l'Étape du Tour

The big adventure !

First the rain, then the sun… it took lots of courage to be at the starting line for the Etape du Tour linking Albertville to La Toussuire. However, at dawn, the bikers were all on time, early birds. The ambiance was serious at the starting block. No one was joking around. The day’s program included the Madeleine, the Glandon, the Croix de Fer, and the Mollard, all before the final climb towards La Toussuire.

Each competitor had his own tactics, his personal strong points, and his own secret dreams. In the valley, where the group body formed, certain improvised, becoming head of the clan. However, as soon as the group arrived in the hairpins of the Madeleine, it exploded like a puzzle. The start had taken place just an hour before, and it was already an every man for himself situation.

The Tarentaise region was under the clouds, but the sun was waiting for the participants at the first bends of the Madeleine, with its majestic scenery and an altitude of 2000m. At the first difficult point of the day, certain bikers took the time to take some pictures with their mobile phones. In the descent leading to the foot of the Glandon, some groups reached a speed of more than 80km/h. The first refreshment area was placed at the bottom of the pass, at the approach to the Glandon…

This pass, which is rated above all categories (like the Madeleine), was the main course of the day, especially the last five kilometers with slopes equaling 2 digits. The scenery was sublime. Did the participants notice? Without a doubt! One group even stopped to refresh themselves in some rapids surrounded by the Savoie Alps, each village on the way offering a rare moment of good mood and conviviality. 

Those who finished the Glandon were affected by the effort (with a capitol E). The bikers continued dozens of meters before reaching the peak of the Croix de Fer, where they had another opportunity for refreshment. The gestures of the participants were less hurried. At this point, it was important to manage the following kilometers. There was no room for error as far as refreshment was concerned. Suddenly, as soon as the tanks were filled up, the dizzying descent started up again. The trajectories were impeccable, with no unnecessary risk taking.  At the end of a bend to the right, the road began to climb again.

Barely six kilometers later, the bikers reached the Mollard pass. However, bodies were affected by the efforts accomplished earlier, and the heat began to be a factor to take into consideration. The tanks emptied themselves faster. A few dozen meters later, some bagpipes seemed to salute the thousands of British bikers in the group. The crowd’s encouragements became more and more convincing, as if the crowd itself was experiencing the efforts of the step.

La Toussuire remained (not a piece of cake), with almost 18km of ramps at 9% under the heat of the day. Total silence. Each racer was alone, focused on his effort. Some stopped and put their feet on the ground. Others took the time to rest in a shaded area. The last kilometers of the step were monumental. The race was reaching its end, but the marked faces barely smiled, arriving at the homestretch. After receiving their medal, the finishers of this Etape du Tour met up in the vast refreshment tent where the admirable volunteers (who were available throughout the long day) were busy helping all. A little further away, the most exhausted competitors stretched out on the grass, and finally allowed themselves to smile. What an adventure!

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  • Trek
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  • Oakley
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  • Côte d'Azur - Tourisme
  • Pau
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  • Velo magazine
  • La République des Pyrénées
  • France Bleu Azur