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Three days after the route was officially announced Ed took on the Etape du Tour Route.
First thing first- A little more about Ed Nicoll…
Ed Nicoll is a French based Cyclist, Runner, Triathlete and Cross Country skier. After serving in the British Army, Ed competed for Great Britain in the Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada in 1988 and the Nordic Ski World Championships in 1991 and 1993 Ed also toured the World Biathlon circuit as a professional Cross Country skier. Ed was Head Coach and World Cup team Leader of the Great Britain Biathlon Team with responsibilities including physical and technical preparation of athletes for selection in international competitions. In this role he was also responsible for organisation and logistical arrangements for National Team on World Cup circuit.
Ed was National Team Manager Mountain Biking, WCPP, British Cycling Federation, Manchester, GB where he was responsible for the performance and direction of athletes and staff for all major competitions.
More recently Ed has completed various Cyclo-Sportive including the Gran Fondo La Marmotte several times with a Gold standard time, the Etape du Tour where he finished within the first 250 in 2015 and the 2014 New York Marathon where Ed ran a 2h46 Marathon.
Also in 2015 Ed placed third in his age group and therefore took the Bronze Medal during the IM70.3 World Championships in Zell am See, Austria. Ed lives in the Vercors region of the French Alps and in the winter he is head instructor for the British Army Cross Country skiing team.
On many of our Cyclo-Sportives and Marathons throughout the year you will be in the safe hands of Sports Tours International Head Rep Ed Nicoll.
Riding the 2018 Etape du Tour Route by Ed Nicoll
The start will be by the Lake. As the majority of our hotels are close to the centre of Annecy, getting to the start line will be very straight forward for our riders. The lovely setting of Lake Annecy will be simply breathtaking first thing in the morning. However once the race starts and your adrenaline starts pumping, don’t get distracted by the beauty as the first 10kilometres contains several traffic islands and roundabouts that will require the riders full attention to negotiate efficiently.
These first kilometres will be fast and as the route rounds the southern end of the lakes and heads to Talloires, you’ll hit a very steep climb for about a mile that is hardly noticeable from the race profile! I’d advise riders to be careful here with the amount of riders who will be here after the promenade round the lake has finished, as there will be lots of bunching and congestion as gears are rapidly dropped. As the race develops riders will then experience a gentle climb to Bluffy. The Col de Bluffy is about 4% for 4km and then leads into 20km of long flat downhill which heads towards Thones. The route then heads towards the first of the four categorized climbs.
Col de la Croix Fry
The Col de la Croix Fry lies at 1477m and the ascent will be 12km at between 7%-10%. It’s a fabulously scenic climb, riders will be able to witness the astonishing views as they ascend past the fantastic alpine chalets. At the summit of the Col de la Croix Fry there is a ski station and parking, which I guess might be a a location for one of the feed stops. Riders will then descend on to the newly resurfaced roads into Clusaz. The decent then continues a long way downhill at a fast pace into St. Sixt before taking a sharp left. There are signs for Le Grand Bornand which need to be ignored at this point. The route continues through Entremont and the D12 tunnel. This will be a very fast part of the course.
Montee du Plateau des Glieres
The route then takes a sharp left over a narrow bridge towards Plateau des Glieres, ski de fond. After a long decent riders may find this climb to 1390m quite challenging as the road narrows and quality of the surface reduces. It’s steep with stats suggesting it averages more than 9% for about 9 kilometres. On reaching the plateau itself it’s the unpaved section where some caution will be required and all riders tyres will be tested. The gravel shouldn’t be too troublesome and assuming it’s dry it will be fun. I do recommend having good quality 25mm tyres in order to negotiate this stage successfully and it might be worth taking an extra inner tube just in case. The route then takes a 6km descent on roads that have been resurfaced on all corners, this should boost the riders confidence. Moreover, as the route heads to Roche and Furon along the D2 road riders are advised to approach the downhill with caution because there are two rail crossings close together that could cause difficulty.
Col de Romme
I expect the climb to Col de Romme to be eventful. At 9.3km and with an average gradient of 8.8 percent this will be the most challenging part of the Etape du Tour route (think Col de Joux Plane that featured in the 2016 edition). It’s wooded for a significant period, so there isn’t much to distract you and it’s quite narrow too with a cliff edge early on. It eventually widens as you approach the village of Romme. When descending from Romme the riders will be able to take on board any final refreshments to prepare themselves for the final of the four categorised climbs. The descent will take 10-15 minutes and it will be fast but safe as the roads have all been resurfaced.
Col de la Colombiere
The final categorized climb is the Col de la Colombiere and is the highest point on the whole route, standing at 1618m. The approach to this climb comes straight through the historic French village of Respoir. It’s worth building as much momentum as possible here and I’d advise against stopping. The final climb of Col de la Colombiere is 6km long and boasts stunningly beautiful scenery. However, expect it to be very hot on this climb because it is totally open with little shade with some steep ramps that will test the legs at this stage. The descent from Colombiere is 13km and very fast but safe (just watch out for the early hairpin) on a good road surface allowing riders to push towards the finish.
Le Grand Bornand
The finish into Le Grand Bornand will be very fast and a perfect end to a challenging race. Riders will be able to see the fantastic alpine scenery of Le Grand Bornand and end the race with a smile on their face as they take it all in.
The Etape du Tour 2018 is sure to be a fascinating experience as it combines a challenging route with some of France’s best alpine scenery.
Join us at the Etape in 2018 on one of our packages. We have entries, convenient accommodation, transfers, bike transportation services from England & Wales and our staff will be on hand during the event to help you get the most out of your ride.
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