In a change with previous years the 2011 cyclosportive run by ASO on the route of a Tour de France stage will be a double-header with two rides.
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an open ride where anyone can register to take part and ride the route of a Tour stage on closed roads. Those at the front will treat it as a race and often the fastest rider is an elite licence holder whilst those at the back are battling themselves in an endurance contest to complete the route before time runs out. There’s something for everyone.
For 2001 first up comes the 109km stage from Modane to Alpe d’Huez, via the Télégraphe to the Galiber and then Alpe d’Huez. Next comes the 208km stage from Issoire to St Flour, past the extinct volcanoes of the Massif Central.
Your chance to ride the route of the Tour de France looks a bit deflating, in the year that celebrates the Alps the amateurs are kept to the shortest stage. No doubt the Galibier is hard on any day but 109km is not going to earn many comparisons with the genuine Tour de France experience nor provide bragging rights to someone wanting to test themselves. Note too that the altitude on the profile of 2,556m above is the height of the tunnel, it appears the route will take a short cut and avoid the real pass at 2,645m. Applying a “broom wagon” pace of 15km/h, no rider should take more than seven or eight hours. A decent rider will do this in under four hours.
The ride in the Massif Central looks like a nice day out but again it won’t quite offer the deep association with the Tour de France, the longer 208km route is made easier but the presence of much less climbing. Even if the route is up and down all day again it’s not epic.
Why two rides?
ASO say they didn’t want to turn away too many riders and so this double-billing allows more riders to take part. People will be able to enter a single event or both if they like.
It all smells of compromise. Unable to offer a big Alpine stage because of logistics, ASO have put forward the shortest stage in the Alps and followed this up with a longer ride a week later that is a nice day out but hardly the epic challenge that most weekend warriors seek.
A shame that the stage from Pinerolo to the Galibier couldn’t be included, the route by the Col d’Agnel and the Izoard is stunning and the final climb up the Galibier is the stuff of legends.
As to the difficulties of organising part of the event in Italy, it’s not impossible and some local cyclosportives already do this, for example the Serre Chevalier and the Claudio Chiapucci have used both French and Italian roads.