The enormous cycling events are coming fast and furious right now – next up is probably the best-known one there is: Etape du Tour.
There are a couple of reasons that you might consider doing the Etape and there are a couple of reasons that might make you say ‘nah’. For me it was a rite of passage, and when you’re talking to the right people you can say things like “I rode the Etape in the Pyrenees of 2012 and finished”, and you might get a slight nod of approval. It’s also just an amazing spectacle. You ride an actual mountain stage of the Tour de France from the same year as the race (usually the same week, even) on closed roads and with 14,000 or so other riders. It’s quiet the show.
Of course that last little fact could very well turn you off. The event is open to 16,000 riders next year, and while there will probably be 2000 not even show up, there’s a lot left! But ASO has been doing this forever and they’ve figured it out. Pens leave every 5 minutes or so (correct me if I’m wrong) and, although you are probably not even ever close to being alone on the road, I don’t think you feel like you’re in a 152km traffic jam either.
Next year the Etape will start near Geneva and finish in the ski village of Morzine (like in 2016).
In between the start and finish you have 5 categorized climbs (and 1 uncategorized) to get over. The route is 152 km with 4100 m of climbing, which makes it an average Etape du Tour, I’d say. I don’t know that area very well, but I’ve ridden Haute Route through it a couple of times – it’s green and you’ll probably get amazing views over Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc if the weather cooperates. Here’s the route as best I could figure it out (nothing published yet officially).
For those who rode the 2016 Etape (Megève to Morzine), this could be a good chance to finally climb the Ramaz, which was taken out of the stage that year due to landslides, I think. On the map above, it’s the squiggly bubble before the last climb (Joux Plane) from Samoens.
As always (or since 2015 anyway), 44|5 will be offering an Etape package, which goes on sale today. I’ve got a luxury chalet waiting for the lucky 11 or 12 who sign up before it’s sold out.