll on the riders, and the lack of sleep certainly won’t help matter either.
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