Well, after months of preparation it’s time for the Etape du Tour – and I feel wholly underprepared.
I think that’s natural, though – in reality, it’s just nervous excitement – as, while I could have trained more, I know I’ve done enough to see me through a well-paced ride.
My taper started early after an inadvertent meeting with the tarmac. Call it an enforced taper but I feel fit and ready.
As a result, this past week has consisted of preparing the bike, fine-tuning a nutrition strategy, forever checking the weather forecast (it’s going to be hot out there) and a last-minute dash back to the house to remember my medical certificate.
My bib number – 4803 – will see me start roughly in the first third of a field of some 13,500 riders, so I should avoid the worst of the bottlenecks on the narrow opening climb. After a flat 10km blast from the start along the side of Lake Annecy, the course is either uphill or downhill.
So I’ve called in a couple of favours to ensure I’m the most over-biked rider at the Etape – call it a perk of the job.
The arrival of a Shimano Dura-Ace equipped Canyon Ultimate CF SLX (in team issue Katusha livery) at RCUK Towers was a well-timed coincidence. Equipped with a standard double chainset when it first arrived, I’ve since swapped that out for a compact and will be thankful come the final climb – 11km at 8.5 per cent – to the finish in Le Semnoz.
I’ve upgraded it further with the addition of Mavic’s all new CC40C hoops – the French firm’s first carbon clincher wheelset. All up, the bike weighs 6.5kg without pedals. If I can’t climb on that then there’s no hope.
The Etape du Tour will provide a fine test of man and machine, and both the frame and wheels will feature on RCUK more extensively in the weeks ahead.
For now it’s all about the Etape so, if you’re riding, see you on the road – and good luck.
RoadCyclingUK’s George Scott is riding the Etape du Tour with Sports Tours International, who offer a comprehensive range of cycling tours and holidays, as well as packages to European sportives including the Etape du Tour, La Marmotte and the Paris-Roubaix Challenge.