3 days cycling, 296km
Less obvious stages maybe, but seriously fun and a great way to dip your toe into the Tour and/or cheer a friend or loved one to Paris.
An unconventional Tour route called for an unconventional Middle Mountains Loop and this is it…
A very achievable three days combining three very different Tour experiences, two of which include ‘middle mountains’:
Stage 19 is a full 160km Tour stage that definitely ticks the ‘Middle Mountains’ box. It’s in a fabulous area of France, interesting for its architecture, undulating quiet roads and occasional chateaux and fortresses visible on the hills you’ll be riding past (and over).
Stage 20 is still a mountain but in time trial format and therefore the stage is mercifully short: you’re welcome to race or not, as you wish. It’s 36km long which, aside from a 3km dip just before you hit the Planche des Belles Filles, is uphill all the way. The climb is really what you make of it: there’s a gear for everything and you can either chat your way up, or go hell for leather and fall of your bike at the top in a blaze of exhaustion and glory: the choice is yours!
Stage 21 is the final triumphant ride into Paris (slightly altered from the Tour route to remove the main roads and with only one lap of the final Paris circuit) which make this a perfect Loop if you’d like to accompany a Grand Loop or Second Half cyclist into Paris.
The cost of this Loop includes the final river cruise dinner and party in Paris so you will be amply rewarded for your efforts.
Arrival day: La Roche s Foron. Thur 9th July.
We have included a transfer from Geneva airport (where there’s also an airport train station) in the cost of this Loop. The coach will leave the airport at 16:00 and take you direct to the hotel in La Roche sur Foron. You are also welcome to make your own way to the hotel.
Stage 19: Bourg en Bresse-Champagnole. 160km. Fri 10th July.
We’ll see the Jura mountains on the horizon for part of this stage, but the riding will be mercifully a little flatter than what’s gone before. This stage takes us east of the Burgundy vinyards and west of Geneva and the high Alps, giving us the best of both worlds… We’ll roll through lush farmland, meander past vineyards, and enjoy the quiet rural scenery and flawless tarmac of this less visited part of France. The second half of the stage involves significantly more climbing than the first half so it’ll be worth saving some energy for the challenge. Then, as we approach Champagnole, we’ll pass through some of the pine forests that give the region’s honey its distinctive flavour and will be rewarded with a fast, downhill, last 10km into town.
Start: Transfer to Bourg en Bresse
Finish: Transfer to hotel in Pontarlier
Stage 20: Lure-La Planche des Belles Filles. 36km. Sat 11th July.
The Tour’s only time trial, and it’s an uphill one. La Planche des Belles Filles is fast becoming a modern Tour de France favourite, having featured in several editions over the last few years. Today there will be nothing else to detract from this wonderful climb, with its unrelentingly steep gradient, and the ‘top of the world’ feeling that only completing the twentieth stage of the Tour can bestow. We’ll take a moment at the top to wonder who will don the yellow jersey here, a week hence.
Start: Transfer to Lure
Finish: Transfer from La Planche des Belles Filles to Mantes la Jolie hotel
Stage 21: Mantes La Jolie-Champs Élysées. 122km. Sun 12th July
Time for our lap of honour and the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Paris! But before we live out our maillot jaune fantasies on the sacred cobblestones of the Champs Élysées (one lap only for us – one is enough!), we’ll enjoy a relatively gentle roll in from the suburbs, passing through Mantes la Jolie with it’s awe-inspiring 12th century church, and sticking as closely as possible to the Tour route from that point – but not strictly because we can’t close roads. The Arc de Triomphe will greet us as we cross the sacred cobbles of the Champs-Elysées. We’ll have a few hours to savour the highs and lows of our achievements, and look forward to celebrating that evening.
Start: Mantes la Jolie hotel (actually in Orgeval, about 20km from Mantes la Jolie)
Finish: Paris hotel and Seine river cruise party included for all cyclists (tickets and hotel packages available for friends and family).
Departure day. Mon 13th July
Leave under own arrangements from the Paris hotel.
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Emily, Lead Cyclist:
“These are three excellently contrasting stages. We’ll support you all the way and it really will be worth every last bit of effort.”
Sarah, Event Organiser:
“If you’d like a proper challenge but don’t want to take on the big mountains – or if big, long climbs just aren’t for you, then why not consider this Loop. It’s still tough with a hundred-miler and still two more stages to go, but the experience will be unforgettable and Paris is always a complete treat.”
Andy, Alumni Cyclist:
“I’ve always been a fan of the Tour but I honestly never thought I’d get to cycle some of it until a friend talked me into Le Loop. If you’re in any doubt at all, take the plunge – it was at least as hard as I expected (very hard!) but I never felt bad for being slow and the support from staff and other cyclists was incredible.”
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, 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.
is one of our most inclusive Loops in 2020. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for fast, joyous pelotons and sprint finishes if you want to test yourselves. But these are also three stages that can be taken more gently, pacing yourself in slower groups (of which there will be plenty) and enjoying the scenery and atmosphere in France.
We would expect almost everyone to complete stage 19 within 10 hrs (including stops) which averages out to a very achievable (with some endurance training and long rides over the spring) 20km per hr cycling speed (plus 90 minutes for stops). The time trial and ride into Paris can be taken in as relaxed a fashion as you choose.
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!