Etape du Tour 2018 route preview Annecy to Les Grand Bornand
The 2018 Etape du Tour is another local Etape for us. 169kms and over 4000M of climbing, the route covers many roads that we ride on a weekly basis during our alpine cycling weeks from nearby Chamonix.
No Etape du Tour is easy for us mere mortals. Make no mistake, this Etape is going to be brutal and you will have earned your bowl of pasta at the finish.
It's very different to recent Etape's, here’s why……..
Typically the Etape features 2 or 3 major climbs. If you have done your training and know how to pace yourself and you know what your physical output should be (or your power numbers) you can set off at a specific pace, safe in the knowledge that you know what to do to get you to the top of the final climb. In the Etape du Tour 2018 I think it’s the sheer variety of the terrain which may catch many riders off guard. There’s 1st catergory climbs, Hors Catergorie climbs, 2 and 3 Catergory climbs, long flat sections, a gravel section, sweeping descents and technical descents! The route has it all, and it will be an interesting day if super hot, or indeed if the weather turns wet.
A detailed look at the terrain:-
First 25kms pancake flat – it will be a very fast start in the peletons with the fast groups charging along this section in excess of 45kmh
4 kms of climbing (likely the Cote de Bluffy) before a short descent and a steady climb to Thones at 42KM in
Leaving Thones it's straight onto the Col de la Croix Fry, a 1st Catergory climb 11km long at average 7.1%. Beware, the majority of the altitude gain is after Manigod half way up where the % is in double figures for sustained sections. There is little shade on this climb if it's hot.
Over the top of the Croix Fry and it’s a non-technical descent joining the lower half of the Col des Aravis before sweeping through the ski town of La Clusaz, sharp right through Saint Jean de Sixt and then sharp left onto the Petit Bornand road. (If you are having a bad day - At this junction you are only 1km from the finish town of Les Grand Bornand and can easily bail out)
77km in to the Etape and you reach the foot of the climb to Plateau des Glieres. It's 7km to the summit and it is totally brutal. I thought the Romme was tough until I rode this. The first km is deceiving however after this it is sustained 11%. The good news is that the climb winds up through a heavily wooded area offering some shade from the sun. 1.5km from the summit and the grade suddenly eases before the final ramp where I saw sustained 16% on the Garmin
84km in and you are just about at the summit, the grade eases and it's time for the gravel section. As long as you have your wits about you it’s a relatively easy gravel section and well compacted so providing it's not wet you should be OK. There’s the danger of pinch flats, however riding on 25mm or above you should be fine.
At the summit remember to look left at the amazing statue of remembrance to the sacrifice of the French Resistance during WW2
86km and you are on the descent, however after just 1km the road ramps up again for approx. 300M before the descent properly begins
This descent is steep and technical. The corners have already been re-tarmacked (writing this in October).
Once through the tiny village of La Verreire the road gradient reduces and the bends are more sweeping
Through Thorens Glieres at 98KM and a sharp right in the village centre straight on to the 3rd catergory Col des Fleuries. It's 5km long at an average 5% and pretty much the same gradient all the way up
103km and over the summit I anticipate that there will be a feed station here as it would be a great time to top up before the 8km non technical descent down to Roche sur Foron
Leaving Roche there is a short kick up of 3km before descending towards Bonneville.
122km in and at writing (Oct 17) it's not clear what the navigation of Bonneville will look like
After Bonneville it's now 12km of pretty much pancake until a nasty kick near Scionzier which rolls down to the foot of the Col de Romme. Usually it’s a tail wind on this section especially if it’s a hot day. Time to wheel suck and save energy
The Col de Romme – used once in the Tour de France in 2009 where it was described by many riders as the toughest climb of that years Tour de France (and they went up Ventoux 2 days later!!)
136km and the road literally goes from pancake flat to sustained 11% in about 3 crank revolutions. Rising over 800m in 8.8kms it's 9% average however it feels like more. After the first switchback look to your right and see how far you are above the valley floor already. There’s a brief respite halfway up then its onwards towards the summit. Over the top there’s a water basin after the sharp left hander if you need a top up
Descending the backside of the Romme is technical with no consistency to the bends and some adverse camber
158km in and you are at Le Reposoir where you join the Col de la Colombiere. The good news is that you are half way up the Colombiere and the end is in sight. There is little shelter from the sun and its approx. 7kms to the summit. With 3kms to go you can see the Chalets at the summit as you bend to the right out onto the veranda. 2km to go and the road is reaching 10% plus
Over the summit and don’t be a hero on the descent. It’s an amazing descent with a clear vision of the road ahead pretty much all the way down. Mind the road furniture through Chinallon. Les Grand Bornand is in site. If you look ahead you can see the silver steeple on the Church and after 169kms you are at the finish!!!
....you have made it safely to Les Grand Bornand. Well done!!!! Time for that pasta.