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TOP 5: Overseas Sportives

by Nick Gregory

L'Etape du Tour (France) 

The Etape du Tour, which each year gives amateur cyclists the opportunity to take on a stage from the route of the Tour de France, has grown massively in popularity since its inception in 1993. The idea behind it was to allow thousands of amateur cyclists to share the emblematic parcours of the month of July, as well as the beauty and toughness of Tour de France mountain stages. This concept has not changed in 20 years. The race has become an international reference in the world of cyclosportive events.  

Riders come to pursue the legend and finish the race thanks to sheer pedal power as part of a remarkable group of racers. By comparing themselves to the professional peloton's champions, who will also climb the same slopes several days later, they will create a bond with them: by suffering in the same way, they will feel even closer to them. 

The route changes each year, but the 2014 edition of the Etape du Tour will mirror Stage 18 of this year's Tour de France, taking participants from Pau to Hautacam via the legendary Col du Tourmalet. In other years, iconic climbs such as Col de la Madeleine, Mont Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez, the Col du Telegraphe, Col d'Aubisque and the Col de Peyresourde have been tackled. 

James Berresford reflects on his Etape du Tour experience: "A simply incredible ride. Absolutely everything you could expect from a legendary stage of the Tour de France. The scenery, the climbs, the roads, the atmosphere, the history. I couldn't fault the organisation and the field was always sparse enough, even at the opening, to ride my own ride. L'Etape is the ride that just keeps on giving as even now, back in the UK, it's given me a whole new appreciation of the tour and I can't wait to get myself out to the Alps riding again as soon as I can." 


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