Etape du Tour details released; uses La Toussuire/Les Sybelles and Bagnères-de-Luchon stages of 2012 Tour
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Etape du Tour details released; uses La Toussuire/Les Sybelles and Bagnères-de-Luchon stages of 2012 Tour

by Shane Stokes at 9:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Two tough challenges unveiled by ASO

One day after the announcement of the 2012 Tour de France, ASO has confirmed the identities of the two stages which will feature in next year’s Etape du Tour.

Unveiling the details at l’Equipe’s offices this morning, the Tour organisers have selected two of the toughest mountain legs, as expected.

The first will take place on July 8th when the riders will ride 140 kilometres from Albertville to La Toussuire/ Les Sybelles, one of three mountain-top finishes in the race.

The Alpine leg will travel over four major climbs, with the first of those, the 2000 metre Col de la Madeleine, climbing for over 20 kilometres and peaking out 40 kilometres after the start. After a 21.5 kilometre descent, the riders will begin the 24 kilometre climb up the Col de la Croix de Fer, which is the highest climb of the day at 2.067 metres. The riders descend for over ten kilometres before tackling the day’s third test, the Col du Mollard.

The day’s final climb starts in Saint Jean de Maurienne and drags on for almost twenty kilometres to the 1705 metre summit of La Toussuire Les Sybelles.

The stage is expected to be one of the most decisive of the Tour de France and in riding the route six days before the professionals, each Etape entrant will be able to compare their time to theirs.

The second Etape offering will occur on July 14th. It will cover 197 kilometres from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon, four days before the pros. While the route doesn’t finish with a climb, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said yesterday that he was convinced that it will have a major effect on the race.

“The layout of the stage may well upset the order at the top of general classification, four days before the end of the race,” he said then. “No matter what the gap is, the major stage in the Pyrenees will be dreaded by the wearer of the Yellow Jersey, who will have to defend his position.”

The route will also be viewed with nervousness by those taking part in the second Etape, although the difficult of the route is part of the challenge in riding it and the satisfaction in completing it. A short, sharp unclassified climb comes inside the first 20 kilometres after the start in Pau, but the first big challenge is the 1709 metre Col d’Aubisque. The summit comes 52.5 kilometres into the test, then is followed by a descent via the Col du Soulor to Asast, the start point for the next climb. At 2115 metres, the Col du Tourmalet is the highest of the climbs on either of the etapes, and is almost 40 kilometres in length.

Two more climbs follow in the second half of the stage, namely the 1489 metre Col d’Aspin and the 1,559 metre Col de Peyresourde. The latter will drain the last vestiges of energy from the riders but once to the top, there remains only sixteen kilometres of descending before the test is completed.


Also see: full analysis of the 2012 Tour de France route


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