Sunday, 9 July 2023
CHAMPIONS FLOCK TO L’ÉTAPE DU TOUR DE FRANCE
• The 31st edition of L’Étape du Tour de France, the ultimate cycling challenge in Europe and the only one held on closed roads, will take place between Annemasse and Morzine (157 km, 4,100 m of D+) on 9 July.
• Bixente Lizarazu, Martin Fourcade, Émilien Jacquelin… L’Étape du Tour de France draws champions from various sports
• Alexandre Lloveras, who won the gold medal in tandem at the Tokyo Paralympics, is lining up for his second participation
• Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque turns out in force with almost 300 riders for a cause
• Press accreditation is open on the dedicated platform
Watch out for the American Ian Boswell at the front of the pack. A former pro rider who took part in the Tour de France (2018), the Giro d’Italia (2016) and the Vuelta a España (2015, 2016 and 2018), among other races, he has specialised in gravel bike racing for a few years now. His climbing pedigree makes him one of the favourites. The Savoyard Arthur Blanc is another mountain maniac who could set the race alight.
LIZARAZU, FOURCADE, JACQUELIN, GAVAGGIO AND OTHER STAR ATHLETES ON THE START LINE
Like every year, some big names from the sports world are gearing up for a thrilling weekend in L’Étape du Tour de France. Bixente Lizarazu, a former pro footballer who lifted the World Cup in 1998 and the European Cup in 2000 with les Bleus as well as the Champions League in 2001 with Bayern Munich (to name but a few of his achievements), is mad about cycling. It is only natural to see the Basque on the start line in Annemasse on 9 July. “The steeper, the better”, he says time and again. The course of the 2023 edition will be a real treat for him.
Biathletes are ready to rock and roll too. Leading the way is Martin Fourcade, a legend of the sport who hung up his skis and now serves on the International Olympic Committee. Émilien Jacquelin is returning after finishing 63rd last year. “Cycling is in my blood”, the two–time pursuit world champion (2020 and 2021) likes to say. “I grew up with the Tour de France. I did cycling until I was 15, before switching to biathlon, but I always have a blast when I hop on a bicycle.”
His teammates from the French team Éric Perrot and Antonin Guigonnat will try to keep up.
Other high–level athletes are also stepping into the fray. Now a Superbike motorcycle racer after three seasons in MotoGP, the Frenchman Loris Baz will also hit the road in Annemasse along with the Irish rugby player Greg O’Shea, who used to play for the Irish national rugby sevens team, and the freestyle skiers Enak Gavaggio and Oscar Mandin.
A tandem will also get a big applause on the start line —Alexandre Lloveras, a Paralympic gold medallist in the time trial in Tokyo 2021 (bronze in the road race and pursuit) and multiple–time medallist in the world championships, and his father, Christian. “I had a blast last year”, explains the visually impaired Cofidis rider, who brought with him seven duos from his beloved club, the Tandem Club Rhodanien. “My father and I ride a lot together and L’Étape du Tour de France is a reward. The
atmosphere is awesome and I love taking part in this event. We know we are in for a tough challenge, but our only goal is to enjoy every moment and soak up the scenery. In winter, when it’s cold or raining, with my father, L’Étape du Tour de France motivates us to go out.”
Alain Roux (72), thirtieth start: “Every time is a childhood dream come true” Alain Roux is tackling his 30th L’Étape du Tour de France on 9 July. “I discovered the event from its first edition in 1993, after buying Vélo–Magazine“, he explains after a last training session of 90 km and 3,000 m of elevation gain. “I’ve always been passionate about sport and cycling. Every time I ride L’Étape du Tour de France is a childhood dream come true. The atmosphere of L’Étape du Tour de France is very special because it takes place on the same roads that will host the pros a few days later.
My age makes it a bit tougher every year, but I’ve never had to quit so far, so I hope I’ll manage to finish my 30th start.”
FROM L’ÉTAPE DU TOUR DE FRANCE TO LA GRANDE BOUCLE
6 years ago, Jonas Abrahamsen won L’Étape du Tour de France 2017 in Izoard. The Norwegian has been selected for the Tour de France 2023 with Uno–X team.
MÉCÉNAT CHIRURGIE CARDIAQUE: CHAMPIONS RIDING FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque has been making waves in L’Étape du Tour de France since 2016. This year, nearly 300 “Coureurs du Coeur” will take the start from Annemasse with a jersey in the colours of the organisation, which works to take children with heart defects who live in countries where life–saving surgery cannot be performed to undergo surgery in France or Switzerland instead.
Each “Coureurs du Coeur” got their charitable race number by raising €800 from their friends and family or with the support of their employer. €156,000, enough to pay for 13 children to undergo surgery, have already been raised. This year’s drive aims to save 15 children!
The organisation will also be in the heart of the start village in Annemasse on Friday, 7 and Saturday,
8 July, before the start of the race, as well as turning out in force to cheer for the “Coureurs du Coeur”!
A big gathering will be organised on the podium of L’Étape du Tour de France on Saturday afternoon with all these riders with hearts of gold.