The Etape du Tour has rightly earned its reputation as one of the toughest sportives in the world, pitting amateur riders against a stage of the Tour de France.
This year’s Etape will take place over stage 20 of the Tour on Sunday July 7, 13 days before the race itself. The winner of the Tour will effectively be crowned on the summit of Le Semnoz; an 11km climb which averages a grueling 8.5 per cent.
So there are few better sources of advice as to what it takes to tame the Etape than Team Sky, who will start the Tour de France with Chris Froome as team leader and favourite for the title.
In this video, Team Sky rider Chris Sutton and Dario Cioni, a former pro with 19 Grand Tour appearances, including four Tours de France, under his belt, ride the stage, which packs more than 3,600m of climbing into 128km, and offer their tips on how to climb, descend and pace your ride.
“I tell you what, this is actually going to be pretty hard,” says Sutton. “I don’t think people really know what people are letting themselves in for.”
Sutton and Cioni are joined by Team Sky nutritionist Nigel Mitchell, who reveals the recipe to the rice cakes which help fuel the squad’s riders.
“We aim for [our riders] to be eating 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour,” says Mitchell, who says a rider taking on the Etape will use between 6,500 and 7,500 calories doing so. “This can obtained through various foods such as bars and gels, and normal foods like small sandwiches and rice cakes.”
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.