July 20, 2009 is the date for the 17th edition of L’Étape du Tour, just five days before the pros ride Stage 20 of the Tour de France over the same route. L’Étape riders will face 172km (pros ride 5km less) and five climbs from Montélimar to finish atop the infamous Mont Ventoux.
Will the weather on July 20, 2009 be the same as nine years ago when L'Étape du Tour riders were stopped short of the summit due to hailstorms and a temperature of 1º C? Or, wet and cold as it was last year finishing at Hautacam? Or, dry, clear and pleasant?
I’ve been asked, from my experience, if this will be the hardest L’Étape du Tour. I think all seven I have ridden have been hard, but for a different reason each time. As usual, the riders generally determine how hard it will be.
Now, in the off season, for aspiring entrants to L’Étape du Tour 2009 it’s the time to start planning your training for a successful ride.
Starting in Montélimar the course heads southeast for 19km and the Côte de Citelle (5.2km at 3.9 percent grade). Through Nyons and climb number two, the Col d’Ey (6.3km at 5 percent), a well known paragliding site. Continuing on to the Col de Fontaube (4.7km at 4.3 percent), at kilometer 92, and a tantalizing view of Mont Ventoux just 7km to the south.
114.5km and the city of Sault where an alternate route, of 20km, to Chalet Reynard has been used in past assents of the “Géant de Provence”. Over the penultimate climb of Col de Notre-Dame des Abeilles (7.8km at 4 percent)and 24.3km into Bédoin for the classic 21.1km climb (averaging 7.6 percent) to finish atop Mont Ventoux.
First 7km after Bédoin gradually increases to 5.9 percent before the more serious climbing begins; ramping up to as much as 10.8 percent before Chalet Reynard where the occasionally used route from Sault joins the final 6.2km to the finish.
Renew those gym memberships, get the turbo trainer or rollers ready, and mount the fenders and lights on your winter bike for base preparation for July 20, 2009.
I’ll be posting updates on my preparation for 2009. Stay tuned!