• Etape du Tour 2016

Etape du Tour 2016 route preview Megeve to Morzine:Our local opinion

When the route for the 2016 Etape du Tour was announced we were ecstatic to see that it features our local roads and training ground - here's our preview and thoughts as we look ahead to the big day on the  10th July 2016

Route Update as at Wednesday 6th July 2016

 

Following the announcement that the Ramaz has been removed from the route, heres an update of the route as we see it. The original route is appended below.

 

The route of the 2016 Etape du Tour can be considered our local Etape. The route covers roads that we ride on a weekly basis during our alpine cycling weeks from nearby Chamonix.

 

There is no doubt that the 2016 Etape du Tour will be a tough day out and you will have earned your bowl of pasta at the end of the day having covered 146km and nearly 4000M of climbing.

 

Here's the route in some detail.

 

Starting in Megeve, it will be a superfast start as we head towards Flumet however closed roads will be a bonus as the road is fairly wide apart from transiting Praz sur Arly. The majority of this stretch is slightly downhill so be expecting a gallop over 40KMH towards the first Col. The first bump in the road will the very start of the Col des Saisies and the peleton will swoop around a traffic Island and onto the start of the Col for approx 1500M before turning right and descending down a short drop into Flumet through a VERY TECHNICAL switchback section before arriving at the top end of Flumet and through a narrow bridge and onto the Col des Aravis proper. At this point the Aravis ramps up for approximately a km before a very short descent and then with 9kms to go, the gradient average is 5.7% albeit most of the height gain is in the last 5 kms. Rolling for the 4 or 5 kms to La Giettaz where the road gradually ramps up and winds through the village. Once through the village the gradient is only around 6 or 7% to the summit. You pass through a very dark tunnel with just over a km to go. This is the easiest of the 4 Cols of the day. Take it easy and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

 

The Aravis descent in this direction is not technical and you will have the whole road to use. You can see the bends below you as you drop down to La Clusaz. Just before the village the road steepens with 2 sharp bends before arriving at the village where you will need to transit with care as you pass through 3 islands.

 

Once through La Clusaz the road is pretty flat before dropping slightly to a sharp right turn in St Jean de Sixt. Through this tiny village and again carry on descending for another 2 kms before slowly ramping up to Les Grand Bornand. This is where the fun starts as you turn left onto the Col de la Colombiere with just over 11kms to the summit. The average gradient is 5.7%. This is the ‘easy’ side of the Colombiere and there are no ‘show stoppers’ on the way up with a fairly consistent gradient apart from the last 500M

 

Remember that over the summit you are only 45kms into the day with 100kms to go.

 

CARE once you have summited as the road drops away sharply at around 10% as you are now descending the difficult side of the climb. The road is narrow however you can see long stretches in front of you as you descend the balcony. After around 3 kms the road disappears around to the left and the descent immediately becomes more technical as you pass an old ski tow on the left. Switchback right, then to the left, these corners could cause some issues. You can see the village of Le Reposoir below as the road continues to switchback with little in the way of a rhythm. Hammering on the brakes on the sharp left into Le Reposoir take care of the speed humps before a flatish section as the trees get darker. Its often greasy here with the trees and on this section is where John Kerry fell off in early 2015 so take it easy. You are nearly at the bottom of the descent as you sweep around to the right before entering the village of Scionzier VERY sharp left for some of the only flat roads of the day.

 

You now have approximately 36kms which is virtually flat all the way with some rolling sections but no significant gradients. CARE on aproaching Taninges as the organisers seem to have created a chicane through the village to slow the pace. Once through Taninges you are on the 10km run in to the foot of the Joux Plaine. Time to eat and drink drink drink.

 

 

The Joux Plane last used in the Tour de France in 2005 during Landis’ miracle ride. Its 11.5Km to the top with an average of 8.5% and on a very good day I get to the top in under an hour. A different story on Etape day! The first ramp is around 700M long and over 10% as you quickly gain height over the Valley down below to your left. At the top of this ramp you swing to the left where there is immediately an easy section to catch your breath before the road bends around to the right and starts to steepen again to the climb average 8.5%. After a couple of kms there is a brief flat section before winding around to the left and you can now see the road ahead winding up through the meadows. With 6kms to go the gradient steepens to 10% as you swing around to the left and the next km is pretty tuff until the road switches back right, and then right again for a quick glimpse of Mont Blanc as you switch to the left. This section is a leg sapper with just over 2 kms to go. Another brief view of the Blanc and the road is now in double digits as the 10% grade will have your legs screaming. A little further and you can finally see the coca cola umberellas of the summit café. 1km to go, 500m to go, 250m to go and the gradient eases. Over the summit, past the café on your left and the lake on your right HOWEVER THERE IS A KICK IN THE TEETH! Descending for a km, the road ramps up again for a short 300M section before finally leveling out as you reach the ski lifts.

