EDT

L'étape du Tour - Act 2

Rendez-vous for the sturdy !

Thousands of bikers made it from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon with courage. The length of the course, the difficulty of the passes, and the humid cold weather tested everyone’s capacities. The Etape du Tour is a rendez-vous for the sturdy…

No rest for the courageous participants! At the starting line in Pau, the sky is overcast. The weather forecast is favorable though, and no one can imagine what is ahead.  The bikers climb the first slopes of the Aubisque before realizing that a tenacious humidity is present throughout the course in the Pyrenees.

The bikers, still in a group, enter the fog at 1,500 meters of altitude. At the summit of the first difficult climb of the day, the racers attack a ferocious duel with their main enemy of the day, the cold. In the space of a few kilometers, the silhouettes are glued to the bikes. Up ahead, the police try to convince some cows to get off the roads. Visibility is not even at 50 meters!

Argelès-Gazost is located at the bottom of a long descent and has the second complete refreshment area of the race. There is news of further difficulty. Thierry is the first to sound the alarm, “It is cold up there, really cold!” Phillipe is resigned to the situation. A few seconds later he states, “I won’t go any further.” He abandons the race, “It would be dangerous for me to continue.” A few other participants follow his example, but the large majority of them take a short break before continuing on their way. “I can hardly move, but it will be OK,” assures Alain. “Give up? No way. I’m getting a recharge here so I can continue.”

Le Tourmalet is there, immense, almost menacing. Before attacking the first slopes, some of the racers take the time to reassure their loved ones with a phone call. The sky remains low, and it’s time to climb up to 2,115 meters of altitude. Foggy skies again. A few dozen supporters are clapping at the summit. Two policemen are making faces in their truck. “It’s 5°C, but with this humidity, the cold is really intense.”

There is another descent, long and tiring. The bikers trace impeccable trajectories on the wet asphalt and assume the continuation. In Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, the bikers are frozen. They stop, hoping to recuperate at the refreshment area. In the space of just a few minutes, the first aid tent fills up. “They are so cold,” remarks one of the doctors from the medical service, “nothing more, just cold.” Some volunteers lend their fleece jackets or cut up plastic bags to improvise some ponchos. Brigitte feels sorry for them, “They are so tired and really very brave. I wish I could help some more.” A little further on, Jérôme is sitting on a wall shivering. His family is energetically massaging his arms and legs. A little boy says to him, “Daddy, I love you.”

Afterwards, the bikers reach Aspin with its gentle slopes in the pines. The noise settles down a little bit. Suddenly, faces relax a bit, as if the stress of the first half of the race has dissipated. Now, one must advance with courage. The second half of the pass is more difficult, and the fog arrives again in small packages that form throughout the kilometers. One must continue, give in to nothing. Some of the participants even manage to smile. One must admire their courage. Then there is another descent. Is the hardest part behind them? “No, the hardest part is always ahead,” sighs Claude, “Especially today.”

There are still another 30 kilometers before the finish line, and another climb at Peyresourde. A beating sound of pedaling sets itself into rhythm. There is another climb and a last cloud of fog. There is some more rain during the last hairpins of the descent. It suffices to just coast, but is it possible to just coast after 200km of such effort?   Arriving in Bagnères-de-Luchon, the racers straighten themselves up. The feeling of euphoria is palpable. Can the bikers perceive the French flags that have accompanied them throughout their day? It’s Bastille Day, and the Etape du Tour is a rendez-vous for the sturdy!


 

  • Etape du Tour 2013

    Sunday, July 7, 2013, the Etape du Tour will take place on the route of... Read more
  • Rendez-vous for the sturdy !

    Thousands of bikers made it from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon with... Read more
  • The Pyrenees in the clouds

    You spent the day lost in the clouds, in fog Pyrenees. Despite these... Read more
  • Your race in video with MAVIC !

    By registering on the Mavic l'Etape du Tour 2012 website, you will... Read more
  • Race numbers, registration confirmations and shuttles

    The bibs were affected by the level of each rider. Remember to print... Read more
  • The route in video

    Discover the route of the Etape du Tour Act 2 in video ! Read more
  • Madone Challenge

    More than 800 registered at the Madone Challenge ! Read more
  • Challenge Grimpeur

    A Challenge Grimpeur will be inaugurated this year!The four mountain... Read more
  • Dowtown start and village

    All starting areas will be installed together on the "Place de Verdun"... Read more
  • Already many riders !

    The fans were already numerous in the first days of registration, which... Read more
  • Opening registration

    Registration will be available online from Thursday 17th at noon. Take... Read more
  • Accommodation

    Date and location of the Etape du Tour are now known. Even if the... Read more
  • Issoire - Saint-Flour

    Relive the great moments of the Etape du Tour 2011 Act 2!  Read more
  • 2012 Etape du Tour

    Rendezvous on the 19th of October Read more
  • Act 2: 14th of July 2012 – Pau / Bagnères de Luchon

    An outsanding route has been chosen for act 2 in July 2012 Read more
  • MIGUEL INDURAIN, SPECIAL GUEST OF LA ETAPA ARGENTINA BY...

    Several days before the start of the first edition of La Etapa Argentina... Read more
  • LA ETAPA ARGENTINA BY LE TOUR DE FRANCE

    On next October 8 and 9, the first edition of La Etapa Argentina by Le... Read more
  • Results and pictures

    Find the results for 1982 finishers of this gruelling race. Read more
  • What a gruelling second part

    This 2011 second act will certainly deserves a place on the podium of... Read more
  • Not registered yet?

    On-site registration Read more
  • Pratical informations

    Important informations to know before coming: opening hours of the... Read more
  • Organize your start !

    To avoid stress before you etape, organize your coming on the starting... Read more
  • Issoire, a village at the end of the world!

    The host village of the 2nd act will be located at the sports complex... Read more
  • 2nd Act Course

    Discover the video of the 2nd Act course Read more