Etape du Tour
The 2017 edition of the Etape du Tour will take place on Sunday July 16 on the route for stage 18 of the Tour de France – concluding with the first-ever summit finish on the Col d’Izoard.
Ryan Vickers from our Mechanical Contracts Department will be completing this ride for charity in July. The Etape du Tour, which first took place in 1993, sees sportive riders take on a stage of the Tour de France (with the peloton set to take on stage 18 four days later on Thursday July 20), and 15,000 amateur cyclists are expected to take part in 2017.
The 178km stage will start in the Alpine town of Briancon and riders will first tackle the Col de Vars, which tops out at 2,108m – but it is the Col d’Izoard which undoubtedly takes centre stage.
The Izoard first appeared in the Tour in 1922 and has been used 34 times since – but never as a summit finish. Riders will climb the southern ascent from Guillestre, which rises for 31.5 km (19.6 mi) at an average gradient of 4.8 per cent and 14.1km (8.7 mi) at 7.3% to reach the summit at 2,360m.
That average gradient belies the true difficulty of the climb, with the road pitching up to ten per cent for long stretches over the second half of the climb. The upper part of the climb is known as the Casse Déserte thanks to the dramatic, foreboding and barren scree slopes which will await riders.
The Etape is a 178km (110m) ride with 3,529 metres (11578ft) of climbing. That makes it one of the tougher Etapes in recent years. With the climbing back loaded to the last 100km of the ride it is particularly tough. It is estimated that out of the 15000 participants on average 5000 riders do not finish, however this year it may be a greater number as it is a difficult challenge.