3 Days cycling. 630km
The first three stages of the 2024 Tour will provide seriously fun (and often flat’n’fast) cycling, guaranteed sunshine, lots of pasta and that holiday feeling…
The Grand Depart is always a unique occasion and, in 2024, it’ll be an Italian send-off in Florence… surely this is the year to come and see the show!
But this Loop definitely isn’t just Florence; this is a chance to ride through the hilly countryside of northern Italy; through Tuscany to the Adriatic coast, then back west past vineyards and medieval villages with their own, distinct identity… to an Italian finale in Turin with a new-found sense of Italy that you’d never get from a normal holiday.
This a unique weekend of Tour cycling. We’d love you to join us!
** Note that due to long stages, two transfers and lack of lite options, we’ll be implementing cut-off times for feedstops on stages 1-3.
Cyclists will have 2hrs 15mins to pass through each 40km feedstop. This means with a start time of 8am, we expect all cyclists to arrive at the evening hotel by 8pm for dinner.
The cut-offs will be generous and shouldn’t change things for Grand Loopers and First Half Cyclists who have already committed to a certain level of fitness. However, we’d like to make these cut-offs clear from the outset so that cyclists choose their Loop wisely. If you have any related questions, please email Sarah
Fri 21st June: Travel under own arrangements to Florence hotel by 5pm. Meet the team, meet your fellow cyclists, arrival briefing and dinner
Sat 22nd June: Cycle stage 1
Sun 23rd June: Cycle stage 2
Mon 24th June: Cycle stage 3
Tue 25th June: Depart under own arrangements from Turin hotel
Stage 1 – Florence to Rimini – 205km/3,600m elevation
It’s rare to have such a tough first stage: 3,800m of climbing over 205km! The first climb is the biggest but not necessarily the toughest as throughout the day we’ve got six climbs ranging from 4 to 12km and between 5% and 8% in gradient (our prediction is that the 4th will hurt the most)…
But if those numbers don’t phase you, this is a wonderful stage which takes us from Florence (described by the Italian Tourist Board as “the cradle of art, literature and architecture and the birthplace of the Renaissance”), across the stunning Appenines to the Adriatic coast.
The stage heads east out of Florence, quickly swapping beautiful Tuscan architecture for small towns and farming countryside before turning right and straight up our first (12.5km @ 5.1%) climb to the col de Valico Tre Fiaggi (pass of the 3 beech trees).
Here you definitely feel like you’re in the mountains with spectacular views ahead. The descent to the Cote des Forche is stunning, hero-feel cycling and a chance to get our breath back before we wiggle between rivers, valleys, forests and climbs (some shaded, some much more open) towards the coast. All the way there are charming villages and beautiful views; this really is a wonderful region full of great views and varied cycling.
We have a brief excursion into San Marino (the 5th smallest country in the world) for the last climb of the stage (7.1km @ 4.8%) and are rewarded with a 10km descent and 15km fast-flat approach to the Adriatic, with sweeping views of perfect blue water and big sandy beaches. It’ll be a huge relief that tomorrow’s stage is flatter!
Today we’re celebrating several cycling heroes; Ottavio Bottecchia who was the first Italian to win the Tour de France in 1924, Gino Bartali a cycling legend born in Florence, and Alfonsina Strada, the only woman ever to have taken part in the mens Giro d’Italia. In their honour, the 2024 starts with a bang!
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Florence Hotel
Finish: Rimini Hotel
Stage 2 – Cesenatico to Bologna – 200km/1900m elevation
Stage 2 is in total contrast to stage 1, being largely flat except for 6 short-but-steep blips which total a mere 11.6km of climbing over the course of the day. Five of these climbs are 2km or less in length (one is 2.7km) but all are over 7% and three are over 10% so whilst they’re short, they’ll still be a test.
Leaving Marco Pantani’s home town of Cesanatico behind, we head north along the Adriatic coast and then inland along some loooong, straight Roman roads. These arrow-straight sections are interspersed with lovely spa towns and medieval villages that give us a glimpse of local architecture, vibrant market squares and the gastronomic tradition visible in the shops, restaurants and agriculture that we pass.
Towards the end of the stage (kms 169 and 188) we have the “treat” of two ascents to San Luca. The ridiculously steep (av 10.6%) road takes us 1.9km up to the Sanctuary; on your right, views out to the surrounding countryside and on your left, 666 arches of a pedestrian staircase that you could try to count as you climb!
The common theme in these Italian stages (including stage 3) is the long length but hopefully the lack of climbing on stage 2 and associated possibility of efficient group riding will make for an early-ish arrival in Bologna.
Note that the stages ends by passing the finish line before making two Loops of the San Luca circuit, making it possible to shorten the stage by 18 or 37km by completing only one Loop or no Loops.
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Rimini Hotel
Finish: Bologna Hotel
Stage 3 – Plaisance to Turin – 225km.
We’re heading west now, from the small town of Plaisance (Piacenza in Italian) through beautiful, sparsely populated countryside where food and wine take centre stage and the largest town we pass through en route to Turin is Alba, famous for its white truffles and home to only 30,000 people.
The cycling is flat with a daily total of just 1,200m of climbing (by Tour standards, this is extremely rare) spread out over the longest stage of the 2024 Tour. The clever thing is that whilst the cycling is flat, after the first few Roman road stretches, the landscape we cycle amongst isn’t flat and from mid morning, the route winds through valley after flat valley, with many scenic wiggles but hills on both sides. Views are dominated by the vineyards on the slopes around us and gentle rolling hills which are so beautiful they’re on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Another warning is not to be deceived into thinking that flat means easy. The problem with flat is that you can never stop pedalling so even though there’s barely a rise in the road, there’s barely any relaxing either.
For some cycling history, about half way through the stage, we pass through Tortona, where two time Tour winner Fausto Coppi died. We then continue along some of the roads from Milan-San Remo to give another nod to Italy’s cycling heritage.
The contrast between the first 95% of the day’s cycling and the run-in to Turin (population almost a million) will be marked, and the noise and traffic might be a bit of an assault to the senses after such a long, peaceful day on our bikes.
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Plaisance
Finish: Turin Hotel
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
due end April
- Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy by January)
- All 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 when the stages aren’t contiguous
- Travel to and from France (but we’ll give you advice on the best travel routes)
- Bike Transport (£40 each way if you want us to drive your bike there and back)
- Evening massage (£10 or €10 per massage if you’d like one – highly recommended)
- Beer/wine/drinks at dinner