L’ÉTAPE AUSTRALIA BY LE TOUR DE FRANCE

SATURDAY 2 DECEMBER 2017

L’Étape Australia by le Tour de France is a unique road cycle event that provides an experience as close to riding in the Tour de France as it is possible for an amateur to get.

Staged in the Australian NSW Snowy Mountains on 160km of fully closed roads and run under professional Tour de France Race conditions, the route includes a 350m Sprint section and two challenging King of the Mountain sections.

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The course is described by Tour de France Director General Christian Prudhomme as ‘providing a very similar experience for riders to a mountainous stage of the Tour de France; traversing through a multitude of stunning landscapes and topographies and truly challenging climbs.

There are two distances; The Race of 157km and the Ride of 126km. The ride includes the Sprint section in Berridale and the infamous first King of the Mountain section Col de Beloka, but excludes the final push up Col Kosciuszko to Perisher.

The event has been fully embraced by the local communities who dress their towns and villages in Tour de France colours and insignia; yellow (Jindabyne), green (Berridale) and polka dot (Dalgety). At the inaugural L’Étape Australia in December 2016 thousands of locals lined the route with their cow bells, flags and encouragement; the welcome from the local community was extraordinary and created a wonderful ambience throughout the day.

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At the inaugural L’Étape Australia in December 2016, Tour de France reigning champion Chris Froome was appointed Pro Mentor to the event, providing clinics before riding from the back of the pack to the front. The 2017 Pro Mentors will be announced mid-year.

The Race route begins at the Skitube Terminal at Bullocks Flat, Crackenback and finishes at the Perisher Skitube Terminal, where riders and their bikes can take the 20-minute train back to the Start.

Individual riders vie for Tour de France jerseys, the genuine articles presented at the Champs-Elysées; Yellow for the overall male and female Race winner, Green for the fastest male and female in the Race in the Sprint section, Polka Dot for the fastest male and female in the Race on the combined King of the Mountain sections and white for the fastest male and female rider under 25 years of age.

Riders can enter as individuals, teams of nine (in which only the top three rider’s results are counted) or groups of 10 or more (in which only the top 3 rider’s results are counted).

Only individual entrants can win the yellow, green, polka dot or white jerseys. Team and Group riders vie for Team and Group prizes.

While the inaugural L’Étape Australia went very well, to improve each year we need input from riders and we are very grateful for the response to our call for ideas on how we can improve.

Improvements in 2017 will include:

  • Better managed traffic access to the Start at Bullocks Flat to avoid tail-backs which in 2016 were for the most part avoidable;
  • Additional facilities and staff at the Start
  • Additional facilities, activities and staff at the Finishes
  • Additional shuttle buses
  • Additional exhibitors, shade, activities and entertainment at the Village, with a 6pm prize giving ceremony

There was a call for the Race and Ride to begin and finish in Jindabyne, but this is not logistically possible with the road closures, but we’ll continue to discuss this with the authorities.

The essence of L’Étape is to provide a challenging route which L’Étape Australia certainly does. This is a route that requires training and a good level of fitness. For this reason, we have not taken out the now infamous Col de Beloka from the Ride route, but rather it is there as a challenge for riders to overcome.

There was also a call for an additional shorter route that excludes Col de Beloka; this is a work in progress with the authorities but one that will take a considerable time to work through.

Cut off times for closed road events will always be contentious for those hearing the SAG Wagon approach. We will see what can be done for 2017 however we also need to be very mindful of the impact the road closures have on the local community.

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Go to the official webpage to register now!

L’Étape Australia Official Website