Entering the Etape du Tour 2010

Posted on February 28th, 2010 by Tim Bell in The Road to Tourmalet

The Etape du Tour is a stage of the Tour de France open to the general public, ridden a few days before the real Tour rolls through, on closed roads. It is one day in the year when mere mortals get a taste of what the professionals do for weeks on end while France grinds to its annual July halt.

Having never ridden a road bike, in December 2009 my brother somehow persuaded me that entering the Etape was a good idea, then had the temerity to announce his third child would be arriving on this earth just before the race, so I was flying solo. I could have wimped out at this point but felt that, having decided to ride all the climbs of the Tour de France, this was as good a place to start as any. Click here to read about that particular decision.

The Etape is one of the most well-attended of the European cyclo-sportives so I would be far from alone. In fact, being alone would be the least of my worries with around 10,000 riders expected at the start line, so I was going to need some practice at mass-participation cycling. But first things first, I needed to get my Etape place secured. With an increasing number of American and British riders, places are increasingly hard to come by. French entrants need to fill in a form they can find in Vélo Magazine (ironically the Tour de France has its origins as a publicity stunt to boost sales of Vélo’s rival, L’Auto) while overseas entrants tend to use local tour operators, which you can find listed on the official site here.

I spoke to a couple of the recommended agencies who I found impersonal and suggested securing a place would be some Herculean feat. I finally contacted La Fuga who sounded much more relaxed about the whole thing and gave me some useful advice about getting started. They also suggested I ramp up to the Etape with at least one mass participation ride, because cycling in such a large group – and particularly at the start when everyone is finding their own pace – can be intimidating for the beginner. So I also signed up to the Ventoux Sportive with La Fuga, figuring the ‘Giant of Provence‘ should help prepare legs that have never been up more than a molehill for the extremes of the Etape, as well as get me used to starting a race in a big bunch.

Having secured my place, I was going to need to buy my first road bike.

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4 Comments on “Entering the Etape du Tour 2010”

  1. Alec

    Hi there

    Good luck with the 2010 Etape.

    Alec

    http://cyclegringo.blogspot.com/

  2. Cycling in The Chilterns | Tour Climbs

    […] plenty of tricky, short hills to build up strength on. I may return to do some hill reps before the Etape and will certainly try to drag some friends out there. It is a stunningly beautiful area, […]

  3. King of the Downs 2010 | Tour Climbs

    […] a couple of hairpins and maintaining a steady gradient. Good preparation for this year’s Etape would be re-running this first half of the sportive and adding a few reps up Box Hill for that […]

  4. l’Etape du Tour 2010 | Tour Climbs

    […] several years of ‘soft’ Etape du Tours, the 2010 edition was considered a return to devastating form. The organisers could hardly have it […]

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