The 2018 Etape du Tour will take place in Annecy in the French Alps and will trace the route of Stage 10 of the 2018 Tour de France.
The 169km course features four main climbs: Col de la Croix Fry, Montee du Plateau des Glieres, Col de Romme and Col de la Colombiere before finishing in the ski resort of Le Grand-Bornand.
The Etape du Tour is probably the most famous sportive in the world and is the only chance each year to ride the same route as the pro riders in the Tour de France on closed roads.
Each year around 15,000 lucky riders get the chance to ride a stage of the Tour de France just a few days before the professional riders cover the same route. Always run on one of the rest days of the Tour, the Etape du Tour has the same support cars and police outriders as the actual Tour.
The Etape du Tour is run by ASO, who also run the Tour de France, and the organisers tend to try and choose one of the shorter but mountaineous routes as their route.
The route of the 2018 Etape du Tour will be announced on the same day as the route for the 2018 Tour de France, in October. Sign up for the Sportive.com newsletter to get alerts when the route is announced and when places go on sale, route analysis and training tips for the 2018 Etape.
Registration for the 2018 Etape du Tour will open on Monday 23 October 2017. You can pre-register to speed up your application on the day. Usually there is a huge rush of registrations on the first day (around 6,500 in the first 24 hours is standard) but it is usually not until January that the full allocation of places sell out. There is no longer a discount for the first 4,000 registrants - every entry cost 100 euros for 2016 (up from 70 euros which was the cheapest in 2015) and the cost will probably go up again in 2018, if history is anything to go by.
The Etape has become incredibly popular among British riders and in 2014 nearly half of all entrants were from the UK.
One of the hardest choices is to decide whether to go to the Etape as part of an organised group or whether to make your own arrangements. A good travel company may cost a bit more but it can make life an awful lot easier as they pick you up from the airport, organise getting to the start and being picked up from the finish and often have their own feed stations along the Etape route. Read our guide to Etape du Tour travel operators to see who we recommend.
However if you plan well in advance and are part of a group of riders you will save a lot of money making your own plans. Remember that it is very unlikely that you will want to cycle home an extra 30km after finishing the Etape so making sure you are able to get home easily is important.