Le Tour et le soleil at L’Etape London

29th September 2015

As the sun began to peek out from behind the velodrome at the Lee Valley Velopark, the first of 3,500 riders who had signed up for the inaugural L’Etape London by the Tour de France began to arrive in the event village, eager to start their ride.

This inaugural event completely sold out of places for all 3 distances, and those lucky enough to get one were in for an unforgettable day out. Riders could choose between 75km, 146km or 185km on a route that incorporated much of Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour de France and finished with a flying lap of the Velopark.

LEtapeLondonVelodromeJoining the riders taking on the Long (185km) distance were 6 pros from ONE Pro Cycling, a completely new UK-based professional team who have already made a big impact on the UK and European racing circuit, winning both the King of the Mountains and the Sprint jerseys at the Tour of Britain as well as a stage at the Tour of Poland. Acting as ride captains for our cyclists, they were there to provide advice and encouragement, as well as answer any questions about life as a pro.

At 7.30am the first wave rolled away from the Velopark out on to the 185km long route through Essex and Cambridgeshire. The official starter for the day was none other than Tour de France legend Bernard Hinault, who has won the iconic Tour de France a staggering 5 times, and is one of an elite group to have won all 3 Grand Tours more than once. Once all the Long route riders were underway, the Medium route riders lined up for their start. Those who had chosen to take on the 145km route were joined by Human Race’s very own Nick Rusling, who wanted to experience the event as a participant rather than as an event organiser. Finally, the Short route riders departed the Velopark and were lucky enough to be have Bernard Hinault as one of their numbers.

Just like in the Tour de France, the start was a ‘départ fictif’ to provide a relaxed warm-up and as the riders exited London and set out towards Epping Forest, they reached another timing point at the ‘départ réel’, where an official Tour de France red Skoda marked the official start of the ride. Out on the route participants were fuelled at several feed stations by energy products from Zipvit Sport and the hugely popular Human Race specialty salted potatoes amongst other treats.


All participants had the added excitement of finishing with a 1km timed lap around the Velopark. Once passing underneath the famous red arch, the riders were encouraged to do the 1km as fast as possible to see how fast a time they could post; a task significantly easier for those that hadn’t spent 8 hours completing the long route course! “I wasn’t sure I’d have enough energy to push it at the end, but once you’re there, you just can’t help yourself”, commented Nick. There were prizes up for grabs too, with the fastest male and female winning a Tour de France green jersey each, plus white jerseys for the fastest male and female under 25.

Access SportAn extra-special yellow jersey signed by Chris Froome was also up for grabs at L’Etape London, going to the highest fundraiser for official charity Access Sport. Access Sport is an award-winning charity working in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged areas. By using cycling and other sports as an anchor, Access Sport helps disadvantaged and disabled young people to achieve their full potential and enjoy the social and health benefits of sport. The accolade of highest fundraiser went to George Swan, who at the time of writing had raised £1,650.

Once crossing the finish line, riders received their L’Etape London finisher medal and the chance to have their picture taken in front of the extremely popular official Tour de France podium. Over half the field queued up to receive their free photo, courtesy of SportCam.

During the event and within the village, there was an additional sprinkling of Tour de France magic with Tour de France sponsors Skoda providing official cars with their infamous horns, plus museum panels detailing the history of the Tour de France and of course the opportunity to see the ONE Pro official team bus.

The road cycling season is over for Human Race, but the Off-Road Series kicks off with WildMan on 21 November where participants can take part in either a trail run or a duathlon. So dust off the mountain bike and get out the trail shoes and join us!