Letape du tour

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by luke1972, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Did anyone else do Letape du tour?

    In July 2003 members of the Coburg Cycling Club headed over to France to watch the 100th anniversary edition of the Tour de France riding Letape du Tour was a highlight of our trip.

    L’Tape du Tour

    Paul
    At about 7.20pm myself and Luke crossed the starting line with our chips on our ankles hopefully setting our time off. We were now behind over 7500 people with firstly 10km of nearly dead flat road before the first 2.5km climb at about 7%. The entire road for the entire race was completely closed to traffic as per Tour de France conditions so we could use the entire road to get through as many people as we could. Luke set off at about 45km/h and I jumped on his wheel as we sped through hundreds and hundreds of people. We kept swapping turns and every now and then we noticed that others had decided ours were good wheels to jump on so before long we had a train of people sitting on us. We came across a traffic jam at one town when thousands of cyclists came to a halt. Luke jumped up the gutter and with Paul on his wheel they rode up along the footpath and passed a 1000 riders. At the first climb the entire road was packed and I slowly kept riding through hundreds of people with Luke sitting as close to me as possible. Once over this first climb the road then was undulating for the next 46km to the bottom of the first main Col, the Col de Soudet. Luke and I kept swapping turns speeding through probably 2000 people to 56km at the bottom of the Col and through lots of tiny little towns that had spectators lining the course just like the Tour de France. I was amazed at the numbers of spectators that had come out lining the roads cheering us on. At the bottom of the climb was the first feed stations which was tables lined with bottles of water, sports water, oranges, Enervit drinks, muesli bars, etc and it was absolutely packed. To get anything you had to fight through hundreds of people scrambling for food and water.

    The Col de Soudet climbs for 14km to 1570m with sections of 12-15% at the bottom levelling off to 9-10% in the middle and flattening off for the last 2km or so. At the bottom I left Luke and again just started making my way through the crowds of people. Some of the people I were passing especially on the 15% sections were hardly even moving rocking and swerving all over the road and getting in my way. At the top I had passed hundreds more people and now started to descend down the very bumpy and windy road. The descent was not enjoyable at all from the top as the road was in very bad condition so I took it quite easily until nearer to the bottom to where the people had thinned out considerably and flying through bends and little towns at 40-50km/h I was finally getting really geed. I had now got some bunches working and we were flying through corners and I figured I would keep yelling at people to keep working and probably be responsible for causing them to blow later on. We had now done about 75km out of the 202km race. After about 20km of down hill and flat we started to climb another small climb at about 2.4km at 10.5% which went pretty quickly before starting to climb the Col de Bagarguy, this climb was supposed to be the worst in the entire Tour de France and I think many people would agree with this. The first 3km was fairly easy at about 6-7% but the last 6km climbed from 605m to 1327m. There were many people having to get off and walk as they just came to a stop. I continued to move through people at about 10km/h for the entire 6km and at the top it was sensational as there were people lining both sides of the road for the last 1.5km. It felt just like being in the Tour de France. From here we descended shortly and steeply on a beautiful smooth road reaching 85km/h at times and then over another short climb of about 2.5km at about 7% before a long descent down to 200m. By now I knew all the major climbs were over and I was still going through groups. At the bottom we had done about 140km and had formed a large group of about 80 guys. I could see another group of about 50 around 400m ahead and I was yelling at them to work to catch the next bunch. Only about 5 of us were working so on a small climb I formed a small breakaway of 6 and we all worked our guts off to catch the bunch ahead. At one stage I looked around and this Italian guy had his tongue hanging out. I thought I would probably be responsible for a few more guys blowing before the finish.

    Once with this next bunch of about 50 I rested for a little while and then I started working again and we caught another bunch. Now we had about 40km to go and we had a bunch of about 100. From here it was undulating the entire way and it was a full on race. Everyone was strung out in single file right across the road and there were people popping off the back all the time. We caught a few more guys and by the last 10km there were only about 20 left. With 10km to go we had to climb a short steep hill through the back streets of Bayonne to which we all powered up it in the big chainring and then down the other side along a tree lined descent and through a series of bends down to the foreshore. With 1km to go there were people lining the course along the barriers just like in the tour. It was such a great buzz and a fantastic experience. Just for the record I won the sprint to the finish from the bunch I was left with.

