l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Organising a chain gang? Entering a Sportive/Audax?
johnny2names
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l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby johnny2names » Sat Nov 16, 2013 19:40 pm

Hi guys,

My friend and I are looking to do our first etape du tour next year, after having had some fun doing the chiltern 100, ride london 100, surrey legs of steel this year. we are thinking of using a tour company rather than sorting it out ourselves, especially for a first time out. I see sports tours international have a lot of packages available, does anyone have experience with this company, and if so would you recommend them? and if not, any other operators you would recommend?

thanks in advance for your help :)

Cyclopath
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby Cyclopath » Sun Nov 17, 2013 00:18 am

johnny2names wrote:Hi guys,

My friend and I are looking to do our first etape du tour next year, after having had some fun doing the chiltern 100, ride london 100, surrey legs of steel this year. we are thinking of using a tour company rather than sorting it out ourselves, especially for a first time out. I see sports tours international have a lot of packages available, does anyone have experience with this company, and if so would you recommend them? and if not, any other operators you would recommend?

thanks in advance for your help :)


Don't know if I'd call it help, but the answers are

Yes
No (way) [Based on bad, very bad, 2008 experience]
No (fly solo now)

I might have used Cyclomundo if I hadn't earned my solo pilot's licence.

Bikerinthesand
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby Bikerinthesand » Sun Nov 17, 2013 13:01 pm

Used STI in 2008 also. I also had a very, very bad time.

Have been sorting it out for myself for the last 6 years, Etape, Marmotte - etc. Then you only have yourself to blame if it all goes wrong.

99% of the time it is cheaper and you can tailor the trip to your needs.

Enjoy the day and don't forget to take cold weather clothing, the last time the Etape went up Hautacam was a truly miserable/wet day

johnny2names
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby johnny2names » Sun Nov 17, 2013 20:54 pm

thanks for the replies, guys.

STI doesn't sound that good an option then! although they might have sorted their act out in between 2008 and now.
still, the signs aren't good!

i'm still worried about going solo though, as I have no experience of that whatsoever, and what to expect. also, for example, trip advisor lists only one inadequate hotel available within 20 miles of Pau! what to do, what to do...

Mccaria
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby Mccaria » Mon Nov 18, 2013 09:58 am

Based on this year's Etape I wouldn't suggest STI has improved that much (one rep covering 4 hotels, breakfast on the day of the Etape only due to start serving after the pens were already open, until it was pointed out that this wouldn't work too well). There are certainly better tour operators.

One outfit I have not used but who get good reviews are :
http://www.pyractif.com/cycling-package ... etape.html
This year's Etape is in their home area, so should be well placed to deliver a good product.

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JSS
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby JSS » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:51 am

I used STI to get an entry in 2011 (I didn't realise how easy it was to get one direct) and then got myself out to the event myself.

I went to a STI training weekend in Yorkshire which was decent; well organised and useful to put my mind at rest that I would be capable of riding the Etape. However it was not cheap.

STI were pretty hopeless about anything to do with Etape.

I wrote a report about the ride - http://www.sportive.com/tour-de-france- ... alpe-dhuez - and mentioned quite a lot about our experience with STI. My final conclusion was:

"I am sure people have good experiences with them but my experience is that they are disorganised, complacent and don't deserve your business."

I'll be sorting out my own travel in 2014....

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bernithebiker
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby bernithebiker » Mon Nov 18, 2013 15:53 pm

I'm biased because I know Ronan well, but have a look at Ronanpensectravel.com

They have lots of experience of all kinds of French tours and are very well organised with excellent guides.

Ronan Pensec is an ex-maillot jaune who is based in Brittany. Very nice bloke.

He seems to get wind of the route way before others, so tends to book the best placed hotels.

His customers tend to be English, Australian, American, South African, etc. not French.
http://www.cyclespeedtours.com

Bespoke and 5* cycle trips based in Palma, Mallorca.

johnny2names
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby johnny2names » Mon Nov 18, 2013 15:58 pm

Thanks for the replies guys, it's been very useful.

with your advice in hand, + a bit of web research, we have decided to take the plunge and 'fly solo'. etape, flights and hotel all booked as of today! decided to fly to bordeaux and back, friday to monday, and will rent a car from there. we have booked a hotel in lourdes-complete with it's own iconography shop! sweet...figured it's an easy ride back from hautacam after the race. it means getting up earlier on race day, but you cant have everything. thinking of parking up 5k out before the start, i guess that wont be too hard. will just get the car back the following day i guess! recovery ride... :)
after all costs, We look on target for a circa 200 quid a head saving- thanks again for giving me the confidence to do it!

FatTed
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby FatTed » Mon Nov 18, 2013 21:59 pm

I have been on holiday with these guys http://www.pyractif.com/cycling-package ... etape.html
good organisation
also these guys are good http://www.alpinecadence.com/programme4.php

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mrc1
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby mrc1 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 14:10 pm

johnny2names wrote:Thanks for the replies guys, it's been very useful.

with your advice in hand, + a bit of web research, we have decided to take the plunge and 'fly solo'. etape, flights and hotel all booked as of today! decided to fly to bordeaux and back, friday to monday, and will rent a car from there. we have booked a hotel in lourdes-complete with it's own iconography shop! sweet...figured it's an easy ride back from hautacam after the race. it means getting up earlier on race day, but you cant have everything. thinking of parking up 5k out before the start, i guess that wont be too hard. will just get the car back the following day i guess! recovery ride... :)
after all costs, We look on target for a circa 200 quid a head saving- thanks again for giving me the confidence to do it!


