Each year, L’Etape du Tour de France provides cyclists with the opportunity to get a slice of the Tour de France experience through a mass participation cyclo-sportive held on one of the Tour de France mountain stages. Around 15,000 lucky riders take part each year – and you have to see it to believe it!

This year, for the first time ever, Zwift is hosting the Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France as part of the virtual TdF. (Zwift hosted a single l’Etape du Tour event in 2019, but there was no corresponding virtual pro race.) This year’s Zwift event series will allow participants to test themselves on the same (virtual) roads as the professionals, like the outdoor event, but across three stages instead of just one.

Ride New French Roads

There’s been a lot of chatter in the past few days about Zwift’s new France and Paris maps. Zwifters keep asking the same question: when can I ride the new roads?

Stage 2 of L’Tape du Tour is your first chance, so mark your calendar for July 11-12!

Stage Details

Three stages will be held over the first three weekends of July alongside the virtual TdF. The stages get progressively more difficult each weekend, culminating in the massive Mont Ventoux climb on stage 3.

16 different events will be spread over each weekend, so Zwifters should be able to find a time slot to fit their schedule. Here are the stage details:

Stage 1 (July 4-5): Watopia Mountain Route (Nice) 29.5km, 682m of ascent

Animated “Mountain Route” Route Details (Watopia) Map
Animated map provided by ZwiftHacks

Route Basics

Length: 29.5 km (18.3 miles)
Elevation:
682 m (2,238‘)
Lead-In: 0.5 km (0.3 miles)
Map: Watopia

Achievement Badge: 580 XP

Banners and Leaderboards

(in order of appearance)
Epic KOM Forward
Sprint Forward

BestBikeSplit Model
Estimate ride time, IF and TSS, plan your power, and more!

Route Description

Route profile by ZwiftHub – the place to plan and track your route achievements!

The Watopia “Mountain Route” is simply a loop up to the radio tower then back through the start/finish line. This is an excellent addition to the game, since it allows group rides and races to include a major climb.

Stage 2 (July 11-12): Casse-Pattes 2x (South-West France) 45.8 km, 290m of ascent

Animated “Casse-Pattes” Route Details (France) Map
Animated map provided by ZwiftHacks
French cyclists use the term “casse-pattes” (literally “leg-breaking”) to refer to particularly difficult parts of a ride, or roads that awkwardly change gradient and break a cyclist’s rhythm. Released with Zwift’s France map for the first-ever Virtual Tour de France, the Casse-Pattes route covers the large outer loop of the map in a clockwise direction. The first 12km is pan-flat with two timed sprint segments, but then that rhythm is broken up in the back half by two timed KOM climbs.  

French cyclists use the term “casse-pattes” (literally “leg-breaking”) to refer to particularly difficult parts of a ride, or roads that awkwardly change gradient and break a cyclist’s rhythm.

Released with Zwift’s France map for the first-ever Virtual Tour de France, the Casse-Pattes route covers the large outer loop of the map in a clockwise direction. The first 12km is pan-flat with two timed sprint segments, but then that rhythm is broken up in the back half by two timed KOM climbs.

 

Route Basics

Length: 23 km (14.3 miles)
Elevation:
145 m (476‘)
Lead-In: 0.9 km (0.6 miles)
Map: France

Start & Finish

Begins and ends at the Marina Sprint banner.

Restriction: Temporarily Event-Only

Achievement Badge: 460 XP

Banners and Leaderboards

(in order of appearance)
Marina Sprint Reverse
Pavé Sprint Reverse
Aqueduc KOM Reverse
Petit KOM

Bike Selection

Despite two timed KOM segments, this route is very flat overall. Your fastest times will come from an aero setup!

Fastest Frames >
Fastest Wheels >

Route Description

Route profile by ZwiftHub – the place to plan and track your route achievements!

Beginning with a short lead-in from the start pens, we travel east into the marina where we get a chance to hit the Marina Reverse Sprint. (This sprint banner is the official start/finish line for this loop.)

Enjoy the sites as you spin through the flattest portion of the France map. You’ll spot Mont Saint-Michel to your left, as well as a familiar Arch and Needle as you ride near the sea. Just past a field of sunflowers, you’ll enter a town that includes the Pavé sprint segment. Go for the green, then prep your legs for the short Aqueduc KOM.

You will descend into the fields of vineyards and flowers before it’s time to hit the big climb of this loop: the Petit KOM. At 2.7km with an average grade of 4% its zigzags are just long and steep enough to make your legs really feel the effort!

Recover as you descend and ride past the start pens, then it’s one final Marina Reverse sprint to the finish line.

