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REF: #08171

Classic Alps Tour

If the likes of Galibier, Alpe d'Huez, Croix de Fer, Madeleine, Izoard and the majestic Mont Ventoux might be on your cycling 'to-do list', then this could be the trip for you.

  • Half board hotel
  • French Alps —Thonon-les-Bains >
  • Activity Type
    • Route advice only
    • Point to point
  • Groups up to 20


If great climbs, great scenery & a healthy dose of cycling history are ‘your thing’, then you’ll probably love the challenges of our Alps & VentouxTour. Starting outside of Geneva on the shores of Lac Leman, we’ve created a superb 5½-day route which crests many of the most iconic & challenging Alpine climbs.

This is not a beginners’ route, tackling as it does, several days where the ride exceeeds 150km & the elevation gain exceeds 3000m. Riders should ensure that they make adequate preparation in advance to achieve the fitness levels which will be required to complete the course successfully.


  • 6 nights shared-room accommodation in 2-star or 3-star hotels
  • 6 breakfasts
  • 5 evening meals (our final celebratory ‘gala dinner’ is a la carte & on this occasion riders pay their own bill)
  • 6 days on-the-road rider support & route mapping.

Single room occupancy is available at an additional ‘single supplement’ cost of £250 if notified to us at the time of booking.

Not Included

  • Flights or other transport to/from France/Switzerland
  • Food cousumed at lunch breaks / cafe stops
  • Any alcohol or soft drinks consumed at hotels
  • Any hotel telephone bills or other incidental expenses.


Day 1 – airport transfer and warm-up (60km ride; 1000m of elevation gain)

In the morning we collect you from Geneva airport and transfer you to the prety spa town of Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lac Leman, where you’ll have the chance to build up your bike ahead of our warm-up ride. We’ll ride the 60km to Cluses (including the climb past Morzine), gaining around 1000m along the way, before checking into our hotel & resting ahead of the bigger challenges ahead.

Day 2 – Cluses to St Jean-de-Maurienne (155km; 3700m of elevation gain)

We’re barely a couple of kilometres out of town as we hit today’s first climb, the demanding Col de Colmbiere, peaking out at 1570m. A short recovery on the 12km descent should be just enough to re-charge the batteries for the gentler grades of the Col d’ Aravis and having summited that climb, we have the respite of a 25km descent and 30km valley road before the day’s final challenge. The Col de Madeleine is long & testing, reaching almost 2000m in elevation before sending us plunging down another 20km descent to our ‘stage finish’ in St Jean-de-Maurienne.

Day 3 – St Jean-de-Maurienne to Bourg d’Oisans (97km; 3000m elevation gain)

A shorter day’s ride, but still containing a significant pair of climbs. Most of the day’s first 30km are taken up with the climb to the summit of the Col de Croix de Fer. There are ‘false summits’ along the way, which might provide respite (or frustration, depending on your mood!), but having attained the col, there’s a magnificent 40km of downhill & flat riding to the town of Bourg d’ Oisans. From there, you know what comes next. 21 hairpin bends; 13.2km of suffering; 1071 vertical metres of ‘up’; and the crowning glory of knowing you’ve climbed the icon that is Alpe d’ Huez. The fastest ascent stands at 37 mins. Anyone riding up in under/close to the hour has put in a magnificent effort.

Day 4 – Bourg d’ Oisans to Embrun (152km; 3400m of elevation gain)

Today we face the longest single stretch of uphill riding on the entire tour as we depart Bourg d’ Oisans and set off for the Galibier. The first 33km of the day sees us reach the Col de Lautaret, which is a 2057m high ‘shoulder’ on the way up to Galibier. From there follows a further 9km to the summit of the Giant itself, peaking at 2618m above sea level. As you might hope, there’s a fabulous descent of as reward for your morning’s efforts - 35km, back down to 1200m. Challenge Number 2 for the day is one of France’s favourite climbs (made so by famous duels & successful French riders back in the 1950s), the 20km ascent through the Casse Deserte (the Broken Desert) to the Col d’ Izoard (2360m). At the top, pin your ears back for the 40km or so of largely downhill into Embrun.

Day 5 – Embrun to Sisteron (140km; 1600m of elevation gain)

A much easier day today as we make our transition across the Southern Alps towards the Giant of Provence. Whilst our elevation gain is ‘only’ 1600m and our finish point is 400m lower than our start, the ‘bumps’ along the way still need climbing. The highlight of the day for many, will be the 60km descent from the Col de Labouret down to Malijan.

Day 6 – Sisteron to Mont Ventoux (137km; 2800m of elevation gain)

Some good warm-up opportunity today as we make the traverse into Provence and wrap our way around Mont Ventoux to ascend from the ‘classic’ Tour de France side, starting at Bedoin. At ‘only’ 1900m, Ventoux is not the highest point of the ride, but this finale climb is a huge challenge. The relentless 9% gradients through the forest; the exposure to sun, rain & wind as you pass Chalet Reynard; the emotions at the Tom Simpson memorial & the final summoning of your last reserves through the ‘moonscape’ of the last few kilometres to the radio mast. Everyone should ride Ventoux at least once. Today is your opportunity.

Day 7 – Transfer to departure airports

Since our minibuses will be headed on a course back to the Pyrenees, we will have the option to drop you off at any of four airport (or at Avignon TGV rail station).

Airport drop-off timings are likely to be :

  • Avignon - 09.00
  • Montpellier - 11.00
  • Carcassonne - 12.15
  • Toulouse - 13.30


Enjoy the tour during the day, relaxing and resting for 6 nights in shared-room accommodation in 2-star or 3-star hotels.


Enjoy Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, Croix de Fer, Madeleine, Izoard and the majestic Mont Ventoux in our Classic Alps Tour.