ALPS TO MONACO
CYCLING THE CLASSIC ROUTE DES GRANDES ALPS
The statistics for this journey make for impressive reading – 8 major cols and over 11,000m of ascent in 4 days. Beginning with an ascent of the famous Alpe d’Huez, this route chases the mountains south towards the sea and the sun, taking in the spectacular and varied landscapes and climbs like the Col d’Izoard or the lofty heights of the Col de la Bonette, the highest paved pass in Europe. And, in addition to the uphill challenges to get stuck into, there is mile upon mile of freewheeling, chasing the rivers downhill to the Mediterranean.
Whether you’re a King of the Mountains or getting your teeth into a new challenge, you’ll be fully supported throughout the trip.
· Ride south towards the Mediterranean
· Famous climbs including the Alpe d’Huez, Col d’Izoard, Col de La Bonette
· Friendly and comfortable half-board accommodation
· Fully supported with cycling guides and support vans
Day 0 – Arrival We’ll pick you up from Geneva Airport and transfer you with your bikes to Bourg d’Oisans, a charming Alpine town that, at the foot of the famed Alpe d’Huez climb, regularly hosts stages of the Tour de France. We’ll assist with rebuilding your bike if required, and once settled into the accommodation, you’ll meet your guides and enjoy a welcome briefing and your first hearty cyclist’s dinner.
Day 1 – Bourg d’Oisans to Briancon. We’ll first turn north, up the fabled slopes of the Alpe d’Huez, with its 21 hairpins clinging to the steep mountainside, and opening out with impressive views of the valley below. On the ascent, you’ll find a little bit of cycling history to keep you inspired, as each hairpin bears the name of a previous victor on the climb. After a good rest in the ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, we’ll roll back down the climb and begin the long ascent of the Col du Lautaret, climbing through jagged rocks and mountain reservoirs, before freewheeling downhill to Briancon, resting on a wide valley floor underneath its imposing hilltop fortress.
Distance 59 miles/95km Ascent 3218m
Day 2 – Briancon to Jausiers. After a refreshing night’s sleep, we climb straight up the slopes of Izoard, sight of many a famous Alpine battle in the peloton, and consequently home to monuments of Louison Bobet and Fausto Coppi along with a small cycling museum on the summit. Crossing the col, the hotter climes to the south create markedly different scenery on the descent, including the impressive rock pillars of the barren Casse Deserte in the Queyras National Park. The descent continues through a spectacular gorge, before turning uphill at Guillestre towards the Col du Vars, with a great café on top.
Distance 56 miles/91km Ascent 2814m
Day 3 – Jausiers to Saint-Martin-Vésubie. This morning we ride up, to the roof of the European cycling world, once serving a military barracks at the Col du Restefonde. However, to ride the “highest paved through-road in Europe”, we must take a 2km tear-drop shaped loop around the Cime de La Bonette peak, specifically constructed to ensure a greater height than any of its nearest competitors (the Col d’Iseran and Stelvio Pass). From our highest point, it is then nearly 60km of descent to Isola and Rimplas, before creeping over our final pass of the day at the Col Saint Martin.
Distance 47 miles/75km Ascent 3246m
Day 4 – Saint-Martin-Vésubie to Monaco. Beginning by rolling downhill out of the Mercantour National Park, today’s climbs are of more variable gradients, rolling up and down through the stunning gorges and desert scrub towards to Cote d’Azur, with a lot of height to lose over the course of the day. From the Col de Saint Pancrace, we will roll down through quiet urban back streets, perhaps under the watchful eye of the professional cyclists who live here, before enjoying a much-deserved celebration at our finish point in Monaco.
Distance 47 miles/75km Ascent 1822m
Leadership & Navigation by qualified Guides
Full vehicle support to deal with repairs etc
All accommodation and meals on half board basis
Transfers from Geneva Airport if arriving on recommended flights
Entry visas if required
Alterations to the itinerary
Due to snow cover on the high passes, this itinerary can only be undertaken in the summer months. July and August are peak times to complete the route. September is slightly quieter and can be cooler too.
This is a challenging ride, suitable for those with prior road biking experience and a good level of fitness. The support van will be able to carry any riders who need to sit out sections of the climbs.
A full kit list will be sent prior to departure, but it is recommended that you have your own bike and are familiar with each other! Rental bikes will be available if required.