2 days cycling, 360km
A perfect combo of mega-challenge and celebratory cycling
The prize of the Mt Ventoux double is clear; not only will you tick off a bucket list climb, and not only will you do that twice, but you’ll also do it as part of a Tour stage which the pros will complete one week later (but you’ll have our legendary support team, including Coffee Ian, to help you through).
And then, to top it off, stage 12 may be the most scenic, most delightful stage we could have imagined to pair it with. This is Provence on a plate, with that sunny French feeling to make you smile from ear to ear as you roll along Tour tarmac and chat to your fellow Le Loopers, discussing the glory of yesterday and the beauty of today. You’ll dine out on this Loop for years – for all the right reasons!
Lite option: Stage 10 can be a Ventoux double, or a Ventoux single for those who choose the to stop on the first trip through Malaucene
Tue 14th September: Meet at hotel near Sorgues (Avignon north)
Fri 17th September: Depart from Nimes hotel
Arrival day: Tue 14th September
Arrival under own arrangements to hotel in Avignon North (3km from Sorgues) by 7pm.
Stage 11: Sorgues to Malaucène. 199km. Wed 15th September
There’ll only be one mountain on most people’s minds today, but this is a long stage, and first we have to navigate a bumpy parcour that’s challenging in its own right. This part of the world is blissful in July though, and despite the heat and the hills you’ll appreciate the sounds and scents of the Provençale summer – the whirring crickets, the orchards and vineyards, and the tiny stone villages, with their tiled rooftops and overflowing gardens. Our first ascent of Ventoux is from the easier Sault side, but before that we have to get over the Col de la Liguière – around 10km of fairly steep ramps, taking us from the fertile lowlands around Apt to a higher landscape of parched soil and pine needles. From lavender-scented Sault we’ll begin our first ascent of the Géant de Provence, spending around an hour climbing through pine forests, before we reach the wind-blasted scree slopes for which this mountain is famous. From the summit we’ll whip down to Malaucène, before turning back south, and heading over to Bédoin to tackle Ventoux’s most famous climb. This is likely to be the hardest day of the Tour for many, but the elation of summiting this legendary climb always makes up for the hardship of the ascent, and the final triumphant descent back to Malaucéne will have you singing at the top of your voice.
Lite option: the Tour may pass over Ventoux twice but there’s no reason that you must; If you’d prefer to stop in Malaucene after the first summit, you’re welcome to do so; this stage then becomes 143km.
Start: Sorgues hotel
Finish: Dinner in Malaucene before a transfer to Bollene (5km from St Paul 3 Chateau)
Stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes. 161km. Thurs 16th September
Never believe them when they tell you a Tour de France stage is flat. This one is made for the sprinters, but it still packs in a lot of ups and downs, most notably in its opening section along the Gorges de l’Ardèche – but no one will mind, as this means we get to admire every detail of this dramatic limestone canyon, including the magnificent natural rock arch at Pont d’Arc. It really is spectacular! After the Gorges the landscape will open out again, and the rest of the day should be a classic Tour-fest of sunflowers, lavender fields, and avenues of plane trees. We’ll end our ride in the city of Nîmes, so full of ancient architecture that it’s known as “the most Roman city outside of Italy.” Expect a flat, speedy finish and an evening beer significantly earlier than yesterday!
Start: Bollene hotel (5km from St Paul 3 Chateaux)
Finish: Nimes hotel
Departure day: Fri 17th September
Departure from Nimes hotel under own arrangements
Due 18th April
Due 16th June
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end July
Emily, Lead Cyclist:
“Riding two full stages (especially if you intend to do the Ventoux double) isn’t easy; you’ll definitely need to train! But 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 of a stand alone bucket list mountain climb over two sunny days, then this is the perfect Loop. It’s more than tough enough (!) but the stage to Nimes will feel like a huge reward for you Ventoux suffering!”
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 (Click here for e-bike and non-standard bike info).
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.
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, 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!