As the UCI 2017 Road World Championships draw ever closer, we thought it was high time for an in-depth look at the host – Bergen, Norway. Planning to go and watch the Worlds? Here’s what you can expect from this beautiful city, steeped in history and character.
Just a 2-hour flight from the U.K., Bergen is the self-proclaimed ‘Gateway to the Fjords’ and the capital of Western Norway. It was the European City of Culture in 2000, and remains a UNESCO World Heritage City. Ever since King Olav Kyrre sailed into the harbor and founded the city in 1070, Bergen has attracted people from all over the world.
Until the 1830s, Bergen was the biggest town in Norway and still remains Norway’s second largest city. Today, Bergen is a cultural melting pot, meaning the city has plenty on offer as well as cycling. You can enjoy a wide range of concerts, international festivals, and a variety of museums in-between following the furious road race.
So, what exactly is there to see in Bergen? The beautiful characteristic wooden houses of Bryggen are one of Bergen’s (and Norway’s) main attractions. However, the city’s history is sadly marked by numerous fires. Bryggen was ravaged in the Great Fire of 1702, where 90% of the city was reduced to ashes.
Luckily for us, the area was rebuilt on the foundations that remained since the 12th century, meaning it remains effectively unchanged underneath, despite its fiery history. The Bergen World Championships road race course runs right through Bryggen just before the finish line, so the exciting last stretch will take place here. A stunning setting for a sure-to-be thrilling race finish.
You may have not heard of the recent trend of ‘leaf-peeping’, where people travel round the world to see the best Autumn landscapes – but it is increasingly popular. So, if you fancy joining in with the trend, Bergen is one of the finest places to start.
Throughout the autumn, the landscape of Bergen is painted in golden colours – all thanks to the variety of trees and shrubs everywhere you look. Trip Advisor even ranked Bergen as one of the top ten most beautiful cities in the world to visit at this time of year. With Norway’s autumn officially starting on the 22nd September, and the Men’s and Women’s road races taking place on the 23rd and 24th September, you’ll be arriving just in time to see the city at its most beautiful.
There are plenty of other attractions in Bergen, from the Fish Market in Bryggen to Bergenhus Fortress, a trip up Mount Fløyen, not to mention plenty of local restaurants and shops to choose from.
If you fancy some sight-seeing as well keeping up on the cycling, then purchasing a Bergen card before you go gets you free or discounted admission to museums and attractions, events or sightseeing tours. With your card, you can also travel for free on buses and the Bergen light railway – as well as getting great discounts in restaurants. Since it only costs around £37 for three days, we’d say it’s definitely worth getting!
If you’re flying out to Bergen to watch or compete in the road race then the likelihood is that you’ll spend a majority of your time outdoors, so knowing about the local climate will prove very useful. Bergen’s weather is warmer than the city’s latitude might suggest. Bergen’s average temperature in September is a very pleasant 12.4°C.
The bad news? Bergen does experience copious amounts of rainfall all year due to the surrounding mountains which cause the moist North Atlantic air to change into rain. In fact, Bergen is so prone to downpours that it once rained every single day from 29th October 2006 to 21st January 2007. That’s 85 consecutive days of rainfall. So make sure you pack a rain coat!
How the road race will look
Both the men’s and women’s road races will be held on the same circuit, with the women cycling 8 laps (152.8km) and the men cycling 12 laps (276.5 km).
Starting in the beautiful Festplassen park, the race circuit will take riders up to Mount Ulriken, via the famous Salmon Hill which has long been popular with tourists on cycling holidays. The 1.4 km (6.4% average gradient) climb is perfectly carved into the mountainside with wooden houses surrounding the road, which is likely why Bergen 2017 predicts this to be one of the most popular fan zones, along with the city centre.
After the riders take in the fantastic view at the top of Mount Ulriken, they will then have to navigate some tricky turns on the 1km descent. Don’t worry, the last 2.5km is flat with gentle curves – giving a chance to fight for position. This is likely welcome news to the competitors, as in Rio 2016, the UCI was accused of making the course too dangerous for putting the final descent too close to the finish line.
Bergen 2017 have definitely considered the spectator, with plenty of opportunities to experience the road race up close for free along the course. There are also ‘fanzones’ dotted about where you can follow the race on big screens, grab some food and drinks, and even take part in activities. Sounds like a great way to follow the action!
There’s certainly a lot that Bergen can offer, and one thing is clear – the circuit is going to be beautiful. Whether you’re going just for the cycling or combining your trip with sightseeing, there’s certainly plenty to keep you occupied. If you are going to take part in some cycling while you’re there, make sure you go prepared with Cycleplan’s tailored European cycling cover. That way, should the worst happen and you injure another cyclist or your bike gets lost, stolen or damaged – it won’t ruin your trip!
Whatever happens, we couldn’t think of a more stunning city to host the UCI 2017 Road World Championships. See you there!
Did you know...
Your household insurance probably doesn't cover your bike?
Enter total value of your bicycle(s) to insure here (up to £30,000)