L’Etape Australia provides a unique chance for amateurs and cycling enthusiasts to experience a Tour de France stage under professional racing conditions. Fully closed roads, crowds, roadside support, Tour de France jerseys to chase… But the best thing about it? It’s in our own backyard!
The Snowy Mountains is an amazing location to stage this event. With the infamous steep slopes of the Col de Beloka, the green jersey-clad town of Berridale and the final climb up the Col de Kosciuszko it’s an event that typifies the experience the world’s best cyclists encounter each July.
This year I raced La Course by Le Tour de France finishing up the Col d’Izoard in the French Alps. What an experience it was! As we raced along towards the bottom of the final climb you could feel the adrenalin pumping through the peloton. As the road started to rise the numbers in the front were dwindling and I still found myself there in a select group. For a few moments, I looked up to see where we were headed and saw the crowds waiting roadside for our arrival. I had goosebumps. As the race blew apart the sound of the crowds and the little voice in my head were telling me not to give up. As the kilometers went by I could finally see the summit flanked with people and buzzing with the sound of the commentators excitedly describing our race.
These feelings were familiar. Riding down from Crackenback through Jindabyne in L’Etape Australia last year gave me goosebumps as the crowds, and especially our family was waiting roadside to cheer us through before they headed up to the finish. After 138kms I arrived at the bottom of the final climb with a small group of men and I desperately needed water. They waited for me and then helped me the whole way up the mountain to the summit always making sure I was ok with the pace. As we neared the finish there were our supporters again waiting to cheer for us as we hit the final few hundred meters and rode our way down towards the sound of the commentator. We crossed the line together, and whilst I was totally smashed, I was also happy and grateful for this experience and the community surrounding this event.
When I crossed that line I knew I had conquered a truly magnificent course. More than that though the atmosphere and experience of it is something I will remember for a long time. It’s the same buzz I had at the top of the Col d’Izoard in France. And both times I have been thankful for that little voice in my head telling me to never give up.
Riding as a professional for the Orica-Scott team, Amanda Spratt is one Australia’s most talented cyclists. Two-time Olympian (London 2012 and Rio 2016) and Two-time Australian National Road Champion (2012 & 2016), Amanda is a serious competitor but, above all, loves cycling.
Amanda will share her knowledge and tips with the L’Etape Australia cycling community in our Weekly Wisdom articles before she joins you in the Snowy Mountains this December, riding L’Etape Australia of her Penrith Cycling Club team