3 days cycling, 477km
Each of these Pyrenean stages will provide an experience rich enough to make that day alone worth all your training and fundraising.
Three stages with quite different feels: scenic, brutal and delighful!
You get a lot of glory for your miles here; the mix of famous climbs (including the bucket list Tourmalet) and back roads (a glimpse of Andorra, the only recently tarmacked Col de Portet) amongst Pyrenean wild and jagged scenery make for a spectacular and memorable Loop.
For anyone who has yet to discover the Pyrenees, wait no longer and let us show you; you couldn’t cover this much ground or enjoy these mountains so much any other way. Thank you Tour de France!
Mon 20th September: Meet at Andorra hotel (we’re organising a coach transfer from Toulouse airport – see travel info)
Fri 24th September: Depart from Pau hotel
Arrival day: Mon 20th September
Arrival to Andorra hotel by 7pm. See travel info for details of the coach transfer included in this Loop (from Toulouse airport to Andorra)
Stage 16: Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens. 169km. Tues 21st September
This is one of those rare stages with more height lost than gained. We’ll start above 2,000 metres on the Andorran border, and should barely have to pedal until we reach Tarascon, more than 35km in. We’ll start our first big climb at the pretty little village of Saurat, winding our way gently through woodland and out onto the open hillsides surrounding the Col de Porte. Descending to quirky Massat, we’ll then follow the river Arac for a while (with any luck, its steep wooded valley will provide shelter from the sun). We’ll cross the Col de la Core, descend on narrow roads to the Lez Valley, and then ascend the shady slopes of the Col de Portet d’Aspet, doffing our caps at Fabio Casartelli’s monument on the descent. Mountains turn back into hills as we approach Saint-Gaudens, and there’s a chance of a sprint finish for the pros, or just a nice easy ride in for us. This lovely stage features three manageably difficult climbs (at 700m, 900m and 600m respectively) and takes us to remote parts of the Pyrenees that many never get to visit; a Tour treat.
Start: Short transfer to Pas de la Case
Finish: St Gaudens hotel
Stage 17: Muret to Col de Portet. 178km. Wed 22nd September
Today’s stage will be a tale of two chainrings. We have 100km of more-or-less flat riding to the foot of the Peyresourde at Bagnères-de-Luchon – where we can gear up, get into formation, and draft each other through the sunflowers and plane tree avenues of Occitanie. Then the climbing starts, and we’ll all click down into the easiest gear we can find, to haul ourselves over three massive cols in a row, with barely time to draw breath in between them. The Peyresourde may well seem familiar – it crops up in almost every Tour, and the long, sinuous hairpins towards the top are nothing short of iconic. We’ll descend to Loudenvieille, loop the lake (there’s a bit of a bump here that often catches racers out), and then zig-zag our way up the Col de Val Louron-Azet, descend carefully (this is where Sagan crashed in 2018), and embark on the magical Col du Portet, a wild, lonely road that winds vertiginously across the side of a mountain above Saint-Lary-Soulon, and finishes higher than the Tourmalet.
Start: Transfer to Muret
Finish: Transfer to Pau hotel
Stage 18: Pau to Luz Ardiden. 130km. Thurs 23rd September
This is our last day in the mountains, and we’ll be going out on a high note, with two classic ascents. We’ll have a predominantly flat run-in from Pau, rolling through woodlands and fields of corn, watching the mountains grow bigger and bigger on the horizon until finally we’re among them. The real climbing begins in the small village of Saint-Marie-de-Campan, and we’ll wind our way upwards across tree-lined hillsides, battling the sheer distance of the climb, before emerging into the love-it-or-hate-it Brutalist ski resort of La Mongie. From here it’s a zig-zag across a bare, windy landscape, until you reach a notch in the horizon, pass a knot of tourists and a couple of statues, pause for photos and glory – and suddenly here you are on the extremely scenic descent. The final climb, Luz Ardiden, is slightly shorter than the Tourmalet, but also slightly steeper, and who knows what state your legs will be in by now. It’s one to savour though, recalling the history that has been made on these slopes, and celebrating what we’ve all achieved on this very special stage.
Start: Pau hotel
Finish: Transfer back to Pau hotel
Departure day: Friday 24th September
Departure from Pau hotel under your own arrangements
Due 18th Apr
Due 16th June
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end July
£660 or £495
(dependent on 4 or 5 nights)
Emily, Lead Cyclist:
“If you’re seriously thinking of it, follow your instincts and go for it! There are some mighty climbs here so it’s not to be taken lightly, but we really do provide everything you need to make this possible”
Sarah, Event Organiser:
“I’m a big Pyrenees fan and each year I hugely look forward to sharing these stages with everyone. See you there!”
Tom, Alumni Cyclist:
“All my local training rides are pretty flat so although I’d done a couple of hillier sportives, the Pyrenees came as a bit of a shock. The first day I struggled quite a bit – but at some point on the second morning, it all sort of clicked and from then on I completely loved it (even the descents which I didn’t expect at all). The advice I got (and which I’d pass on) would be to focus your training on the long rides – they made the biggest difference to both my endurance and confidence”
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!