Preparing for l’Etape du Tour in Modane, France

After a full-on day of travel the previous day, we were ready to chill out and keep the driving to a minimum on day two of our holiday. We slept in, and then the boys went for a quick ride up and down the local mountain to prepare for their race the following day. l’Étape du Tour, a 109km cycling race that follows stage 19 of this year’s Tour de France from Modane to Alpe d’Huez, is something my husband Brendan has been wanting to do for some time, so when registrations opened last year he and a friend jumped at the chance, the idea of this holiday was born.

In the afternoon, we drove the precarious mountain roads down to the town of Modane, where competitors needed to register and collect their race numbers. We jumped on a shuttle bus which made its way up the treacherous switchbacks to a small mountain town about 6km from Modane, called Valfrejus, where the registration tent was located. On the way I spotted what looked like a tiny church perched on the edge of the mountain above a stream, so whilst Brendan and Christian registered for the race, I took a little stroll down to the beautiful stone church, which I discovered was called Chapelle du Charmaix:

the church

After snapping a bunch of photos I walked up to the Étape village, where the boys were happily amused with the plethora of bike equipment and apparel on display.

Brendan with the Leopard-Trek jersey

Brendan & Christian

Once we’d looked at far too much cycling stuff for my taste, we caught the bus back down the mountain to Modane, which had been decked out in all sorts of bike/Tour paraphernalia, including this cute Tour de France jersey bunting:

jersey bunting in Modane

church steeple in Modane

After a quick look around the town, as well as a bowl of pasta at the ‘pasta party’ held for the riders, we left Modane for Valmeinier, eager to get to bed before a super early morning on race day. The boys were both nervous and excited, and I was just plain nervous, knowing that a) I would have to drive 2 hours through the mountains by myself (on the wrong side of the road) in the morning and b) Brendan was going to be cycling up and down some pretty knarly mountains! We fell asleep to the sound of more thunderstorms over the mountains, all hoping the following day would be a success!

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