|Impossible at worst he said? This is true. In the 2000 Etape, the wind
was so strong, gusting to over 60 mph, that the police closed the course.
Riders who didnít make it to the top of the Mont Ventoux early on were not
allowed to continue.
This is a bit of speculation on my part, but my research shows that Etape
stages are picked as much for how they fit the Tour de France schedule as
they are for any other reason. The Etape is usually run on or near the
second rest day for the Tour. The stage selected for the Etape is always one
or two stages ahead of the Tour. For example, in 2001, the Etape was stage
14 of the Tour and took place on the rest day July 19. The Tour did stage 14
on July 22. In 2002, the Etape was stage 17 of the Tour and took place on
the rest day of July 22. The Tour did stage 17 on July 26. There are good
logistical reasons for this.
Many of the resources that would normally be tied up for the Tour can be
used by the Etape because it falls on the rest day. The roads used for the
Etape stage are completely closed just as they are for the Tour. Most of the
barriers and advertising strips are up in anticipation of the Tourís
arrival. The Etape has the same Mavic maintenance support and medical
support as the Tour. If you crash and really break your bike up badly, Mavic
will give you the same bike they would give a Tour rider to finish the
stage. They also have wheels available for both Shimano and Campy equipped
bikes. This is not to say you can ride the Etape with nothing but food in
your jersey pockets. Iíll cover what you need to take in the third article
in this series entitled "Doing L'Etape du Tour."
Why You Should Ride L'Etape du Tour
Itís probably presumptuous of me to tell you why you should ride this
eventÖ but Iím going to anyway. For me, I can sum it all up in just a few
names that are going to cause my spell checker to throw up.
"Coppi? Is that the one we followed in the Giro del Piemonte? The guy who
is as skinny as an asparagus? He doesnít lack courage, Iíll give him that,
but I think heís kind of fragile." Ė Gino Bartali, on his first impression
of rival Fausto Coppi
"A rider has to go to his limits and beyond to win such a tour as the
Giro, and then finds himself able to go even further in the Tour de France."
Ė Jacques Anquetil
"I didnít have any typical teammates. There was no particular criteria. I
refused to have any racers who were even rumored to be on drugs or steroids.
I placed importance on spiritual and moral values. Those who are with me
must possess an inner sense of the race, know when to fan out at the proper
moment, when to control escapes without my intervention. I hate to give
orders." Ė Eddy Merckx
"Thereís a terrible delight in watching a rival shrink without a trace."
Ė Bernard Hinault
"Rightly or wrongly, riders are judged by how well they do in the Tour de
France." Ė Greg Lemond
"Iím the reference point. If they beat me they win." Ė Miguel Indurain
"Today, I rode with the strength of two men." Ė Lance Armstrong, after
winning a Tour de France stage to honor Fabio Casartelli two days after his