Etape du Tour Training

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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More sound advice @willball12

Funnily enough I came across these links today @mattmox which might also help but mirror the sound advice here in some cases.

5 hour A Race, But Plan builder Workouts Only 2 Hours Max?](5 hour A Race, But Plan builder Workouts Only 2 Hours Max?

I’ve just been keeping myself ticking over since the lockdown kicked in and like yourself my training has been less intense these last couple of months at least. Booking flights for the September 6th Etape was the booster I and many others would have needed to get that training spark that was missing.

I was actually building up early season with Climbing Road Race LV but have this week reconsidered and now starting Century HV even after starting this thread with questions about LV! My main concern remains regarding weekends. What I’m definitely doing is one long weekend ride to perfect nutrition, get mentally ready for long hours in the saddle, and you’ll see in the linked posts theres something about type 1 and type 2 muscle usage and you need to do long rides to really train one of them. I also have 3 kids under 7 so the longer i’m out the better!

What 'm not sure about is the Century Saturday rides utilise over/under workouts. I would still like to incorporate then as they would seem important. I’m considering a super early Sat morning (so as not dropping family responsibilities )under/over WO as prescribed and also do a long but easy ride that will be approved by my wife on the Sunday. I’m just concerned thats tipping the balance into fatigue and negative effect. I guess its trying to find that balance in the middle somewhere. I still need to think about that for this weekend!

I’m now also freaking out about using 50mm carbon clincher rim brake wheels for descending.!!!

I said in my original post that I’m an experienced amateur, by that I mean I’ve been cycling for about 7 years now and just started some road racing 2 years ago, I’m 42. This will be a monster for me in terms of climbing and time in the saddle so this is why getting the long ride at the weekend is so important to me as it is with you too. The Scottish Highland have their climbs but nothing to compare.

It is difficult juggling around family and all of my HV training will revolve around them during the week when they are in bed.

You are probably wondering why I jumped to HV. It’s purely to get weekly volume under my belt on top of a long ride at the weekend, an element of learning to ride with fatigue. I’m just winging it!

I hope this helps a little, the advice given on this forum has been great and I’m thankful to all for their input.

I wish you all the best with your training @mattmox.


Thanks very much for such a thorough post, @fairwarrior, much appreciated.

There’s certainly some similarities - I’m 43 and concerned about similar areas as you are from the sound of it… and for me too it will be a monster! I have disc brakes though, so I think I’m good to go there. I too also added the Century Plan to my calendar today and did the first ride of that (Ramp Test).

Fortunately I do have the luxury of time - no wife or kids and still furloughed, so I can throw time and effort at the training. At the moment I tend to do all my training Mon-Fri and give myself the weekends off to rest - friends keep telling me that it’s as important as the training (I only half believe it!).

I can see that motivation may be my problem when the training really steps up from now until the event as due to my job I am doing it in the hope that I am going, rather than the knowledge that I am (I guess we all are to an extent with the uncertainty of Corona). My work looks like it will ramp back up in August, and as it stands I do not have the time off I need for the weekend of the Etape. So I am just doing the training in the hope that I can sort something nearer the time in terms of work swaps with colleagues to get the required time off… it’s a gamble. It would be easier to put in the effort if I knew for sure I was actually doing the Etape.

Anyway, that’s irrelevant largely - I’m stubborn enough that I can ignore that and push on through the training on the assumption that I can sort something nearer the time.

If the travel restrictions allow, I am considering heading somewhere later this month (Wales, maybe even the Alps) to find some proper climbs to tackle. I don’t really like the idea of turning up in Nice with no clue what to expect, and even less idea if I am capable!! Some training in the mountains will either give me that confidence… or scare me into training harder!!!

Anyway, thanks again, really appreciate the reply. I’ll have a look at those other threads you linked too…


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