FOR biking enthusiasts the time to become passionate about the cycling championships has come round again.
Semur en Auxois, Cote d'Or, which staged the 7th stage of the 2007 Tour de France, is the venue for Les Championnats de France de Cyclisme sur Route (the French road cycling championships) which comes to Burgundy for the fifth time.
The championships run from Thursday, June 26 until Sunday, June 29, in Semur en Auxois itself and surrounding villages. This being the last chance for the professionals to achieve their best times before the Tour de France which starts on July 5.
Altogether about 400 competitors will take part competing not just against each other, but endeavouring to achieve a personal best time.
Patrick Cluzard, technical director of Cyclisme Français has designed courses which are difficult and interesting. The undulating course takes the riders through some of the most beautiful countryside in the department and beside the Burgundy canal, but they will also have to contend with the cobblestones of Semur en Auxois's old town.
The championships will give the French teams a chance to make their final selections before the Tour de France, as all the best riders will be taking part in a competition they consider extremely important and an estimated 40,000 audience is expected for the three day event due to its popularity.
Visitors to the area should be aware that there will be diversions and road closures over the period the championships take place and if people are wanting to watch the races visit the Semur en Auxois website to find out what parking arrangements have been made.
The championships are being televised by France3fr, on Sunday, June 29 from 3.15pm.
The competition starts with the elite and contending women's races on at 9.30am and thereafter leaving at two minute intervals. They will cycle a circuit of approximately 22km at an estimated 38km an hour and are expected to arrive back in Semur en Auxois by 11.15am.
The elite men's race starts from Semur en Auxois at 2.30pm, again leaving at two minute intervals and are expected to complete the 43km course at a speed of approximately 45km an hour; returning by 5pm.
On Saturday (June 28) the elite and contending women's race of six circuits of 18.4km, (110.4km), starts from Semur en Auxois at 9.15am and are expected to arrive back at Semur en Auxois about 12.30pm.
The elite amateur race leaves Semur en Auxois at 1.30pm. There are nine circuits of 18.4km (165.6km) and the riders are expected back at Semur en Auxois by 5.40pm after travelling at speeds of up to 40km an hour.
Sunday, June 29 the elite professional race is expected to leave Semur en Auxois at 10.45am. The competitors will cycle 13 circuits of 18.4km (239.2km), before returning to Semur en Auxois at approximately 4.30pm.
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