The race, which was first held in 1993, covered Stage 19 of this year’s Tour from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire. This is an incredibly strenuous 142-kilometre mountain course. And if you remember, we offered the best of you 3 places on our team.
So, how did our riders compare to the other 15,000 racers? We knew we’d chosen the best of the best, but the results were beyond our expectations.
500 kilometers a week makes you a beast
When someone who finishes a 142-kilometre course of steep alpine roads in 5 hours and 55 minutes tells you he expected to finish 20 minutes faster, it gets your attention. David, our last winner, finished in 176th place out of 15,000 people!
And no wonder he performed so well, he lives on Tenerife where he rides 500 kilometers a week in hot conditions – perfect training for l’Étape. But his biggest surprise was the organization: “It feels like a real race.” And it is – one in which you compete mostly against yourself, your limits and the mountain ahead of you.
Tears of joy: “I’ll never forget Col du Clandon”
Right after the finish we asked Manos about his first impressions, but he was unable to answer as the emotions overwhelmed him and he burst into tears. “It was so, so difficult. No one can describe it until you live it. Every mile of Col du Clandon was steeper and steeper, I will never forget that.”
And yet he didn’t once think about quitting – it simply is not his philosophy. Still, the best moment for him was finally seeing the finish line.
Eat well, drink well, and take care of your bike
Another of our winners, Gabriel, described the perfect and, really, the only possible strategy for l’Étape: “Eat well, drink well, and take care of your bike.” This must’ve worked for him, since he crossed the finish line looking as fresh as the night before the race, taking 3,838th place out of 15,000.
Big thank you!
We have to say a big thank you to all the winners for representing us, and congratulations for their great performance. Everyone finished in the top 25% of all participants.
Later this week you’ll have a chance to read about the race from a completely different perspective. In addition to our winners, we sent three other people to the hot hell of Rhône-Alpes: our ambassador, a downhill racer who’s never been into road cycling; our colleague, a total road cycling aficionado; and our friend from Škoda, who challenged himself to finish the race despite not being a cyclist at all!