More than 3,000 cyclists gathered at UTSA’s Main Campus on Sunday for L’Étape San Antonio, a first of its kind bike race in this city.
Starting at 7 a.m., registered bicyclists pedaled along one of three routes — a 100-mile course, a 60-miler and a 25-mile race. Routes were hilly, and strong winds made it even more difficult for cyclists to endure.
“L’Étape” is French for “the stage,” referring to a leg of the famous Tour de France, whose experts designed routes for the cycling series that aims to create a Tour de France experience for amateurs around the globe.
“I think the L’Étape by Tour de France will do for cycling what the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon has done for running,” Russ Bookbinder, CEO of San Antonio Sports, said of Sunday’s event. “L’Étape by Tour de France is the highest level of cycling, and when you can come in and do an event that has that brand on it, it’s special.”
L’Étape is being held in 25 locations this year, with San Antonio as the only U.S. stage in the series. Next month L’Étape heads to China and Thailand, along with two races in Mexico.
In San Antonio, L’Étape capped off the three-day Fiesta FitFest, created by San Antonio Sports, the local nonprofit sports commission. Fiesta FitFest also included 5K and 10K runs and the Alpha Warrior Fitness Challenge.
Cyclist Val McLeod, 58, was named Queen of the Mountain as the best climber in her age group. Her route was 60 miles long, taking her to Boerne, then close to Pipe Creek and ending in Helotes. The elevation gain on the 60-mile course was 3,689 feet.
“It was a great event. We’re new to San Antonio. We’re from Canada, so this is my first bike race and it’s fabulous. It was fun,” said McLeod.
The back half of the course was windy and hilly, McLeod said. She described it as “tough.”
San Antonio cyclist Nice Samret, who completed the 100-mile race and averaged 17 miles per hour, said Sunday’s event was difficult because of the elevation. The 100-mile course continues west from Boerne all the way to Bandera before a long return trip to Helotes.
“When does San Antonio get picked to do something like this? I just wanted to be part of it,” he said.
Samret said L’Étape drew at least seven cycling groups across the city, some with 200 members each.
Spencer Jones won the men’s 100-mile race in 4 hours, 25 minutes and 3 seconds, just 28-hundredths of a second ahead of Juan Antonio Llamas. In the women’s 100-miler, Annie Bathalter was first in 4:49:28.
In the 60-mile race, Luis Chacon was the overall men’s winner in 2:49:18 while Jennifer Real led the women in 2:49:50.
In the 25-mile race, Genevieve Vargas claimed victory in the women’s race in 1:04:26, and Carlos Lopez won the men’s race in 1:14:20.
Each winner received a medal and an official yellow jersey.
This article has been updated with winners’ results.