Friday, April 25, 2008

Virtual Etape has posted an excellent Rider's Guide to the Ultimate Sportive (note: if the link does not work click on "Video on Demand," and look among the free2view selection). And the "ultimate sportive" is of course none less than this year's Etape du Tour!

It's still winter in the Pyrenees and the Cycling TV team previews this year's course talking about gearing, nutrition, allo
cating one's energies to be able to finish the course. The two main climbs are detailed, as well as the two preliminary ones.

With the Tourmalet climb being the main event of the day and
therefore somewhat "accounted for" in everybody's mind, there are two things that emerge from the video. First, the Tourmalet descent will be scarier, and much longer than the recent experience descending Deer Creek (although pavement could hardly be worse, unless completely absent). In the video of course the snow and ice still present on that side of the mountain make things seem probably a little worse than they will be with the summer in full bloom. Second, the final climb to Hautacam will probably be the hardest bit: all happening in the last 15 kilometers with relatively steep terrain and probably very little left in the legs. Clearly that will be the time to go down to the 34x25, but time is also a factor: the organization has posted the course with the elimination times. In other words, "just making it" won't cut it this time, least suffer the indignity of the voiture balai.

How to train for something like this? Short of arriving in loco a couple of months earlier to try out the course, the best that I can imagine doing is to do multiple centuries at a steady pace, interspersed with extended climbing weekends. After working on my "base" for four months, and sweating my way up and down the Santa Monicas in the Mulholland Challenge, it's finally the time for the serious miles.

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