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How To Ride The Etape Du Tour A Month by Month Guide

Posted on November 7th, 2011

In 2010, Sports Tours International asked Rob Harris to give their customers advice on how to ride the Etape du Tour. Before becoming a physio, Rob was an international cyclist, triathlete and after going through the gruelling race for many years, he can now call himself an Etape Du Tour veteran.

As one of cycling’s toughest challenges, you have to do the right kind of preparation to make sure you’re ready to hit the starting line and race to the finish line in your best possible time.

This is a challenge you’ll never forget, so hopefully by following this advice you’ll have a great race and enjoy the experience.

For more tips, help and general advice in your training, fitness and injuries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we can even put together a specialist training programme just for you.

Since 2011, the Etape has been split into two, Acte 1 and Acte 2. The hardy types will sign up for both, so let’s have a look at them:

Acte 1

I have had a lot of friends come to me recently saying “that is an easy Etape, only 109 kilometres!” Don’t be fooled by the distance. If you are an experienced cyclist or a semi experienced cyclist you will do 100 kilometres in the morning for breakfast.

The difference is you are going to whack 4000 vertical metres of climbing over 109 kilometres, something which in England you just don’t have an opportunity to do. The Galbier is 35 kilometres long, all be it with a 5 kilometre downhill in it, but some people won’t be reaching the top of the Galbier until they’re 3 or 4 hours in.

It would be terrible to be 3 or 4 hours into a ride, absolutely knackered and only see 48.5 kilometres on your bike computer. So it will be longer and be harder than most people think.

Equally you’ll probably hit the bottom of Alpe d’Huez tired out after 35 kilometres of climbing in your legs from the Galbier.

Remember, that the temperatures are likely to be in the mid-30s and the first 2km of the Alpe D’Huez average at over 10%, so there are going to be some tired people heading up this mountain. Believe me some people will be mentally broken at the bottom section of the climb.

Acte 2

Act II is different again in the sense that the road from Issoire is undulating and not too dissimilar to some of the Sportive routes organised in this country. The big difference is that it’s 130 miles in the heat of France in July and don’t be fooled by the profile in comparison to the Alpe d’Huez stage.

There are still some spectacular climbs to be undertaken, some of which are over 8 kilometres long, averaging over 6%. Some of them average over 8% for more than 5 kilometres. So understand the profile relative to the gradients, it is going to be a tough, tough day, probably tougher than the Alpe d’Huez stage. That said it’s the Alpe d’Huez stage which will take a lot of the glory.

Sounds tough? It should. It will be one of the hardest days you’ve ever spent on your bike. That’s why the following training plans will give you some focus and advice ahead of the event. But remember as tough as it may be, it will also be one of the very, very best days you’ll ever spend on that bike as well. The better you prepare the more amazing experience you will have and that will outweigh the pain.

Follow the links below to each training section – month-by-month

– January: Getting started

– February: Getting the motivation back

– March: Time to ride

– April: Time to train

– May: Consolidation and Diligence

– June: Part One

– June: Taper

– Final Days: Packing and Tactics

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