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L'Étape du Tour 2008
Turning the Screw
L'Étape du Tour 2008 - Pau to Hautacam
After choosing monster stages for the Etape du Tour in 2006 and 2007, the organisers of this year’s Etape have been much more considerate. This is a beautiful and legendary ‘parcours’, including two of the most spectacular and legendary climbs in the history of the Tour: the long, attritional grind of the Tourmalet; and the dangerous, unpredictable Hautacam. With such an epic climb at the end of an already long day, it is set to provide a real sting in the tail and many riders will feel the pressure increasing as the ride progresses. But a shorter distance, well placed feed stations and well chosen roads mean that this year’s Etape is relatively straightforward, as long as you prepare well and approach the ride correctly.
Between them, various Rapha riders have done numerous Etapes and made numerous mistakes along the way so hopefully you won’t have to. Provided you don’t break the six golden rules below you should have a beautiful day out on 6th July.
The six golden rules
- Prepare correctly. Do the miles, the practice hills and the groups and don’t be tempted to make last minute changes to your nutrition or kit.
- Keep to your own pace. Don’t get carried away at the start or be tempted to race your friends. You know the pace you can sustain for seven hours or more.
- Eat and drink plenty. You’ll need plenty of fuel on the ride and should sip a drink constantly to avoid dehydration. Be sure to mix energy drinks, gels and bars with ‘real food’ that your body craves. To this end, stop at ALL the feed stations, even if only to fill your bidons.
- Draft wherever you can. Don’t be a hero; a 100-mile time trial is a recipe for disaster. You’ll save at least 20% of your energy riding in a group. Wheel suck wherever you can on the flatter sections.
- Ensure you take the right clothing. The weather can vary dramatically in the Pyrenees and change quickly. It will be cold at the start and on the descents. Take arm warmers and a gilet or jacket. Consider carrying a cap and knee warmers. If the weather looks grim, dress for a winter training ride.
- Plan in order to focus your effort. The Etape is always a long day in the saddle. Mentally break the course down into sections to focus your effort where it really counts. This year’s course splits naturally into five identifiable parts.