Sportive events attract many amateur cyclists each season to test themselves in racing conditions and to take on the challenge it presents. Many of these sportive races are organized as a supporting program of the big pro races of the calendar such as the Strade Bianche , which we had the chance to experience firsthand in March.
With the worldwide prestige of the Tour de France, the organizing body decided to start its own series of sportive events under the franchise L’Étape by Tour de France. The goal is to be able to experience what it is like to ride one stage of arguably the most prestigious cycling stage race in the world. In this context the series currently hosts 32 events in 25 countries of Europe, America and Asia.
L’Étape Czech Republic
One of the events of the series is the L’Étape Czech Republic by Tour de France, which takes place in Prague and the surrounding region on the 10th of June this year. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit the course of the event together with the race organizers and the ambassador of the event, Zdeněk Štybar from Jayco-AlUla.
During those days, we learned about the event organization, its past editions and also discovered some hidden gems located alongside the route in the Krivoklatsko region. The day before our recon ride, we got to visit two successful local cycling brands that you might be already familiar with from the articles we published earlier this year: Repete Cycles and Posedla.
The local edition reaps success
Speaking with Mr Mancini, the Project Manager of the global L’Étape series, we were told that the Czech edition is particularly successful with its high-quality organization and also the atmosphere along the route. Although cycling is not one of the most followed sports in Czechia, the Tour de France seems to be an exception and the same applies to the L’Étape. There are dozens of fan zones in the villages along the route, attracting spectators to come and cheer up the riders.
As with many other sportive events, also the L’Étape Czech Republic offers three different courses: 140 km, 100 km and 65 km, all of them covering mostly the same course. The wide range in distance seems to attract the many riders of different performance levels.
The last edition also enticed attendees to ride in the peloton together with the likes of Andy Schleck and the local Zdeněk Štybar. At this year’s edition, the three times CX world champion is going to be accompanied by Bradley Wiggins. Definitely a unique opportunity for the local cycling fans to enjoy a great experience.
We talked with Zdeněk Štybar about his motivation to support the event and to become its ambassador.
“First and foremost, I decided to support L’Étape Czech Republic because I know the organizers and I trust their experience to create such a quality event. Otherwise, I wouldn’t take part in it, if I wasn’t 100% certain it is a well-organized event.”
Zdeněk Štybar, three-time CX world champion
He also shared his satisfaction that L’Étape Czech Republic has been growing in popularity among the local cycling fans over the time, which helps promote the sport of cycling in the country but also the region where the event takes place.
Krivoklatsko: the Czech region resembling the Ardennes
As soon as we departed from the starting point of the course in Prague, we quickly reached the outskirts of the Czech capital and ventured into the picturesque countryside, surrounded by sprawling fields. The route continued towards the hilly and forested region of Krivoklatsko, where most of the route is contained. The Krivoklatsko region resembles the famous Belgian Ardennes, given its profile of rolling hills hidden in the vast woods. “Indeed, it reminds me of Ardennes, it really has a lot to offer even for cyclists visiting from other countries,” says Štybar, who lives in Belgium.
The route covers a series of hills, most of them being steady and enjoyable to climb, as untruthful it may sound. However, one climb really stands out from the rest and could be the key section where the sportive is decided: it is a steep cobbled climb which could stand the challenge of the infamous Flemish cobbled bergs. It is located in Krivoklat, in the heart of the region of the same name, also famous for its big medieval castle. The riders get a nice view of the castle right before they arrive at the foot of the hill.
The region and the route are not only about climbs over rolling hills, though. There are also a few quality coffee places along the L’Étape route in Krivoklatsko to stop by. One of them is Kolo & Káva, a stylish cycling café and a bike boutique.
The Krivoklatsko region seems to be a good fit for such a sportive event, offering both challenging rolling hills to conquer as well as scenic views of the landscape while riding out in nature. Although it is an unobtrusive region that cyclists may not think about when planning their next adventure, it certainly has a lot to offer to any kind of cycling enthusiast.