If you are anything like the guys here at Sports Tours International, you will be curious about what you are up against when you are taking part in one of this summer’s European Cyclosportives. Who actually does win the likes of the big French Cyclos, Etape du Tour and the Marmotte and the most popular Cyclosportive events in Italy and Spain; the Maratona and Quebrantahuesos?
The Etape du Tour
Every year you have the opportunity to test yourself against the riders of the pro Peloton on the exact same course on closed roads. With many Pros now present on Strava, you can even have a look to see how you did against their speed, power output and heart rate.
The Etape du Tour but also many other European Cyclosportives are actual races with a classification and male and female winners. The winners are ex-Pros or very good amateurs who are not far behind the winning times of the riders of the Tour de France.
On Friday July 24th 2015 Vicenzo Nibali made up for a bit of a drop in previous performance during the Tour by crossing the line as the winner of the 138km stage 19 of the 2015 Tour de France from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire – Les Sybelles. His time was 4 hours 22 minutes and 53 seconds. The last rider that day, Garnieri from team Katusha crossed the line in 4 hours, 53 minutes and 23 seconds.
Just weeks before Jeremy Bescond crossed the finish-line of the amateur version of that stage; 2015 Etape du Tour in 4 hours 52 minutes and 44 seconds. Half an hour slower than Nibali but it still would have placed him within the time needed to join the 160 riders of the 2015 Tour de France. The first female finisher was Edwige Pitel in 5 hours 40 and 26 seconds.
When you take to the start line of one of the big European Cyclosportives, chances are that it will be with a certain amount of trepidation. You know it’s going to be a long day in the saddle and there is always the risk of mechanical issues to ruin your performance or even worse, some sort of physical problem. Closed road Cyclosportive events like the Etape du Tour add an extra element into the mix with the cut off points. If you don’t make the cut then you are pulled out and you will be taken to the finish on the infamous ‘broom wagon’.
To best prepare yourself Sports Tours International have teamed up with ASO, the organisers of the Tour de France and the Etape du Tour to best prepare you mentally, physically and mechanically for the rigours of the Etape du Tour.
The following dates and destinations are available:
The broom wagon. A scowling look is part of the service:)
The other big Cyclosportives
Of course it’s not all about the Etape du Tour . Sports Tours International offers the best selection of European Cyclosportives so we will have a look at some of the other events as well.
The Marmotte Granfondo
The other big event which sells out pretty much instantly is the Granfondo Marmotte, a 170km Alpine climbing bonanza from Bourg d’Oisans to the Alpe d’Huez with 5000m of climbing. The Marmotte is a firm favourite for foreign riders with the field containing just 20% French riders. The Marmotte is especially popular with Danes, Dutch, Belgians and Germans but there is also a fair amount of British and Irish riders. Previous winners of the Marmotte include current Giant Alpecin rider, Dutchman Laurens ten Dam before he turned pro. There are no cut off points en route but you have to get to the bottom of Alpe d’Huez before 18.00 otherwise you will not be allowed to start the climb and you will be taken up to your hotel by car.
In 2014 French former Mountain bike pro Peter Pouly won the Marmotte in 05h34.44 and in 2015 Stefano Sala won in 5h54.30. Worth noting that in 2015 the Marmotte took place on an adjusted course without the Galibier as the Tunnel du Chambon was closed and it was also extremely hot that day. The female winner the last 2 years has been Belgian Ils van der Moeren with times of 6h28.24 in 2014 and 06h58.33 in 2015.
Sports Tours International are proud to have been taking riders to the Marmotte for many years. Our travel packages include hotels in Alpe d’Huez, event entry, airport transfers, additional feed stops, clothes drop in Bourg d’Oisans and much more.
Gran Fondo Marmotte Pyrenees
Coming soon is the Marmotte Pyrenees. This will be the first edition of this event with the same Marmotte format: 170km with 5000m of climbing and start and finish close to each other but this time in the French Pyrenees with a double ascent of the Tourmalet.
The Maratona dles Dolomites
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016, the Maratona is held in the beautiful Italian Dolomites. This is a quality event, from the event itself and its flawless organisation to the hotel standard. Even though the Maratona dles Dolomites is not one of the longest, it makes up for the amount of climbing. It manages to pack 4190m of climbing into its 138km course. Recent winners are: 2014 – Luigi Salimbeni in 4h.44 and in 2015 Stefano Cecchini in 4h.44.43. Female winners are: 2014 – Astrid Schartmuller in 5h.24 and in 2015 Chiara Ciuffini in 5h.24.47.
The 2016 Giro d’Italia
The 2016 Giro d’Italia is coming to Maratona country! The 14th stage is one of the toughest of this year’s Giro. In 210 kilometres this stage takes the riders from Farra d’Alpago across six climbs to the ski station of Corvara. The finish comes at the end of the final descent. On Sports Tours International’s 10 day Tour to the 2016 Giro d’Italia you get to see the Giro not once, but twice in Corvara! You also have the chance to ride the final part of the stage. You will ride on closed roads with minibus support with cheering cycling fans lining the roads.
Gran Fondo Quebrantahuesos
This maybe the biggest Cyclosportive that you have never heard of but it is the most popular in Spain. This race takes you across the French and Spanish Pyrenees over 200km with the climbs of the Col de Somport, Marie Blanc and Portalet standing between you and the finish back in Sabinanigo. Last year’s winners were Jordi Berenguer Ferrer in 05h47.43 and Patricia Lopez Regano in 06h26.40.
With it selling out so fast that it is virtually impossible to get into via the ballot system. Hotels near the start and finish are also sold out from year to year. Luckily Sports Tours International has a brilliant hotel and guaranteed entries with front pen available plus a hotel and logistical support. If you really want to know, ‘Quebrantahuesos’ is Spanish for a type of bird of prey. For more information, have a look here
Big Mick, Miguel Indurain rides the Quebrantahuesos every year
The 2016 Vuelta a Espana
As it turns out, the 2016 Vuelta a Espana is visiting Quebrantahuesos territory in 2016. Stage 15 goes to Formigal/Sarrios, a ski resort near the French border. This is a 120-kilometre mid-mountain stage between Sabiñanigo and the Aramon Formigal Ski Resort. Sabiñanigo is of course known as the location of the start and finish of Spain’s largest Cyclosportive, the Quebrantahuesos. This stage is the Vuelta’s shortest linear stage, with the exception of the final stage into Madrid. Riders will have to pay close attention during this stage as attempts to break away could start happening very early on and nerves as well as the previous day’s exhaustion could impact many of the riders.
Cycling and spectator tours to the 2016 Vuelta a Espana