The Tour de France rolled out the red carpet, actually 135km of black asphalt, for 12,760 lucky l’Etape du Tour de France gran fondo riders last Sunday.
They rode the same roads between Albertville and Val Thorens that stage 20 of the 2019 Tour de France races over (and up) on Saturday, July 27. It’s the only gran fondo in the world that let’s amateur riders get a real taste of what it is like to be a “Tour de France Pro” for a day, including going over three massive Alpine climbs.
After starting in Albertville, riders ascended the Col du Méraillet, a 12km climb at an average gradient of 7%. With plenty of climbing still to go, the leaders rode a steady pace to the summit and enjoyed a long 19km descent down the other side.
Behind the leaders, the peloton was already split into a thousand pieces as riders rode at their own pace on closed roads.
The final hors category climb to Val Thorens was a crucial test for riders. At 5.5% gradient for 33.5km there was nowhere to hide. Cédrick Dubois attacked in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, 20 km before the finish, to open a gap of over a minute and take the victory in a time of 4:47:24.
Despite riding a punctured tire for the last 15km, Edwige Pitel won her fifth consecutive women’s L’Etape title.
The other 12,000+ riders rode bravely all day to finish high atop Val Thorens and earn bragging rights as a 2019 l’Etape du Tour de France finisher.
1) Edwige Pitel (FRA) : 05:25:36
2) Emma Bilhem (SUI) : 05:48:24
3) Axelle Gachet-Mollaret (FRA) : 05:49:59
1) Cédrick Dubois (FRA) : 04:47:24*
2) Tim Alleman (BEL) : 04:48:22
3) Antoine Berlin (FRA) : 04:49:53
* Pro rider Adrien Guillonnet rode 4:44:11, but was not eligible.
Full l’Etape du Tour de France results here.
GRAN FONDO CALENDAR NORTH AMERICA here
GRAN FONDO CALENDAR EUROPE here
GRAN FONDO CALENDAR UK GREAT BRITAIN here