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L’Étape du Tour is the only cycling event that allows amateur riders to test themselves on the exact same route as the pros on a Tour de France stage. And it’s not just any route – each year organisers A.S.O. earmark the most formidable mountain stage of the Alps or Pyrenees.
Sports Tours regular, Stan Markland, is no stranger to the challenge. He is aiming to complete the Étape for a 13th consecutive time this July. If successful, he will be one of only 20 people on the planet to achieve the astonishing feat.
Prior to participating in the 2011 Étape, Stan attended one of our Spring Training Camps in Palma to get into shape. “You should start training as early as possible and definitely train though the winter,” he said.
“It’s not like a marathon, where you can effectively walk if you get tired. With cycling you’ve got to get up the hills no matter what. There’s no shortage of camaraderie with all the other cyclists you meet while you’re out there, mainly before and after the event – but during the race the competition is on!”
Stan told us about a time in 2012 when he was riding in the Étape from Pau to Bagnères de Luchon and only 60% of entrants crossed the finish line. He said: “There were a lot of climbs, and it was cold and wet, so make sure you’re well prepared.”
Sports Tours International has been taking cyclists from all over the world to ride the Étape since the days when entry was through paper application forms in Vélo Magazine. As Premium Tour Operator of the Étape du Tour, our aim is to make the logistics as simple as possible – from laying out additional feed stations to securing accommodation in prime locations.
This year Stan will be one of nearly 400 Sports Tours riders taking on more than 4,700m of climbing between Brinacon and the iconic summit finish of Alpe D’Huez. If you’re lucky, Stan might pass on a few words of encouragement en route!
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