4 days cycling, 531km
Each of these Pyrenean stages will provide an experience rich enough to make that day alone worth all your training and fund-raising.
With eight climbs over four stages, the Pyrenean leg of this year’s route offers a perfect mix of charm and challenge and everything there is to love about cycling in the mountains.
You get a lot of glory for your miles: The Hourquette d’Ancizan is a place of exceptional beauty, the Mur de Péguère is the steepest ramp of the whole Tour, the Tourmalet is the ‘oldest’ of all the Tour climbs, even the ‘recovery’ time trial ride will be fun and memorable.
For anyone who has yet to discover the Pyrenees, wait no longer and let this be the moment.
Wed 10th July: Meet at Toulouse hotel
Mon 15th July: Travel home from Carcassonne hotel (there are no hotels big enough near Foix so we’ll take an evening transfer after stage 15 to a hotel near Carcassonne airport. This should also make it easier to depart by plane or train the next day)
Wed 10th July – Arrive to Toulouse
Thur 11th July. Stage 12: Toulouse – Bagnères-de-Bigorre: 202km
A day of two halves: we’ll spend the morning gradually gaining height as we head south from Toulouse, with the Pyrenees in view in the ever-decreasing distance! The roads look like they’re flat, but they’re not flat and we’ll be wise to take them gently and save energy for what’s to come. The lovely town of Luchon is at 124km, and it’s here that the climbing begins in earnest. First up is the Col de Peyresourde, a classic Pyrenean climb with the pass visible from a long way off, stunning views of the surrounding peaks and a creperie just over the top! We’ll make our way down a fun descent of hairpins into the Louron valley and then it’s time for treat number two! We head up the shady eastern side of Hourquette d’Ancizan, which is similar in gradient and length to the Peyresourde but has a totally different atmosphere. The landscape opens out at the top of the pass and now, at 170km, you’re rewarded with a full 30km of cruisy descent to the finish.
Fri 12th July. Stage 13: Pau – Pau: 27km
This short time trial will be a delightful ride, taking us south of the Tour de France’s most popular city (after Paris). Pau has a lot going for it: it’s an ancient royal city, a modern day student stronghold and gateway to the Pyrenees. The highest point of this route is 380m and the lowest 179m so you’re looking at a couple of moderate climbs on small country roads, through forests and farmland. And all of this with the mighty Pyrenees as your backdrop. The photo moment comes at 21km as we pass through the Jurancon vinyards – then it’s back into town for lunch and an afternoon of sunshine!
Sat 13th July. Stage 14: Tarbes – Tourmalet: 117km
It’s Tourmalet day! The Pyrenean monster has long dominated the Tour, and this year it gets a stage more-or-less to itself – though don’t underestimate the Col du Soulor, which we climb first, from its scenic northern side. It’s a little over half the length of the Tourmalet, but slightly steeper with the summit marking this stage’s half way point. We then have 20km of descent (wheeee!), followed by 19km of steady ascent, up the more beautiful western aspect of the Tourmalet for a summit finish. The climb averages 7.4% with just a couple of extra-steep bursts in the closing kms. This will feel really tough, and it’ll be no different a week later for the pros, even if they do manage it in half the time! The Tourmalet is the ‘oldest’ of all the Tour climbs, now appearing for the 87th time (although the times it has provided a summit finish can be counted on one hand). We’ll celebrate this mighty achievement with a night in a mountain hotel under the Pyrenean stars.
Sun 14th July. Stage 15: Limoux – Foix: 185km
The most challenging and very original stage of this Tour’s Pyrenean visit takes in almost 5,000 metres of ascent, via four categorised climbs. One third of the way in, at 60km, we have our first summit where we’ll be treated to the spectacular Cathar castle atop the Col de Montségur. The next third of the stage takes us to the Port de Lers at the 120km mark, which is the highest point of this stage at 1517m and is followed by a stunning lake just over the summit. It’s a sweeping 17km descent from there into the quirky little town of Massat, and immediately, without hesitation or hint of flat, it’s straight up the eye-wateringly steep Mur de Péguère. Cue legs of fire but smiles of joy and enough inspiration to fuel you on to the spectacular finale atop le Prat d’Albis, from which, on a clear day, we’ll be able to see much of what we’ve covered today.
Mon 15th July – Depart from Carcassonne (hotel near the airport)
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end April
Emily, Lead Cyclist says, “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 the time trial stage will help enormously with acclimatisation and recovery”
Sarah, Event Organiser says, “I’m a big Pyrenees fan and am hugely looking forward to sharing these stages with everyone. The fact that these stages fall over a weekend and are quite easily accessible makes it even more compelling. See you there!”
Tom, Alumni Cyclist says “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”
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!