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

                                                                        First                Last

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

Elimination                                                                             13:10


Soulor                       Col      125.4km         10:51              14:50


Argeles Gazost         Food   143.9km         11:14              15:30

Elimination                                                                             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