Briancon -> Galibiler -> Croix de la Fer -> Alpe d'Huez
170km, 4700m of ascent
Opens Monday 18th October.
Looks like a tough one.
Looks bloody awful.
Already signed up 😃
Kinda treads on the toes of the Marmotte a bit though. Very similar route and only a week later.
It’s either climbing or descending with that route, except 10kish before last climb
So tempted but won’t be able for it
How would you go about training for something like this? I could do the distance on a much flatter route (say 1500-2000m of elevation) but I've never done any proper mountains, don't know if I've ever been above 500m (aside from Alpe du Zwift) and don't live near any mountains. Any point in even considering it?
Ah you'd manage away fine on the day and you've a year to prepare. You'll surely find a hill somewhere near you and just cycle up it as many times as necessary. :)
Consistency is key. Try and do 100km+ every weekend with some shorter spins or indoor training during the week. I do several long sportives in the run up to the Etape like the Wicklow 200 and Orwell Randonee to see how I'm going. Get out there a week in advance so you can ride the climbs in and around the route and get the familiar with the descents too. Lose as much weight as you can.
Do people do this as part of a package or book it themselves?
The packages are dear enough. Nothing to do you doing your own thing.
While there is not much you can do about it, the heat can be an overwhelming factor on the climbs. I live in Geneva which makes life a (lot) easier, but doing the climbs before the event helps both physically and most definitely mentally, even if it is just the weekend before or something like that.
I've rented a chalet in Alpe D'Huez and will take the bus to the start line. There isn't really much else use a package tour will provide you! Admittedly some have their own rest stops and the official ones farcically ran out of water last time, but all in all they are not remotely worth it.
There’s a crazy man from Cork that does a package for Irish people.
Likes like it might just be a wishful thought. I will actually be in France that week but as its a family holiday with (hopefully!) a 3 month old I dont think I'll be escaping for 2/3 days!
Thanks, I'm on about 3500km for the year so not far off 100km a week and that is after being lazy or sick for various periods of the year. 100k and one turbo or weeknight spin should be doable. I'll just have to look for a few hilly sportives
worth remembering for anyone new doing it. there’s a time cut if you aren’t past the checkpoints by the allocated times. You’re taken off the course.
That’s what killed me last time. Especially as I was in the second last wave of riders to set out, so was behind the time cut before I even started. They are quite strict with the cut off as the French police don’t mess about unlike the Irish lads.
That would be very disappointing.
Better off doing the marmotte the week before then. Very similar route and no aggressive broom wagoning.
I don’t think the last event was well organised and the cut off times were insanely harsh (I was also in the second last group and only scraped through them). You also end up cycling past grossly unfit people who somehow started way up the field, gaining a huge amount of extra time. It’s infuriating.
Bit mad that they actually pull you off the course. Once it ceases being an event, then it's just an open road again and you're free to cycle on it!
Do the Boards evil.
I've done it a couple of times with the Cork outfit. Flying out on the Wednesday is good for acclimatisation, cycling on the Wed, Thur and Fri make a difference, plus you get to see some amazing places. Looking at the location, it could be doable solo, accommodation is cheaper in summer in the mountains and there is the shuttle bus.
Would recommend some Bikram/hot yoga for anyone nervous of the heat, after a challenging 2011 Etape i did Bikram and it made a huge difference.
For training, Shanrahan in Tipp or the Connor pass in Kerry are a must for getting you used to long climbs, but just getting out and doing regular long cycles especially in the spring will help and try the above in April/May to get the legs used to it.
The starting numbers are out and they are all over the place. I'm in wave 8 (nice improvement on wave 14 from last time), but I have friends who have never even done it before in waves 3 and 4.
I realise it is a tricky thing to get right, and I've become part of the problem after being so frustrated at being in the last waves the two previous times that I did what I presume the multitudes of people I easily passed did and massively exaggerated my expected finishing time. But I thought the first waves at least they would expect some kind of previous proof of performance.
They used to ask for some evidence of performance, I did it about 10 years ago and one lad on the trip put that he did the Tour de Munster, I think the organisers thought it was some kind of stage race and they put him in the 2nd pen with a load of top french amateurs. Poor guy wasn't the lightest and really struggled, got swept on first climb going backward
Wave 12 for me, have finished it the two I’ve done in roughly 10,000th so not a million miles off. The 11.19 time limit counter begins after the last wave leaves, but wouldn’t have minded a few extra minutes just to be sure 🤣.
