3 days cycling. 452km.
Each of these Pyrenean stages will provide an experience rich enough to make that day alone worth all your training and fundraising.
The 2022 Tour de France route gives you the perfect Pyrenean Loop so let’s share the reasons…
- There’s a stage in the east, the centre and the west so you’ll see the huge variety of climbs, villages, countryside and atmosphere within these mountains
- The first of the three stages starts from Carcassonne, meaning a flat, gentle warm up to chat and take photos of the approaching mountains
- There are two summit finishes which both afford spectacular views – from the climbs as well as the summits themselves
- After a night in Carcassonne and a night in Foix, you get two nights in the same hotel (a rare luxury on Tour)
- Carcassonne and Lourdes both have airports so it’s very accessible
- These are really great length stages which give you all the fun (and pain) of mega climbs but still allow time for a beer before bed
- The cycling will be INCREDIBLE! These are some of the nicest roads anywhere in France
Have we convinced you? Don’t just watch it… ride it!
11th July. Arrival day
Travel to Carcassonne under own arrangements
12th July. Stage 16. Carcassonne – Foix. 179km. 3150m ascent
It’s another day of changing scenery, as we roll southwards out of Carcassonne, through vineyards and fields of sunflowers, watching big green mountains draw closer and closer on the horizon, as we finally reach the Pyrenees. There are a couple of smaller categorised climbs earlier in the day, but the real fun begins when we set off up the Port de Lers, just over halfway through. This is a steady climb (nothing scarily steep, but you’ll definitely be glad once you’re at the top) with a quiet road winding up to windswept pastureland, well above the tree line – you’re already a world away from the sunflowers. Then it’s down to the quirky little town of Massat, and on to today’s showstopper: the Mur de Péguère. This one actually is scarily steep, with sections of 16% and 18%, but it’s also a quiet road, with minimal traffic (they don’t normally let fans line the roadsides here), and the descent to Foix that follows is a fun one.
Start: Carcassonne hotel
Finish: Foix hotel
13th July. Stage 17. Saint-Gaudens – Peyragudes. 130km. 3300m ascent
This stage packs an impressive 3,300m of climbing into a relatively short ride. There are four big-name climbs which follow a long run-in from Saint-Gaudens, gradually gaining height along the Garonne Valley, with its pretty stone-built villages. The mountains then close in around us as we follow the River Neste to Arreau, from where it’s a right turn up the Col d’Aspin, a well-loved Pyrenean giant with sumptuous views from its windswept summit. There’s only a brief descent before the climbing starts again, this time up the Hourquette d’Ancizan – another stunner. After a longer descent down to Saint-Lary, we’ll tuck into our steepest climb of the day, up the vertiginous Col de Val Louron-Azet, from the top of which we’ll see our final destination across the valley: the steep ramp of the airstrip at Peyragudes. It’s another long haul to get up there, but before that we get to enjoy descending the tightly packed hairpins of Val Louron-Azet down to the breath-taking lake at Loudenvielle for a final feedstop, cool off and energy fix. Once we reach the Peyragudes ski station, we’ll be able to gaze back towards all the other cols we’ve crossed and savour our achievements.
Start: Transfer to St Gaudens
Finish: Transfer to Lourdes hotel
14th July. Stage 18. Lourdes – Hautacam. 143km. 3900 ascent
It’s our final day in the mountains, and we go out with a bang, thanks to three massive cols, packed into the second half of the ride. After a relatively undemanding first 50km, we start the long climb out of Laruns, up the west side of the beautiful Aubisque: a taxing, but worthwhile ascent, and then dip down to follow the Cirque du Litor towards the Col du Soulor. This is one of the world’s most magnificent balcony roads, and there’s barely a kilometre of climbing to get to the next col, so you effectively get two for the price of one. After a swooping descent to Ferrières, we’re then on to the Col de Spandelles. This newcomer to the Tour seems quiet and unassuming, but its remote singletrack tarmac climbs at a fairly steady 9% gradient, which will not go unnoticed by your tired legs. And then it’s the Hautacam – the final mountain of the Tour – and whether you’re sprinting or crawling to the top, you’ll want to spend some time committing the glorious Pyrenean scenery to memory, as you reflect on the privilege of being able to see these mountains through the eyes of the Tour.
Start: Lourdes hotel
Finish: Transfer back to Lourdes hotel
15th July. Departure day
Depart Lourdes under own arrangements
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end April
The price of this Loop is based on a nightly cost of £170 (which includes the 2022 green contribution)
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”
We do not accept cyclists with e-bikes or non-standard bikes on Le Loop without prior agreement. Each year we nominate one Loop for non-standard bike participation and cyclists are able to join us with a e-bike or non-standard bike for that Loop only, as long as they have prior agreement from us.
Although the use of e-bikes is increasing and we’re delighted that they have made cycling accessible to more people, Le Loop is not an e-bike event. Practically, our mechanics don’t carry the tools or charging facilities to cope with e-bikes but there’s also the question of “feel”. Our goal is to encourage as many cyclists as possible to ride Tour stages, under their own steam, as the pros do. In order to make this more achievable and open to more people, in the mountains we offer our “Lite” Loops.
There is something very special about Le Loop; we have an enormous range of cyclists (in speed, ability and experience) who achieve something incredible together every day – and we feel (for now at least) that allowing e-bikes on more than one Loop would water down this special feel.
A note on speed
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…
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.
First Half, Second Half, Mountains Week…
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, Tour de France Adventure, 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!