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REF: #07996

The Big One

Highlights include the cols de l’Iseran, du Galibier, du Glandon, de la Madeleine, oh, and throw in Alpes d’Huez for a little leg stretch in the middle! Fully supported ride with support rider.

  • Half board hotel
  • French Alps —Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise > Oz en Oisans
  • Activity Type
    • With guide
    • Point to point
  • Groups up to 20
  • Features
    • Ensuite rooms

Service

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive at Geneva on a flight with the rest of the group and we will meet you and take you to Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise where the tour will begin tomorrow. The hotel will provide an evening meal and we will talk you through the next few days riding.

Day 2

Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise-Col d’Iseran-Modane 90km, gain 2049m. Just the one climb today but it’s a big one. The Col de l’Iseran at 2763m is the highest road pass in Europe. After a hearty breakfast at the hotel we hit the road, it’s an uphill start but the gradient remains fairly gentle for the first part of the climb up to the world famous ski resort of Val d’Isere. Just before Val, where we stop for coffee, we pass the original village of Tignes although you are unlikely to see it. In 1952 the village was submerged beneath the Lac Du Chevril after the construction of the huge dam and only becomes visible once every ten years when the vast lake is drained for maintenance work on the dam. In 1989 the dam was painted by Jean-Marie Pierret and a team of climbers with a huge fresco of Hercules which is considered to be one of the largest frescos in the world. After our rest the real climb begins. We leave the tree line behind in Val d’Isere and head up into the barren but stunningly beautiful high mountains. It is 16km to the summit from Val and with an average gradient of 6% and a maximum of 12% you’re sure to feel the effects of the high altitude. At the summit we provide you with your refreshments and you will have the chance to put on some warmer clothes ready to enjoy the reward for all your hard work, the breath taking, thoroughly engaging descent into the valley on the other side. We end the day with a short climb up to tonights hotel, a well-earned meal and a good nights sleep.

Day 3

Modane-Allemand,Telegraphe, Galibiere, Alp d’Huez. 135km, 3439m gain. Today is a big one including three the most infamous climbs of the Tour de France; the Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibiere and the notorious Alp d’Huez. After a gentle warm up down the valley to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne we turn left onto smaller roads and the start of an epic day. First up is the Col du Telegraphe, often unclassified by the Tour who considers it to be just part of the accent of the Galibiere. Don’t be fooled, treat this one with respect, it’s a cat 1 climb with a height gain of nearly 900m and a significant climb in its own right. The climb winds up the mountain along a tree shaded road, never getting too steep and often relinquishing fantastic views of the Maurienne Valley below. The numerous fortifications that can be seen along the way and the huge fort just before the top give an indication of the routes historical importance as a connection between the northern and southern alps. From the top a short 4km descent into Valloire and a quick coffee stop if required takes us to the bottom of one of the most feared and celebrated climbs in Tour de France history- The Col du Galibiere. “oh Laffrey! Oh Bayard! Oh Tourmalet! I would be failing in my duty not to proclaim that next to the Galibiere you are pale cheap wine. In front of this giant I can do nothing more than raise my hat and salute” Henri Desgrange-founder of the Tour de France After a short steep section leaving Valloire we hit 4km of false flat, the long straight road passing up the centre of the valley giving plenty of opportunity to take in the sudden change in scenery from the green forests of the lower valley to the vast barren mountain peaks and enormous scree slopes that surround us now. Hitting the first hairpin bend at Plan Lachat the gradient starts to kick up not dropping below 7.5% and sometimes hitting 10% on the ferocious switch backs all the way to the top. Your reward for conquering this monster is one of the most breath taking views in all the Alps. Looking down on the switch backs that you’ve just overcome and watching tiny specks of cyclists making their way up from the valley, if the Galibiere has not already succeeded in making you feel very small it will now. The next 47km of beautiful descending take us down to the Col du Lautaret and on through the world famous mountaineering town of La Grave over looked by the daunting La Meije Glacier, past Lac du Chambon below the ski resort of Les Deux Alps and on to Le-Bourg-d’oisans at the foot of our final challenge for this epic day- Alp d’Huez. Probably the most famous climb of the Tour De France, the 21 hairpin bends have decided the winner of the yellow jersey and been the setting for many epic battles on numerous occasion. A true legend of the Tour. The first section of the climb is the steepest rearing up to 13% in places. Whilst counting off the numbered bends take in the names of all the past Tour De France winners on “The Alp” a rider commemorated on each bend with his name and the year of his win as well as the ever widening view of the deep Romanche Valley. After bend 17 the gradient slackens off a little and you know the worst is over. After a quick break in the ski resort of Alp d’Huez to take on some refreshments and to contemplate exactly what you’ve achieved we’ll head back down taking a small side road for a real edge of the world decent into the town of Allemond on the shores of the Lac du Verney and tonights hotel.

