Dates: 23-31 July
€1 ,500.00 – €3 ,925.00
YES: if you want to cycle some of the greatest climbs in France
YES: if you want to ride the classic route from Geneva to the Mediterranean.
YES: if you want to make friends and have fun with other like-minded people.
YES: if you want to stay in authentic, comfortable 4* or 3* hotels, with outstanding food.
NO: if you are a beginner cyclist or you do not like cycling up hills.
NO: if you prefer low cost accommodation and cheap & cheerful food.
|Date||Programme||Climbs||Distance & Elevation|
|Sat July 23||Arrival day (Geneva)||-||-|
|Sun July 24||Geneva to La Clusaz||Mont Salève, col de la Colombière||109km / 2,900m+|
|Mon July 25||La Clusaz to Sainte Foy||Col des Aravis, col des Saisies, Cormet de Roselend||100km / 2,800m+|
|Tue July 26||Sainte Foy to Valloire||Col de l'Iséran, col du Télégraphe||128km / 3,000m+|
|Wed July 27||Valloire to Serre Chevalier||Col du Galibier||59km / 1,250m+|
|Thu July 28||Serre Chevalier to Le Sauze||Col d’Izoard, col de Vars||111km / 2,780m+|
|Fri July 29||Le Sauze to Valberg||Col de la Cayolle, Valberg||81km / 2,200m+|
|Sat July 30||Valberg to Menton||Col de St Martin, col de Turini, col de Castillon||137km / 3,000m+|
|Sun July 31||Departure day (Nice)||-||-|
Arrive in Geneva. We will pick you up from the airport and take you to the hotel in La Clusaz, where you will unpack and set-up your bikes. If time permits, you can do a short check-out ride on one of the many climbs close to La Clusaz.
The Route des Grandes Alpes begins on the shores of Lake Geneva, so after a comfortable night in La Clusaz we will take you to the start point near the famous water jet in the centre of Geneva.
The first climb takes us up the Mont Salève, from where there are stunning views across the lake and the Jura mountains to the north, and across the Alps to the south.
We then take quiet back roads cross-country to the Arve valley and Scionzier, the start of climb the col de la Colombière. This is a classic of the northern Alps, often used in the Tour de France. Beware, the last 3km are the hardest!
There are no flats today! The climbs keep coming and keep getting tougher on this challenging ride from La Clusaz to Sainte Foy, in the Tarantaise valley.
The climb to the col des Aravis begins immediately we leave the hotel. Thankfully it has an easy gradient, and is soon followed by a sinuous descent, directly to the start of the climb to the Saisies. This is a longer climb with two short descents on the way.
Again there is no transition from the descent to the final climb to the Cormet de Roselend, famous for the its stunningly beautiful lake two-thirds of the way up. This is the best picnic spot in the Alps!
There are two big climbs on the menu today, and the first one is huge! At 2,770m the col de l’Iséran, is the highest paved pass in Europe (if not quite the highest road). Close to the Italian border, it is at the head of the Tarantaise valley and connects across to the Maurienne.
We start climbing from the moment we leave the hotel and only stop on the summit, almost 40 km later. The gradient is never too steep. If we are lucky, we will see marmottes near the top.
After the Iséran we enjoy an even longer descent down the valley of the river Arc before the final climb of the day, the col du Télégraphe, which brings us to Valloire and our hotel for the night.
Short but steep, this stage takes us over perhaps the most iconic of all the high Alpine passes, the col du Galibier (2,645m). Right up there with the Tourmalet and Mont Ventoux, the Galibier has a well-deserved reputation and is certainly one of the climbs the most feared by cyclists.
After celebrating on the summit, the long descent from the Galibier brings us to Serre Chevalier, a charming and sun-blessed ski village near Briançon.
Stage 4 is easier than the other six stages, so that those in need of recovery may do so. If you are feeling strong you should carry on to the col du Granon, which returns to the Tour de France in 2022 for the first time since 1986.
The vegetation changes as we continue our journey south, becoming drier and more Mediterranean. We can expect the temperature in the valleys to be noticeably warmer.
We have two more climbs over 2,000m today, beginning with the long climb to the iconic col d’Izoard (2,360m). We will stop to admire the amazing lunar landscape of the Casse Desserte before another long descent.
The climb to the col de Vars (2,108m) which follows is in two steps, with a nice break in the middle. Once down, there’s a short climb above the valley floor to reach our hotel in Le Sauze.
On the penultimate stage we reach the maritime Alps and tackle the last of the 2,000m+ passes, the col de la Cayolle (2,326m).
If it is a hot day the climb may feel long, but it’s on a delightful quiet road with a good chance of seeing wildlife. We can expect to be rewarded by a cool breeze and stunning views from the summit.
The descent follows the course of the river Var through beautiful scenery and a few small villages. We finally turn off in Guilaumes for the final climb of the day, to the ski village of Valberg.
There are always mixed feelings on the final day: elation mixed with sadness that our epic ride is almost over. For the first time since Geneva, we will descend more than we climb! We have a total of 4,500m to descend on this final day, including innumerable hairpins on delightful, quiet roads.
There’s no lack of climbing, however, beginning with the col de St Martin. We pass through the pretty village of St Martin de Vésubie before the col de Turini, famous from the Monte Carlo rally. After these two, the col de Castillon is a formality before the final descent to Menton and the sea.
Time to pack the bikes and leave for home. We will take you to the airport in Nice (unless you decide to extend your stay!)
We begin our Tour at the wonderful Hotel Beauregard in la Clusaz, our favourite hotel in the Alps. The comfort of the rooms is matched by the outstanding quality of the food and the delightful service.
There is an indoor swimming pool and spa and of course free WiFi throughout the hotel.
Apologies for the delay since our return, but I just wanted to pass on to you a huge thank you for our recent Alpine week cycling – we both think of it as one of our best holidays/trips we’ve done for many years! A tremendously well organised and enjoyable ride, which I would gladly recommend to anyone. I just wish I’d had the sense to take a few additional days recovery on the French Riviera instead of flying straight home and turning to work!
Thank you so much for a fantastic week. I truly enjoyed myself every single day. Despite the fact that I was overly defensive descending, I feel as though I learned a lot and gained confidence by the end of the week. Although I have been riding for years, I never had any type of instruction or guidance previously. On my first ride back today, I could feel a difference in descending and ascending. The week did wonders for me. I loved cycling prior to the trip, but love it even more now. You all did a first rate job organizing and planning for all of us. (David, USA)
Thank you and your team for such a great training camp. I have improved my fitness, descending skills, had great food and overall a very good experience. I really wish you can expend your training camp programs because you certainly deserve to. (Alvi, Turkey)
The camp was great. the coaching really paid off for me. Backing off early in the climbs and just keeping a consistent power output got me up the climbs faster and fresher. my descending is much improved and much more fun. I think in some ways, the best things you do, or at least the least obvious, is just teaching people how to manage their energy and recovery, on and off the bike. Riding with Stephane was a privilege. his ability to assess our ability and ride with us right on the edge of what were capable of without going over was amazing and definitely made a big difference. (Ted, USA)
From Sat 23 July to Sun 31 July
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