Continental Croatia meets the Adriatic in Istria (Istra to Croats), the heart-shaped, 3600-sq-km peninsula is just south of Trieste in Italy.
The landscape features rolling hills and fertile plains attracts artsy visitors to Istria’s hilltop villages, rural hotels and farmhouse restaurants, while the verdant indented coastline is enormously popular with the sun-and-sea set.
Istarian Spring Trophy
The trip will culminate with the Istarian Spring Trophy from the 10th-13th March.
The four stage race begins with a prologue before tackling three 160km stages. The rolling hills make for interesting terrain throughout the race ensuring that no day is a purely flat.
The UCI 2.2 race has seen several big name team attend, in 2012 Dutch classics rider Danny Van Poppel was 2nd overall to Marcus Eibegger. Whilst talented under 23, Margnus Cort of Cult Energy Racing won the race in 2015.
Thursday 10th March: Prologue – Umag – 2km
The race begins with a pan-flat individual time trial around the marina. There are just two turns on the course, both 180 degree bends.
Start: 10:00 (GMT), estimated finish 13:20 (GMT)
Friday 11th March: Porec to Labin – 160km
Perched on a hilltop just above the coast, Labin is the undisputed highlight of eastern Istria, as well as its historical and administrative centre. The showcase here is the old town, a beguiling potpourri of steep streets and cobbled alleys.
The punchy climbers will need to stay alert in the run to the finish. The finish climb is on a narrow cobbled street and any one with GC ambitions needs to be one of the first onto the final climb.
Start: 10:00 (GMT), estimated finish 13:40 (GMT)
Saturday 12th March: Vrsar to Motovun – 157km
The stage begins on the western side of the coast. Travelling inland to the heart of Istria via two serious lumps. The stage ends with a vicious ascent to Motovun. Another ancient town perched up a 277m hill in the Mirna River Valley. The ascent is another narrow cobbled climb to a summit finish. GC hopefuls will need to be near the front of the pack in the run into the finish.
Sunday 13th March: Parzin to Umag -156km
Today should end in a sprint, but given that there are two ascents in the final 40km, it may mean that only the strongest and freshest riders will be there to contest the final sprint of the race. Pure sprinters will have their work cut out but there is enough of a descent for the fast men of the peloton to get back on.
One Day Races
As a prelude to the stage race, the team will take part in two single day race. The Umag Trophy (2nd March) and Porec Trophy (5th March).
Wednesday 2 March – Umag to Umag – 145km
The first race sees the peloton race over 145km and complete seven large laps of coastal town and region. Beginning in the city the lap runs along the sea wall, where cross winds may play a part in the race action. Once reaching the furthest part of a small penisula the course turns inland and climbs through the hills over looking the roman city before heading back down and into the city.
Saturday 5th March – Poreč to Poreč – 145km
The city of Poreč is the centrepiece of a vast system of tourist resorts that stretches north and south along the west coast of Istria. The 145km race, follows a similar format to the Umag Trophy completing several laps of large course. Whilst Umag Trophy is bound to feature cross wins, the course here is set alittle more inland and tough climbs ensue each lap.
Team Manager: Dean Downing