Day 4

Allemand-Moutiers, Glandon and Madeleine 91.8km 2732m gain. The first of the days two climbs is the Col du Glandon with an average of only 4.8% you’d be forgiven for thinking this might be an easy one but with the climb being broken by several decents and an ever changing gradient sometimes hitting 12% it’s very hard to find your rhythm making this climb a real challenge. Sometimes described as a Pyrenean style climb, this route has a character very different to anything else you’ll find in these mountains. The road follows the Eua d’Oie river through the forests of the lower climb up past the majestic turquoise Lac de Grand Maison and it’s dam holding back 140 million cubic meters of water which steadily feed the hydro electric power station passed further down the valley. The forest gradually gives way to bigger views and more open country, look out for the many waterfalls cascading down from mountain faces on the right of the valley and the spectacular Aiguilles de l’Argentiere on the left. While the road carries on to the Col de Fer 3km further on we exit the valley to the left over the Col de Glandon. From here we negotiate the tight hairpins near the summit following the winding road snaking it’s way down into the shade of the trees in the Maurienne valley. After stopping for lunch in the valley floor we cross the river to the town of La Chambre where the accent of the Col de la Madeleine begins. The Col de la Madeleine connects the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys and was first established as a route in Roman times being paved with stone in 1938 by Spanish refugees. First climbed by the TDF in 1969 it’s a relative new comer to the Tour but having been used 23 times since it has definitely established its place as a real classic of the Tour. After 2km of gentle gradient the road kicks up writhing its way up the mountain with an average gradient of 8% never letting up till we hit the col on the western shoulder of the Vanoise Massif. With some sections of up to 12.5% this is a real challenge for any cyclist. You will be greeted at the top by the fantastic panorama of the Mont Blanc and Lauziere Massifs and a very well earned break at the mountain top Café. A beautiful decent takes us down into the Tarentaise valley where the mini bus will be waiting to help you pack away your bikes for the transfer journey back to Geneva and your flight home. Be warned you may need another holiday after this one!

What’s included

  • Bike storage We understand how much you love your bike and we will do everything we can to help keep them safe. Each hotel we stay at has good quality bike storage and we supply additional chains and padlocks to ensure excellent security.

  • Refreshments and lunches The support vehicle will always make itself available to provide you with your refreshments. If you need a water refill on a climb, we will stop in a convenient place to help you out. We also provide picnic lunches on all of our rides as well as snacks to help you on your way.

  • Maps Every day we will provide each rider with a map and profile of the days route, along with any other relevant and useful information.

  • Tools We carry a comprehensive tool kit in the back of the support vehicle along with a number of basic replacement parts. Each member of our team is capable of helping with bike maintenance and basic repairs. We do advise however that you know how to disemble and assemble your own bike and have the tools to do so. Please bring spare inner tubes and a puncture repair kit.

What you need

  • Fitness Riding in the Alps is tough and we create our weekend tours to ensure maximum levels of achievement which comes hand in hand with maximum physical exertion. For this reason we recommend a decent level of fitness and motivation. We will happily create routes for any level of fitness and experience so if you have any concerns please feel free to contact us, together we can come up with the best possible options to suit your needs.

  • Bike For these weekend tours we suggest that you bring your own bike. While we can advise you on hiring a bike here in France it is generally better that you have your own. You need to be comfortable on your bike for long periods of time.

  • Helmet We expect you to wear a helmet at all times while riding.

  • Clothing Please bring appropriate clothing, the climbs can be hot but the long fast descents can get cold especially if you are damp from the hard climb. Extra layers can be kept in the support vehicle so that you don’t have to carry them but please ensure that you bring good quality kit. It is also advisable to bring good sun protection.

Prices

All prices are based on four people in the group and will change if the group is smaller or bigger

Accommodation

Hotels and accommodation

All accommodation has been arranged for the dates highlighted in the tour. If you wish for accommodation before or after the dates, let us know and we can try to help you. We have chosen the hotels for their comfort and location to make your trip as straightforward as possible. Meals will be included at each hotel unless otherwise stated in the itinerary.

Location

Climbe some of the famous cols

  • Col d’Iseran
  • Col du Telegraphe
  • Col du Galibiere
  • Alp d’Huez
  • Col du Glandon
  • Col de Fer

F.A.Q.