Etape Du Tour, or L'Etape du Tour, is a cyclosportif held each year on an as-raced Tour de France stage. “Etape” means stage or step.
Etape du Tour has been held since 1993, almost always in the Pyrenees or Alps. Etape du tour is usually run on a Tour rest day, but not always.
Around 10,000 cyclists from around the world participate.
Etape du Tour is organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who also organise the Tour de France (TdF).
How to Enter Etape du Tour
Places on Etape du Tour have previously been available through Velo magazine and selected official Tour operators, but registrations usually filled very quickly.
The arrangements changed for the 2011 Etape du Tour, with entries available directly from the ASO (now sold out) and through select Etape du Tour partners like CycloMundo and BikeStyle Tours. A full list of entry partners for Etape du Tour is here.
My Etape du Tour experience
Participating in EtapeduTour is truly awesome.
I took part in EtapeduTour in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The 2009 Etape took in the Tour de France's 20th stage from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux on the Tour’s second rest day of July 20, the 2010 comprised the TDF Stage 17 Queen Stage up the Tourmalet and 2011 was a quick ride through 109km of the Alps from Modane to Alpe D'Huez.
I’ll never forget the scene before me as I rolled through Nyons in the EtapeduTour 2009 – the streets were barricaded and lined with hundreds of people cheering us on. There were thousands going crazy in Bedion, and hundreds on the Ventoux. Some had been camping out for a week waiting for the Tour de France to arrive, and they were there cheering us on, pushing us, willing us, uphill.
I’ll always remember scraping myself up the Tourmalet in the 2010 EtapeduTour, finding out how much pain and mental anguish I could tolerate and push through – hat-tip to Jens Voigt for “shut up legs” inspiration – it was just amazing.
You can check out previous editions of EtapeduTour including the stage details here.
“Who can make it through Etape du Tour – in our situation, I emailed my mate and he thought I was on drugs – he was under the impression it was for seasoned riders, but my impression is that many amateurs give it a go.”
VeloNomad reader Brad K
Brad is right, as many amateurs do ride Etape du Tour. In fact, EtapduTour is ridden mostly by amateurs seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
But professionals also ride EtapeduTour for training. The 2009 winner was Dimitri Champion, the French National Road Champion at the time.
Amateurs can be classed into 2 categories:
mid to higher level more elite amateurs – such as those who race A/B/C grade
lower level amateurs – those most likely to endure some serious hardship and not finish
The mix of these is fairly broad, from those who do EtapeduTour frequently, those who have done it more than once, and those who are there for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Training for Etape du Tour
Depending on your fitness, training for EtapeDuTour is almost mandatory.
EtapeduTour is not a standard, run-of-the-mill sportif.
It is much, much more.
It’s a rite of passage. It’s a beast to be wrangled, wrestled with, and tamed.
You will stare into its eyes and it will stare deep into your soul. Only the hardiest individuals survive the assault.
This isn’t a lark through the French countryside, all Twitter and croissants and joking around.
If you have a training plan or coach already, make sure you incorporate some hill-specific training.
If you don't have a clue about where to start with training for EtatapeduTour, I highly recommend checking out the VeloNomad Training for EtapeduTour guide.
The information above is barely enough to get started in planning a trip to Etape du Tour. For more detailed information and reading, I recommend you check out the Guide to Tackling EtapeduTour. This all in one EtapeduTour Information Guide. The EtapeduTour guide covers:
What Etape du Tour is
Who is Etape du Tour for – not just elite cyclists
How to get to Etape du Tour – the logistics
France car hire and accommodation
Baggage rules for flights into France
Gearing your bike for Etape du Tour
Packing your bike for the flight to France
Booking accommodation in France – this is important!
Preparing with training and nutrition
What to do and what not to do before Etape du Tour
What to expect on Etape du Tour
What to eat and drink, and when, on the ride
Eating, stretching and activity post-Etape du Tour
Self-treatment for sore muscles – myotherapy treatment, with how-to-do photos.