Solid decision to base yourselves in Lourdes as it's close enough to the finish and less than an hour's drive into Pau for the start. There are several parking options you can utilise for ditching your car on the roads into Pau (car parks and side roads), but make sure that you park it somewhere where it is not going to get towed as that wouldn't be a great end... On your side back into Lourdes make sure you don't end up on the D821 dual carriageway out of Argeles Gazost, but stick to the D921B or D13. Best of luck on the day and enjoy yourself.
http://www.ledomestiquetours.co.uk

Le Domestique Tours - Bespoke cycling experiences with unrivalled supported riding, knowledge and expertise.

Ciocc Extro - FCN 1

Cyclopath
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby Cyclopath » Sat Nov 30, 2013 00:51 am

mrc1 wrote:
johnny2names wrote:Thanks for the replies guys, it's been very useful.

with your advice in hand, + a bit of web research, we have decided to take the plunge and 'fly solo'. etape, flights and hotel all booked as of today! decided to fly to bordeaux and back, friday to monday, and will rent a car from there. we have booked a hotel in lourdes-complete with it's own iconography shop! sweet...figured it's an easy ride back from hautacam after the race. it means getting up earlier on race day, but you cant have everything. thinking of parking up 5k out before the start, i guess that wont be too hard. will just get the car back the following day i guess! recovery ride... :)
after all costs, We look on target for a circa 200 quid a head saving- thanks again for giving me the confidence to do it!


Solid decision to base yourselves in Lourdes as it's close enough to the finish and less than an hour's drive into Pau for the start. There are several parking options you can utilise for ditching your car on the roads into Pau (car parks and side roads), but make sure that you park it somewhere where it is not going to get towed as that wouldn't be a great end... On your side back into Lourdes make sure you don't end up on the D821 dual carriageway out of Argeles Gazost, but stick to the D921B or D13. Best of luck on the day and enjoy yourself.



I found that the old railway line, now a cycle track, from Argeles Gazost to Lourdes was the best way back. No traffic to worry about, just the odd crossing point.

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itboffin
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby itboffin » Sun Dec 01, 2013 17:20 pm

I can definitely recommend LeDomTours http://www.ledomestiquetours.co.uk/calendar/ as Rob posted earlier,. They are knowledgeable of the area, experienced in the race (it is a race) and create a very relaxed calming environment to help you enjoy the day.
Rule #5 // Harden The fark Up.
Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.

johnny2names
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby johnny2names » Sun Dec 01, 2013 18:03 pm

Cyclopath wrote:
mrc1 wrote:
johnny2names wrote:Thanks for the replies guys, it's been very useful.

with your advice in hand, + a bit of web research, we have decided to take the plunge and 'fly solo'. etape, flights and hotel all booked as of today! decided to fly to bordeaux and back, friday to monday, and will rent a car from there. we have booked a hotel in lourdes-complete with it's own iconography shop! sweet...figured it's an easy ride back from hautacam after the race. it means getting up earlier on race day, but you cant have everything. thinking of parking up 5k out before the start, i guess that wont be too hard. will just get the car back the following day i guess! recovery ride... :)
after all costs, We look on target for a circa 200 quid a head saving- thanks again for giving me the confidence to do it!


Solid decision to base yourselves in Lourdes as it's close enough to the finish and less than an hour's drive into Pau for the start. There are several parking options you can utilise for ditching your car on the roads into Pau (car parks and side roads), but make sure that you park it somewhere where it is not going to get towed as that wouldn't be a great end... On your side back into Lourdes make sure you don't end up on the D821 dual carriageway out of Argeles Gazost, but stick to the D921B or D13. Best of luck on the day and enjoy yourself.



I found that the old railway line, now a cycle track, from Argeles Gazost to Lourdes was the best way back. No traffic to worry about, just the odd crossing point.


Thanks to you both, and indeed to all others.

I'd heard there was a cycle track linking Lourdes to argeles Gazost, we were thinking of doing it as a saturday warm-up, with the added benefit of discovering our return journey for sunday in advance! good point re parking on sunday morning, that would be a really bad finish! I'm hoping that as Pau isn't that big, 5-10 k out should be achievable- we hope to check it out on the saturday on our way in to sign in. any ideas of what the cut-off times are likely to be? thats' my only target, to beat the sweeper bus! I'd be happy to conquer tourmalet in 2 hours tbh!

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bernithebiker
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Re: l'etape 2014/ which tour company?

Postby bernithebiker » Sun Dec 01, 2013 18:46 pm

For anyone not wanting the expense and logistical hassles of the Etape, there is also the Time Megeve, in June (amongst others).

This one doesn't seem to get much UK airtime, but it's a good'un, the challenge is very similar to that of the Etape, and it's significantly cheaper (about 1/2 price I think).
http://www.cyclespeedtours.com

Bespoke and 5* cycle trips based in Palma, Mallorca.


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