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Sweat, Exhaustion and Joy: Our Contest Winners Experienced l’Étape du Tour

By WeLoveCycling

The date the l’Étape du Tour falls on is marked in every cycling enthusiast’s calendar in a fat red marker. It’s not the only occasion where you can get the real taste of how grand races treat pro cyclists, but it’s undisputedly the most fabulous. Our team of seven l’Étape contest winners can not only attest to getting the royal pro treatment and enjoying every bit of it but also to actually taking some impressive results home, including a 9th place among all women riders’ ranking for one of our team members.

Maybe you’ve always watched the pros struggle up the storied French climbs and sweat metaphorical blood at time trial stages, wondering if you could even beat it to the finish. Or you just unabashedly started comparing your racing times to theirs. Well, with this year’s l’Étape, which was already held on Sunday 16th, you can at least experience it vicariously through our report.

The Czech legend of Paralympic cycling, Jiří Ježek, accompanied the team as a much welcomed support, advisor and mainly leader of our team.

The six-time Paralympic winner, who by the way ranked 69th in the race, has a long-term history of cooperation with ŠKODA, and was therefore granted a special gift – a brand new ŠKODA KODIAQ, lent to him and his wife and manager Soňa so they could travel all the way from Prague in style (and bring some of the team’s equipment).

As you might already know, l’Étape replicated stage 18 of this year’s Tour de France and, as already mentioned, offered every feat that pro cyclists enjoy – support cars, feeding stations, roads closed by police, and even the infamous but entirely necessary “broom wagon”, picking up those who couldn’t make it before the time limit.

This sporting tradition started in 1993 and the founding idea prevailed to this day – to let anybody with good enough physique and confidence to experience the killer climbs and adrenaline-rushing atmosphere of a genuine Le Tour mountain stage.

Just as last year, the 2017 edition of the race saw over 15,000 participants and We Love Cycling, along with ŠKODA, helped seven iron-legged and strong-willed amateur riders to be among them.

The l’Étape race not only boasts the unmistakable Le Tour feeling but can also pride itself in being organized on point. Here’s a perfect example of that – the bike of one our contestants got withheld at the airport, which we found out at about 10 PM the day before the race.

Quite the pickle, you might say. Enter the dauntless MAVIC maintenance and technical support team that have built a new bicycle, tailor-made for our guy and prepared at the starting line at 7 AM, and the day was saved. Thank you for your huge help, MAVIC!

As we mentioned before, our team celebrated some major successes. We congratulate all on their incredible efforts and stamina but one case stands out after all. Michelle Lee managed to grab the 9th place among women riders’ ranking. We say not bad in a race wave of 15,000 competitors.

Overall ranking of our Team

  • Elvind Olsen – 503rd place, real time 06:27:57
  • Alexis Enault – 732nd place, real time 06:38:43
  • Michelle Lee – 737th place, real time 06:38:58 (9th place among all women riders’ ranking)
  • Lukasz Wyczesany – 794th place, real time 06:41:04
  • Norberto Sánchez Palazón – 4035th place, real time 08:09:58
  • Vladimír Socha – 5060th place, real time 08:32:20
  • Sophie Sundstrom – unfortunately didn’t finish due to health problems

We hope you enjoyed our exclusive gallery for that first-hand account of what it’s like to battle those insane inclines and how does it feel to ride the road where cycling history literally takes place. Don’t forget to follow We Love Cycling for more personal stories from the race.