The Etape du Tour, one of the biggest cyclosportives in the world, will be split into two events in 2011. Organisers A.S.O. announced today, the day after that the full route of the 2011 Tour de France was unveiled.
The Etape gives amateur cyclists a chance to ride a full stage of the Tour de France, often the hardest stage of the race, to see how they compare to the pros. As such it's proved very popular, prompting A.S.O. to add an extra event next year to cope with the demand.
The first will be on Monday 11 July and is a relatively short 109km between Modane Valfréjus and Alpe d’Huez, the same as the 19th stage of the Tour. Its length belies is toughness, however, as riders will tackle the fearsome Col du Telegraphe and Col du Galibier, before descending for 46km and meeting the final challenge: the 12km ascent of Alpe d'Huez.
The second Etape is scheduled for Sunday 17 July between Issoire and Saint-Flour over 208km. This is the same as stage 9 of the Tour, which the pros will already have raced on 10 July. The stage is in the heart of the Massif Central and will be very challenging, despite not including any major mountains.
Participants will be timed and ranked in each event and there will also be an overall classification for those who attempt both events.
Entry details will be available on the L'Etape du Tour website.