 

The Joux Plane descent IS VERY TECHNICAL and immediately drops away to the right on very narrow roads at over 10%. Sharp left, 100M, sharp right, down between the ski lifts as the gradient of the descent eases and the road straightens a little before 2 very sharp switchbacks and on down through the meadows. Sharp left, you can see the next turn below you, sharp right. The next corner is sharp and blind to the left down over a narrow bridge and then a false flat before dropping away sharply where Cadel Evans attacked on the Criterium Dauphine stage in 2012. You drop like a stone here, well over 10% around to the right and then sweeping left through a chicane and then 200M before hammering on the brakes, sharp right, then sharp left, kink to the right, blind left, roundabout. !!!!VERY TECHNICAL!!!!!, however ......

 

 

....you have made it safely to Morzine. Well done!!!! Time for that pasta.



 

 

 

 

ORIGINAL ROUTE

 

The route of the 2016 Etape du Tour can be considered our local Etape. The route covers roads that we ride on a weekly basis during our alpine cycling weeks from nearby Chamonix.

 

There is no doubt that the 2016 Etape du Tour will be a tough day out and you will have earned your bowl of pasta at the end of the day having covered 146km and nearly 4000M of climbing.

 

Here's the route in some detail.

 

Starting in Megeve, it will be a superfast start as we head towards Flumet however closed roads will be a bonus as the road is fairly wide apart from transiting Praz sur Arly. The majority of this stretch is slightly downhill so be expecting a gallop over 40KMH towards the first Col. The first bump in the road will the very start of the Col des Saisies and the peleton will swoop around a traffic Island and onto the start of the Col for approx 1500M before turning right and descending down a short drop into Flumet through a VERY TECHNICAL switchback section before arriving at the top end of Flumet and through a narrow bridge and onto the Col des Aravis proper. At this point the Aravis ramps up for approximately a km before a very short descent and then with 9kms to go, the gradient average is 5.7% albeit most of the height gain is in the last 5 kms. Rolling for the 4 or 5 kms to La Giettaz where the road gradually ramps up and winds through the village. Once through the village the gradient is only around 6 or 7% to the summit. You pass through a very dark tunnel with just over a km to go. This is the easiest of the 4 Cols of the day. Take it easy and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

 

The Aravis descent in this direction is not technical and you will have the whole road to use. You can see the bends below you as you drop down to La Clusaz. Just before the village the road steepens with 2 sharp bends before arriving at the village where you will need to transit with care as you pass through 3 islands.

 

Once through La Clusaz the road is pretty flat before dropping slightly to a sharp right turn in St Jean de Sixt. Through this tiny village and again carry on descending for another 2 kms before slowly ramping up to Les Grand Bornand. This is where the fun starts as you turn left onto the Col de la Colombiere with just over 11kms to the summit. The average gradient is 5.7%. This is the ‘easy’ side of the Colombiere and there are no ‘show stoppers’ on the way up with a fairly consistent gradient apart from the last 500M

 

Remember that over the summit you are only 45kms into the day with 100kms to go.

 

CARE once you have summited as the road drops away sharply at around 10% as you are now descending the difficult side of the climb. The road is narrow however you can see long stretches in front of you as you descend the balcony. After around 3 kms the road disappears around to the left and the descent immediately becomes more technical as you pass an old ski tow on the left. Switchback right, then to the left, these corners could cause some issues. You can see the village of Le Reposoir below as the road continues to switchback with little in the way of a rhythm. Hammering on the brakes on the sharp left into Le Reposoir take care of the speed humps before a flatish section as the trees get darker. Its often greasy here with the trees and on this section is where John Kerry fell off in early 2015 so take it easy. You are nearly at the bottom of the descent as you sweep around to the right before entering the village of Scionzier VERY sharp left for some of the only flat roads of the day.

 

 

Traversing across the flat valley floor and through Marignier take a good breather on this section as its about to get a whole lot tougher. It looks like there will be a feed statsion on this flat section. Shortly after the village of La Tournoir you turn right at an island as the road starts to climb before leveling out. This is the final respite before the Ramaz. A short descent into Mieussy and an uber sharp left at the traffic island has you on the first ramp of the Ramaz.

