L’Étape du Tour 2010 – rumor update

As I mentioned in my last post, I am planning a return to France next year to ride l’Étape du Tour. I did the 2007 edition (Foix to Loudenvielle) and finished top 500 with a silver medal time – and beat Greg Lemond (true – read it!).  A silver medal time, however, is not a gold medal time – unfinished business! The 2007 edition was unrelentingly difficult due to its length (120 mi) and 5 mountain passes (totaling 14k feet of ascent) that included the Cat1 Col de Menté and Col de Peyresourde and the H.C. Col du Port de Balès – it was a crushing, grueling route… and I loved it!  It is considered by many to have been the most difficult Étape ever held.  I’m hoping the 2010 edition will another hard stage – even finishing seems like an accomplishment, and multiple climbs throughout the stage also works to thin out the crushing crowds early enough to make some elbow room for the bulk of the stage. Compare this to the feedback I heard from this past year’s Étape, which was that the route was too easy leading up to the one real climb of the day – Mont Ventoux – resulting in a clog of riders all coming in to the climb together. 

In a comment to my previous post, Jim mentioned rumors that the 2010 route will be from Luchon-du-Bagneres to the top of the Col d’Aubisque, with climbs up the Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and of course Col d’Aubisque.  Following up on that comment, I found the Steephill.tv Bike Travelogue website, which is keeping track of 2010 Tour de France rumors.  In their September 15 update they reported this:

Paddy Sweeney of Velo Peloton Vacances cyclisme has in sent some new 2010 Tour de France route scoop: “Stage finish on Col d’Aubisque on 21st July after crossing Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Soulor. Tour crossed same mountains on 21st July 1910… That’s 4 mountain top finishes in the Pyrenees. Others still talking about Luz Ardiden and Col du Spandells and Argeles-Gazost. A lot of hotel bookings for 20, 21 , 22 in and around Pau. I would not be surprised if the stage to Col d’Aubisque is also the Etape de Tour.”

Jim appears to be right about the rumored route (maybe this is where he saw it).  Though not as long as in 2007 (~85 miles), it resembles the 2007 route in its five mountain passes – both including the Col de Pyresourde! In addition, as a “Centennary Stage”, there will be a huge sense of history to go along with the Etape experience itself if, indeed, this route is used for the Étape.

Like 2007, I’ll ride the Étape and then stay through to the end of the Tour, watching the final stage in Paris from the Grandstand (our seats were at 125m to go!).  Unlike 2007, my wife will travel with me from the start rather than meeting up with me for the final week (although I haven’t yet talked her into riding the Etape!).  The latest Steephill update shows the following dates for the last 8 stages of the Tour:

17 July: Rodez – Revel
18 July: Revel – Luchon
19 July: Rest Day
20 July: Bagnéres de Luchon – Col de Aubisque
21 July: Tourmalet ITT
22 July: Pau – Arette
23 July: Pau – Bordeaux
24 July: Bordeaux ITT
25 July: Paris

Two ITTs – one up the Tormalet, and a few days later a traditional, longer, penultimate stage ITT! How great is that?! Of course, things can change, but we will know within the next couple of weeks when the official route announcement is made.

Happy training!

Copyright Ted C. MacRae 2009

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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10 Responses to L’Étape du Tour 2010 – rumor update

  1. Jim says:

    Steephill has changed their prediction for L’Etape. John confirms the finish.

    The climbs are still plenty tough. I have a bad feeling of a bottleneck on the Marie Blanque. Narrow-ish climb thats not all that far from the start in Pau. It was bottlenecked for me after 70km and a smaller mountain before it in ’05.

    Its often a matter of timing though. Others in the group didn’t have to walk.

    • A steep climb near the start could be a good thing – in ’07 we had the Col de Port only 10km from the start – it was crowded, but people were pretty good about keeping the left side open for those who wanted to go fast. The descent was very sketchy because of the crowds, but after that things opened up rather quickly – and that was with me starting near the back of 7,000 riders. I should get a better start spot this time around, and an early climb could be the ticket to unencumbered racing!

      • ThoVer says:

        As usual you could have read that the Etape du Tour will be on 18 July Pau > Col du Tourmalet first on my website http://paris.thover.com. This is also where all the rumours about the Tour de France 2010 route are available since the end of August!

        • Cool site – I hope the July 18th date for l’Etape turns out to be true. That will make it easier to stay in France through the rest of the Tour and watch the final stage in Paris!

      • Jim says:

        Wow, Col de Port after only 10k? It won’t be anything like that next year. Probably 50km at a minimum. A better starting spot would be really beneficial. When suspect riders suddenly go several km’s up a climb at 5-6% and then get slammed with 11% for 4km, like on the Marie Blanque, it can get ugly.

        • That sounds good. The Col de Port wasn’t hard enough to really thin the crowds (at least as far back as I started) – climbing in the crowd was no problem, but descending afterwards…!!! Maybe a good, hard first climb like the Marie Blanque and a better staring position for me will see things thinned out by the first descent. Hey, I’m trying to be optimistic here 🙂

  2. Ronan Pensec says:

    You will know officially the location on the 14 october; by the way, if you want to ride the etape du tour 2010 dont hesitate to contact us : http://www.ronanpensectravel.com/etape-du-tour/18th-edition-etape-du-tour.htm
    See you soon !

    Kind regards,


  3. Brian H. says:

    Hi Ted,

    Sounds like you only have two days to wait to learn the official route. I think the l’Etape will have to go on my list of goals, sounds awesome!

    In other news, how is your resurrection going these days? I’m keenly interested, because I sleep very poorly due to allergies and jacked-up sinuses in general. If it could help me go faster on a bike, I might beseech my doctor to go in there with a roto-rooter…again.

    • Hi Brian – doing the Etape was certainly the hardest and most exciting thing I’ve ever done on a bicycle. For somebody like me who needs goals in order to have fun, I don’t think you’ll find anything more challenging.

      My resurrection is going full steam ahead – it’s amazing what a difference regular sleep has made. I finished the month of September with almost 900 miles. More importantly, they were quality miles – usually two blistering-fast short lunchtime rides and one long uber-climbing weekend ride with easy-going recovery rides on the days in between and one full rest day each week. I felt fresh every day for the hard rides and appropriately mellow on the recovery rides – no problems breathing, no feeling of an imploding chest. Do whatever you need to do to ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep!

  4. Ted,
    I hope there is a way to follow you when you ride there. Let us all know if there is. As always, enjoyable writing.
    Best Regards,
    Charlie, Boomers on Bicycles

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