By Ben Atkins in Paris
Organisers will once again hold the 2009 edition of the Etape du Tour on the slopes of Le Mont Ventoux – Monday, July 20, the Tour de France's second rest day. The legendary bald mountain last featured on the parcours of l'Etape in 2000 when hail, snow and sub-zero temperatures forced the organisers to close the course early at Chalet-Reynard, allowing only a few hundred of the several thousand entrants to finish the course.
Despite only being 172 kilometres in length, the parcours will be one of the toughest ever tackled by l'Etape. Riders will have to tackle four smaller climbs before arriving in Bedoin at the base of the mythical Ventoux: the Côte de Citelle, the Col d'Eye, the Col de Fontaube and the Col de Notre-Dame des Abeilles. None of these compares to the 21.2 kilometres at an average of 7.6 percent of the Ventoux, but will all serve to soften the legs before the serious climbing begins.