Etape du Tour Training

Hi all

With the statement released today regarding the go-ahead of the Etape du Tour on the 6th September, I wondered what would be best with regards to a training plan.

Of course, a lot may change, it may not yet go ahead. It might be foolish to even consider going now, never mind then. But… Imagine it could go ahead and I started training AGAIN just in case… I wonder what your thoughts would be on a training plan? Climbing Road Race would seem sensible but so would Century.

With family commitments I am strictly low volume whatever I do. Is there any way I can prepare for a distance of 175KM and 3500m climbing on low volume? I could probab;y swap my weekend work out for 4-5 hours on the road instead.

I would really appreciate any thoughts. I should ad that I am an experiences amature cyclist and reasonably fit, just lacking big miles and climbing on the scale of the Etape du Tour.


If you can do that, and then focus on consistency during the week (ride almost every day, even if it is only 30 min), you should be OK (assuming proper pacing :wink:) Even if your long ride on the weekend was only ~3 hours (with occasional longer ones), as long as you get consistent, high quality work during the week, you’ll be good to go.

Have fun…


I did the 2018 version with 4000m of climbing. I managed somewhere in between low and mid volume with some longer outside rides. Completed L’etape but it wasn’t a record breaking pace - really enjoyed the day even so. It’s usually an excellent event.

Like you, no alpine climbs in the vicinity but I think it’s worth familiarising yourself with going up similar gradients.

What’s the course like this year? What climbs do you have available to you?


@willball12 Starting and finishing in Nice we’ll hit the **Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini and Col d’Èze in that order. I’m not familiar with any of them! This will be my first cycling trip abroad so very excited but will always prefer to do it under safe circumstances. Thanks for getting back to me, appreciated

@Power13 I should be able to squeeze in some 30 min sessions here and there. Sounds like I’m thinking along the right lines. Many thanks!

I think Century makes more sense. Climbing Road Race is aimed at racing I.e. Not just settling into long steady power but also being able to surge repeatedly above threshold to attack or respond to attacks. Etape isn’t the kind of event where you’re racing and burying yourself to stay with a group (at least not for 95% of people) it’s more about setting your own pace on the climbs, and there are so many people out there that you’ll nearly always find a group to ride with on the flatter sections anyway. Century plan is more aimed at that with the focus being on sustained power over long durations.

Low volume plan with long rides at the weekend should be plenty to get you fit enough to enjoy the day and set a decent time. Fingers crossed that the event stays on and that it seems appropriate to do it!


@cartsman This sounds like a fine piece of advice. Good points made. Many thanks to you!

Nice should be a great place to be based and it’s good to not worry about transfers to/from the start/finish. Hopefully some good weather holds into September.

Just had a look at the climb profiles:
Colmiane - 16.3km @ 6.3% avg 1500m gain
Turini - 14.9km @ 7.4% avg 1600m gain
d’Eze - 7.8km @ 6.1% avg 490m gain

First two are big beasts, requiring steady power. A few 10% stretches but nothing insane, just relentless climbing. The final climb looks quite nice in comparison but doing it last will feel tough! I think I would prefer this course to the one I did with 4 shorter but much steeper climbs (with a couple of smaller hills which they neglected to mention).

The first 50km is flat/lightly uphill. It will be tempting to go way too fast at this point - I advise you to find a group at a sustainable pace and conserve as much energy as possible.

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Superb @willball12 Thank you for taking the time to look up the ascents and for the advice. Noted! :+1:

I think your arithmetic has gone wrong somewhere:
16.3km @ 6.3% = 1027m gain
14.9km @ 7.4% = 1103 gain
7.8km @ 6.1% = 476 gain

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I took the numbers directly from the event website so you may have to take it up with them.

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OK, the numbers on their web site refer to the altitude at the summit not the elevation gain

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I wouldn’t swap out the weekend workout. I find that is the one workout that really pushes me. I would take the mid week workout out and do the weekend ride on that day. Then I would add a long outdoor ride and keep the intensity in the zone 2 area, so I didn’t blow up.

