L'Etape du Tour de France

I was just wondering if anyone has ever tried to enter the Etape? (it’s the stage of the Tour de France that amateurs are allowed to ride, here’s the site: http://www.letapedutour.com/2006/us/index.htm)

I can’t seem to find any rules for it anywhere, but I can’t see that unicycles would be specifically banned, and they’d be pretty mean to turn you away if you didn’t mention it before the day and just showed up. It might not be as impossible as it seems, last year I think the cut-off was at 60 miles, and anyone who hadn’t made that in five hours got thrown off so they can re-open the roads. Difficult, but not impossible surely? This year it’s in the Alps, and finishes on L’Alpe D’Huez, a HUGE hill, and there are quite a few big climbs. Would I be right in assuming that this works in the unicycles favour, since the massive gears on road bikes are no use and we might be faster than some of the cyclists if we don’t collapse and die?

Wouldn’t this be the most glorious thing in the world if anyone did it, or am I being ridiculous? Is anyone else out there dumb enough to try?

188km, finishing at L’Alpe D’Huez, with two categorized climbs on the way (approximately 2500 meters of climbing before the above-category 1100 meters at L’Alpe D’Huez), with time constraints, doesn’t sound feasible on a unicycle. If you manage to average 20km/hour elapsed time over that brutal terrain, it would still take over nine hours.

My dad did it last year on his bike. I wouldn’t fancy doing it on a uni…Far too much like hard work/impossible.

L’ Alpe D’ Huez is done by http://www.janklaas.be/ but not during an event.
Have a try! Just contact them, and post the results here.

wow, that’s pretty impressive stuff. It shows it can be done, but I’m thinking that it’d be pretty unlikely to actually complete the whole stage in time. It would be a glorious failure though.

AspenMike might be able to.

Thanks for the kind words Steveyo, but the time constraint would be the bummer. The ride itself is very doable in a day, a long day, but having to ride 60 mountain miles in 5 hours would be tough, in my opinion.

I’ve considered it, but it’d be mental.

The cut-offs and stuff aren’t posted for this, year, but if it’s 5 hours to do the first 60 miles, including 5000 feet of climbing, and 3500 feet of descent, it’d be way way beyond my abilities to even make the cutoff, let alone get to the finish after that. That Janklaas guy who’s obviously pretty nifty took 1hr 25 to do the 15km climb up l’Alpe d’Huez. Bearing in mind there are only a very small number of people in the world who can do 60 miles in 5 hours elapsed time on a coker on the flat. This ride is about half as far as Ken Looi’s world record, but it’s got well over 10,000 feet of climbing and almost as much descending in there. I’d be pleased to finish it in 20 hours.

Looking at Aspenmike’s statistics from Back to Back Epic Uni Rides he took at least 8.5 hours elapsed time to do 65 miles under similar conditions, and I don’t think the French / Swiss riders are much quicker up the hills, so currently I can’t think of anyone who’d be in with a chance of making the cutoffs.

The massive gears on road bikes are useful if you’re a super-fit road biker who’ll be riding up 10% gradients flat out in nearly the top gear. Unfortunately most of the entrants in l’Etape are super-fit road bikers and the cutoff times are set based on this. There’s also over 6000 feet of descent that some road bikers will probably be taking at 60 miles an hour in parts, even if the road is winding.

The other thing to remember is that being a road bike event, it may be run under UCI rules, which ban anything odd straight out, even recumbent bikes aren’t allowed in UCI rule events. It’d also be a bit silly, doing it in the actual event, because the roads will be crowded, and you’ll get in the way, this isn’t a charity event like the London to Brighton or something, this is serious nutter road bikers, unless you’re right at the back people really would push you off if you’re in the way. If on the first uphill you managed to beat some bikers, or they had mechanicals or whatever, you’d be right in the way on the downhill. It’d also be a big risk to just enter and turn up, as it’s £115 to enter (something like $200).


on a related note, has anyone ridden up to the chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo, another famous ride. I’ve not been up there, but I’ve been near there (at the bottom of the hill) and the scenery was incredible.


The climbing to l’Alpe d’Huez must be a terrific experience, even my (small) car is a bit reluctant :wink:

On the other hand, it has been reported on the French forum (http://monocycle.info/forums2019/) that a group of unicyclists could take part to the parade just before Tour’s departure in Strasbourg on July 2, so turn your TV on, you never know :roll_eyes:

The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge which a few of us Kiwis have done (Peter Bier, Tony Melton and me) is 100miles with 1600m of climbing. I think I did about 7hrs43 or something like that (on a Coker, 110mm cranks), which is about 20km/hr average speed. So yeah, I think it would be challenging to make this cut-off, but not impossible, especially if most of the climbing is in the final 30km of the race. And on a Schlumpf it you could probably do it quite comfortably.

Unicycles are great for climbing- we were passing literally hundreds of Road Cyclists up each climb.

Looking at the site now, they’ve got the time schedule up, the bad news is that it’s not just a cutoff at 6 hours, it’s a moving sag wagon and you’re out if it catches you. You have to average 19 km/h throughout.

The big problem has to be that the first 5 and a half hours you have a non-stop ascent to 1600 metres above the start getting increasingly steep, before you get the first bit of descent. That would be harsh to ride at 20km/h, although if anyone could do it I guess you could.

Going off topic, are there any kind of long rides like the Lake Taupo thing in NZ at the start of next year (jan - may ish), particularly on the south island, I might be in Christchurch for a bit and I guess I’ll be doing some riding of circus bikes while I’m there.


Hey cool Joe- make sure you let us know when you are coming to NZ! There are quite a few unicyclists in Chch but most of the events we’ve done have been NI based.

There is one in Chch which I haven’t done but probably one of the bigger events in the SI.

The 106km Rainbow Rage is fun too:

It’s a mountainbike race but it’s really just dirt roads- nothing you can’t do on a Coker or Schlumpf. And you get to finish in Hanmer Springs and soak in the hotpools.

There is also the Chch to Nelson (445km) in Feb if you but that might be better in a team :wink:

There are heaps of 100km road rides/races in the NI at the start of the year- the Hamilton to Auckland, Round the Mountain, and a few others I can’t think off the top of my head. And of course my fav MTB race the Karapoti Classic www.karapoti.co.nz.

We’re aiming to do a SI Unicycle tour in Feb/Mar starting from Dunedin and finishing in Nelson. I’ll be putting up more information on that shortly.

Check out the NZ Unicycle Forums and just make a post before you come to NZ


Thats an interesting question indeed, you might like to contact Ken regarding this sort of thing because he usually knows whats what.
Also there is a proposed SINZ (South Island NZ) Tour sometime in Jan/Feb which is a planned Unicycle tour, you might be interested in that one.