3 days cycling, 500km
Super exciting stages which are designed to provide fireworks for the pro race, and which give us amateurs an enjoyable, challenging and hugely rewarding Tour de France experience
Every year the Tour takes us somewhere new in the Alps and it’s always spectacular. This year we have bucket list climbs that you’ll dine out on for years (Col de la Madeleine), climbs they’ll all be talking about (Col de la Loze – you’re not allowed up in a car so it’s skiing or cycling only) and climbs that you’ll be delighted that the Tour introduced you to (Col des Aravis, if you haven’t already been).
The biggest joy here is the quiet, beautiful, peaceful cycling (up hill!) where you’ll experience the mountains and the joy of perfect tarmac far away from the crowds. Just you, your bike and the sound of cowbells – and maybe another few Le Loop cyclists for chat and encouragement.
Cycling back to back Tour stages in the mountains is special because you start to get an understanding of how it feels to ride the Tour. Not just racing and/or finishing one stage but repeating and travelling and seeing the stunning mountains three days in a row…
We’ll drive your bike there and back, we’ll feed you proper meals, we’ll make you proper coffee and thanks to the Tour, we’ll guarantee you some of the best cycling on the globe.
Arrival day. Mon 6th July.
Arrival (on our second rest day) to the Tour hotel in Aix les Bains under own arrangements. See our travel advice link below for more info.
Stage 16: La Tour du Pin-Villard de Lans. 164km. Tue 7th July.
Today’s ride will take us into the distinctive cliffs and crags of the Chartreuse mountains, with paragliders enjoying the views with us. Our first ascent is Col de Porte, and we’ll pass the headquarters of Grand Chartreuse on its lower slopes – home of the silent monks who produce Chartreuse liqueur (but apparently drink cider themselves). We’ll then head into what Christian Prudhomme describes as the “rugged terrain of the Vercors Massif”, climbing up from Grenoble to finish the day in a new world of chalets and Alpine meadows. The final climb of the stage, the beautifully named Montee de Saint Nizier du Moucherotte, takes you through the village of the same name, home to a French resistance fighters cemetery as well as a ski jump from the 1968 winter Olympics. Then it’s descent to the stage finish at the end of a pretty mighty 100 miles.
Lite option*: A lift will be available to the first feedstop at 45km, shortening this stage to 120km but losing none of the famous climbs or views.
Start: Short transfer to La Tour du Pin
Finish: Villard sur Lans hotel
Stage 17: Grenoble-Meribel. 168km. Wed 8th July.
In terms of length, ascent and altitude, this stage includes the two toughest climbs of the 2020 tour. We’ll go up the steeper south-west side of the Col de la Madeleine on an exciting, narrow back road which joins the classic climb a few kms from the top and hands us a climb which measures 17.1km at an average of 8.4%. Then, after a sweeping descent into the Isère valley, we test our legs on the Col de la Loze. This 2,304m beast is not only a new addition to the Tour – it’s a brand new road, the 13th highest in France, paved in 2019, and purpose-built for cyclists (cars are not allowed). The final kilometres offer very uneven gradient, with some extremely steep sections, which will add considerably to the challenge. Meribel is proud to have the Tour pass through and the town will be decorated in style, ready to welcome us and the pros. We’ll actually pass our hotel as we pass through town with a few kms still to climb – so once you reach the summit, there’s a slow descent and a chance to cheer on those Le Loop cyclists who are still climbing.
Lite option*: You will start from the 60km mark, removing the first small climb of the day. This leaves you to focus on 105kms and the two big climbs (la Madeleine and Col de la Loze). Our hotel is in Meribel town, 900m up the final climb but the Col de la Loze is another 900m up… so once you get to town, you’ll have the choice between going straight to the hotel or carrying on to the very top.
Start: Short transfer to Grenoble
Finish: Meribel hotel
Stage 18: Meribel-La Roche s Foron. 168km. Thur 9th July.