Alternatively, you could just do the low volume workout as prescribed. You are training the energy systems. You don’t have to do the actual time and distance of the event in training. I’ve been doing the low volume stuff for awhile and feel very confident that I could do a century with a lot of climbing tomorrow.

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I have toyed with just doing a low volume plan but don’t think I would be comfortable trying to do the etape following a low volume plan without adding time. In-ride fuelling and bike fit don’t matter too much on a low volume plan - I barely ever fuel my TR sessions. Put me on a bike for 6 hours without building up to that duration and I will have stomach issues and all sorts of pains that I don’t get on the trainer. And yes I have had multiple professional bike fits.


Oh that makes me want to do it. This would epic, once in a lifetime type of experience. I need to add the Estape to my bucket list. Well, it’s there I mean I need to highlight it.

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Yeah I’ll need saddle time, can’t train for that in 90 mins. Thanks for getting in touch.

A good rule of thumb for me is doing at least the duration of the event as weekly training hours.
So if the event takes me 8h, I try to train 8h at minimum.
Long rides are essential for me (3h-4h) on a weekly basis.

If you can swap the longer LV ride on the weekend for a 4-5h ride, maybe you could do the whole LV plan and add a 3,5h z2 ride additionally (4 rides per week in total). That would be a pretty good approach.

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Sound advice @Amnesty, thank you. :+1:

Glad I’ve found this thread, some good advice in here - I was about to post the very same question. Can I ask what plan you decided to go with, fairwarrior?

I started on Jan 1st with a plan all mapped out to get me to the Etape, but that plan finishes this week (as the event was planned to be this weekend originally). And so I’m wondering what plan to do for the next 9 weeks to take me to the new date. Similarly, I was wondering about doing either Century or Climbing Road Race.

I started in January with no experience whatsoever, and admittedly fairly low fitness! The planner has had me doing Sweet Spot Base 1, Sweet Spot Base 2, Sustained Power Build, Climbing Road Race (all Low Volume). In March I started adding an outdoor ride once per week, which in April & May were roughly 100km each, so 4 hours plus. I live in Hove, so all rides involve going over the South Downs at least twice, but they are not exactly the Col de Turini!!

If I’m honest the outdoor rides have tailed off a bit in the last month as I lost a bit of commitment when it looked like the Etape wouldn’t happen, although I have kept up with the indoor TrainerRoad training plan.

So now I’m wondering which plan to take me through the next 9 weeks to the event. And also a bit unsure about how much outdoor/long distance riding I need to add to the plan, although I see that has largely been answered above. Is 1 per week really enough? And shouldn’t it be longer than 4 hours? I assume the Etape will take me at least double that!!

Unlike fairwarrior I am NOT an experienced amateur cyclist, but feel I am reasonably fit after the last 6 months of training (the 100km outdoor rides I find relatively easy). But without any similar cycling experience to fall back on and compare to, I really have no idea if I am fit enough/heading in the right direction to complete the Etape. I am not looking at it as a race - I just want to complete it, and hopefully enjoy it!! It is this last point (and cartsman’s post above seems very logical to me) that makes me think that Century would be more appropriate than Climbing Road Race (which I have already done once) - doing that gives me 3 indoor rides a week, plus I’d add a long outdoor one to it… does that sound reasonable?

Many thanks all. And fairwarrior - see you en France, peut etre!


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Your plan sounds a reasonable one.

The biggest help I found for longer rides was getting used to setup details that you can’t really test on a trainer - nutrition, equipment, position etc.

Enjoyment is an interesting one. Looking back now I had an amazing experience but parts of that ride were definitely type 2 fun - something to be enjoyed later.

I also had the misfortune of witnessing a cardiac arrest and someone going over some barriers on a descent, so it was an emotional day for me.

The event organisation was amazing when I did it and I’m sure they’ll be doubly grateful if it goes ahead given recent events.


Thanks, willball12.

Yes, the feeding/hydrating etc. on a long ride is something I need to get on top of properly, and haven’t really so far.

Sounds like some harrowing sights there, unfortunately. I have heard similar from a friend who has done it before - good incentive to train well and make sure I’m in decent shape!

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