This epic ride starts in the charming Italian town of Cuneo, before climbing into France in search of some of the most iconic climbs in cycling history. The first big challenge is the Col de la Bonnette, at 2802m the highest col in Europe and a favourite of Robert Millar. From here on the legendary climbs come in quick succession as we make our way across the spectacular cols of Vars, Izoard, Galibier and Croix de Fer. We finish the route by tackling the famous 21 hairpins bends to Alpe d’Huez, a memorable finish to a memorable trip!
All breakfasts are included. For breakfast you can expect a continental style buffet with cold meat, cheeses, bread, eggs, jams and pastries as well as tea and coffee. Throughout the trip you can expect really good food with strong influences from Spain and France. Lunches and dinners are not included in the trip price to allow you to take advantage of the local restaurants and cafes along the route and give you freedom over what you eat. Our guide will be able to recommend the best local restaurants and will have planned some stops at good coffee shops to break up the days rides.
Cuneo is a provincial capital in western Italy whose old town centre dates from the 12th Century when it was a fortified town. The Renaissance style arcaded main street is lined with shops and cafés giving it an elegant appearance. Cuneo was made famous in the cycling world in 1949 when the legendary Fausto Coppi dominated the stage there to win the Giro d'Italia. More recently it was a start town for the Tour de France stage to Jausiers in 2008. In the evening there will be a welcome meeting and a chance to check bikes and make any final adjustments. *Standard Hotel*
Meals: ,No Meals,
Location: Col de la Lombarde
In the morning we enjoy a nice gentle warm up cycling along the Stura Valley to the village of Pratolungo. From here we start the Hors Category climb of the Col de la Lombarde (21.3 km, avg. 6.8%), located on the French/Italian border at 2351m. The climb was last used during stage 16 of the 2008 Tour. From here we are rewarded with a long downhill to the ski resort of Isola 2000. We then descend further down to to the village of Isola where we spend the night. *Standard Hotel*
Location: Col de la Bonette
After breakfast we descend to Isola (862m) where we reach the Tinée Valley. The valley is very narrow and typically alpine, with superb views and some attractive waterfalls. A relatively gentle climb brings us to Saint Etienne from where we tackle the infamous Col de la Bonnette (26km, avg. 6.5%), one of the highest paved cols in Europe (2802 m). This climb has only been used a few times during the Tour (in 1962, 1964, 1993, 2008 and 2016) but really is one of the highlights of the trip. After catching our breath we descend to Jausiers, where there'll be the option to climb to either Super Sauze or Praloup. *Standard Hotel* * *
Location: Col de Vars
Today's ride is a little shorter but still very challenging! In the morning we ride up to Jausiers and then climb the beautiful Hors Category Col de Vars, climbed 20 times since 1947 in the Tour de France. (2108m, 15km, avg. 5.5%). Here we enter the spectacular Hautes Alpes and enjoy some great mountain views on the ride down to Guillestre on the border of the Queyras Regional Park. If you'd like to do a few more miles then in the afternoon there's the option of a nice steady loop to Embrun or the more challenging climb to the ski resort of Risoul. *Standard Hotel*
The Hors Category Col d'Izoard (2360m) is a unique place to cycle and one of the greatest cols of the French Alps (32km, avg. 4.5%). The Tour organisers clearly agree as it has been included 23 times in the race since 1947! The scenery here is beautiful, from the sandy coloured eroded cliffs above the 'Casse Deserte' near the summit to the green wooded mountainsides above Briançon where we stay. From Briançon you have the option to continue on a relatively flat ride along the Clarée valley, or to climb the Montgenevre pass on the Italian border. *Standard Hotel*
Location: Col du Galibier
This morning the 'Giant of the Alps' awaits us, namely the Hors Category Col du Galibier (2645m). It is a mammoth 37km of climbing from Briançon, but it is the final 21km where the effort really kicks in at an average gradient of 6%. In 2011 the summit saw a solo stage win for Andy Schleck, but the real drama was a little further down the mountain as Thomas Voeckler heroically retained the yellow jersey with a mere 15 seconds to spare. A monument in homage to Henri Desgranges, the founder of the Tour, sits at the top of the Galibier. A seemingly endless descent brings us to Valloire where we have a short 4km uphill section to the Col du Telegraphe (1566m). We can stop here for an Orangina and take in the spectacular view over the valley below. From here we still have about 11km of descending down to the Maurienne valley and Saint Jean de Maurienne, where we spend the night. It is possible to extend the ride with a nice circular route to Bonvillard, or we can cycle up the Lacets de Montvernier, a spectacular climb which featured in the 2015 Tour de France. *Standard Hotel*
Location: Col de la Croix de Fer
For our final days ride, two superb challenges are on the menu! We warm up on the Hors Category Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m, 30km, avg. 5%). This is a lovely peaceful climb that has featured 15 times in the Tour since 1947. But no cycling trip to the Alps is complete without tackling the legendary 21 hairpin bends on the iconic climb of Alpe d'Huez (1845m, 14km, avg. 8%). From Bourg d'Oisans the road immediately ramps up with some of the steepest sections and is often the scene for the first attacks. 'The Alpe' has been climbed 29 times in the Tour since 1952 and the names of many of the winners are marked on plaques on the hairpins. The late Marco Pantani's record of 37 minutes 35 seconds in 1997 is quite humbling! Tonight we celebrate the weeks achievements in Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of Alpe d'Huez. *Standard Hotel*
Location: Le Bourg-d'Oisans
Spend the morning relaxing in Bourg d'Oisans before the trip ends here. **
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
With over 45 years’ experience of taking people on amazing adventure holidays, Exodus can help you reach some of the most incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries around the world. All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure, and some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus. But that’s not all. This reputable company is a Which? recommended escorted tour provider and has won many prestigious awards, including Best Activity and Sports Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards.
Exodus is all about adventure and helping others to achieve their travel dreams by offering a fantastic range of guided group holidays, self-guided trips, tailor-made getaways and escorted tours. So, if you’re looking to discover different countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts or even jungles, the expert team at Exodus can help you plan an unforgettable solo, group or family adventure.
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Need some inspiration? You can enjoy varied walks in the stunning Spanish mountains, experience the magic of Italy in Tuscany or explore the rich Sri Lankan history and culture by bike. Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings, ski through the magnificent Norwegian wilderness or embark on a journey through India’s tropical south. Visit Iceland and East Greenland, see the spectacular marine wildlife in the Maldives or cruise along the mighty Amazon River in Peru – the options are endless!
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