 

The Ramaz. 13.4km, average 6.9% however CARE this is distorted  by a 2km section of 1 to 3% 2/3rds of the way up. Like many alpine climbs the first ramp is one of the worst and once past the church the gradient eases however the road does narrow in places as you wind through the Chalets. After a couple of km’s you will see snow capped Mont Blanc slightly to your right and its probably one of the best views of the day. The gradient is fairly regular 6 to 7% on the lower section and if you dare to look up in front you will see the tunnel you are aiming for way up in the distance. Winding up through the fields the road starts to steepen as you pass a car park sign and switchback to the right. Now the gradient starts to punish as we hit 10% around through an avalanche barrier. Around the next corner you can see the tunnel in front of you. It’s a modern tunnel, very wide however once your eyes have adjusted you will realize how steep it is with sections well over 10%, however do not despair. It will be cool in the tunnel and once you are back in the sun, after 200M you reach the ski area plateau as the road swings to the left and the gradient reduces to 1%, 2% and then slowly towards 5% for the next couple of kms. The summit of the Ramaz is not far now as you circuit the vast amphitheater of the ski area. Passing some ski lifts on your right you can see the 1KM to go board in front of you as the gradient again increases to 7 and 8%. As another amazing view of Mont Blanc comes into sight you are at the summit.

 

Over the top of the Ramaz its time to eat and drink. The road is narrow however this first section is not technical. You are quickly in the ski resort of Sommand as the road levels. Once through the village, after about 700M there is a sharp left. TAKE CARE on this descent. Whilst it is not technical and has recently been resurfaced, it is very steep. The first ramp drops away at 10%, and continues through the next 5 switchbacks. After the 5th the road narrows and steepens further for around 400M before a super sharp left and then down to the right before crossing a bridge and turning right rejoining the main road. The technicality reduces here as you drop towards Taninges. Its superfast and you can see through the bends as you eventually swing left you can see the valley floor below. Around to the right and it’s the last ramp down to Taninges before breaking sharply through the village. You are now in the Vallee Verte with Samoens at the far end. The route takes you through Taninges then up a 250M climb before turning left towards Morillon and the road flattens for the next 10KM towards Samoens. This is the last flat section of the day so eat and drink some more or you will be struggling!

 

Through Morillon and onto Samoens and its time for the main event. The Joux Plane last used in the Tour de France in 2005 during Landis’ miracle ride. Its 11.5Km to the top with an average of 8.5% and on a very good day I get to the top in under an hour. A different story on Etape day! The first ramp is around 700M long and over 10% as you quickly gain height over the Valley down below to your left. At the top of this ramp you swing to the left where there is immediately an easy section to catch your breath before the road bends around to the right and starts to steepen again to the climb average 8.5%. After a couple of kms there is a brief flat section before winding around to the left and you can now see the road ahead winding up through the meadows. With 6kms to go the gradient steepens to 10% as you swing around to the left and the next km is pretty tuff until the road switches back right, and then right again for a quick glimpse of Mont Blanc as you switch to the left. This section is a leg sapper with just over 2 kms to go. Another brief view of the Blanc and the road is now in double digits as the 10% grade will have your legs screaming. A little further and you can finally see the coca cola umberellas of the summit café. 1km to go, 500m to go, 250m to go and the gradient eases. Over the summit, past the café on your left and the lake on your right HOWEVER THERE IS A KICK IN THE TEETH! Descending for a km, the road ramps up again for a short 300M section before finally leveling out as you reach the ski lifts.

 

The Joux Plane descent IS VERY TECHNICAL and immediately drops away to the right on very narrow roads at over 10%. Sharp left, 100M, sharp right, down between the ski lifts as the gradient of the descent eases and the road straightens a little before 2 very sharp switchbacks and on down through the meadows. Sharp left, you can see the next turn below you, sharp right. The next corner is sharp and blind to the left down over a narrow bridge and then a false flat before dropping away sharply where Cadel Evans attacked on the Criterium Dauphine stage in 2012. You drop like a stone here, well over 10% around to the right and then sweeping left through a chicane and then 200M before hammering on the brakes, sharp right, then sharp left, kink to the right, blind left, roundabout. !!!!VERY TECHNICAL!!!!!, however ......

 

 

....you have made it safely to Morzine. Well done!!!! Time for that pasta.

 

Here's the map

 

If you need help with your Etape du Tour 2016 accommodation and logistics we can help. Please click here for our Etape du Tour weekend package or if you simply require airport transfers and a transfer back from Morzine to Megeve at the end of the Etape du Tour please email us at info@breathebike.com

 

©BreatheBike.com 21/10/15



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