2010 ETAPE DU TOUR COURSE ANALYSIS
The 2010 Etape du Tour is a tough one! Like most tough problems, it is worth dividing it into smaller ones!
First of all – let’s take a look at the feed stations.
Food and Water stops:
1. Plateau de Benou – on the descent of Marie Blanque
2. Start of Souler - Ferrieres
3. Top of Souler (liquid only)
4. Bottom of Souler at Argeles-Gaziost
5. On ascent of Souler at Bareges (liquid only)
6. La Mongie – on the far side of Tourmalet at the Arrival Village.
Sections of the Etape
The 2010 Etape du Tour conveniently divides into several sections:
(1) The undulating section up to the foot of Marie Blanque
(2) The ascent of Marie Blanque
(3) The descent of Marie Blanque
(4) Marie Blanque to the start of the Soulor climb.
(5) The ascent of Soulor
(6) The descent of Soulor
(7) The ascent of Tourmalet
(1) The start to the foot of Marie Blanque
This is a fast section, nearly 30miles long, is not unlike a typical club run, mostly flat though there are some hills. With the huge number of riders to draw you along, expect to be averaging 17mph or more, though the fastest riders will be averaging around 25mph!
The worst hill in this section is Cote de Renoir, about 8 miles from the start. This amounts to 1.4 miles of 6% climb.
(2) The Ascent of Marie Blanque
This section is always fun – a beautifully wooded valley 6.25 miles long – a road which gets steeper as you go! Every km a road side sign tells you the gradient – after an initial 10% it drops to 2%, then 3% - rising steadily to 12% or 13% in the last km!
A reasonable average for this climb would be 7mph or more – though with the increasing gradient it is impossible to pace accurately. You are likely to be exceeding 10mph or more on the lower slopes, and people may be struggling up at 4mph at the top!
(3)The Descent of Marie Blanque
The start of the descent is great – swooping bends with a nice gradient through woodland – leading to the Plateau de Benou where the welcome first feeding station is. To be ahead of the cut off time, you need to leave the feed area before 11:00 am. After the plateau is a descent which is rather more than exciting – long, steep, fast straight sections followed by sudden bends!
(4) Between Marie Blanque and Soulor
After the excitement of Marie Blanque, this section provides welcome relief, gently descending to its mid-way point at Asson. After Asson we approach Soulor along a dual carriageway, which has rather an unusual central reservation in places! The road climbs gently to the foot of the Soulor at Ferrieres, where we will be able to stock up with fuel at the feed station before the next climb! An average speed of more than 15 mph on the section between the bottom of Marie Blanque and Ferrieres should not be a problem, though the slight climb after Asson will probably be rather discouraging, as the climb of less than 2% slows riders more than they would expect! The road surface should be fairly good.
You will need to arrive at the elimination point at Ferrieres before 13:10 to continue!
(5) The Ascent of Soulor
The ascent of Soulor is a typical Pyrenean climb, mostly well graded with a gradient of around 8%, though with an appreciable power output of a continuous 200W you would probably be climbing at less than 7mph! The climb has some scenic bends – we will be glad of the refreshment at the top!
I imagine the café is still there as an alternative to water– if you have the time to stop! Congratulations! You have climbed just over 1000 metres from Asson!
(6) The Descent of Soulor
The descent of Soulor starts with a series of exciting bends for nearly 5 miles to Arrens-Marsous, after which the road straightens out for a fast down hill section nearly 7 miles long to Argeles Gazost. The next feed station and the last elimination point is here – you will need to leave this area by 15:30 to continue.
(7) The Ascent of Tourmalet
So to the last section. We first ascend the Gorge de Luz for around 11 miles, with a reasonable gradient, up to Luz Saint Sauver. Here the real climb begins for the next 12 miles to the summit of Tourmalet, where we will pass under the finishing arch! The average gradient of this climb is 7.4%, much of it being 7%. Te hairpin bends at the top are spectacular. Well earned refreshments will be available at La Mongie at the Arrival Village a few miles down the other side.
Summary of the Route
Start 7:00 7:40
Escot 54.6 km 8:18 9:50
Marie Blanque Col 64.5 km 8:50 10:50
Plateau de Benou Food 70.2 km 8:55 11:00
Gently down hill
Asson 96.7 km 9:43 12:20
2% gradient up hill
Ferrieres Food 112.7km 10:06 13:10
Soulor Col 125.4km 10:51 14:50
Argeles Gazost Food 143.9km 11:14 15:30
Gorge de Luz – moderate climb
Luz St Sauveur 162.9 .11:43 16:20
Super Bareges Liquid 173.2 12:05 17:30
Col de Tourmalet Arrive 181.4 km 12:30 18:30
La Mongie Food