It was an exciting weekend for amateur riders last weekend as they had the chance to compete in the first Tour de France event to be held in Australia.
Last Saturday, thousands of amateur cyclists lined up in the Snowy Mountains to take on the L’Etape Australia.
The L’Etape Australia allowed riders to participate under professional conditions, which included road closures of Lake Jindabyne to allow riders to enjoy a safe and comfortable ride.
It was the first time in Australia that 160km of public roads would be closed to facilitate a sporting event and it was the largest L’Etape event ever to be held outside of France.
Riders were given the option of two routes (the Race and the Ride) that satisfied both the most competitive rider and recreational rider who wanted to participate. The event also included a number of sections including a Sprint and a King of the Mountain.
The Race of the L’Etape was the ultimate challenge for riders to secure the Yellow Jersey. The 157km route, which finished at Perisher, included the difficult Col De Beloka and the final Col de Kosciuszko mountain climb, taking the route to a peak of 1,735m.
The Ride was a shorter version of the Race, which allowed riders to opt out for a shorter distance of 126km and a peak of 1,300m to finish at Jindabyne.
The objective of the L’Etape was to immense riders in the atmosphere and experience of similarly to the Tour de France. Bicycle NSW Event Manager Carlijn Kerdijk was just one of the riders to complete the Race of the L’Etape.
“It was really cool, it really did feel like a Tour de France because the whole community were all at the end standing next to the road clapping and cheering, that was really amazing,” she said.
“This event was really special because it was a closed road event. It doesn’t really happen that often that all the roads that you cycle on are closed, which was amazing because you have to think you are going down in descend and in the back of your mind you always fear that something is going to come up the other way but you didn’t have that this time which was such a bonus.”
Tour de France reigning champion Chris Froome also took part in the event; racing from the back of the pack through to the front along the 157km mountain route.
It was an exciting time for riders as Froome shared stories of his Tour de France experiences and mentoring riders the best way to be prepared physically and mentally for the challenge ahead throughout the event.
“It was really cool having Chris Froome ride with us; he is such a great ambassador for cycling,” Carlijn said.
The L’Etape Australia will remain on the same weekend in 2017. Both the Ride and Race events will commence on Saturday 2nd December 2017 in the Snowy Mountains.
Written by Vangeli Kollias