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Classic Cols of the Tour de France

France, Switzerland Cycle INTENSE
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About the Challenge

SMALL GROUP CYCLE CHALLENGE

This short but intensely demanding cycle challenge takes us through the heart of the French Alps, tackling a series of classic mountain climbs made famous by the Tour de France.

Spectacular views of mountain peaks, alpine valleys and hanging glaciers make the long twisting climbs worthwhile! Our challenge ends with two of the toughest and most renowned ascents in the region: the demanding Col du Galibier and the steep hair-pin bends of Alpe d’Huez.

Conquering these mountains will earn you a life-long sense of achievement and give you something in common with the most elite cyclists in the past 100 years!

Find out more about our Small Group Cycle Challenges 


Classic Cols of the Tour de France

5 DAYS
  • Annecy is a beautiful lakeside town in the French Alps, approx 1½ hours from Geneva. We meet at our hotel and, after assembling and checking your bike, you can explore the picturesque narrow streets of Annecy. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)

  • Up early for our first day in the saddle! Heading out of Annecy, the valley terrain provides a perfect warm-up as we head towards the ski-resort town of La Clusaz. The road undulates on rolling valley roads through pretty towns and villages with plenty of roadside cafés! Passing through St George du Sixt, the anticipation builds as we see signs for the Col des Aravis. We head up steadily, reaching the summit at 1487m: a relatively short and gentle climb but still our first col and a significant achievement! Once we have reached the top we enjoy a fabulous descent. It’s over too soon; once through Flumet, we start to climb again. The Col des Saisies is a longer climb but you should be fully warmed up by now and should find your rhythm again quickly, despite resting your legs on the descent. It’s important not to over-do it – just climb at your own pace, resting when you need to. More cafés await us at the summit (1650m) and we stop for a quick celebratory coffee before relishing the long sweeping descent down to Albertville. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 100km (60 miles)

    Route Profile

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  • After a good night’s rest, we head out of Albertville along the valley, stretching our legs on the gently undulating roads. It won’t seem long before we reach our first climb of the day, the Col de la Madeleine (1993m). Steeper than yesterday’s cols, this is a good transition day! It’s important to pace yourself as this is a long climb at almost 25km. Fabulous views open up at every twist of the road, and will distract your mind from your suffering legs! Reaching the top, you’ll be greeted by fellow cyclists and can stop for a drink and to appreciate the views. A long, welcome descent takes us to the lovely town of La Chambre and a welcome lunch-stop. We cycle along flatter roads towards St Michel, warming up our legs again before tackling the second climb of the day, the Col du Télégraphe. This is a tough climb, shorter than this morning’s effort but considerably steeper, and you have really earned a celebration when you reach the top of the pass (1566m). We enjoy the views and rest our legs for a little before a short descent, heading for our hotel in the valley town of Valloire and a chance to rest thoroughly before tomorrow: the biggest day of our challenge. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 110km (64 miles)

    Route Profile

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  • Upon leaving Valloire, we can immediately appreciate that we have not lost much of the height gained on yesterday’s Col du Télégraphe. In real terms, we are part-way up the feared Galibier already – which psychologically is a real boon. However, there is still a long haul, and the climbing starts almost straightaway, so it’s important to pace yourself gently and get your body used to the bike again! After 8km our legs will be feeling nicely warmed up and we are greeted with a short, flattish section and absolutely stunning scenery before starting the ‘real’ climb of the Col du Galibier. Weather permitting, we avoid the mountain tunnel and ride on smaller roads with plenty of hair-pin bends through this stunning mountain range. The last section is particularly steep, with a gradient of 10% over the last kilometre. You will need all your mental determination to keep the pedals turning, but the sense of achievement on reaching the top will be one to remember forever! At the top you are greeted by a monument to Henri des Granges, the founder of the Tour de France – a perfect group photo stop!

