Citizens race: l'Étape du Tour Mondovelo
Official Website: l'Étape du Tour Mondovelo
ACTE I - 8 July 2012: 140 kilometres from Albertville to La Toussuire/ Les Sybelles
ACTE II - 14 July 2011: 197 kilometres from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon
|Albertville to La Toussuire profile stage 11, 2012 Tour de France|
|Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon, profile stage 16, 2012 Tour de France|
You too can race a stage of the Tour de France
Every year the organizers of the Tour de France, offer the opportunity for regular (and extremely fast) citizens to race a stage of the Tour de France. Last year was the first time two stages were organized for citizens, in 2012, the choice of two stages (acte I and acte II) will again be possible. One stage is in the Alps, one stage is in the Pyrenees. It used to be tradition to offer this event on one of the rest days, but the organizers have realized coordinating the equipment and personnel is easier to arrange closer to the actual date of the real stage of the Tour de France.
Thousands of cyclists register for these cyclosportif events every year. Roads are closed by French Gendarme just as they are for an official stage of the Tour de France. Rest stops are available (if few). The pace is fast. l'Étape du Tour Mondovelo is a timed event, with cut-offs times where riders will be cleared off the route before certain check points if you do not meet an announced time (well published ahead of the race).
Take these cut-off times seriously, they used to place the American and British riders in the back of the pack, but modern practices attempt to rank the riders by ability, allowing the faster riders to be in the front, slower riders in the back. If you begin in the back of a 10,000 person pack, there is little time to waste, even though the race begins in a very well executed shute approach. Effectively unleashing 9000 riders across the start line within 35 minutes.
I have three tips for participants, the first is to train, the second is to learn and use the signals, commands and terms for riding in a pack in French, the third tip is to be ready for any and all weather. Bring gear for very hot weather and very very cold stormy weather. The routes are arduous, the fact that Acte II begins in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, travels through the Hautes-Pyrenees, and finishes in the Haute-Garonne says it all. The experience is incredibly exciting, as fans line the route to cheer the amateur riders. I will never forget the sound of "Allez Madame, Allez Madame."
Registration may be arranged through an official approved Travel Agent. A few Tour Companies might sell registration only, most offer complete tour packages, arranging airport transfers, accommodations, registration, and transportation. Transportation is the biggest concern. If you try to do the race on your own, you will need personal transport as early as 5:00am and pick-up in the afternoon at a different city 140 or 197 kilometres away. Or you may use the services of the Event Shuttle. We used High Gear Travel (listed below), in 2005 and 2008, they made registration arrangements, providing us with the forms and clear instructions.
|you get a medal when you finish! (my brother Straw)|