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Tour Challenge

September 2013

A four days bike race through the heart of Switzerland: Graubünden. After a hill climb time trial prolog in Davos, the following stages led the cyclists to St. Moritz, Lenzerheide and back to Davos. 500 participants challenging the 350 kilometers and more than 8.000 meters of climbing at the inaugural Tour Challenge.

Prolog

For those who need the extra kick before starting on three stages and four +2.000 m alpine passes, there is something offering the pro feeling: A hill climb time trial prolog. Everyone beats the clock on his own, single starts every 20 seconds. With just 10,7 km long and 446 m uphill, for most of the cyclists this is just an easy warm-up.
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First group

The first starter, Stefan Sulser from Switzerland, left Davos at exactly 12:30:00 to arrive in Dürrboden just 22 minutes and 21 seconds later, just beaten by Johannes Berndl from Germany by 23 seconds. With 44 minutes, the slowest cyclist needed nearly twice as long – but probably saving energy for the upcoming stages.
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The job

My job at this event were participant pictures. What that means? Find a perfect spot and take more or less the same picture of all athletes. Everything else here are just some add ons for the organiser.
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Time for a break

For what reason ever, starts were divided in two groups with a two and a half hour break in between. Time to discover the surrounding landscape.
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The second group

The second group started from 17:00 on – resulting in a pretty interesting sunlight from the side before it finally disappeared behind the mountains. After everyone reached the finish, the cyclists returned down to Davos on the narrow, but on this day car free road.
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Stage 1: Davos to St. Moritz

If you ride the alps, you do it for one simple reason: Passes. The first one to reach is the Julier on stage 1 – connecting Graubünden with the Engadin at an elevation of 2.284 m. One of the bigger alpine roads winds up all the way to Julierpass between Davos and St. Moritz. After passing the timberline, landscape gets rocky and inhospitable.
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Last meters

Taking pictures a few hundred meters before the top means you will see a lot of teeth – but rarely from smiling. While the slower athletes suffer, some even with cramps, the first gruppettos grit teeth while fighting for best times.
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Stage 2: St. Moritz to Lenzerheide

The second stage started with an relaxing ride along the Silvaplana and Silser Lake followed by an incredible long downhill passage across the Maloja Pass all the way down to Chiavenna, Italy. But what race would it be without another pass to climb? Dozens and dozens of turns and nearly 1.800 meters of non-stop, steep climbing from Chiavenna up to the Splügen Pass are seperating the men from the boys at stage 2.
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Remote

Taking participant pictures means taking the same picture hundreds of times – or at least 500 times for 500 participants. I decided to let a remote camera do at least a part of my job this day.
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Stage 3: Lenzerheide to Davos

The final leg of the Tour Challenge is, well, a challenge indeed. With Albula and Flüela, this stage leads the cyclists across two passes higher than 2.000 meters. The weather forecast was too good to be true. Heavy clouds and finally rain made the royal stage a bit different from the days before – and even more challenging for the cyclists. Temperature dropped to 7 °C on today's first pass: Albula.
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Fight

Smiles were rare this day, only a few guys were still strong enough to joke around while passing my photo point. Considerable more gruppettos made their way up to the famous Albula Pass – fighting mountains and rain was a common destiny.
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© 2017 Benedikt Altschuh