    We don’t stop for long! Heading downhill towards lunch in the valley, we enjoy the amazing landscape of this region – a whole new set of views! After we have rested and refuelled, we head off towards the lovely town of Bourg d’Oisans and the start of the most famous climb of them all, Alpe d’Huez. At ‘only’ 14km long, the climb is relatively short but Alpe d’Huez is notorious for many reasons, not least its steep gradients. The distance to the first hair-pin bend has a gradient of over 10%, and it feels a very long way; there’s a fabulous view over the valley just from this first landmark! From here you can count down the 21 hair-pin bends or lacets, which are all numbered and dedicated to winners of Tour de France stages. The climb will be hard, especially after your efforts on the Galibier, but enjoy every minute as this fabulous mountain marks the end of your challenge! We celebrate our incredible achievement at the top of the mountain, where the ski-resort is a thriving town in the summer months with many souvenir shops and cafés. After time to take it all in, we enjoy our last thrilling descent back down the mountain to Bourg d’Oisans, check into our hotel and celebrate in style! Night hotel. (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 105km (62 miles)

    Route Profile

    Classic Cols Day 3.jpg
  • After breakfast, say your goodbyes and it's homeward bound, depending on your own arrangements.  (Lunch not included)


Prices may vary depending on date.

  • Available pricing options

    This challenge requires a minimum of 6 participants
    Full Payment Option
    Registration Fee £199 Fundraising target - Tour Cost £950 Airline Taxes - Book now

    Pricing Explained

    Registration Fee (i)
    Payable on booking

    Fundraising Target (i)
    Paid 10 or 6 weeks prior to trip departure

    Trip Cost (i)
    Payable 8 or 4 weeks prior to trip departure

     

    WHAT'S INCLUDED

    • All meals except where specified (breakfast and dinner will be provided at hotels each day)
    • Snacks en-route
    • Accommodation on a twin-share basis
    • Discover Adventure leader and crew member(s) (both of which are qualified mechanics)
    • Return bike courier from your specified address to start point of challenge, via Discover Adventure office for packing.
    • Mapping, GPX files and route information

    WHAT'S EXCLUDED

    • Any meals specified 'not included' in the itinerary (opportunity to buy lunch to carry with you, or stop in a café en-route)
    • Travel insurance
    • Flights and transport to/from start/finish point of ride
    • Bicycle
    • Cycle helmet (compulsory) and water bottles
    • Personal spending money, souvenirs and drinks
    • Fees for any optional sites, attractions or activities
    • Any applicable surcharges as per Terms and Conditions

     

     

     

     

    Download Challenge Details

Detailed Information

  • Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels convenient to our route. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.

    There may be a limited number of single rooms subject to request, on a first-come first-served basis, after you have booked. Extra charges will apply.

  • We usually stay in hotels or lodges of a 2-3* standard or equivalent. Standards may vary between the hotels but they are generally comfortable and convenient for our route. Hotels are often on the outskirts of towns to minimise unnecessary extra mileage and avoid traffic.

  • The food provided is plentiful and will give you plenty of energy. Lunches are generally buffet-style while dinners are usually eaten at the hotel. Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.

    The food provided is plentiful and will give you plenty of energy. Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.

    All food is included except where specified. Dinners are generally eaten in the hotel. A packed baguette for lunch can be arranged with your crew or you are free to stop en-route and enjoy some of the local fayre. Please let us know of any dietary requirements well in advance.

    A roaming vehicle will provide additional water and snacks to boost your energy during the ride - these will replace our standard water-stops which you may have experienced on previous challenges. On climbs, large water barrels may be left en-route. 

    This system will enable our crew to provide you with greater support and coaching during the ride. 

  • Your trip will be led by an experienced Discover Adventure leader and a supporting crew member for groups of over 12 participants. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. The support vehicle will be with the group all of the time, and  will carry all luggage and spares.

    The route will be supplied as a GPX file and therefore there will be no route marking by way of orange arrows (helping us to reduce our carbon footprint). 

    You will also have access to the the route via Google Maps which will show where your position is relative to the route - therefore helping you get back on track if you go off course. This will also show you the location of upcoming climbs and water-stops. 

     

  • Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.

  • For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
  • This challenge has been designed specifically for small groups. They can run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 participants.  We have capped the number of participants on this trip to 15 so that our crew can concentrate on client experience and give coaching on route.

  • In the unfortunate circumstance that you need to cancel your booking, we would ask that you notify us in writing either by post or email.  Your cancellation will be considered effective from the date the notice is received. Registration fees, amendment fees and insurance premiums are non refundable and, depending on your payment option and how close it is to your challenge departure date, you may be liable for a cancellation charge.

