It’s official – the 18th edition of l’Étape du Tour Mondovélo will take place on Sunday, July 18th, 2010. I am so there!
The event will take place on the Tour de France Stage 17 route – starting in the city of Pau and climbing three monuments of the Pyrénées: the Col de Marie-Blanque, the Col du Soulor and the giant Col du Tourmalet, for a total distance of 174 km.
Km 57.5 – Col de Marie-Blanque – 9.5 km climb to 7.5 %
Km 118.5 – Col du Soulor par Ferrières – 22 km climb to 4.9 %
Km 174 – Col du Tourmalet par Barèges – 19 km climb to 7.4 %
I am pleased with this route – even though there are only three climbs (there were five when I last did l’Étape in 2007), climbing the Marie Blanque and the Soulor (both Category 1 climbs) before the hors categorie Tourmalet will be grueling nonetheless. The route goes up the brutal western flank of the Tourmalet, which gets steeper near the top with long stretches above 12 percent and the last 100m or so at 15 percent. This will ensure that finishing will itself be an accomplishment, regardless of time. Climbing won’t start until after almost 50 km, so it could be crowded for awhile after the start. However, a hard first climb like the Marie-Blanque should thin things out enough to make for a safe descent (unlike in 2007 – I felt like a pinball trying to descend the category 2 Col de Port amongst all the “fredtards”). A better start number will also help, which I should get based on my previous performance (so I won’t have to start near the very back again). A few days later the Tour itself will cover the same route, climbing the Tourmalet for the second time in as many days (it climbs the eastern flank in Stage 16) and – for only the second time in history – finishing atop the mountain (the first time was in 1974). I’m also pleased with the date of the event – only one week before the final stage in Paris. This will make it much easier to plan a trip starting with l’Étape and ending in Paris. The 2007 edition was on the first Monday rest day of the Tour, which made for a long (and expensive) stay in France.
Go to the Official site, but for now what you see above is about as much detail as you will find anywhere.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009