30 April 2011

L'Etape du California 2011

Citizens can ride a stage of the Tour

2014 News: 2014 L'Etape du California
2012 News: 2012 Tour of California route announced, ATOC dates: May 13-20, 2012. The 2012 L'Etape du California will be held April 28, 2012. Amateurs will race Stage 7, the exact route has not yet been published, but please read more at: L'Etape du California is back for 2012.
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Etapa, étape, stage, whatever your language, riding a complete stage of a Pro Tour race is a big deal. This year as part of the Amgen Tour of California, the above-average citizen cyclist can participate by riding one complete stage of the Tour of California. The citizens race, called L’Étape du California, is scheduled 14 days prior to the day the professional cyclists will race the same route. 

L’Étape du California is for "serious recreational cyclists," and will take place next Saturday, May 7, 2011.  Which stage will it be? Stage 7, from Claremont to Mt Baldy, Miles: 74.2 KM: 119.4. 

The ride is based on the same idea as the very successful L’Étape du Tour, held in France every year and organized by the organizers of the Tour de France. The original Etape attracts over 10,000 participants, this year two routes are being offered in France (L’Étape du Tour mondovelo Act I and L’Étape du Tour mondovelo Act II)

Although the Tour of California is now 7 years old, this is the first year the organizers have provided cyclists the opportunity to ride a complete stage in California.

What is unique about riding in an Etape? Citizens may ride the exact same route that the professionals will ride on May 21st at the Amgen Tour of California, there will be a mass start at 7:00am, there will be KOM/QOM targets and prizes awarded, the roads are closed for rider safety (just as they are on the real race day), and cyclists wear timing chips. A meal and musical entertainment are provided after the ride. 

My brother is registered to ride L’Étape du California next Saturday. He has now completed 5 days of recon on the route, to train on and ride all sections in different segments. He has also completed the Etape du Tour in France, and admits this stage is tough and could result in a serious gap on race day for the pros. The section of the road from Baldy Village to the ski lifts climbs of over 2,000 vertical feet in just 4 miles. Total climbing is 11,610 ft in 76.2 (+2 for the Pros).

Stage 7 is a real stage, it is not easy, even at the lower number of miles. It is steep. I am excited for the Étape, and to watch the climb on ATOC race day. The profile map states 8.9% grade on the last climb to Mt Baldy, but there are 12-15% sections on the climb. My brother said he recorded a 2.8mph and a 17% reading one day he was on the climb. He took a picture of the 15% grade sign on the climb (below). 

There is a lot of open space in these hills above Los Angeles. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mount Baldy (Mount San Antonio) is 10,068 ft (3,069 m) and the highest point in Los Angeles County. The mountain gets it's name from the lack of trees at the top (similar to Mont Ventoux!) and is a ski area (similar to Col du Tourmalet).

Registration for L’Étape du California is still open, the cost is $115. You get a medal upon finishing the race. The full Tour of California will be May 15-22, 2011. 

Some pictures from my brother's recent reci rides. He said, "I didn't take as many as I wanted to, but then again - I was dying":

Here is a Mt Baldy ride profile on STRAVA by Bruce Gustafson
Mt Baldy profile (but this does not follow the exact route of Stage 7)

The Mount Baldy climb is one of the most difficult in the LA Area with 4600 feet of

climbing in 13 miles. The last five miles are extremely steep with an average of over

8% and some 15% sections.

Post post 05/08/11:
Results from the 2011 L'Etape du California. There is someone with the name of Dave Zabriskie that came in 8th. hmm.
Dave Flores Sports Photography
L'Etape Facebook