Thursday, December 31, 2009

tour das col desain

Our tour of the mythical cols encompasses many of the mountain passes that have passed into legend in the battlegrounds of the Tour de France. Each day includes at least one of the géants, yet is manageable for a wide range of sporting riders thanks to our outstanding support team.

You will take on such famous climbs as the Galibier, Alpe d'Huez and of course the fabled Mont Ventoux, which together with the Tourmalet in the Pyrénées make up the most mythical of the climbs of the Tour de France.
Day 1

We collect from Grenoble airport and station, and transfer to our hotel in Vizille. The hotel has a swimming pool for relaxation in preparation for the week ahead - if you need a warm up though, why not have a crack at the Col de Luitel (1262m) before a dinner carefully planned for our sporting requirements.
Day 2
The ascent at L'Alpe d'Huez

The ascent at L'Alpe d'Huez

Following the Route Napoleon, we head through Laffrey and La Mure before heading up the valley of the River Bonne. Those wishing to bag an extra col can take a small detour over the Col de Malissol (1105m). The route continues to climb fairly gently before going over the picturesque Col d'Ornon (1371m) before descending to Bourg d'Oisans. Here you can take a timing ticket from the tourist office before embarking on the legendary 21 hairpins of L'Alpe d'Huez. We stay on the Alpe at a very comfortable hotel.
Total distance for the day is 85km.
Day 3
Col de la Croix de Fer

Col de la Croix de Fer

A very big day! Setting out down to Huez bourg, we cut across the face of the valley to Villard-Reculas, pausing to look back at a perfect view of the hairpins of the Alpe, to Oz-en-Oisans. From there it's stunning scenery all the way to the Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m). Dropping to St-Jean-de-Maurienne for lunch and to refuel for the giants to come. The Col du Télégraph (1566m) is an appetiser for one of the most fearsome of all the cols, the Galibier (2646m). After this it's an exhilarating descent to the Col de Lauteret (2068m, but it doesn't count in this direction!) and we then rocket downhill for 27km to our stop for the night in Briancon.
Total distance 140km
Day 4

An easier day, though it might not feel like it at first, as we head up to the Col d'Izoard (2361m). If time allows, we can visit the cycling museum near the summit. On the way down we pass through the Casse Deserte, an alien landscape of jumbled rocks. Continuing, the descent follows the Combe de Queyras, a beautiful steep-sided river valley. Lunch is in the charming town of Guillestre, to set us up for the second monster of the day, the Col de Vars (2109m). Once over the top, we cruise down into the bustling town of Barcelonnette where our hotel awaits.
Total distance 100km
Day 5

Today is a recovery day, to set us up for Mont Ventoux tomorrow. We head own the valley of the river Ubaye to the lake of Serre-Poncon, Here, we can choose an easy route or take in a set of cols to add to the list - the Col St Jean (1333m), the Col des Garcinets (1185m), and the Col des Sagnes (1182m). Whichever route we take, we finish in the medieval town of Sisteron. If you have the energy you might like to walk the town ramparts or visit the citadelle dating from the 11th century.
Day 6
Approaching the summit of Mount Ventoux

Approaching the summit of Mount Ventoux

A gradually rising road gains us altitude as we head towards the 'Giant of Provence'. A series of small cols breaks the climb - the Col de Pigiere (968m), the Col de Macuègne (1068m) and the Col de l'Homme Mort (1211m), then we descend into the town of Sault, a crossroads for those setting out for le Mont Ventoux, and full of cyclists. The climb from Sault may not be as tough as from Bedoin, but after Chalet Reynard it's the same climb over the same eerie lunar landscape, devoid of any vegetation. Stopping to pay respects at the Tom Simpson memorial, the last kilometre to the weather station at the summit (1907m) is brutal! We descend through Bedoin to Carpentras where our hotel awaits with a welcoming swimming pool, and at dinner we can forget about big miles in the morning and indulge in a glass or three of the superb wine made on the slopes of the mountain.
Day 7

After breakfast we transfer to Avignon for onward journeys via TGV to Grenoble, Lyon or Paris and beyond. Those wishing to stay on can try their hand at Ventoux from Bedoin or Malaucene - or even both!