This will be a fabulous day in the Alps, with over 4,000m of climbing, and scenery to die for. We ascend the Cormet de Roselend via the twisting turning road up from Bourg-Saint-Maurice, and enjoy the sight of its glistening blue reservoir before descending to Beaufort (home of excellent cheese). After Col des Saisies (lovely tarmac, splendid views) and Col des Aravis (very ‘Savoie’ feeling, little stone chapel at the top), we’ll tackle the forbidding gradients (6km at 11.2%!) of the Col des Gliéres, to be ‘rewarded’ with a short gravel section across the spectacular Plateau des Glières (with its monument to the French Resistance), and then the relatively gentle Col des Fleuries, before finishing the day with a welcome 10km descent to La Roche sur Foron and another 5km bonus descent to our very nice hotel.
Lite option*: You will have a lift to the 66km mark in Beaufort, removing 1450m of the Cormet de Roseland climb and leaving you to focus on 100kms of cycling and the remaining three categorised climbs (Col de Saisies, Col des Aravis, Montee du plateau de Glieres).
Start: Meribel hotel
Finish: La Roche sur Foron hotel
Departure day: La Roche sur Foron. Fri 10th July.
We have included a transfer to Geneva airport (where you’ll also find an airport train station) in the cost of this Loop. The coach will leave our Tour hotel at 8am and will drop you at the airport at 9am for onward planes and trains.
Due end Jan
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Emily, Lead Cyclist:
“Chapeau to everyone who takes this on. You have to be prepared for some tough days here but presumably that’s why you’re thinking about it! Just make sure you read my training blogs each month!”
Sarah, Event Organiser:
“The cycling will be pretty tough but we’ll get you there. Our feedstops (with access to day bags) will be every 30-40km so you just break the day down into manageable sections. The friends and laughs will be as much the memories as the cycling”
Marianne, Alumni Cyclist:
“This is so much more than one Etape du Tour; this is a way to get to know France, and the Tour de France, better. If you want to race up the mountains, you won’t be the only one on strava – but I really enjoyed the mix: going for it up some of the big name climbs and chilling out and chatting up others.”
Le Loop is known for its camaraderie and inclusiveness and we strongly believe that there’s a Loop for everyone. We have no cut off times and cyclists will always be supported as far as safety and daylight hours allow. However, there is a speed and a level of training required for some of the longer Loops and the Grand Loop because we have limited space in our support vehicles and this event is not designed for cyclists who cannot complete full stages.
We need to be clear about how tough the Tour can be in order to help you pick the right challenge…
Alps & Alps Lite…
The Tour de France Alps stages are tough and completing back to back mountain stages is something that requires commitment and training. However, we are not all equal: in time available, experience, natural ability or desire for the toughest challenge. Which is why we have our Lite options…
We’d love you to take on the Alps and love every kilometre – they’ll be amazing. However, if you sign up for the Alps, you will be given the option to cycle the full stage or the shortened, ‘lite’ version. We usually take numbers the night before, giving you plenty of flexibility should you wish to go long or short.
Please, please avoid the temptation to view the Lite options as a weaker challenge: they are not! The extra transfers or short-cuts serve simply to open up the Tour de France to more people, encourage more diverse groups to join us, or offer an alternative to people who would like a really great day of Tour riding, rather than an overly-epic day which leaves them broken.
As a rough guide, a cyclist who can complete an undulating 100 km sportive in 5hrs or less in March and a hilly 100 km sportive in 5hrs or less in late April/early May will be well placed to join us in France. (This is a rough guide only: once you’re in France you’ll be cycling within your comfort zone rather than racing so the pace will be slower than this and you’ll stop more frequently).
Included in all Loops
- Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy in January)
- Food (3 meals and the best feedstops you’ve ever seen)
- Fully signed route, the stuff of legend
- Mechanical, medical and moral support
- Luggage Transfers
- Coach transfers to the next stage start where applicable
Not included in all Loops
- Travel to and from France (but we’ll give you advice on the best travel routes)
- Bike Transport (£30 each way if you want us to drive your bike there and back)
- Evening massage (£10 per massage)
- Beer/wine/dinner drinks!