The Etape returns to the Alps for 2019 with a 135km route from Albertville to Val Thorens.
At 2365m above sea level, Val Thorens is the third-highest stage finish in Tour history and the 2019 Etape looks set to be a tough one, with some 4600m of climbing.
Three major climbs feature in the parcours. First up is an ascent of the Cormet de Roselend (1760m), which riders will crest at around the 40km mark. A long descent follows before the second climb of the day.
But it's the finale that will prove the real test: the 33km climb to Val Thorens has a few short sections of flat and even downhill to offer welcome respite, but in the heat of the early afternoon it will seem a long way up.
Logistics look a little trickier than in recent editions, with the start in Albertville situated some 60km from the finish. That's a long transfer (or bike ride!) back from Val Thorens if you choose to base yourself near the start. On the plus side, it means that accommodation may be easier to come by as entrants opt for hotel options at the start, finish or even midway points.
The 2019 Etape du Tour will take place on Sunday 21st July.
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 2019 Etape du Tour will be announced on the same day as the route for the 2019 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 2019 Etape.
Registration for the Etape du Tour usually opens in October. 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.
The Etape has become incredibly popular among British riders and in 2018 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.
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