3 days cycling, 463km
Three super exciting stages designed to provide fireworks for the pro race give us amateurs a perfectly balanced Loop which finishes on an Alpe d’Huez high!
Lots of people will be drawn to this Loop because of the Alpe d’Huez finish on stage 12 and the opportunity of ticking off a big name climb… and rightly so as that will indeed be a highlight as the culmination of these three stages – but this Loop has so, so much more to offer…
Firstly, the changing scenery; of the northern Alps (cycling down from Morzine to Lake Geneva), the high Alps (there are views of Mt Blanc from the Galibier on a clear day) and across to Alpe d’Huez in the west (standing tall above the Rhone Valley so that on a really clear day you can see all the way to Mt Ventoux in Provence).
Secondly, these are absolutely spectacular roads; the gradients are steady (if sometimes steep) so you can get into a rhythm and savour the climbs, the tarmac is perfect, the villages and small towns you pass through are charming, the winding valley and mountain roads afford new views around every bend and you will share all of this with the friendliest peloton out there.
Le Loop isn’t a race so we don’t time you – you can enjoy the Tour route at your own pace. That said, the double-fun of a strava climb to test yourself and then being able to compare it with the pro cyclists’ times a week later makes this Alpine Loop into something unbeatable; a 3-stage perfect taste of the Tour.
4th July. Arrival day
Arrive to Morzine under own arrangements
5th July. Stage 10. Morzine – Megève. 148km
Although today’s stage finishes at 1,460m and is entirely within the most mountainous ‘Haute Savoie’ department of France (think cow bells, wooden chalets dotting the hillsides, plenty of cheese and quiet, winding mountain roads), it is actually classified as ‘hilly’ rather than mountainous so you can treat this stage as a warm up for the two stages ahead. We leave our rest day hotel in Morzine, and roll gradually downhill along the steep-sided Dranse Valley until it opens out and we’re treated to a scenic few kilometres along the blue expanse of Lake Geneva. Heading south, back into the mountains up the neighbouring valley, we’ll gaze up at the magnificent crags, and finish our day with the sensible gradients of the ascent to Megève – a lot of bang, for relatively little buck.
Start: Morzine hotel
Finish: Megeve hotel
6th July. Stage 11. Albertville – Col du Granon. 149km
Today is the first of two back-to-back monster mountain stages, and is packed with classic cols, and over 4,000m of climbing. We’ll set out from Tour favourite Albertville, and warm up with a roll along the Maurienne Valley, before tackling the Lacets de Montvernier – a short sharp climb up a near-vertical cliff face, with switchbacks so tightly packed they look like something out of a cartoon. Legs well-and-truly awakened, we’ll then progress along the valley towards the Col du Télégraphe, a 12km uphill slog (with switchbacks aplenty), which serves as appetiser for the mightly Galibier, which we’ll meet after only a short descent via Valloire. The gradient here is marginally gentler, but as we’ll be venturing above 2,500m, the altitude will easily cancel that out. After recovering legs and lungs over an hour or so’s descent, we’ll finish them off for the day by riding up the Col du Granon – known and feared for its unrelenting steepness – before heading down to Briançon for a well-earned rest.
Start: Transfer to Albertville
Finish: Briancon hotel
7th July. Stage 12. Briançon – Alpe d’Huez. 166km. 4750m ascent
This stage has it all – magnificent scenery, four big-name cols, and a nod to the Tour’s rich history (it’s an exact replica of the 1986 stage where Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond crossed the finish line arm in arm). From Briançon we’ll double back on ourselves, retracing our path to enjoy the views from the other direction as we cycle back up the Galibier (quite a special thing to do the morning after you first summited). Then down to Valloire, back over the Col du Télégraphe, and along the valley to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. From there we’ll face a 29km ascent of the Col de la Croix de Fer. This formidable climb is most challenging in the lower sections, with several kilometres at just under 10%, but once we’re past the Sallanches Viaduct it calms down to a relatively manageable tilt for the next 8km, before ramping up again towards the top. The descent from Croix de Fer is long and luscious, with a pretty turquoise Alpine lake en route, and a couple of small uphills to keep your legs awake. And then, after a spin along the pan-flat Romanche Valley, comes the grand finale – the legendary 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez, where we’ll spy the names of our heroes etched on the road, pass the international legions of fans already setting up camp for the following week, and reflect on a ride that will have stretched each of us our limit.
