Is it too late to start training for L'Etape du Tour?

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by confusedfan, May 29, 2008.

  1. confusedfan

    confusedfan New Member

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    A NY Times journalist/blogger thinks perhaps not - he gives his account here about how he's only just starting now to train in order to ride this year's L'Etape, which runs over the Tourmalet/Hautacam stage of the Tour.

    I, and many others who commented on his blog, think he's crazy and/or doomed to failure. Not that he can't do such a ride with such a short time to train - but to do it with 8000 other cyclists and within the time limits???

    any thoughts?
     
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  2. micron

    micron New Member

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    Obviously he'll be asking Johann Bruyneel how to prepare for it
     
  3. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

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    This is the problem with the etape now. Pre-2000 it was a fantastic event. 1000 Europeans riding a Tour stage on closed roads. What a wonderful day out.

    Then along came Lance and every fat-arsed loud mouth American with more money than sense bought themselves "off the shelf" Trek bikes with
    inappropriate gearing and trained to ride the event - when I say train I mean they rode around a park a few times. The event now gets 9000 riders and a majority of them are from outside of Europe proper.

    I had a friend who rode it and said its the most dangerous event he has ever riden... why ? Because these said fat-arsed Americans don't know how to ride a bike and don't respect the code of the road when it comes to cycling. The worst he said was the descents. They had no idea. They would weave around the roads like drunks, hitting the breaks at inappropriate times and all of them sporting US Postal and Discovery yellow jerseys. At least it made it easier to pick them out he said.

    This article is indicative of the type of idiot who rides the event and this dick will probably take down several serious riders along the way. He won't finish and he better not knock me off or I'll smash his face in.
     
  4. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Your point about the Etape getting too big is spot on.

    I rode it in 2004 and there were 7,000 doing it : don't get me wrong it was well organised by the ASO and logistically it worked : but there were far too many people taking part.

    Descending quite high climbs is difficult enough.
    When you have a number of people all descending at the same time then it is nerveracking.
     
  5. nns1400

    nns1400 New Member

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    Can't they limit the number of people participating? :confused:
     
  6. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

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    Funny enough I'm doing it this year ! They break the cyclists up into start times to spread the field out but with 9000 people and 10 hours of cycling at some point they will all clump together. The fat americans don't help blocking the road either ;o) They allow 9000 because its so popular and makes them shed loads of money ! ASO have actually outsourced the running this year because its got so big.

    Lim: what course did you ride in 2004 ? Which mountain passes ? Any tips ?
     
  7. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Limoges-St Flour : five Category 3
    climbs, three category 2 climbs, and one category 1 climb.


    First 50 kms were "rolling" : roads were up and down : then we started to climb.
    The climbs were :

    LeMont Gragan :
    Col de Lestards : St Yrieix de Dejalat
    Cote de Soursac :
    Cote de Montplaisir (very tough climb).
    Col de Neronne :
    Col du Pas de Peyyrol (Puy Mary) : hell on earth : 17% gradient in places.
    Col de Entropment :
    Col de Prat de Bouc :

    These places are etched in to my mind : these climbs were between 6 - 10 percent each : Puy Mary hit 17%.

    Advise?
    The usual advise : eat and drink regularly throughout.
    Hopefully you will get an overcast day like we did when the temperature didn't go above 20C.
    If it gets hot then you need to make sure that you have lots of sun protection (me fair irish skin can't take the rays, don't you know).

    What you will notice at the start is that the wannabees will all blast off : if there is one piece of advise, it's ride at YOUR pace and not anyone elses.
    It's easy to get caught up in the day : there are plenty of muppets who think they're in the TDF doing it and - I saw it in 2004 - they exploded after a couple of hours.
    So ride at your pace.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
     
  8. micron

    micron New Member

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    Maybe instead of doing the Etape du Tour you should try the Etape de Legende? Not happening this year but the aim is to rerun classic TdF stages. Jaja was third last year:

    http://www.letapedelegende.com/2007/EDL/presentation/us/index.html

    Agreed about the size of the Etape - never done it myself but have friends who used to love it and now do other etapes around Europe because they're less chaotic and the riders are more experienced and there's less of the 'let's show the Euros Lance aint the only one - U S A!!!' mentality (a minority, but nevertheless present)
     
  9. Bro Deal

    Bro Deal New Member

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    My guess is that if you ever tried to mix it up with a real American, you would get your dick knocked in the dirt.
     
  10. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Thanks for that link : Grandfondo's in Italy have fewer numbers and are well organised (not that I have ridden them but friends who have tell me that they're good events).

    CTC in England organise plenty of long distance events too (Audax and the like).
     
