With 54 kilometres of climbing, next year?s Etape du Tour is looking like the toughest ever edition of the legendary cyclo-sportive. Five Pyrenean cols are included in the 196km route that winds through the southern French mountains from Foix to Loudenville on July 16.

Apart from the demanding terrain, the 8,500 etapists will have to contend with the weather. Last year?s Etape was blessed with clear skies and searing temperatures, which ended many participants rides? prematurely. Around 3,000 failed to make the finish within the time limit.

Our advice is to treat the 2007 Etape with respect. Make sure that you prepare well ? this probably isn?t one for first timers.

For more details of the Etape du Tour 2007 and tips on how to prepare, see this week?s Cycling Weekly (November 9), out on Thursday.