2 days cycling. 327km.
Cobbles? Absolutely! Embrace the opportunity and join us for two brilliant stages packed with fun and challenge. You’ll leave with plenty of good anecdotes and a new appreciation of the Tour
Two great stages to get you in the Tour mood; the first is an epic hundred miler along the coast and inland, looking out towards the UK and wondering why the French roads are so much nicer. The second stage is the biggie in terms of stories to take back to the pub because it has 11 cobbled sections to make this a one-off challenge to remember.
The north east of France is cycling mad and will be hyped up getting ready for the pro Tour when we pass through. These first two French stages of 2022 will therefore feel celebratory and joyous. Don’t worry about the cobbles (we’ll get you through!) and think instead of the chance to cycle 200 miles in 2 days, a world away from normal routine.
Stage 5 is bound to see drama a week later – imagine being able to say that you were there, that you cycled the same roads, and that you had a ball!
If you’re still wondering about the cobbles, have a look at our cobbles blog
27th June. Arrival day
Travel to Dunkirk under own arrangements
28th June. Stage 4. Dunkirk – Calais. 172km
The north coast of France is not known for its mountains, but this is a surprisingly punchy little stage, with some stiff climbs spaced out over the day’s ride. The stage has been cleverly designed and will be a treat to cycle: quiet, rural roads, plenty of views and lots of small villages will give it a very French feel. From the famous port of Dunkirk, we head south inland, across quiet farmland, through forests and wetlands, and then back up towards the Opal Coast, where (hopefully) westerly winds will blow us along the English Channel towards our destination of Calais. The views are magnificent along this last coastal stretch of the day; ample reward for our first hundred miler in France!
Start: Dunkirk hotel
Finish: Calais hotel
29th June. Stage 5. Lille – Arenberg. 155km
It’s back to our old friends the cobbles – except that this year we’re treated to a few secteurs never seen before in the Tour, or even Paris-Roubaix. (You may be relieved to know that the route stops short of the notorious Arenberg Trench). Altogether we’ll ride 19.4km of boneshaking farm roads, over 11 different secteurs, with the longest coming in the second half of the day, when arms and legs are beginning to tire. However, alongside the bravado of riding the cobbles, the majority of our day’s ride will be on comfy Flemish tarmac, with relatively little elevation gain, and a chance to admire the wheat fields and rural red-brick villages of this French cycling heartland, tucked in next to the Belgian border.
For our cobbles blog, click here
Start: Transfer to Lille
Finish: Arenberg hotel (actually 4km from Arenberg)
30th June. Departure day
Travel home from Arenberg (our hotel is on the edge of Valenciennes) 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:
“Lovely French roads and a first class experience of riding in France… If you’re nervous about doing more, new to cycling or time strapped, this is the perfect cycling trip in the perfect destination.”
Sarah, Event Organiser:
“The roads are great… gradients and tarmac that make everyone feel like a cycling hero – you wait!”
Lee, Alumni Cyclist:
“400km in two days? If you’re intimidated by cycling two back to back stages with people you don’t know and who you think will be faster than you, really don’t be. For me, the best two things about Le Loop were not having to think about anything other than riding my bike and the feedstops – just fantastic!”
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, Pyrenees 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!