3 days cycling, 360km
Back-road climbs, classic climbs, flying descents, Alpine views, camper-vans lining the famous summits: you have it all in the Alps.
If you’d love to give the Alps a go but are daunted by the scale of the full Tour de France stages, this is for you.
We’ve shortened each stage to make sure you have the time and energy to enjoy the highlights – and there are many. You’ll see lakes, valleys, snow-capped mountains and perfect winding roads and you’ll share the camaraderie of the Le Loop peloton who’ll cheer you on and encourage you every kilometre of the way.
After climbing and descending through some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery, over climbs your heroes will take on one week later, Alpe d’Huez is the cherry on your Tour cake and an amazing way to celebrate the achievement of riding three challenging days in the Alps.
Note on the Lite option: Some people love knowing they’ve completed full stages; others love knowing they’ll finish before dinner. For us, there’s no better or worse and everyone will be welcomed as equals… because if you’re happy cycling, we’re happy for you.
4th July. Arrival day
Arrive to Morzine under own arrangements
5th July. Stage 10. Morzine – Megève. 148/115km
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.
Alps Lite: We’ll give you a lift from the 2nd to the 3rd feedstop, reducing the stage to 115kms without missing the cruisy descent from Morzine to Geneva or the climb to Megève that you’ll want to tell all your friends about.
Start: Morzine hotel
Finish: Megève hotel
6th July. Stage 11. Albertville – Col du Granon. 149/110km
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.
Alps Lite: We’ll give you a lift to the first feedstop in La Chambre, removing the flat section and giving you a bit more time to tackle the remaining 109km and the two big challenges ahead.
Start: Transfer to Albertville
Finish: Briançon hotel
7th July. Stage 12. Briançon – Alpe d’Huez. 166km/135km. 4750m/3400m 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.
Alps Lite: We’ll give you a lift to the top of the Galibier (you already summitted yesterday) to remove 1300m of climbing, leaving a mere 3400 of ascent over 135km.
Start: Briançon 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:
“You’d be amazed how many people turn up on Le Loop thinking they’ll be the slowest, but the reality is that if you strip away the worry and the doubt, cycling in the mountains is pure pleasure. That’s why we’ve made this Lite Loop – to encourage you to take the plunge and experience it for yourself!”
Sarah, Event Organiser:
“It’s a massive challenge but the best one I can think of. Whether you’re new to cycling, new to mountains or just don’t want to push yourself beyond sense, we’d love you to join us and will support and encourage you all the way”
Phil, Alumni Cyclist:
“Le Loop was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. My highlight was finishing a stage at the top of the Izoard – I set myself the challenge of not stopping on the climb and although you could probably have walked faster, I managed it. I was cheered in at the top, given a high five, a cold can of coke and the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten – and then I stayed to cheer in the next few cyclists. As a life experience, it’s right up there.”
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!