What Kind of Training is Required to Succeed in L'Etape de Tour?

One of the questions that I am most disappointed that I was not able to ask Chris Carmichael when Kathleen and I met him in Freehold on Saturday is, what kind of training effort would be required in order to successfully complete L'Etape de Tour?

For those of you who have never heard of it, L'Etape de Tour is an opportunity for amateur cyclists to ride a single stage of the Tour de France. It typically takes place on one of the two Tour de France rest days, and in recent years, one of the longest stages of the Tour is chosen.

In 2003, L'Etape de Tour was ridden over the course of Stage 16 from Pau to Bayonne. This was a route of 197.5 kilometers (122.7 miles), with two Category 1, two Category 3, and two Category 4 climbs. A British mountain biker described his experience completing the ride in approximately 8 hours and 46 minutes. This qualified him for a "silver medal." He could have received a "gold medal" if he had finished in under 7 hours and 30 minutes. I wonder if the pro scouts get a list of those people.

I've never ridden anything close to 122 miles in one day. Last Summer, when I did the most riding I've ever done, I only managed to ride 100 miles in a week four times. I rode the equivalent of a "metric century" (100 kilometers or 62 miles) only once. Could I ride that distance twice in one day in France? And how would I plan the training to do it, assuming I have a fulltime job? This is probably one of the problems that amateur athletes bring to a coaching organization like Carmichael Training Systems.

I don't know when or if I'll be able to compete in L'Etape de Tour, but it's one of my not so secret goals for the next few years of my life. I hope I have the good fortune and the family support to do it one day.