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After the cancellation of the 2020 Etape du Tour because of coronavirus, the next edition will take place on 4 July 2021 using the same route starting in Nice.
The 2021 edition will see two firsts for L'Etape: the first coastal route and the first loop, as riders tackle stage 2 of the Tour de France route.
Entries to the 2021 Etape du Tour are likely to be extremely limited with most 2020 entrants carrying over their place to 2021.
Pre-registration is now open: complete a short form to be notified if and when entries become available for the 2021 Etape at www.letapedutourdefrance.com.
Riders will face a 177km course with an elevation gain of 3,570m in the Alpes Maritimes range that provides the city with its spectacular backdrop.
16,000 riders are expected to take part in L'Etape du Tour, making it one of the world's biggest as well as best-known sportives. The 2021 edition starts and finishes in Nice - a real bonus for riders, avoiding the logistical headache of transferring to and from distant start/finish points.
The course features two key climbs, the Col de la Colmiane (1500m) and the Col de Turini (1607m), with a third challenge - the Col d'Eze - lying in wait at the 100-mile mark.
We'll have a full route analysis soon, but here's a quick summary from the official notes...
"Following the start on the Promenade des Anglais, riders will draw energy and inspiration from the magnificent setting of the Gorges de la Mescla in the Tinée Valley.
"A rising false flat in the first 50 kilometres will help riders warm up before tackling the first challenge of the day, the Col de la Colmiane, where Simon Yates was victorious on the 2018 edition of Paris-Nice.
"After cresting the Col de la Colmiane, a 20km descent will give the legs a break before the second main challenge, the Col de Turini. Cycling fans may recall this as the site of Colombian Egan Bernal's first success on French roads in this year's Paris-Nice race - foreshadowing his Tour triumph later in the summer.
"To complete the festival of climbing, the route finishes with the ascent of the Col d'Eze, a landmark of the Race to the Sun on top of which Eddy Merckx, Joop Zoetemelk and Sean Kelly sealed their victories in the 1970s and 80s.
"Here riders will have to burn their final reserves against the backdrop of the superb view from the Moyenne Corniche.
"It will also give riders their first glimpse of the finish line, just a few kilometres down the road - but they will need to leave something in the tank to avoid mistakes in the extremely long descent that will take them back to Nice and the finish line."
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 16,000 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.
Registration for the 2020 Etape du Tour opens at 4pm CEST (3pm UK time) on 21 October 2019. You can pre-register to speed up your application on the day. Usually there is a huge rush of registrations on the first day - and in 2019, entries sold out within 5 hours of opening.
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.
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