L’Etape Australia by Tour de France
Posted on Tuesday, 15th of March 2016
It seems the secret is out and staying out. The Snowy Mountains is a great place to ride a bike and now some of the best in the world are coming to check it out in L’Etape Australia. L’Etape means “Stage” as in the 1st stage of a race. This is an event run by the Tour de France to take their world beating style of bike racing to the world’s mere mortals to give us a taste of what it is like to be Cadel Evans or Alberto Contador. Australia is the 3rd country and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, to host L’Etape.
But what does that mean you say? Thousands of amateur riders testing themselves under world class road racing conditions, just like the Tour de France. No cars, no oncoming traffic, no stop signs, nothing to get in the way of no holds barred bike riding, except maybe a few shirtless, goon bag swinging supporters running alongside cheering you on.
It means that the same people who stage the Tour de France will run 2 events in the Snowy Mountains on the weekend of December the 3rd this year. The events will be run under professional conditions for amateurs with full road closures, a challenging route planned by the crew for La Tour and for Tour de France fans, the event will include a Sprint Stage and King of the Mountain with the coveted green and polka dot jerseys up for grabs. If you haven’t yet watched the Tour de France on SBS in July then you may not be aware of the scale and spectacle of the event with hundreds of cyclists racing across the beautiful french country side, pedaling up to 200km a day at averages of close to 45km per hour.
L’Etape will create something similar here but targeted at amateur riders who want to experience the same riding
conditions as the professionals in France. L’Etape has chosen a course and there will be two events running simultaneously. The “Race” is a longer, more challenging event and the “RIde” is a slightly shorter and less grueling ride, still run under the same full race conditions. Organisers are tipping thousands of people will ride in the event.
The course begins at the Ski Tube car park, 10 minutes from Thredbo. From there riders follow the Alpine Way down to Lake Jindabyne and then head back towards Cooma on the Kosciuszko Rd. Just past East Jindabyne the riders will head off on the fabled Rocky Plains Rd, a favourite with local riders. The course then veers off in a loop back around to Berridale for the Sprint Stage before riding out onto the Monaro High Plain through Dalgety and over the Snowy River. Not far from Dalgety things get serious with the King of the Mountain Stage up the Beloka Hill, a punishing little rise that defies all but the most tenacious to stay on the bike, with gradients as steep as 17% the fastest up this hill will deserve the Polka Dots. From the “Col de Beloka” the route returns to Lake Jindabyne where the “Ride” will finish. The “Race” however continues back along the Kosciuszko Rd all the way to Perisher Valley and the final grueling climb over Dainer’s Gap and ” La Col’ de Perisher before the finish.
The Ride will cover a distance of 126km and the Race will be 156km. You can see full course detail on the L’Etape website including routes and ride elevations. You can also join a wait-list for registrations for the event which don’t officially open until April. There are early bird entry rates for both individual and team entries. Teams must have a minimum of 9 riders. Estimates of the number of riders who will take part in the event are varying wildly but it is probably reasonable to expect that the number of people riding will be in excess of 1000.
You can book your accommodation in with us for the weekend or even book in for a few days before to get acclimatised for the ride. It will be an amazing time in the mountains and with plans to stage the event here for
several years at least, It will definitely shift cycling up a gear in the Snowy Mountains. Vive Le Tour! Vive L’Etape!
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