L’Etape du Tour 2016

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At the finish line, even the camera lens was blurry eyed! L-R Fraser Niven, Jon Summerly, Sean Quinn, Andy Brown, Robert Price

Pictured are 5 extremely relieved, amateur cyclists who managed to complete (some more proficiently than others) the 24th Edition of the L’Etape du Tour.

Founded in 1993, L’Etape du Tour is a chance for amateur and near professional cyclists to have an experience as close as possible to a stage of the Tour de France.  This year’s L’Etape was a taste of 2016’s 20th Stage of Le Tour de France, a mountain stage from Megeve – Morzine.

 

Stage 20 Tour de FranceSaturday, July 23rd – Stage 20 of Le Tour de France 2016

146.5km Megève / Morzine-Avoriaz

This Saturday’s 20th Stage is when Chris Froome is set to well and truly seal his Tour de France victory for a third yellow jersey, some would say he already has.  He won’t necessarily have to take the stage win, but with his impressive and untouchable form so far he will look nothing short of impressive during the 146.5km distance which takes in 4 categorized climbs including the Hors Catégorie (steep!) Col de Joux Plane.

It will be a spectacle to behold.

Our efforts at L’Etape on the 10th July were after some level of preparation but nowhere near the discipline of Team Sky.  In the days leading up to the event, news broke that the third categorized climb, Col de la Ramaz, was to be bypassed due to safety concerns over potential rock falls.  The uproar was immense as keen bean cyclists around France complained that they would not be challenged enough.  Our team were quietly relieved!

L'Etape du Tour 2016 - Thankfully shortened!

L’Etape du Tour 2016 – Thankfully more of a taster than the real thing!

It was a tough challenge of bloody-mindedness more than anything.  From a cool start at 8am amongst the 11,471 participants, the culmination of the event was the Col du Joux Plane.  After managing the first 2 climbs of the day and surrounded by enthusiasts in good spirits all chatting away, the final climb of Joux Plane from the village of Samoens quickly knocked the stuffing out of everyone and the silence was deafening.  All that could be heard was the slow pull of tired legs on well used bikes in 35 degree heat!

L’Etape du Tour is an extremely well organised event.  On closed roads with hundreds of volunteer marshals, Mavic mechanics, food and refreshments and Gendarmerie you felt well looked after and in very safe hands. After the temporary pain lifting, the feeling of satisfaction has lasted.  Despite swearing to ourselves in the moment never to get on a bike again, once back at our desks talk swiftly turned to the next event.

We’re thinking Scotland, it is a little bit flatter, and a lot lot cooler!