4 days cycling, 588km
Less obvious stages maybe, but seriously fun cycling, a bit of gravel history and definitely not to be overlooked
Ignore the name – the challenge this year is a bit different!
Our “Middle Mountains” Loop is designed to take you somewhere new and give you some fun and challenge without the non-stop, super-long climbs of the Alps or Pyrenees. Usually we find that in smaller hills; this year we have it in vineyards and gravel…
That’s not to say it’s flat because it definitely isn’t (Tour stages rarely are) and you’ll probably feel stages 8 and 9 should have been classed as hilly by the time you’ve ridden them. These four stages take us through places you wouldn’t make it to on your own; and will give you a new sense of what makes the Tour de France…
Stages 6 and 7 focus on the Burgundy wine area with one full stage and a Time Trial of utter French beauty. Then stages 8 and 9 take us north west into a more sparsely populated area of central France where big skies and a slow, rural life provide the backdrop to some really interesting cycling. There’s also the added bonus of 2 nights in the same hotel in both Dijon and Troyes – a rare Tour luxury – plus only one of the four stages involves coach transfers.
This is why we love the Tour; it’s not always the glamour-stages that are the most fun and interesting to ride. Come and see for yourself!
Wed 26th June: Travel under own arrangements to Mâcon hotel by 7pm. Meet the team, meet your fellow cyclists, arrival briefing and dinner
Thurs 27th June: Cycle stage 6
Fri 28th June: Cycle stage 7
Sat 29th June: Cycle stage 8
Sun 30th June: Cycle stage 9
Mon 1st July: Depart after breakfast, under own arrangements from Troyes hotel.
Stage 6 – Mâcon to Dijon – 163km
Today’s stage is a nigh-on perfect 100 miler… our very own Burgundy wine tour! The first 80km is non-stop vineyard views with orderly lines of vines covering slopes that stretch out in every direction. You’ll recognise plenty of names here, with well known villages and vineyards providing a definite summer holiday feel as we roll along together. With wine comes money and infrastructure and the tarmac is pretty perfect around here too.
Burgundy is a region with a rich history, having been run by the wealthy and powerful Dukes of Burgundy until 1477 when it was annexed by France. Grapes have been grown here since Roman times, and we’ll pass close to the magnificent Cluny Abbey, founded in the tenth century, as well as the modern religious community of Taizé, not forgetting Dijon’s church spires and half-timbered buildings which greet us at the end of the stage.
During the afternoon, the vineyards are replaced by rolling meadows and orchards as we stick with the twisting Saone river valley… there’s enough flat riding today to be able to stay in small groups and enjoy the chat – but the indirect route north has plenty of detours, undulations and picturesque villages to slow us down a bit and help us savour the region.
Le Loop logistics
Start: Mâcon hotel
Finish: Dijon hotel (2 night stay)
Stage 7 – Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin – 25km (50km or 100km) TT
Today’s 25km time trial is actually a 50km ride for us because we’ll cycle there and back from our hotel in Dijon. It will also be possible to double the distance and head out for 100km (for those joining us for the TDF Adventure Loop who’d like a bigger challenge and anyone else who doesn’t want to miss out).
The time trial course itself starts out in the shady forests of the Côte d’Or escarpment, before emerging back into the vineyards of the Côte de Nuits. Expect quiet roads, winding through fields and woodland, with views out across the distant hillsides.
We face only one significant climb: the Côte de Curtil-Vergey, which involves less than 2km of ascent at around 6% – and the last 5km into posh Gevrey-Chambertin (all roads lead to wine) will be enjoyably flat and fast.
Le Loop logistics
Start: Dijon hotel
Finish: Dijon hotel
Stage 8 – Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises – 176km
Don’t believe Christian Prudhomme when he tells you a Tour stage will be flat. This one is classified as a sprint stage, but includes five categorized climbs and over 2,000m of ascent – meaning that there could be some exciting breakaways in the Tour itself, and some astonished “why is this harder than I expected today?” chat amongst us.
The ample silver lining is that this will also be a truly beautiful bike ride. We set out from the ramparts and cobbled streets of Semur-en-Auxois, and follow winding wooded climbs up onto the limestone plateau of the Côte d’Or, for a hefty dose of that middle-of-nowhere feeling. This route mostly stays away from big towns but there are pretty villages aplenty, a handful of abbeys, (some of which have been there for almost 2,000 years) and the statuesque Chaumont viaduct.
The parcours has been designed to cross the contours of the landscape, rather than following them, but there’ll be no climb longer than 5km and we’ll get to see countless hidden valleys, tiny rivers, and the trees, mosses and ferns of one of France’s biggest biodiversity hot-spots. And we can expect quiet roads, and flawless tour tarmac throughout.
Le Loop logistics
Start: Transfer to Semur en Auxois
Finish: Transfer to Troyes hotel (2 night stay)
Stage 9 – Troyes to Troyes – 199km.
Another stage whose spectacular scenery more than makes up for its difficulty, today’s ride takes us deep into Champagne country, via 32km of gravel roads, spread over 14 “secteurs”. This is Tour history in the making as it’s the first time that the Tour de France takes on these white agricultural tracks.
We’re on tarmac for the first 47km, cycling through a lesser-known area of the Champagne region, bejewelled with lakes and wetlands, and fringed with ancient forests. And then, as we pass into the vineyards of Château de Bligny, the landscape becomes lumpier and we hit the chemins blancs for the first time. If you watched Stage 4 of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect here: unpaved roads, ranging from dusty flats to loose rocky inclines, and panoramic views of vineyards as far as the eye can see.
Although the route doesn’t go above 400m elevation, it manages to pack in around 2,000m of ascent, which means (too) many short steep-ish climbs, and a good few false flats. The hardest of these will be clustered in the middle of the stage, with the longest – the 3km Côte de Chacenay – coming just after the 120km mark. The gravel sections continue almost to the end though (we’ll have six of them to tackle in the final 30km back into Troyes) so the effort never abates, making for a gruelling but thrilling ride.
Le Loop logistics
Start: Troyes hotel
Finish: Troyes hotel
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
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