    Within 30 mins they were continually updating the results on a board and I ended up riding 7hr 04min for the 202km. I placed 234th on time overall. 101 people beat me in my age group (30-39),

    Stella

    For the past three nights I have been having repeated dreams as to how I was going to accomplish the L’ Tape Du Tour. Why you might ask, well I have been listening to Paul and Luke telling horrific stories about mass start races. All I had going over and over in my head was “there are so many dicks out there who don’t know how to ride.” The morning was here, I could hardly get breakfast down cereal had never tasted so bad, and I love my Soya milk and muesli. Off down the road we went, that is Luke Paul and my self, we had ten kilometres to ride to the start of this 202km race!! We were riding at 35km per hour I was already worried as I thought I will be exhausted before I start.

    At the back of the pack feeling rather emotional, as I was so scared. I was standing next to Paul and Luke who were saying have a good time and just enjoy it, enjoy 202km mmmm!! Off we set. That was the last time I saw Paul and Luke. To my surprise the cyclist seemed to space out quite quickly, maybe because I was nearly last. It was sure a boys club out here, couldn’t see any women for miles, men were riding up to me and taking photo’s whilst on there bikes saying “oh there is a girl” click…..

    The first feed station was a nightmare I though I might not bother to stop. As I riding slowly looking at the feed station a lady came over and gave me a hand full of enervit bars and some dried fruit off I went, to climb Col de Soudet. This climb wasn’t to bad I just made my way up steadily passing many men much to my delight and to there amazement. I didn’t stop at the top as I wanted to get down this col, the decent was rather rough so I had to take it easy. Many of the men I passed up the climb had there revenge on me on the decent!! Dam it!!

    The Col de Bagargui as you now know from reading Paul’s encounter is one of the hardest climbs in the tour. I began to climb I looked up and I could see the road go up and up and wind around and around. Hell I thought this was going to take me days. Slowly but surely I made my way to the top of this monster, on my way up I watch many men having me dismount from there bikes and walk and even sit on the side of the road for a rest, I was so determined this wasn’t going to me me. At about 2km form the top, being the worst part of the climb I watch a few men fall into the ditch on the side of the road form exhaustion? At this point I had to grit my teeth and dig hard, but the crowd was yelling” go Madamemoisselle” and a few lovely old men gave me a push. This made me even more determined to stay on my bike and make it to the top. AT the top the feed station wasn’t to busy and remembered Paul telling me to make sure I had a full stomach before I stated to descend for the run home. 90km to go!!! I grabbed two white bread sandwiches with cheese. I began to descend this was great the road was smooth and I read speeds of about 65km/hour, I even passed people down this climb much to my surprise. I now was quite excited as the worst was over. I joined a group and sat at the back conserving my energy as I had a fair way to go. This road was meant to be rather flat and Paul might say it was but it had a few undulations which felt quite hard after 130km or so. In the last fifteen km I joined this young French guy and an older Italian man we worked together to the end. I have to boast about something each small climb in this last 15 km I managed to beat them up, they would mumble to me that I was doing well. At the end in the straight we were all pushing as hard as we could they passed me and then sat up 300m from the end so I could catch them and we joined hand and crossed together….. My god I did it, it was an amazing experience I am so pleased I was encouraged to do it my husband Paul. I would have never been able to accomplish it with out his patience and encouragement over the past few months as he has been helping me improve my bike fitness and skills. For the record I was
    45th overall out of about 210 women and 17th in (18-35) time of 9hr 18min.

