A former elite cyclist, who now rides for a Shropshire based amateur cycling team, is aiming to become the first British person to win the ‘Etape du Tour’, a mass participation event that follows the route of one of the stages for this year’s Tour de France.
Since 1993, amateurs have had the chance to tackle one of the stages of the famous three week race, which this year takes place from July 7 to July 29.
The Etape du Tour will take place in the French Alps between Annecy and Le Grand Bornand on Sunday July 8.
Liam Holohan, who previously rode for UCI teams ‘Team Wiggins’ and ‘Madison Genesis,’ now rides for Rhino Velo Race Team, run by Shropshire business men Chris Pook, of Estate Agents Cooper Green Pooks, and Ben Lawrence, of Beaumont Lawrence Chartered Insurance Brokers.
Mr Holohan said: “Since retiring from being a pro cyclist, I have focussed on my coaching business, Holohan Coaching, and helping other riders achieve their goals. “Chris and Ben approached me about leading a training camp in the Alps as I used to train there at altitude before the Tour of Britain every year. It was agreed to combine it with a tilt at winning the Etape, as no Brit has so far managed to do so and it should suit my characteristics as a climber.’’
Mr Pook, who is also taking part said: “I have been looking forward to the Etape du Tour all season as I am excited to ride my bike the Alps and it will be fun to follow the route that the pros will take a few days later.
“I have had a pretty good season so far, so hope to put out a good performance and finish in the top few percent of riders’.”
During the event, cyclists will climb the Col de la Croix-Fry before embarking on a 7km climb to the Plateau des Glières at an average gradient of 11 per cent.
There will then be a hard ride up to the Col de Romme, then the Col de la Colombière, the latter perched at 1,613 metres above sea level.
The total elevation gain for the day is more than 4,000 metres and after 170km the event finishes with a final downhill to Le Grand-Bornand.
Liam, 30, will be joined on the trip by fellow Rhino Velo Race Team members Barrie Pugh, 39, of Hanwood, Tom Pook, 30, of Shrewsbury, Matthew Davies, 35, of Minsterley, Matthew Garthwaite, 32 of Newport, and Chris Pook, 35, of Shrewsbury.
Mr Lawrence said: “Aside from the first rider over the line, all the climbs will be timed and will enable one rider to become the ‘King of the Mountains’
“Liam is known for his climbing ability so he has a real chance of winning this jersey as well as the overall.”
Mr Lawrence, who also sponsors the team with Cooper Green Pooks, Doppio Protection and Holohan Coaching, said the Rhino Velo Race Team has been going from strength to strength with every race of the season.
He said: “The team has had a fantastic season so far with strong placement at every race we have taken part in.
“With Liam also coaching the team, our members have really ridden to their strengths and learnt how to help each other in races.
“The next stop is the Etape du Tour followed by a hard week of training in the Alps that will hopefully see the team finish the season very strong.’’