L'Étape du Tour
L'Étape du Tour (French for 'stage of the Tour') is an organised mass participation cyclosportive event that allows amateur cyclists to race over the same route as a Tour de France stage. First held in 1993, and now organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), in conjunction with Vélo Magazine, it takes place each July, normally on a Tour rest day.
L'Étape du Tour is normally held over mountain roads in either the Pyrenees or French Alps, up climbs such as the Col du Galibier, Col d'Aubisque, Mont Ventoux or the Col du Tourmalet. Around 15,000 riders participate - many travelling from other countries to compete - and the event takes place on roads closed by the police to other traffic, with refreshment stops and medical support provided along the route.
International versions of L'Étape are held annually in various countries around the world to give local riders a Tour-like experience. Events are staged in countries such as Australia, Colombia, Brazil and South Korea among others.
All male winners
- 1993 Christophe Rinero. Rinero went on to finish 4th at the 1998 Tour De France.
- 1994 Igor Pavlov. This edition was poorly coordinated and a number of incidents including cows standing in the middle of the road on the Tourmalet were reported.
- 1995 Thierry Bourguignon. There was tragedy in this event as young cyclist Sylvain Chaigneau died on the descent of the Croix De Fer.
- 1996 Frédéric Bessy. Bessy went on to ride in the professional peloton and won the 2004 GP Lugano in Switzerland. He retired in 2007.
- 1997 Patrick Bruet. The man who finished second, Grzegorz Gwiazdowski, arrived late and set off ten minutes behind everyone else and he technically was the real time winner
- 1998 Joe Doran, an Australian cyclist racing in France. For security reasons the organisers held two qualifying heats on 3 and 10 May.
- 1999 Cyril Bastière. There were no qualifying heats this time and the police helped with organization which made the race much safer.
- 2000 Igor Pavlov. Pavlov recorded his second win at the Etape. Some very well known cyclists rode the event including Greg LeMond, Eric Boyer, Bruno Cornillet, Atle Kvalsvoll, Francois Lemarchand, Ronan Pensec and Jerome Simon. The race finished on Mont Ventoux
- 2001 Igor Pavlov. Pavlov got a back to back victory and his third victory at the Etape.
- 2002 Laurent Marcon. Astonishingly, there was a high rate of finishers. 7,108 finished from 7,500 starters. Nearly 95% of people finished.
- 2003 Loic Herbreteau. Really hot temperatures made some of the climbs unbearable. Spanish cycling legends, Miguel Indurain and Abraham Olano, both competed.
- 2004 Jean-Christophe Currit. It was the longest route ever. French cycling legend Raymond Poulidor started the race. Abraham Olano competed for the second year in succession.
- 2005 Laurent Marcon. Marcon took his second victory at the Etape. 8500 people entered the Etape.
- 2006 Blaise Sonnery. Sonnery went on to ride for Ag2r-La Mondiale He rode for them until 2009.
- 2007 Nicolas Fritsch. Fritsch was a former professional peloton rider and he rode for Marc Madiot on the Française Des Jeux team. Olano and LeMond competed in the event once more.
- 2008 Laurent Four. It was extremely cloudy which prevented the riders from seeing the sights of the race.
- 2009 Dimitri Champion. Dimitri Champion was racing for Bretagne-Schuller at the time and he was also the French national road race champion. It was an extremely hot day with many riders having to dismount on Mont Ventoux because of the heat.
- 2010 Jean-Christophe Currit. Currit took his second Etape victory. The race finished on the Col Du Tourmalet. 10,000 people entered the race.
- 2011. There was a change in 2011 and a two-day race occurred rather than just the one day.
Stage two Lilian Jegou Jegou was a former professional peloton rider who retired the previous at Bretagne-Schuller. He had previously ridden for Francaise des jeux for a number of years. Heavy rain meant poor conditions and only 2094 people crossed the line at the end.
- 2012. Once more a two-day event
Stage one Robin Cattet. A day of high climbing with a lack of preparation hindered many participants.
Stage two Nicolas Roux. As it was Bastille day it was a day of celebration. Frenchmen Nicolas Roux took the victory. Rain meant the sights of the Pyrenees couldn't be seen.
- 2013 Nicolas Roux. Back to the original one day format. Roux took a second Etape win. Climbed up to Annecy Semnoz for the win. 11,475 started which is the best ever participation. Over 10,000 finished.
- 2014 Loic Herbreteau. Eleven years after his first Etape victory, Herbreteau struck again beating Peter Pouly by nearly four minutes. Former winner Lilian Jegou was sixth and Nicolas Roux, 2013 winner, finished sixteenth. Former professional rider Julien Belgy finished 44th. 2008 Winner Laurent Four finished 133rd
- 2015 Jérémy Bescond. Former Cofidis rider Bescond won the race. Former winner Lillian Jegou finished 74th.
