Tandem Cycling - Etape du Tour by Tandem ?
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07-26-09, 03:44 AM
Does anyone have experience of riding the Etape du Tour on a tandem ?
I've seen reports from last weeks event that there were a number of tandems on the ride from MontÚlimar to Mont Ventoux. Would be good to hear from anyone on how it went.
Having riden Mont Ventoux on a solo and the Col du Tourmalet on our tandem I'm thinking of an Etape entry in the future.
All the best and respect to all the Etape riders.
07-26-09, 06:08 AM
This year, my wife and I have ridden a couple of European cyclosportif events on our tandem, and a couple on our single bikes. We did the Maratona dles Dolomites in Italy, which is similar to the Etape with amost 9,000 riders. We chose to do it on our singles because it was all solid climbing and descending, which is the kind of terrain where the tandem doesn't give us any advantage except for making it easier to ride closer together. In the end, we were very pleased about this decision because the roads were extremely crowded. Navigating a tandem up and down those mountains surrounded by that many other riders would have made it very tricky - it was enough of a challenge on the single bikes until things started to spread out a bit after 60km.
If I were going to do the Etape, I would therefore probably choose to ride the single bikes simply because of the maneuverability. However, in the smaller events that we've done, with up to about 2,000 people, the tandem is great and doesn't really have any drawbacks.
07-27-09, 07:32 AM
I did L'etape de Tour in 2005. I don't recall seeing any tamdems. Not to say there weren't any ( even a decent number of tandems could be missed in a crowd of 9,000)
I see a couple of problems doing it on a tandem. Depending on the course, the early parts of the race can be extremely crowded. On the first climb, my year, it was a single lane road 13% grade, and wall to wall riders. You actually had to track stand, accelerate into a gap, track stand, accelerate into a gap, repeat. Negotiating those conditions would be more difficult on a tandem. Not impossible, but you'd need very good handling skills.
Second problem is the time cutoff. You need to be pretty strong to finish L'Etape. One guy I did it with was a pretty good Cat 4 racer, and got swept before he even got to the Col de Aubisque. So you'd need to be pretty strong climbers as a team to avoid getting pulled.
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