Wicklow 200 this weekend will be a nice tune up.
Yeah, I was 8500th or something last time but starting in wave 15 meant I was fighting the cut offs the whole time which is just stressful. So my wave makes sense, but I have friends who were broom wagoned last time in wave 4 🤷♂️
Did the course last weekend (apart from Galibier which was still closed) and going to go do it again in 2 weeks. croix de la fer is a bit trickier than I expected (though they have just resurfaced half the route so it will be smooth)
Nice to have the familiarity of the course in the legs. Some smooth, non Wicklow tarmac is music to my ears!
the First two climbs look long but manageable from a gradient perspective , but defo looks like a few big KM’s of % within the overall climb. How long did it take you to get up to the top?
have definitely done the most training this year for it by a distance , just hoping that doesn’t just cancel out my ever increasing age !!
Ah I live in Geneva which makes it a lot easier to get out there.
I couldn't do the whole of croix de la fer as I ran into them doing the resurfacing...will let you know in 2 weeks when I go back! Middle few km of croix fer is fairly steep but nicely shaded which is a good thing.
what a part of the world to live in! Keep us posted on the next spin!
First 120km in the dauphine tomorrow looks pretty much identical to letape. Worth a watch!
Wave #6 for me.
Should be OK if I can lose 8kg in 3 weeks.
Ok, spun out there at the weekend.
Col du Galibier - I'm not one to call any climb easy, but its as close as it comes for a climb of this magnitude. As far as Col de Lautaret it is utterly smooth sailing - pretty much a consistent 5ish % on good roads with lovely views. Once you turn right here to go up Galibier proper it is 8km of slightly steeper stuff but nothing major (we're talking 7% here). It is one of these climbs where you can see the road for many kms ahead of you which I often hate, but because its a decent gradient and just gorgeous countryside its not a bother here at all. The last km is tough and I can't imagine you'll enjoy it but it really is just the last km.
The descent is absolutely wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a lot of fairly straight sections and I suspect on the day there will be a number of inexperienced people going far too quickly on them, as they generally end in sharp enough turns that come at you quickly enough but just stay out of their way and you'll have a great time. Super, super enjoyable descent. You'll have a short climb up to Col du Telegraph (its 4k of like 3-4%) which is no bother then a slightly more technical descent from there on it
Col de la Croix de Fer - This is what is going to make or break people I suspect. It was **** difficult. Best way to view it is as three separate climbs (5k then some descent, 6k then some descent and a final 8k push from Saint Sorlin). Coming out of the town at the bottom it has the potential to be very, very warm - you'll be a lot lower than Briancon. I didn't drink enough and really struggled. The middle section is the hardest, though is thankfully in shade (hello flies!). You'll have finished it when you enter a tunnel and from there you have a good 5-6k of downhill or slight incline. Definitely stop in Saint Sorlin at the refreshment station to prep for the last bit of the climb. Its the most aesthetically pleasing, but its a very consistent 8% grind up to the top - steepest bit is just coming out of the village and then it settles down a bit.
The descent is breath-taking but be forewarned there is a **** nasty 1.5km 8% climb with full on hairpins about 2/3 of the way down. After the descent you have a very boring 10k or so very flat ride to the bottom of the Alpe
Alpe d'Huez - it is what it is. Little to no shade and starts fairly low down so on a hot day will be hell. They helpfully have a countdown of the hairpins, though their spacing is wildly inconsistent so its not that helpful. It will be ****, but once you get onto it just take your time and you'll get there eventually. There is no let up here, its just uphill the whole way. The biggest break you'll get is coasting around the outside of a hairpin bend!
Just to add there are quite a few public drinking fountains scattered over that route.
On the descent of the Galibier you'll hit Valloire (cafes & I think there's a public water tap); there's one at the top of the Telgraph too.
Saint Michel de Maurienne (by green hydrant on right before you cross the bridge)
La Rivere d'Allemond (about 8km from the Allemond on your way down)
On Alpe D'Huez
Bend 16 Alpe d’Huez (on right just after the church)
Bend 7 Alpe d’Huez (on right opposite church)