  11. thunder

    thunder New Member

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    hahahhahhahah some great posts tonight
     
  12. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

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    I remember a young WBT backpacking around Europe at age 21 with a good mate of mine from Australia. We were staying at this youth hostel in Grindelwald Switzerland. We had spent the last two months on the road drinking at a good metronomic rate day in day out. Standard stuff for a back packing tour. Anyway we were chilling out the front of this youth hostel admiring our well worn, unwashed clothes & tatty backpacks when a "pick-up truck" with full on bull-bar and headlight rack rocks up and skids into place out the front of the hostel. The truck was full of yanks supposedly backpacking but they had the full North Face mountain gear on and they looked like they'd been staying in 5 star hotels most of their trip. They were all way to clean to be backpacking like the real people. Anyway there were two blokes in the back of this pick-up high fiving each other shouting out in load American "Hey ! Where here ! Where going to tear this place apart with beer ! Come on dudes ! Lets do it ! Lets rock this town" One bloke pulls out an esky from the back of the truck and they go check into the hostel.

    Being young & naive to the ways of the world at 21 we thought this was the real deal. We were scared of these guys. They were going to drink this youth hostel dry then they were going to take all the women and we'd be left all alone. How crap were we ? Why would we even bother with the thought of picking up foreign chics ? let alone trying.

    However as the the evening bore on these college boys were still talking it up and boozing at a rate my grandmother would have been ashamed of - shocking. Then it happened. Around about 10pm they started to drop. They couldn't hold their drink ! Myself and my mate kept drinking at our usual rate and drank well until 4am. Just a standard night on the road for us.

    The next morning the frat boys start high fiving us and saying stuff like "jesus christ man you guys are like totally crazy ! I've never seen anyone drink so much ! Like that must of been your biggest night in your entire life"..... "well.....err.... no... umm, errr.....we've been drinking like that for 2 months straight..." "No way man, no way !"

    Summary. Yanks love to talk it up, have all the gear but they never back it up with substance. I learnt that at 21 but I digress.....
     
  13. Eldrack

    Eldrack New Member

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    Screw the Etape, the best cyclosportif in France is le Marmotte. That's the one I want to do someday. Croix de Fer, Telegraph, Galibier, Alpe D'Huez in one day. 5000 metres of climbing. Then there are plenty of other smaller scale events in France which are no doubt brilliant to ride, and also challenging. Gran Fondo's in Italy look great, haven't quite managed to work out the Swiss system yet, and I'm not sure about Italy but safe to say there's plenty to semi-competitive riding in Europe that isn't the Etape.

    As for England the Fred Whitton Challenge (lake district) and the Etape du Dales (Yorkshire Dales) have 4000m and 3500m of climbing respectively. Wales has the Grand Fondo Cymru (3900m of climbing) so we're spoiled for choice over here. Still, there's something about cycling in the Alps which is just, epic.
     
  14. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    You could also try 'La Grand Raid des Pyrenees'

    Agree with your point about the Alps.
    Years ago, myself and two friends packed our bikes in to an estate and got the ferry to France and drove to Grenoble to do some cycling.
    Roseland, Madelaine, Croix de Der, D'Huez.
    Great trip.

    What is hard to convey is the length of the climbs : on a bike they appear to go on forever.
    Descending isn't easy either!
     
  15. Eldrack

    Eldrack New Member

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    The American will most likely fail unless he has a history of athletic competence. WBT, good luck, and if you see the yank shove something in his spokes for denying a real cyclist a place.
     
  16. rob of the og

    rob of the og New Member

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    Good point - one of the things I just hadn't counted on was how tough it was to be descending for so long. Even on the easier ones we would bomb down the first few km's at 75-80kph, but soon you have to back off because it's really tiring mentally to keep concentrating, and physically tough to keep braking hard. I've been riding and racing in a very hilly of Wales since u-16's and I find the Alpine descents a big challenge - for a new rider in a big bunch it's got to be crazy.

    The worst is probably the descent from the Galibier down towards Bourg - the top section is so steep and twisty, and you have enormous unprotected drops, plus you're exhausted from the climb. Once you pass the tunnel it's full of sweeping bends that suddenly tighten up on you. Then you get to the main road at the Lauteret and it straightens up, but then you're passing through all the tunnels and your vision is constantly having to adjust. One time a van overtook a truck coming up through one of the tunnels and I had to jump onto the pavement to get out of the way. Finally the road kicks up just past the Lac du Chambon and you realise how stiff your legs are from descending for so long.

    Converesly I was really fearing the Croix de Fer, which has a reputation as a tough descent, but I flew down there.
     
  17. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Yeah, great point about the concentration : only when you mentioned it did I recall that you had to be 100% tuned in all of the time when descending.
    That is a very important point.

    When I posted earlier, all I had in mind was how sore my wrists wree , after a few days cycling in France, from having to hold on to the bars and to pull the brakes on those descents.

    Croix de Fer wasn't too difficult I agree - when we were there we did the Croix and Glandon in the same day : I found the Glandon far harder.
    Although I found the Roseland the hardest of all to climb.
     
  18. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

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    Great reports thanks for all this information & stories.... I remember doing a lot of climbing and descending around Girona and had the same problem with my wrists (although my wife says that could be from another activity !)... I also had sore fingers from pulling on the brakes......
     
  19. Crockett

    Crockett New Member

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    If your buddy is witnessing the poor descending skills of "said fat-arsed Americans", you might want to query him on why he was behind said folk after reaching the summit of the high mountains. Pretty weak!
     
  20. thunder

    thunder New Member

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    good one Crockett. Pity you are seppo :D
     
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