The 2014 Etape du Tour route has 5 sections:


1.    The Undulating Section



The first 42 miles of the route is quite flat, with a few interesting hills which will spark off some friendly competition!


The route heads southwards from Pau along the undulating and picturesque Heureuse Valley, which has two beautiful climbs, each over a mile long with gradients of 5% or 6%. After the initial excitement, for the next 7 miles or so the course is then fairly flat – a chance good chance to shelter behind the huge peloton and get your breath back! A supple style of riding is recommended – there are some big mountains ahead!

When we reach the Cote du Benejacq there is a further 1.7 miles of 6.7% climb – but beware – it includes a third of a mile of 10%!

After a flat section, the next hill is 1.25 miles of 5%.

The Cote de Loucrup follows at 39 mile from the start of the Etape, and has a constant gradient below 7% for 1.25 miles.


The net height gain in the first 42 miles is only around 300 metres! After Bagneres—de--Bigorre we reach the initial gentler slopes of Tourmalet. Then after Sainte-Marie-de-Campan we really leave the hills and hit the mountains!

2.    The Ascent of Tourmalet




            The ascent of Tourmalet starts along the Ardour valley. After an initial 5% gradient, it becomes quite easy, before rising to 8% after about 3 miles into the climb. The final 7.5 miles of the climb have a steady gradient of 8% to 9%, enabling a good riding rhythm. At the steepest section, around the Avalanche shelters near La Mongie, the gradient rises to 10% and briefly 12%, but apart from that the gradient is reasonable.  

3.    The Descent of Tourmalet



          After putting on a wind proof layer at the top, and negotiating the first winding steep section, we will have the joy of a fast descent with long straight sections, down towards the town of Luz-Sainte- Sauveur. Apart from the first steep 15% section, the main feature of the descent is its length – nearly 12 miles of fast downhill riding!

4.    The Gorge de Luz


            This is probably the most pleasant section of the entire route. It has a gentle downhill gradient, as it follows the river down the gorge, and allows riders a chance to recover for the final climb. It is probably best to resist the temptation to race this section – there is a huge climb ahead!

5.    The Ascent of Hautacam




On paper, Hatacam looks similar to Tourmalet only smaller – with 1000 metres of climb. However, Tourmalet has for the most part a fairly constant gradient – unlike Hautacam! Hautacam even has a downhill section – then makes up for it later! Although the average gradients over 1km are 7.5% to 10%, in places there are slopes of 13% or 14%.

After the cattle grid above the tree line, breathe a sigh of relief – it flattens off top to a mere 7% to 8% - easy compared to what has gone before-


The finish is in sight!!!!!