Back in support

Early this year my beloved signed up via his club to take part in this year’s L’Etape du Tour scheduled to be held the weekend after the Tour de France 2020 start in Nice. While COVID has moved the Tour’s start forward two months, it’s had a similar effect on L’Etape and with under two months to go until the event, my beloved is ramping up his training and I’m back in my support role.

This year’s stage, its 30th running, covers 175km (110 miles) with an elevation gain of 3,600 m (12,000 ft) in the beautiful Niçois hinterland.

The course starts with a rising false flat  – don’t you just hate those? – most probably into a headwind, in the first 50 km (30 miles) which will help everyone warm up and spread out the peloton which will most probably number less than 5000 participants. It’s also likely that masks will have to be worn up and until the start.

The riders then tackle the first challenge of the day, the Col de la Colmiane. After going over the top, a 20 km ( 12 miles) descent will give the riders’ legs a break prior to climbing the major difficulty of the day, the Col de Turini (profile below).

Riders will however need to leave something in the tank to avoid mistakes on the extremely long descent that will take them back to Nice. It’ll also be chilly at the top so they’ll need to wear a light vest or jacket for the descent. The (in)famous Col d’Èze, set against the backdrop of the superb view from the Moyenne Corniche, is ideally positioned near the end of the course. This is where they should burn their final reserves before heading (gratefully) to the finish line where I shall be waiting for my beloved.

My beloved has been steadily building up his mileage and on Sunday decided to tackle the Col de Turini which he’s never ridden before. When you see the elevation and the photos you may understand why!

The scenery is breathtaking! My beloved, despite his pained expression, was grateful to reach the summit in relatively good shape and before the afternoon onset of rain.

He’s previously tackled both La Colmiane and Col d’Eze, he just has to string them all together now and hope that everything goes ahead as planned. If not, at least he’ll be in great shape!