2014 ROUTE ANALYSIS
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 Bagneresde--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!!!!!