L'etap du Tour


New Member
Jan 24, 2002
Anyone else doing the race?

It's a 144km race run on the same route as stage 17 (Aime to Cluses) of the TdF. I'm gonna ride up the Col du Cormet de Roseland, Col des Saisies, Col des Aravis and Col de la Colombiere! OUCH!

We've tacked a few days on either end so we're gonna watch over a week of the tour live!!! Sheesh - I can't wait!!!
Wow, I've always wanted to ride the L'etape du Tour!
Hopefully I'll do it before I die one day.
You are one lucky cyclist, Eldron, and to see the riders on stage 17 of the TDF to top it all! AWESOME!
We want photos, photos, photos!

Here's some info for the others that don't know about this awesome event, and below is the route profile:

Hi Eldron,

Great to see you taking the plunge on this one (I don't mean that literally - big scary descents!!).

I did it last year and survived and will be back again this year, physically better prepared but I can't rely on my naivity to carry me thorugh like I did last year.

If you are watching other stages I recommend cycling to them (if this is possible). It is an absolute nightmare trying to drive down from a mountain top during the Tour.

Good luck - see you in the pasta party!!

Thanks for the advice - I'm gonna ride to as many stages as possible. I'm actually doing the trip through Graham Baxter tours so we'll be relatively close to some of the stages.

Friends of mine from South Africa have done a few and reckon it's awesome. Pity Jan is not going to be there.....
I saw Jan and Lance pull a group a climb last year faster than I could go on the flat - mad!!

Anyone got an idea of the specific length and gradient of each climb? I found a site last year where someone had actually worked this out for each climb - not only that but they had worked out the speeds you would have to do on the flat, up hill and down in order to stay within the time limit.

I met the bloke who did this site while riding in the Brecon Beacons, he's into his audax. Any ideas??

I just hope the weather is better this year - the Etap has a habit of throwing you every bit of weather out there. I mean, snow in the South of France in July!! There is a moto written for the Etap - be prepared!

Have a good one.


I don't think I want to know the specifics of the hills - gonna use beginner's luck for most of them! I'm fit enough that I shouldn't have to worry about time limits. Jusy going to go at a comfortable pace and finish - I'm 50/50 keen on racing and taking in the atmosphere.

Rest assured there'll be a light wind breaker and a pair of winter gloves in my pockets. Sheesh I can't wait - every ride I do I picture myself cruising through the alps....

Bring on July!
Hi Eldron,

found the website address that I was talking about. It's www.etape.org.uk - some really great information and details about the course. It doesn't appear to be as severe as last years route - although that's easy to say sitting here in the warm!! The most difficult climb is the first one.

good training.


Thanks for the website - it's a gold mine of information.

One thing that confuses me is the predicted times - 7.5 hours for a cyclist that races regularly? That sounds like forever! Maybe it's just me being naive but that's an average of 19.2km/h!!! Is it really that hard or is it mostly attended by recreational cyclists? I averaged 25km/h for the tour of lesotho - granted it's shorter but the gradients make the Etap look like a pancake...

The speed quoted does seem a bit slow. You need to take into account the fact that there are 7500 other cyclists on the road and that before the first mountain thins the crowds you will be going quite slow and will come to a complete stop once or twice.

You also have to decide where you intend to stop for refuelling. There were 4 feed stations on last years route - it will take you 15 - 20 mins to get to the front for food and drink so you will waste an hour or more if you stop at them all. I suggest that you take plenty of food and liquid with you and miss the first (and maybe second - depending on the weather) feed stations - although you need to be very careful with this strategy.

If you are like I was last year you spend a big chunk of time wandering around just being amazed by the whole thing!!

I think that you could aim for a higher speed than 19km/hr, although only 9 Brits managed an average of 25km/hr last year!! A former National Champion gave me this bit of advice before last years Etape - always ride feeling that you could go faster. I found it much better going past people on the final climb than being passed.

Best of luck,


Great advice (ride like you feel you can go faster) - thanks.

I still need to make the decision between racing l'etap or riding tempo and enjoying the occasion. The problem is a chap at our local cycle club (who I have a friendly but deadly rivalry with) has told me in no uncertain terms that he is going to whoop my ass. Being a testosterone driven average male I have no choice but to rise to the challenge!

Fortunately booking l'etap through Graham Baxter means starting near the front (1500) so I shouldn't have too much congestion.

Whatever happens - this is going to be good!
I finished!

What an experience!

I'll start off with the stats - I finished 1,200 out of 7,800 in 5:58 with the winner doing a 4:30 (d@mn those semi professional french 'amateurs'!!!).

I felt pretty good about my time until the pros did it in 4:03! And that wasn't even bunch led - Guerini, Frigo and the other guy (name is gone) broke away on the first climb!

The scenery was stunning - as were the climbs - Roseland (the first climb) is 21km long at an average gradient of 5.5%. I rode a 39x28 spinning at around 90rpm (same cadence as Lance but he was in a 39x23!).

Watching the pros do the same stage was pretty humbling - the last few km's of Colombiere are seriously steep and Botero flew up them like a mountain goat. Watch Botero next year I reckon!

The best part was the descents! A few hair pin bends to ruin the fun but plenty open corners to wallop through at 80km/hr. I reached 105km/hr at one stage. Having the roads closed was brilliant - you could take a much better line using the whole road.

All in all a brilliant experience - I would recommend it unreservedly! I lie - one condition - fly to Paris and hook up with the coach there. I started in the north west of the UK and 1.5 days of couch travelling to the south of france was heavy going.
Hi Eldron

I'm planning on doing my first L'etap in 2008. In preparation, I'm doing my first Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2007, and my first cycle leg in a full Iron man in April. Compared to my cycling group here in the UAE I'm a good cyclist. I don't have a job yet, (I'm still in 11th grade) and my parents aren't willing to pay for me. So now I need to save up myself with my own pocket money.:mad: But that's not my problem, infact, I'm not sure how to train for the L'Etap, i dont' want to peak before July, but I don't want to not reach my peak either. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this? And I have to go either in 2008 or not at all.

I only have a 12x27 at the back of my Shimano Ultegra gear set of my Aluminium Scott Speedster S1, and I am okay with pushing slow gears up climbs. Should I avoid this? Is there a minimum recommended climbing cadence? I average about 73rpm at 12.8km/h which is my average climbing speed if I'm riding hard on a medium hill, and that's in my fastest gear (fastest for pedaling at low speed)

I have another problem, 1 year ago I crashed while going too fast downhill, I became over confident, and ever since then, I have not regained it, probably about 30% of my confidence back, I'm just too scared. Any way to overcome this, or just practice practice or is it just a psycological problem that can't easily be overcome?

Any other advice you could give to a first timer for the L'Etap?

Thanks, Jaco (Ek is eindlik Afrikaans en van Pretoria af)

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