First of all, have you all seen the Tour route planned for next year? Highlights include 25 km of pavé (with a finish in Roubaix), which could very well bounce a lightweight like Romain Bardet across the border into Belgium; a 65 km stage (oui, c’est vrai) in the Pyrenees; another Alpe d’Huez finish (yawn) and a little gravel riding along a high plateau in the Alps that is part of the Etape du Tour on July 8th.
This year’s Etape, you’ll recall, was basically a 90 km high-speed wheel-suck then two giant climbs that destroyed anyone who didn’t ‘suck enough’. Next year will be very, very different.
There are four categorized climbs, which look something like this:
Col de la Croix Fry
Elevation: 1477 meters. Length: 13 km. Gain: 842 meters. Average Gradient: 6.5%
Montée du Plateau des Glières
Elevation: 1390 meters. Length: 6 km. Gain: 600 meters. Average Gradient: 10%
Col de Romme
Elevation: 1297 meters. Length: 9 km. Gain: 815 meters. Average Gradient: 8.7%
Col de la Colombière
Elevation: 1618 meters. Length: 7 km. Gain: 630 meters. Average Gradient: 8%
The climbing starts early and finishes late and when you’re all done you’ll have climbed over 4000 meters in around 170 km. And take a look at the profile above. Even when you aren’t climbing it looks like you are climbing.
All Etapes are hard – it’s why we keep coming back – and this one will not disappoint the masochists in the room. My feeling is that the gradients will make the difference on this one. Take a look at the last three (and I’m not even sure about the Colombiere…that’s a conservative estimate) and add up the kilometers you’ll need to climb at 8 to 10%. It’s also easy to hit these ‘short’ climbs hard in the beginning and pay for it near the end, so ‘pacing’ will be the word of the day for most riders.
I’ll be there, but unfortunately not riding, and more unfortunately not on the last climb to watch the suffering. 44|5 will be running its 4th Etape du Tour package and I’ll be on ‘cold beer’ duty. Our clients depend on me.
See you there!