L’Étape is an immense challenge: a real stage of the Tour de France, open for amateurs. One might think it will be somehow “easier”, but make no mistake. The participants experience all the difficulties, ride the same length and climb the same elevations as professionals.
In 2019, 16,000 riders from all over the world pushed their limits on the 20th stage from Albertville to Val de Thorens. 20% of them were participating for the very first time! The 135km course challenged them to climb 4,563 metres of positive altitude difference. And how did they fare?
Cédrick Dubois, who finished third in 2018, claimed this year’s victory with a time of 04:47:24. In the women’s race, French champion Edwige Pitel retained her title for the fifth time in a row, clocking 05:25:36.
If it hadn’t been for the 43-minute-long wait for her bike to be repaired, our own Nathalie Ecklund could have been standing on Pitel’s right. But we’re still immensely proud of her: with 06:13:18, Nathalie was the 8th woman to finish this year’s L’Étape. Isabelle Beckers made it in 6:42:31.
For some, riding the stage is simply not challenging enough. Our Vladimir Vidim decided to ride the Alpine passes on a replica of a historical bicycle called Slavia, with just a little catch in the adventure: the bike manufactured in 1896 had no brakes or gears. However, that didn’t scare Vidim off, and after 17 hours and 17 minutes he reached Val du Thorens.
“The experience of finishing the stage was numbed by the cold and exhaustion. I only now begin to realise what madness I managed to go through. I dare say I’m the only ‘fool’ to go with such a crazy plan: climbing altitudes on a bike with no gearing and making descents of steep hills with no brakes,” says Vladimir.
Cameron Jeffers finished with a time of 05:48:07, and you can check out his whole experience here.