    Luke

    Just to add that the L’etape was an amazing event. I finished in 8hrs 15 and it was one of the hardest things I have done. Of the 8000 people that started only about 3000 finished the event. The climbs where tougher than anything I have come across in Australia. Yet the people on the ride and the spectators got us through the event. I do not know how many people there where but a guestimate would be 100,000 people watching us “race”. At the top of each gruelling climb just as you felt like rolling over and dying some French person would yell some encouragement, offer you a drink or a towel to wipe down your face. This along with the fact that we had the use of the whole road and the last 5km had crowd barriers and a 1km to go barrier (as per Tour de France) meant that we were able to be “Tour” riders for the day. By doing this event we can only imagine the pain that the pros go through of 3 weeks of this event.

    You can view photos of our trip to France at:

    http://pauls.progress.into.madness.com.au/stuff/web/index.htm
     
    Tags:


  2. simonbruce13

    simonbruce13 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    hello where did you get the info from about the etape
     
  3. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
  4. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    sorry my email is [email protected] entries open in January and fill up in about 2 weeks. If you do not enter straight away you will not get a place.
     
  5. cheapie

    cheapie New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    Likes Received:
    0
    sorry about digging up an old thread but i'm thinking about doing this next year.

    does the TDF go on the same stage the next day or is it in the pyrenees (sp?) while you're doing the alps?

    has anyone else done it and have suggestions for the best tour group to go with?
     
  6. cheapie

    cheapie New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    Likes Received:
    0
    sorry about digging up an old thread but i'm thinking about doing this next year.

    does the TDF go on the same stage the next day or is it in the pyrenees (sp?) while you're doing the alps?

    has anyone else done it and have suggestions for the best tour group to go with?
     
  7. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Graham Baxter seems to be the industry leader.
     
  8. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Graham Baxter seems to be the industry leader.
     
  9. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Messages:
    5,402
    Likes Received:
    0
    Don't even think about doing any of Graham Baxter's sporting tours.... they are the most expensive, poorly organised cycling / training holidays of all.... there are so many better ones out there....... give them a miss and do one with Big Mig or Neil Stephens...... they are on the web just do a search……
     
  10. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Messages:
    5,402
    Likes Received:
    0
    Don't even think about doing any of Graham Baxter's sporting tours.... they are the most expensive, poorly organised cycling / training holidays of all.... there are so many better ones out there....... give them a miss and do one with Big Mig or Neil Stephens...... they are on the web just do a search……
     
  11. cheapie

    cheapie New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    Likes Received:
    0
    thx! not sure if i'll do it or not. i just won an xbox 360 which i'm going to sell for about $650 on ebay and mebbe put the cash towards a cycling vacation.
     
  12. Dimos

    Dimos New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2004
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    I did the last 2 editions. Limoges-St. Flour in 2004 and Mourenx-Pau this year. An extraordinary experience. The organization is top the crowds too. French have cycling running on their veins. I mean you don't expect to have hundreds of people sitting out at 6.30 at about 8 degrees on a Sunday morning!!!! They cheer and help everyone (even those with USPS or Disco outfits and Trek bikes :D ).
    Both times I planned the trip myself. The problem is the hotels the night before the race. The first time I was unable to find a hotel near Limoges and I stayed 96 Kms away at Brive-la-Gaillarde. That means I had to wake up 3 hours before the race to go to the start. Anyway you people from UK, USA or Australia you won't have this kind of problems as (by last year and on) you can go only via a travel agent and that means hotels near the start.
    You have to be very careful though. I had an accident during the 2004 event myself and watched half a dozen this year just before my eyes. The reason? Not paying attention to the race details that are being given by the organizers at the "village accueil".

    This year's race is a must. Col d'Izoard by the casse desserte side (it's like climbing on a mountail on the moon!!), col de Lautaret (from Briancon) and finally the Dutch mountain (alpe d'huez). Something like 3500+ meters of climbing...!!! :eek:

    See you there!!! ;)
     
  13. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,615
    Likes Received:
    1
    Sounds good. Anyone have any photo's of previous events? The official website doesn't have a gallery.
     
Loading...
Similar Threads - Letape
  1. dunflying
    Replies:
    6
    Views:
    1,432
Loading...