Recent Étapes du tour
Greg LeMond rode this Etape along with his son, after being inspired by his son riding it previously. LeMond said "I had the time of my life", despite getting "650th place" and being "impressed that I even finished". "I decided that day that nobody's going to keep me from cycling, not Trek, not Armstrong, not Verbuggen, not anybody.".  British comedian Hugh Dennis also rode this Etape.
In 2008, the 167 km stage 10 from Pau to Hautacam, including a passage over the 2114 m./6935 ft. Col du Tourmalet was selected for L'Étape du Tour with Laurent Four coming home in the fastest time of 5 hours 38 minutes. Unfortunately, the weather on the day was very poor and visibility at the summit of the Tourmalet was down to 10m.
The 2009 edition started in Montélimar (Drôme) and covered 172 km and four smaller climbs (côte de Citelle, col d'Ey, col de Fontaube, col de Notre-Dame des Abeilles) before finishing at the summit of Mont Ventoux.
The 2010 event started in Pau and finished at the Col du Tourmalet on 18 July 2010. Nearly 7000 cyclists completed the event, thanks to weather far better than the pros had several days later.
For 2011, ASO organised two "Etapes". The first, on 11 July, on the Modane - Alpe d'Huez stage covering 109 km, was the shortest in history. This is the same stage the pros rode in Stage 19 on 22 July. The second Etape for 2011, on 17 July, was actually the longest in history, covering 208 km, from Issoire to Saint Flour in the massif central (south of Clermont Ferrand). The pros rode this stage on 10 July in Stage 9 of the 2011 TdF.
In 2012 there were two events. The first event was from Albertville to La Toussuire on 8 July, following the 140 km route of stage 11 of the Tour de France and including the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer, finishing at La Toussuire, part of the Les Sybelles ski area. The second event held on 14 July followed the route of stage 16 from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon, crossing the Col d'Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin, and Col de Peyresourde for a total distance of 197 km. Only about 60% of entrants finished either event within the official cut-off times.
ASO have reverted to a single event for 2013 partly because the 2012 event lost money due to logistics associated with deploying buses and trucks to recover riders who were unable to finish. On 7 July, the Etape recreated stage 20 of the 2013 Tour de France, starting in the town of Annecy and finishing at the ski station of Annecy-Semnoz at an altitude of 1,655m. The 130 km route included the climb of the 1,142m des Prés and the 1,463m Mont Revard.
The 2014 event on 20 July 2014 followed a similar route to the 2008 event, beginning in Pau and finishing at Hautacam.
The 2015 route began in the Savoie town of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, and covered a 140 km course, climbing the Col de Chaussy, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Mollard, with a summit finish at La Toussuire.
In 2016, the event began in Megève and ended in Morzine in the Haute Savoie. The race was shortened to 122 km and three mountain passes after Col de la Ramaz had to be skipped due to rockfall danger on the descent. 11,471 participants set off from Megève to climb the 1,487m Col des Aravis, the 1,618m Col de la Colombière and the 1,691m Col de Joux-Plane. A record 11,212 finishers reached Megève. The winner was Tao Quemere in 3h33'35" and the first woman was Edwige Pitel in 3h56'37".
The 2017 event, held on 16 July, followed a nearly identical route to what was used four days later for Stage 18 of the 2017 Tour de France. Both L'Étape and the Tour's Stage 18 started in Briançon and ended atop the 2,360m Col d'Izoard, with L'Étape listed as 181 km and Stage 18 as 179.5 km.
- Greg LeMond - 'Cycling is dying through Drugs' at Play the Game Conference, 25:00, Play the Game Conference, Coventry University, 2009 Jun 12, retr 2012 10 14
- Greg LeMond - ‘Cycling is dying through drugs’, 25:00, Coventry University, Play the Game Conference, 2009 Jun 12. retr 2012 10 14
- "Albertville – La Toussuire - Les Sybelles". L'Etape du Tour. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Albertville – La Pau - Bagnères-de-Luchon". L'Etape du Tour. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Annecy - Annecy Semnoz: The 100th Edition of the Tour Version Cyclo!". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- Official l'Étape du Tour site
- Velo Magazine Étape du Tour site
- L'Etape analysis & reconnaissance DVDs on Cycle Film website
- Sunday Times article about riding and suffering during the 2007 Etape
- atomicecho.com/etape A blog about training for and riding the Etape du Tour
- Very detailed article on 2007 Étape
- L'Etape du Tour for Charity The charity which helps raise funds for children and young adults to enter the paralympics
- Preview videos and trailers on Vimeo Channel
- VeloNomad.com - a site about planning a trip to L'Etape, France and Le Tour and training for Etape
- 2011 Etape Alps report with photos
- 2010 Etape Pyrenees report on the epic stage to the Tourmalet