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Record Number of Cyclists Take Part in Etape du Tour

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11,470 cycling enthusiasts representing more than 50 nationalities took starter’s orders on Sunday morning in the 21st edition of the Etape du Tour.

 On the menu of the only French cyclo-sportive event organised on roads entirely closed to traffic was 130 kms between Annecy and Annecy-Semnoz.

The route winding through the Bauges Mountains was based on the penultimate stage of the Big Loop’s 100th edition, due to take place on 20 July. It visited both of the Savoy counties and boasted an elevation gain of 3,600 metres with a particularly difficult last climb (11 kms at an average gradient of 8.5%, with portions at 14%).

At the heart of the pack on the Etape du Tour split into twelve starting zones numbering around 1,000 riders each – in order to make the race more fluid and ensure safety for all – the immense pack left Annecy at 07:00 Sunday morning.

Right along the route, the difficulties succeeded one another on a route that left little respite to the competitors. The magnificent view of Lake Annecy was followed by a pasture setting typical of the mountains in Savoy. As they made their way through the villages, the encouragements rang out just like the small mountain bells keenly shaken by the watching children.

The heat became the major rival for competitors of all levels as they tackled the Mont Revard climb and even more so in the final ascension to Semnoz. The riders’ faces, often covered by a thick layer of sun-screen, were frequently sprayed with cold water stored in their water bottles. When the conifer trees offered spots of shade, the riders often changed their paths along the roads to enjoy several short instants to cool off a little.

The record participation of this 21st edition of the Etape du Tour was backed up by the enthusiasm of the dozens of volunteers present at the different refreshment points. In addition to the traditional energy bars and fresh or dried fruit, the riders were able to get a taste of the Bauges Mountains’ own cheeses. An herbal tea made of hyssop was also on offer for those who wanted to take their time to recharge their batteries and chat at the refreshment zones.

At the end of the Etape du Tour and the descent leading to the Race Village located on the shores of Lake Annecy, the finishers found the reward for their efforts: the medal as well as a sticker to fix onto the frame of their bicycles, an indelible memento of a day on the roads of the Big Loop. The traditional pasta party then awaited all those who had poured so much effort into their day.

A cycling enthusiast and lover of the Big Loop, Alain Prost said, “You don’t need an engine to enjoy yourself. The Etape du Tour is the most prestigious and safest event in amateur cycling.”

Paul Belmondo, another regular on the Etape du Tour, added, “I didn’t train enough, but there was no way I was missing enjoying this day alongside thousands of other amateur cyclists.”

Many of the skiers on the French national team who reside in Savoy took part in this 21st edition. Jean-Baptiste Grange, world slalom champion in 2011, Julien Lizeroux, a two times silver medallist at the world skiing championships in 2009, and Jason Lamy-Chappuis, Nordic combination Olympic Champion, took advantage of the occasion to melt in to the ranks of the pack and perform a sort of training session.

 “I’m here to enjoy myself without taking any risks,” said Jason Lamy-Chappuis before the start. “It’s going to be a beautiful day!”

Podiums

Nicolas Roux, the winner of the Etape du Tour Act 2 (Pau / Bagnčres-de-Luchon) in 2012 and second on Act 1 (Albertville / La Toussuire), was again victorious on completion of the 21st edition. He beat Julien Absalon, two times Olympic mountain-biking champion, by just nine seconds, with Peter Pouly finishing third.

In the women’s category, Magdalena De Saint Jean, a mother of four young daughters, and five time winner of the Etape du Tour, crossed the line at the top of the climb to Semnoz with a lead of more than twenty minutes over Marion Sicot and Daničle Troesch.

Podium - Men
1. ROUX Nicolas (FR) / 04 :15 :41
2. ABSALON Julien (FR) / 04 :15 : 50
3. POULY Peter (FR) / 04 :16 :07

Podium - Women
1. DE SAINT JEAN Magdalena (FR) / 04 :42 :28
2. SICOT Marion (FR) / 05 :05 :22
3. TROESCH Daničle (FR) / 05 :09 :04

See other recent news regarding: Interviews, Pictures, Videos, Etape du Tour, Cycling, Annecy, France

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