While the riders of the Tour de France enjoy a rest day in Tignes – a rare chance to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and catch up with family and friends – 8,000 cyclo-sportive riders will today be experiencing a taste of the pain and suffering they usually endure.

It’s the 15th Etape du Tour and this year’s route will take them from Foix – Cassoulet capital of France – to Loudenvielle, which was last visited by the Tour in 2003, when Gilberto Simon won the stage.

Among the starters will be 1,319 Brits – including hundreds of Cycling Weekly readers. British Cycling supremo David Brailsford and a group of his fellow coaches will be among them

The 196km route will take them over five cols – the Col de Port, Portet d’Aspet, Col de Mente, Port de Bales and Col de Peyresourde.

It’s a course every bit as tough as last year’s from Gap to Alpe d’Huez.

Also on the start list are three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond – one of 163 Americans who have entered, plus for world champion Abraham Olano of Spain. Last year’s ‘winner’, Frenchman Blaise Sonnery – now a professional with Ag2r – is also riding.