Start: Briancon hotel
Finish: Alpe d’Huez hotel
8th July. Departure day
Depart from Alpe d’Huez hotel under own arrangements
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end April
The price of this Loop is based on a nightly cost of £170 (which includes the 2022 green contribution).
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.”
We do not accept cyclists with e-bikes or non-standard bikes on Le Loop without prior agreement. Each year we nominate one Loop for non-standard bike participation and cyclists are able to join us with a e-bike or non-standard bike for that Loop only, as long as they have prior agreement from us.
Although the use of e-bikes is increasing and we’re delighted that they have made cycling accessible to more people, Le Loop is not an e-bike event. Practically, our mechanics don’t carry the tools or charging facilities to cope with e-bikes but there’s also the question of “feel”. Our goal is to encourage as many cyclists as possible to ride Tour stages, under their own steam, as the pros do. In order to make this more achievable and open to more people, in the mountains we offer our “Lite” Loops.
There is something very special about Le Loop; we have an enormous range of cyclists (in speed, ability and experience) who achieve something incredible together every day – and we feel (for now at least) that allowing e-bikes on more than one Loop would water down this special feel.
A note on speed
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…
The Grand Loop…
You should be able to complete 200km stages with 2500m of climbing in under 10hrs (including stops). Assuming a total of 90 mins stopping, this equates to an average cycling speed of 23.5 km/h (14 m/h) or faster, day after day over relatively hilly terrain.
On a mountain stage of 180km with 4500m of climbing, we expect Grand Loopers to take between 8 and 12 hours, including stops. Assuming a total of 90 mins stopping, this equates to an average cycling speed of 17km/h (10.5 m/h) or faster.
If in any doubt, please get in touch to discuss. Or consider joining us for a shorter Loop with a view to completing the Grand Loop once you have tested yourself over 3 to 5 stages.
Whilst we have back up vehicles for injured or exhausted cyclists, this is intended as just that: a back-up plan should something go wrong. If there is a reason why you cannot complete one or two stages (injury, illness, one-off extreme fatigue), we will of course help you and offer you space in a support vehicle. But if you are not able to cycle full stages without medical or equivalent reason, we will have to ask you to take public transport or find alternative arrangements to travel between stage starts and finishes.
If in doubt, please see below for our more manageable Loop options and use that as training for the Grand Loop at some point in the future.
First Half, Second Half, Mountains Week…
As with the Grand Loop, these Loops are extremely testing. You should be able to complete full stages which will sometimes involve over 10hrs cycling and we would not expect you to need to take the Lite options in the Alps or Pyrenees.
For advice on average speeds, please see the guidelines above for the Grand Loop.
Alps, Pyrenees, Alps Lite, Pyrnees Lite…
The Tour de France mountain stages are extremely 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…
If you sign up for the Alps or Pyrenees, 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.
Middle Mountains, Tour de France Adventure, Grand Depart…
The variety of the Tour de France route each year means that there can be quite a variation in the difficulty and length of stage within these options. Please see the Loop descriptions for more information and get in touch if in any doubt about your ability to take part.
Often the Mountains Lite Loops can be more manageable than the longer stages involved in other Loops. And sometimes morning transfers, hotel changes and other logistical variations can affect how difficult a Loop feels. So don’t be put off by the climbing involved in the mountains – with training and commitment, we believe that there really is a Loop for everyone and we’re always happy to discuss your options with you.
Included in all Loops
- Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy once you\'re signed up)
- 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!