(Upper-intermediate level vocabulary exercise adapted from an article The Guardian newspaper.)
There are many keen cyclists in Europe. However, the gap between leisure riding and racing has been growing. To fill this gap, sportives have been developed to cater for cyclists who want serious but who cannot train every day of the year. The sportive principle is simple: to set a course to be covered within a certain time for age groups.
Most of these events offer electronic timing, water and feeding stations, a well-marked route, and good facilities at the start and finish. Some routes also offer a cut-off so that if some riders do not feel they can complete the course, they can easily return to the start. The race of all for sportivists, and the very first sportive of all, is the Etape du Tour. This is run each year over a selected mountain stage of the Tour de France. Unlike other sportives, this race is in that it offers totally closed roads in the same way as the professional race. However, the Etape is now greatly over-subscribed and no longer easy to get into.
With that in mind, the organisers have developed a second Etape. This is run in the early autumn and also one of the 'legendary' stages of the Tour de France. The Etape is not to be taken lightly and regularly covers mountain routes. Like all serious sporting , it requires very significant amounts of training and preparation. This is not for weekend riders but for committed cyclists with experience and the lightweight equipment.