Stage 3 (July 18-19): Ven-Top (Mont Ventoux) 20.9km. 1523m of ascent

Animated “Ven-Top” Route Details (France) Map
Animated map provided by ZwiftHacks
Released with Zwift’s France map for the first-ever Virtual Tour de France, the “Ven-Top” route is named for the massive climb it contains: Mont Ventoux! This GPS-accurate model of the world-famous climb is by far the toughest ascent in game, climbing 1480 meters (4857′) from the beginning to end of the timed KOM segment.

Released with Zwift’s France map for the first-ever Virtual Tour de France, the “Ven-Top” route is named for the massive climb it contains: Mont Ventoux! This GPS-accurate model of the world-famous climb is by far the toughest ascent in game, climbing 1480 meters (4857′) from the beginning to end of the timed KOM segment.

Route Basics

Length: 20.9 km (13.0 miles)
Elevation:
1534 m (5,033‘)
Lead-In: 0 km ( miles)
Map: France

Start & Finish

Begins at start pens, ends atop Mont Ventoux at KOM arch

Restriction: Temporarily Event-Only

Achievement Badge: 420 XP

Banners and Leaderboards

(in order of appearance)
Mont Ventoux KOM

Bike Selection

Looking to get your fastest time up this massive climb? The Specialized Tarmac Pro frame with Lightweight Meilenstein wheels is your best bet! Check out Fastest Bike Frame and Wheelset for Climbing Alpe du Zwift for more tips.

Route Description

Route profile by ZwiftHub – the place to plan and track your route achievements!

The route begins at the start pens heading east (away from the marina) and immediately onto a false flat. Enjoy it while you can: it’s only going to get steeper!

The timed KOM begins approximately 1.8km after the start. From here you have 19km and 1480m to the top of Mont Ventoux, or you can target the first KOM arch at Chalet Reynard which is 13km and 1058m from the KOM start line. (For comparison, the Chalet Reynard KOM line makes this climb very similar to Alpe du Zwift, which is 12.2km long with 1035m of elevation gain.)

When you pass the Didi ballon and see pitchforks on the pavement, you know you’re getting close to Chalet Reynard. Keep pushing for another 500 meters to that KOM banner. Then you have a decision to make: do you have what it takes to push for another 6km and 400+ meters to the top? (Of course you do! You’ve made it this far. Keep going!)

Notice how the landscape and foliage changes as you climb, beginning with rolling hills and pastures, morphing into a landscape strewn with giant boulders and pine trees, and eventually changing to the famous “moonscape” of Mont Ventoux’s upper reaches. Be happy you’re indoors – it gets windy outside!

You’ll pass Tom Simpson’s memorial with 1km to go. Almost there!

When you reach the weather station atop Mont Ventoux, you’ve completed the Ven-Top route. But keep riding on the flat loop to turn around, then enjoy the long descent – you’ve earned it!

 

Sign up in the Companion app or online at zwift.com/events/series/virtual_letape_du_tour_de_france

Categories

The L’Etape du Tour events have just two categories to choose from:

  • A: Women Only
  • E: Open (Men and Women)

These categories aren’t based on ability in any way – they simply allow the ladies to ride in a women’s-only event if desired.

Is it a race? Only if you want it to be! Keep in mind you’ll be competing against the full spectrum of riders, not just a typical race category (B, C, etc). Make it your personal challenge just to finish a stage, or race all three – it’s up to you!

ZwiftPower for Racers

If you’re planning on racing, be sure you’re signed up for ZwiftPower beforehand since the general classification results (cumulative time) across stages will only be available on ZwiftPower.

Follow the instructions under “Getting Started” here to get signed up for ZwiftPower.

ZwiftPower L’Etape du Tour 2020 Results Page >

Trek Madone

Riding Trek

At the time of this post, the L’Etape du Tour events are set up so all riders are placed on the Trek Madone frame. This is due to partnership/sponsorship deals with ASO, and the good news is the Madone is a very aero frame.

But it leaves us wondering: why not at least give us the Emonda (a better climber) for the final Mont Ventoux stage?

Double Draft

These events are set to run in double draft mode, which hasn’t been used much lately for big Zwift events. If you’re not familiar with double draft, it’s a stronger draft effect more akin to what you would experience in outdoor riding.

This will help packs stay together on the flats, since the faster pack speeds in double draft mode make it harder for strong riders to stay away – at least until the climbs begin!

Kit Unlock

Finish just one Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France stage to unlock the virtual Rapha l’Etape kit, seen here:

To learn more or sign up, visit zwift.com/events/series/virtual_letape_du_tour_de_france

Questions or Comments?

Share below! We’ll do our best to answer questions and comments as more information is released in the coming days.