    Full details of all cancellation charges may be found in the Terms and Conditions of booking.

Preparing for the Challenge

  • We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

  • Participants who sign on to these trips must meet the following criteria:

    • Cycle at least 100miles per day at an average pace of 20km per hour, over an undulating route. Failure to do so may result in receiving significantly less support from the challenge leader

    • Completed previous multi-day cycle trips

    • Confidently and efficiently fix a puncture by replacing the inner tube 

    • Confidently navigate whilst riding using a Garmin or mobile phone app

    • Ridden a Category 1 or HC (Hors catégorie) climb before and have the right gear set up for this - note, this may mean having a climbing cassette fitted to your bike

    • Must be able to carry adequate clothing to cope with mountainous weather - jacket, arm and leg warmers, gloves and under hat

    • Must be able to confidently descend using drop handlebars or have their bike set up with secondary brakes

  • Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date). 

    You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.
    You can obtain a quote with Insure to Travel from our website at: https://www.discoveradventure.com/essential-information#/buy-travel-insurance, or you may choose to take out your own travel insurance, just remember to let us know the policy number and emergency phone number!

  • Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check requirements on our website; please ensure you allow plenty of time.

    Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

  • Your bike will be couriered out to the start point and back to Discover Adventure HQ by Discover Adventure. This service is incorporated into your trip cost.

    Your bike will be collected from your chosen address by courier and it is your responsibility to pack your bike into a suitable bike bag or box for transit and ensure it is ready for collection 1 week prior to your trip departure. It will then be delivered to Discover Adventure HQ where it will be professionally re-packed and driven to the challenge starting point.

    At the end of the trip, your bike will be brought back to Discover Adventure HQ, repacked into your bike bag or box and delivered to your chosen return address (allow 7 working days from the final day of your trip). Please ensure someone is available to sign for the receipt of your bike at your chosen address.

     


Testimonials

Lisa - September 2018


If you are raising money for a charity, or just want to go up Ben Nevis as a personal challenge I would highly recommend Discover Adventure. Wonderful, knowledgeable, funny leaders who take care of you, from picking up litter to human beings when they take a tumble.
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It’s an experience never to be forgotten. Something Helen, Ed and Anna have done many times but for us, one that will stick in my memories till the day I die - the day I conquered Ben Nevis with a dodgy knee.
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Paul - September 2018


A real challenge for me but also, real fun. Helen and Ohil gave us great encouragement from start to finish.

Jane - October 2017


The support crew were excellent in every way.

Peter - October 2017


This was the most demanding physical challenge I have completed.  It was everything I wanted it to be and more.  Of course the scenery in the Alps is fantastic, but the way the DA team worked was brilliant and made it all possible.  The crew were truly
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outstanding, and were one of the highlights of the trip for all of us.  They were professional, truly supportive and friendly.  Jamie and David can be my friends any time!  We would not have completed the challenge without them.  Thank you!
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Julie - October 2017


Excellent overall and outstanding crew.

Chris - November 2016


Was amazing, from start to finish, office support was great, Helen and Jamie, the onsite crew, really looked after and cared for you, even though we had challenging weather, the crew made sure we got the most out of the challenge, would use DA again.

James - November 2016


Achieving what I believed to be an extreme challenge.

Mandy - November 2016


The location was incredible. It was well organised by DA hence the reason I chose to use them again.

Cycle Training Weekends

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£180 Special Offer - Only when you book at the same time as registering for your main challenge

Discover Adventure Cycle Training Weekends take place in and around the valleys and ridges of the chalk downs around Salisbury. They are designed to gauge your fitness so that you can be confident you are well prepared for the challenge ahead!

MORE INFORMATION

GRADE | intense (4)

Trip grade 4 web

Trip grades range from Challenging (1) to Extreme (5).

INTENSE trips involve particularly challenging terrain and tough conditions, usually at altitude. As well as good fitness and stamina, they demand a determined approach and total commitment.

See Trip Grading Explained.

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Get our latest Brochure

Our 2018 / 2019 Challenges Brochure is available by Post or Download