Entries for the 2019 L’Etape du Tour have opened today, and Zwift has been announced as the official training partner for this legendary event, which next year follows a 135km course from Albertville to Val Thorens in the French Alps with 4,563m of climbing and will attract 15,000 cyclists.
Of those 15,000 cyclists the largest foreign contingent comes from the UK. Now, as many UK-based cyclists know, training for a mountainous sportive like L’Etape du Tour is tricky as we don’t have any handy mountains on which to prepare and train on, well unless you live in Wales or Scotland where there are some big hills. But in the south, it's a bit more tricky.
The smart way to train could now be indoors, using the popular Zwift online training platform. The US company is now the official training partner for the event and it’ll be providing training plans, unique in-game items and much more, and it'll be hoping a large slice of those UK cyclists heading to France next year well see Zwift as a good way to train through the winter.
Zwift's L’Etape du Tour Training Club will be open to the first 30,000 members who enrol and will follow a similar model to that used for the Zwift Academy Program. Those enrolled will follow the same goals and be able to track progress, and unlock unique in-game items as they advance, hopefully arriving at the start of the event in peak form.
There will also be the motivation of training with other people doing the same event, and group workouts will provide structured workouts with all participants kept together in a peloton by the game. Zwift tells us studies have shown training in groups to be far more motivating than training alone.
Outside of the training plans, Zwift will also be hosting exclusive L’Etape du Tour rides in game. Ahead of L’Etape du Tour 2019, there will be select Zwift Ride to Win events with starting bibs for L’Etape up for grabs. During the summer, longer Zwift L’Etape du Tour rides will provide a fantastic challenge for those cyclists unable to attend the real-life event in July.
“Is there an amateur cycling event quite as renowned as L’Etape du Tour?” says Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “The chance to experience one of the most beautiful, and challenging stages, of the Tour de France is why this has always been such a popular event and why it’s such an incredible occasion for any cyclist. It’s a real challenge, but this is what makes it such a fantastic event to complete.
"We, at Zwift, are really excited to be able to support entrants in their training. Zwift is a fantastically convenient way to train, making it possible to ride more often than ever before. We want to deliver entrants to that start line in the best shape, so they can enjoy the experience as much as possible. I hope to catch some of you in the Group Workouts!”
“We are really excited to further broaden the reach of L’Etape du Tour with Zwift.” says Yann Le Moenner, CEO of A.S.O. “Zwift is a great way to train and helps bring together cyclists from all over the world. For those who cannot travel to L’Etape du Tour, the Zwift L’Etape du Tour rides will be a great way to experience the challenge of L’Etape du Tour from the comfort of your home.”
I’ve only done L’Etape once, way back in 2006, but I reckon if I had had Zwift back then I would have arrived at the event way more prepared than I had by just riding my local hills as many times as I could before my legs and head fell off.
If you’re planning to do L’Etape next year we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.